The researchers believe that the discipline is endemic to Réunion; that is to say that it would not have been imported, neither from Europe (via the French colonists who arrived on the island from the 17th century), nor from Africa (via the slaves torn from Madagascar or from the east coast of the African continent), or Asia (via Indian hires or Chinese traders).
She would have been born at least in the 19th century among the groups of children and adolescents who naturally wanted to compete. It was practiced spontaneously on the grass, for the inhabitants of the Hauts, or on the sand, for the inhabitants of the seaside.
The expression "La Croche" has entered Creole dictionaries and books on the history of Réunion, thanks to the work of a handful of defenders of traditional struggles.
Among these enthusiasts, Jérôme Sanchez, Frédéric Rubio and Patrick Blanca, in particular, collected testimonies and carried out historical research in order to write a reference work (history of the discipline, illustrated technical sheets and teaching method), but also to practice this “lontan” sport again and pass it on to future generations.
By relying on oral tradition, that is to say on the "living libraries" that are the ancients (the "gramounes" as they say in Réunion), collective memory has fully functioned.
postcard dating from 1905, photograph by Hibon
In La Croche, the fight does not end when one of the two opponents falls to the ground. Competitors will continue until either of them succumbs, hitting the ground if unable to speak, or shouting "Stop!" "Or" Peace! ". Hence the motto of the sport: "I fight for peace!"
Grips, strangulation, various immobilization are used, without grabbing clothes. The recommended outfit is simple.
The discipline which had disappeared in the course of the 1970s, totally submerged by sports from outside, is again practiced in several clubs of Saint-Paul but also in other municipalities of Reunion Island and Mauritius. . Its practitioners range from very young children (from 5-6 years old) to adults.
Le Comité Régional de Lutte de la Réunion (The Regional Wrestling Committee of Réunion) recognized the croche as a “traditional wrestling” in 2005.
Thanks to the book La croche - Reunion traditional wrestling published by Azalées editions in 2006, the discipline was then presented (and applauded) during the general assembly of la Fédération Française de Lutte (the French Wrestling Federation) in 2006.
As this book is also prefaced by Raphaël Martinetti, president of FILA, la Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées, which supports the dissemination of Olympic wrestling on the basis of traditional wrestling, “la croche” has also acquired the official status of “traditional wrestling. ”Among the 250 or so listed by FILA.
In October 2009, “la croche” was presented to the University of Reunion during a conference as part of the Creole Day. The opportunity to introduce this game “for a long time” to today's students.
In January 2012, the croche reached a first international dimension by bringing together competitors from four different islands of the Indian Ocean: Réunion, Mauritius, Rodrigues and Madagascar.
In May 2014, a Confederation of the Indian Ocean of Croche was founded in Mauritius, following the 2nd edition of the Indian Ocean Championships of Croche. This Confederation brings together several national federations and regional leagues, having participated in this competition, in the presence of the Minister of Youth and Sports Satyaprakash Ritoo and of the President of the Mauritius Olympic Committee Philippe Hao Thyn Voon.
In October 2014, after some executives of the Regional Wrestling Committee of Reunion tried to modify the regulations of the crooked croche to "fight", the crooked clubs take their independence and found the Ligue de Croche. Crochet is now a sport in its own right and not just a discipline among other struggles, Olympic or not. And in 2015, the Croche League was admitted to CROS-Réunion as an "identity sport".
As of the 2015/16 season, the sport "la croche" is available in two styles: without striking (which represented the majority of traditional practitioners) and with striking (2nd style nicknamed in Creole: the "eighth note" or "kros batay ", according to the etymological or phonetic spelling).
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Patrick Blanca, Frédéric Rubio et Jérôme Sanchez, La croche : lutte traditionnelle réunionnaise, Éditions Azalées, 2006
Source of photos used in this article and gallery: