The Ethnosport Cultural Festival to be held for the 4th time this year signifies an increase in the interest in traditional sports. Watching the traditional sports including archery, wrestling, and buzkashi (Kök-börü) at the festival organized this year at Atatürk Airport with the slogan “Shoot an arrow, wrestle, ride a horse,” is as exciting as being a competitor.
The Ethnosport Culture Festival to be held on October 3-6 for the fourth time this year by the World Ethnosport Confederation continues to preserve and popularize traditional sports, or ancestral sports, and games. In addition to traditional sports, at the festivals organized by the confederation established in 2015 visitors are introduced to various elements of the old way of life and culture with traditional nomadic tents, horse displays, handcraft workshops, and sword and shield displays.
The Ethnosport Culture Festival brings together sequences of battle, sports, and daily life, and has turned into an international festival with competitors participating from Central Asia, Qatar, and Japan. While sportspeople from 18 countries travel to Turkey for events including equestrian javelin, belt wrestling, mancala, buzkashi, Japanese archery yabusame, and Qatari falconry competitions, the contests are followed by an audience of almost a million spectators. These games are extremely compelling and are particularly exciting for viewers. Competitions in 12 branches are organized as a part of the festival.
Ethnosports, or ancestral sports, are the result of the human struggle for survival, and a reflection of the practices of hunting and battle. Activities learned in daily life by mankind, which sees development as the easiest means of survival, gradually adopted the energy and discipline required for combat, and traditional sports emerged as a result. Traditional sports are both physically and psychologically or spiritually beneficial. Solidarity, development of social intelligence, proactive interaction between cultures, the passion for creation rather than destruction, and the sentiment of consoling instead of insulting those defeated can be classified as examples of these benefits. After all, it is a fact that modern-day sports carry the same emotions and ideas. Every human practice, training, or activity that generates muscle strength, the capacity for empathy, and intellectual capacity is a form of sport. In all likelihood, this diversity in cultures that disappeared, was erased, or altered over the years perhaps caused traditional sports to be forgotten, altered, or to die out.
Today, many communities aim to revive the traditional sports inherited from their own cultures. Efforts to safeguard traditional sports means introducing different cultures on a common ground, and this attempt prompted those dedicated to these sports to come together under one roof. The platform required for peace in the world is reflected in the participation of 18 different countries in the Ethnosport Culture Festival and in the experience of new cultures, unknown prior to the festival, by the participants and audience. When there is adequate knowledge and experience, and a sense of peace, the faith in living together in harmony becomes stronger. Bringing thousands of people together in Istanbul every year, the Ethnosport Culture Festival was first held in 2016. The World Ethnosport Confederation, which organizes the festival, launched the initiative to maintain the good intention required for a peaceful environment and to uphold the practice of these traditional sports. Many traditional sports ranging from yabusame, a traditional sport of the Japanese culture, to the Kirgiz kök-börü, the game known in Turkish as “aşık atmak” (literally throwing the hoof) to the Turkish intelligence game mangala meet with enthusiasts at the Ethnosport Culture Festival. Naturally, this festival does not only host traditional sports. Many cultural factors including the lifestyle, traditional clothing, regional flavors, music, and instruments unique to these cultures await visitors at the 4th Ethnosport Culture Festival between October 3 and 6 at the Atatürk Airport.