THE IRANIAN NATIONAL MARTIAL ART
(VB) is an ancient Persian martial art. It began about 1300 years
ago. As old as it may seem, it is amazing how scientifically accurate
and complete its movements are. In the past, when the great Persian
Empire was under attack, the warriors would go to underground basements
and train their minds and bodies by exercising VB. All movements are done
with the beat of a drum and lyrics sung by Morshed, the drummer.
Morshed, meaning spiritual guide, acts as a preacher as well. Through
a specific set of lyrics, he educates the athletes in manners of respect,
humility, honesty, and heuristic personalities.
The entrance to the Zoor Khaneh, (training hall), is only about waist high.
So everyone has to bow and show respect upon entrance. The ring that
exercises are held in is called the Gowd. Kissing the Gowd is another
customary act of showing humility. The exercises start out with meditation
called Sarnavazi, followed by two to three hundred push ups, to strengthen
the chest, arms and back muscles. In the old days, these movements
were used to strengthen the soldiers to hold wooden and iron shields against
enemies' swords. A long set of stretches are performed afterwards
to increase blood circulation and to prevent muscle cramping. It
is also a cool down period for the cardiovascular system. These stretches
work on chest, shoulders, arms, back, and neck muscles.
Fortunately in the old wars, there were no missiles or bombs. Instead there
were swords, clubs, chains, bow and arrows. Performing such tasks
required a tremendous amount of strength and eye and hand coordination.
To enhance these abilities, juggling clubs are used. There are various
acrobatic movements that can be performed. The juggling training
starts with two clubs and goes up to five at the advanced level.
In order to strengthen the wrist and rotator cuff (shoulder) muscles, heavier
clubs are used to exercise with. These clubs which are called Mills,
weigh from 10-100 lb. They are held at chest level and twisted behind
the back and neck. This type of training helped the warriors in sword
fighting. The next set of exercises are called Paye Baustani.
These aerobic type of movements mainly concentrate on strengthening the
lower limb muscles. They include a number of stretch kicks, cross
stepping and forward jumping movements.
At times the warriors found themselves in positions where they had to fight
with two or more persons. To exercise this difficult task, one holds
a sword in each hand and spins at the same position. This movement
is called Charkh. During Charkh all the postural muscles of the body
are working and this is what makes Varzesh-e-Baustani a very complete sport
as well as a beautiful art.
For the last practice, a bow and arrow and an instrument called Kabedeh
is used. Kabedeh is a very heavy and hard to balance piece of chain,
which is thrown from side to side over the head. This movement strengthens
the back, trapezium and side muscle.
end of the exercise, athletes form a huddle in the middle and ask the eldest
to pray. During prayer, blessing is asked for the elders, the sick,
parents, children, teachers, Morshed and all the ones who have ever helped
them in life. They also thank God for all his kindness and forgiveness.
Respect, humility, honesty and kindness are just some of the most important
ground rules for this art. Respecting elders as well as youngsters
and making them feel special, not putting other people down, and helping
the poor and needy are some of the benefits that are achieved through training.
So let us all exercise our bodies and train our hearts to become better
Iranian Young Athletes of America
Mehdi Saghafl, instructor
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