The Body’s Use As A Percussion Instrument In African Martial Art
Stono Rebellion - Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Martial Artist and Owner of School Of Arms Media.
Fascinating aspects of The Piper Tripwire system
One of the fascinating aspects of The Piper Tripwire system, a South African System of Martial Art, Is its use of the body as a percussion instrument, in order to produce dramatic audio and visual distractions.
Similar types of distractions can be found in the Southeast Asian systems of Silat; and yes, Silat has some minor influences upon the Piper Tripwire system. However, I will argue, the way it is done in The Piper Tripwire system, is uniquely African in origin. As a matter of fact, it is something also found in the African Diaspora here in the United States.
In African martial arts, there is a strong relationship between dance, rhythm, and Martial Art technique. In South Africa, in lieu of having any instruments, certain dances developed around using the body; foot stomps and snapping as the percussion instrument to set timing.
The body as a musical instrument can also be accompanied by chanting or singing; this is where The Piper Tripwire system derives it methods of percussion distraction. In the United States, we have a unique form of dance called "stepping," which also uses the body as a percussion instrument; this form of dance, has its roots indirectly in martial traditions and directly in an event called the Stono Rebellion.
What Was The Stono Rebellion?
The Stono Rebellion took place in South Carolina in 1739; a literate man by the name of Jemmy, sometimes in history referred to as "Cato," decided that the ideals of liberty and freedom were worth fighting for, and therefore revolted with other enslaved individuals; wherever they went, they freed others, and did this while chanting and playing drums.
The rebellion itself was short lived and brutally put down. The ramifications of the rebellion however, had long lasting repercussions as to how the "peculiar institution" would evolve in the United States. Laws were enacted limiting education, the size of groups, and the use of the African drum. This historical event gave rise for the need to improvise musical instruments, and the unique beginning of the body as a percussion instrument. Over time evolving into the dance form we know as "Stepping."
Though not related to The Piper Tripwire System, You can see an interesting correlation between the two.
Below is a short clip of some Piper Tripwire Methods
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