Obnu Bilate

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Obnu Bilate is a martial art from South Africa that was created by “Pappa” Nat Whylch in the 1960s by combining traditional Obnu (practised in northern South Africa and southern Botswana) with Savate, which Pappa Whylch learned from Dutch workers traveling with Dutch missionaries. The modern form of Obnu Bilate combines open-handed striking techniques with some grappling techniques and sword or stick fighting.

Obnu was used by some members of black south African resistance groups during Apartheid, and its practice was outlawed at some point during the 1970s. As a result of this prohibition, Obnu Bilate died as a martial art in the mid 1990s, when the founder of the modern system (Pappa Wylch) was pronounced dead by the municipal government of Johannesburg.

Because of the associations between Obnu Bilate and the resistance movement during Apartheid, rumors abound regarding possible students of “Pappa” Whylch. The most common rumors suggest that Whylch developed the training for the Johannesburg police after Apartheid, that he travelled to North America and taught one or more students in the Los Angeles area, and that his last student was an actor whom he met while working as a handyman on a western feature film crew. None of these rumors have been verified, however, and the art seems to have all but died out since the 1990s.

Wiki Martial Arts entry for Obnu Bilate, South African Martial Art

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Noman, Oliver. _Unarmed Fighting Techniques of the Near and Far East_. Boston: Recede/Continual Press, 1978. Jorneyman, Bryan. _The Martial Arts of Africa: History and Practice_. Madison: Wisconsin Sport Press, 1981. Nul, Nieman. _Letters from Africa: An Autobiographical Account of an American’s journey Through Africa_. Johannesburg: Boksburg Press, 1969. Rosenberg, Daniel. “African Fighting Secrets.” _Strikeforce Magazine_. Oct. 1989.

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