Varzesh-E Pahlavani and zourkhaneh ritual are the title usually written by UNESCO for varzesh-e pahlavana or varzesh-e baraastami, an ancient system of gymnastic originally developed in Iran and Afghanistan to train young warriors. However it was also used by the Persians, Greeks and the Romans to train their own bodyguards and gladiators. This type of gymnastics is different from the system of Amsheh (Achilles tendonus) stretching exercises, which is more oriented towards stretching and strength training.
Varzesh-E Pahlavani is considering a heroic sport by many ancient Iranians.
It is part of the rich history of Iranian Martial Arts. In the past centuries Iran as a country has been trying to develop its modern culture, in particular its historic and cultural values. This means that ancient Iranian gymnastics traditions and practices are being translated into modern day gymnastics, such as Varzesh-E Pahlavani. The aim was to create a system that would help athletes train efficiently and in an organized manner. As a result of this effort, the fitness programs of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been preserved intact for the modern generation.
This sport was brought to the attention of the world when Mr. Muhammad Karim seemed to win the Olympic gold in 1960. At the time there were no other countries that could claim to have a champion in this sport, but since then the varzesh-e tanzeh made its way to the world stage. When the Olympic games returned to Iran in the early 80’s, there was a huge crowd that went to watch the competition. Mr. Karim was chosen to be the first ever Iranian wrestler to win an Olympic gold. Many people were so impressed with his performance that they wanted to discover what it was that the competitor was able to do on the mat. This is when the real story of Varzesh-E Pahlavani was born.
For decades this wrestling tradition was hidden from the world and the athletes who practiced it had to train in a completely different environment. Only recently have professionals were allowed to watch training sessions for this particular art form. The Iranian athletes are now allowed to display their techniques to the International Association of Sports Sciences and the International Federation of Wrestling Associations. The athletes will also be subjected to medical testing before being allowed to participate in any international competition. This will ensure that the athletes get the very best possible medical support throughout their careers.
The traditional customs and beliefs associated with the sport are what separate zorakhaneh from most other sports. Because it is a sport that uses its body as well as its mind, many believe that this type of wrestling is very mentally taxing. A wrestler should use all of their skills and strength to the best of their ability. They should not allow their emotions to get in the way of their training and they should learn how to put aside their differences of opinions and concentrate only on winning.
The tradition of zorakhaneh is much more than just about being able to knock your opponent out cold. It takes years of practice to develop the coordination and muscle memory that is required to be able to throw an opponent off balance and pin them to the ground. There are many traditional Iranian rituals that are used as tools to help train the wrestlers of the day. Many of these rituals incorporate martial arts into the mixture as well as horseback riding, throwing the head butt, and climbing on top of an opponent.
Athletes practice their sport for not only the sheer enjoyment of it but also to increase their skills as well. One ancient ritual that is associated with the sport of working involves placing a mace or iron rod into the ground and waiting for the race to come to the surface. Once it does, the competitor will slam the rod down in preparation to deliver the strike to the person who was hit. If the person is a female then they will be forced to bare their teeth and pray to the god of the area. If the person was a male then they would remove their clothes and run barefoot through the matted hair until the rod came out of the ground.
In order for the sport of working to truly prosper there must be a group of people willing to continue preserving the traditional Iranian traditions which are at the heart of the sport. This group of enthusiasts need to work closely with the present government in order to protect the zorbing tradition from possible extinction. One way this can be done is by encouraging women to take part in the sport. Many women have started holding their own celebrations called ‘azaai’ where they invite other women to join them in a sport that they love. The zorbing tradition has spread from Iran to Kenya, Australia, Thailand and Spain among other countries. Nowadays working can be seen all over the world and it is enjoying great popularity both socially and industrially.
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