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Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck: El Arte De La Navaja, A Hispanic Martial Art


Marty McFly and Doc Brown had the Delorean to go travel through time; We have the Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck. Every week, we’ll hop in our time traveling machine, gun it to 88 MPH, and go back in time to bring you the best from the good ol’ days. Will it be a clip from an old telenovela? An old school music video? Stick around and find out!

No man on Earth, if he’s honest, doesn’t like holding a weapon. It’s OK. It doesn’t mean you are not a modern enlightened man, it’s in your DNA. What paleoanthropologists have found is that one of the deciding factors in our development from Bobo the chimp to a TuVez blogger is the development of tools. The most important of these was the primitive knife. We Latinos carried on the tradition of our ancient ancestors with a knife of our own: The navaja.

The navaja was born sometime in the early middle ages among the Gitanos of Spain. It is a long, slightly curved knife that folds into its handle. The navaja is unique among folding knives in that it ratchets into place in a series of clicks. Not only does this make the knife more sturdy, it also makes a frightening carraca noise, (a carraca knife is another name for a navaja). Back then, people carried knives for both practical uses and for battle. You would be using it to eat one minute and stabbing some punk the next. While the upper classes developed a sophisticated system of swordsmanship and codes of dueling, the poor stuck to the trusty navaja. This knife was the weapon of choice for dueling for centuries. If some dude insulted your old lady or disrespected you, you met him out on the street with your navaja. An intricate knife fighting martial art developed, one of the fighting styles truly our own. Latino martial artists, like the guys in the video below, have reconstructed the movements from fighting manuals from 17th century Spain and Mexico.

The navaja made it’s way to Latin America where it was adopted by the poor people of the New World. The navaja remained the way you settled your differences until the middle of the 19th century when dueling was largely done with pistols. Into the early 20th century, knife duels were not unheard of throughout Latin America. These days settling your arguments with a knife fight is frowned upon. While we absolutely don’t advocate the use of violence to solve arguments, there is something poetic about the navaja duel. You really had to think about what you did back in the day. If you said or did the wrong thing, at best you’d get a nasty scar and at worst you’d be dead. Though, we’re pretty sure we’d be challenged by some of the bad comics we make fun of a lot. We could take them.

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