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Khridoli (Georgian: ???????) is an ancient Georgian martial art, which includes fighting with bare hands and different types of weapons.
For centuries, Georgia’s ability to ward off invaders was due largely to its culture of encouraging martial arts. Georgia was able to endure whole eras in which other numerous countries, both small and large, vanished without a trace. In the course of 3500 years, Georgian warriors successfully withstood enemies attacking the kingdoms of Georgia and were later able to unite the Georgian kingdom. Along with the success of uniting their native fatherland, Georgian mercenaries and high ranking commanders succeeded in establishing themselves in many other countries; for example, Mamlukis in Egypt, Kulemens in Iraq, and Kulis in Iran. Similar success was found at times in Afghanistan, India, Turkey and Russia. Due to ongoing military action, Georgian warriors were always on high alert.
Until the beginning of 20th century, every region of Georgia held competitions in martial arts and in other sports similar to the ancient Olympic games. The competitions used to be held like military maneuvers in which several thousand men fought by the rules of Saldasti (a special boxing style with additional use of swords and other combat weapon made from wood).
Diversity and multiform features of fighting styles practised in various regions of Georgia had crucial influences on the formation of Georgian Martial arts and its rich culture. Each part of Georgia had its unique military traditions. More than 30 styles of wrestling and boxing have been practiced in Georgia, as well as a wide range of armaments and combat rules. Along with a rich tradition in martial arts, Georgians also possessed a “Warrior Code” that consisted of 365 rules. Due to the need for constant military vigil, these rules were in effect throughout Georgia and actually contributed to the code of conduct and way of life for all Georgians. Unfortunately, in the 14th century, traditions of Georgian martial arts were under serious threat of extinction. After the beginning of the Russian occupation, the empire repressed all aspects of Georgian cultural heritage, and especially military traditions. Moreover, after the second occupation in 1921, Georgian martial arts along with the whole Georgian State submitted to the control of Russian Bolsheviks.
Georgian wrestling and boxing was a major contributing factor for the creation of the Russian Sambo. Throughout the course of 70 years, the practice of Georgian martial arts was strictly banned.
Since the 1980s, several groups initiated a revival of Georgian martial arts from various sources, including practical study and folk memory. In 1989, a Georgian Martial Arts Department was created at the Rustaveli Society. Later in 1990, the Federation of Georgian Martial Arts – Khridoli was formed and named. The first president was Levan Kikaleishvili, the Head of the Hall – Kakhaber Zarnadze, consultants – Alexander Dorsavelidze, Guram Kajaia. Many old and new groups working with the same goal started joining the Federation: Nikolz Abazadze, David Abazadze, Vaso Kakhutashvili, (club Chauki); Nodar Lursmanashvili(club Tori); Nukri Mchedlishvili, Lado Metskhvarishvili, Manuchar Beselia(club Iberieli Mglebi); Zura Chachanidze, Giorgi Kokoshashvili(club Khogais Mindi); David Alania, Paata Ochigava(club Kiborji – later it was renamed to Kolkha); Giorgi Ambardanishvii(club Dzlevai); Bakhva Chabukiani (club Dahkari); David Gulbani(club Lemi); Archil Gogoladze(club Kartli). Later, the Federation members opened additional clubs: club Davitiani in Kutaisi by Nika Chachava; club Samtskhe in Akhaltsikhe and Adigeni by Zaza Chilingarashvili; club Odishi in Senaki bu Zaal kantartia.
In the promotion of Khridoli, a significant role was played by the former leaders of the Federation. Namely, Tengiz Shervashidze, Koba Chumburidze and Zurab Lejava, as well as, Vice President Zurab Kakhabrishvili and consultant Givi Kakhabrishvili.
The revival of Georgian martial arts would not be possible without the aid of a nearly forgotten generation – old men, especially in mountains, who had preserved various techniques and styles of Georgian wrestling and boxing, weapon usage and different tricks and feints.
The rules of fighting in Khridoli originated thousands of years ago, and have developed since; for example the moves that are hazardous for the opponents’ life such as arm breaking doesn’t exist in modern Khridoli. In the past the masters of Khridoli had to know wrestling, boxing and fencing as well.