Canarian Wrestling

Canarian Wrestling is a form of wrestling originally from the Canary Islands. Wrestlers situate in the middle of a sand circle, called “terrero”. They have to make the other wrestler touch the sand with any part of the body, excepting the feet.

To accomplish this, they have to use different techniques called “manas” to throw their opponent off balance, as hitting is not permitted. The match ends when all opponents have been defeated.

Canarian wrestling is a popular sport on Fuerteventura, and there are clubs in most of the towns. The sport goes back to the 15th century. The aim of the sport is to force your opponent to touch the ground with any part of the body other than the soles of the feet.

The sport is very respectful, as the opponents went into the ring they touched the sand and crossed themselves. Then they greet each other by shaking hands. They then bend towards each other and grip the opponents shorts, then begin to force each other over. There aren’t any weight categories in Canarian wrestling, as opponents use skill to beat the opposition, not brute force. Fights last around 1 to 2 minutes.

History: Canarian wrestling comes from the history of Guanches, the earliest known natives of the Canary Islands. Only some of the techniques have survived to modern times.

Canarian wrestling is the most popular of the indigenous sports in Tenerife. The wrestlers must show strength and skill in each hold they use. The winner is the wrestler that makes the opponent touch the floor first with any part of their body aside from the feet. There are many clubs and teams including a women’s category that take part in different competitions that are organised throughout the year all over the island.

A legacy from the Guanche culture before the conquest of the island by the Spanish, Canarian wrestling has a great following of fans. The competitions are held in modern covered “terreros” (stadiums) and are often broadcast on television. Although there are individual competitions, it is mainly a team sport where skill can be more important than strength, in the words of the song by the famous Canarian folk music group the Sabandeños, “the boy one, the big guy lost.”

Techniques: “Manas” can be divided in three groups.

Grasp: The wrestler may grasp any part of the opponent’s body to try to unbalance and knock down the opponent.

Block: The wrestler can block the movement of any part of the opponent’s body and use his body to un-balance the opponent.

Deflect: The wrestler can move his body to deflect any technique from the opponent and use the opponent’s strength to unbalance him.