Naban, as it is commonly referred to now as “wrestling”, is one of the martial art systems of ancient Burma. This system can be traced back to the 3rd Century A.D. and is considered one of the empty-hand and unarmed defensive systems in the Bando System. Naban techniques include trapping, holding, throwing, flipping, tripping and locking. This ancient sport resembles western wrestling and grappling.
In Naban, practitioners require the 9-S’s. They are strength, speed, stamina, skill, strategy, safety, style, symbol and spirit. The typical training places were large sandpits, which were outdoors or under thatched roofs. The grapplers wore only a loincloth, tightly wrapped around the waist. Coconut oil and/ or other vegetable oils were used to rub the body before the matches. After the bout the, grapplers, due to the intense and physical competition, were given thorough body massages and body alignments by the bonesetters.
Different techniques used in the ancient and modern Naban (wrestling) include:
- Traps & Holds
Traps, grabs, holds and locks can be administered to fingers, wrists, arms, ankles, toes, knees, head, neck and torso
Holds and locks to control the opponent are not always successful. The grappler must be aware of the changing position of the techniques and the targets.
Throws are any technique used to bring the opponent to the ground – onto his side, back or front. Bringing a resisting and unyielding opponent to the ground is no easy matter. It requires focus, skill, and determination.
In Naban, mounts are called “Rides”. Ride means maintaining control by lying, sitting or crouching over the opponent. Positions of the rides are never constant. Moves and counter moves by the grapplers will change from one position to the other.
- Nerve Pressure
Techniques of putting pressure on the nerve centers were permitted during matches. They are not striking or hitting but maintaining constant pressure on an opponent’s nerve areas.
Naban is a highly demanding sport. In both ancient Naban tournaments and current wrestling matches, rigorous training is needed and demanded. The types of training needed to become a proficient Naban student include the following:
- Mental Focus
- Arms and Shoulders Strengthening
- Leg Strengthening
- Neck Strengthening
- Finger Strengthening
- Stomach Strengthening
- Endurance Exercises
During heated competitions, it is extremely difficult to maintain mental focus when the grapplers are in a high state of emotional excitement, physical exhaustion and pain. Proper diligent training under the guidance of an able teacher will provide the development of mental focus.
Meditation is also an integral part of Naban training to develop emotional control, mental concentration, breathing control, body relaxation, self-discipline, and inner spirit. Mediation is practiced before and after every rigorous training to prepare the mind and body for competition.