Garrote (Gran Canaria)

Garrote (Gran Canaria)

  • Name of sport (game): Garrote
  • Name in native language: Garrote or Lucha del Garrote
  • Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

    Canary Islands

  • History:

    El Garrote is a stick made of wood, which can have various sizes and thicknesses, and was a tool used by the aboriginal shepherd, on a daily basis, not only for handling livestock, the main economic activity of the time, but to defend himself of aggressions between different clans or groups that vied for pasture and other issues.
    The island terrain forced the Aboriginal shepherd to use the club, since he needed it to speed up his movements, in search of pasture for livestock.
    The Canarian shepherd (El Patsor canario) traveled alone, with his cattle, through various island sites, where unlike there was currently no settlement, or communication channels, so that on many occasions security could be compromised by the dangerous terrain, in turn. the shepherd had to make forays with his cattle in unknown territories in search of new pastures, so it could be the case that there were other groups using the area, leading to clashes.
    The pastor, due to his isolation and his sacrificed spirit, conferred a strong and strong character, developing a physical and mental resistance that the inhabitants located in settlements did not possess.

    The clashes between shepherds are defined through the Lucha del Garrote with the strongest and most skilled being the winner; in this way we can speak of a shepherd - warrior, that is, a person who cares for his cattle and at the same time has the ability to give an immediate response to an aggression or invasion of his territory.
    After the Conquest, the aboriginal shepherd maintains his cattle activity conserving his main tool, to which a fundamental change is introduced: the iron puyón or regatón in one of its ends in order to be used as a support point.
    The shepherd, given his isolation, had a reserved character, being the contacts with the settlers very punctual, but a symbiotic relationship is established since the shepherd needs some objects or food and the settlers know that the shepherd is the best connoisseur of the sidewalks and pastures for cattle, in addition to being a good supplier of meat, cheese, milk and leather.
    The shepherd's isolation makes the use of the stick and club stick, unlike other customs that were lost until his recent recovery.

    Lucha del Garrote y Juego del Palo

  • Description:

    The technique of the club fight depends on two factors:
    On the one hand, it depends on the type of stick that is used, since the size and type of wood with which the piece is made are factors to consider. And on the other hand, we have the technique, which is acquired depending on the school where the wrestler has been trained.

    The game consists of giving without being reached, for this, you have to use both hands, using body parts, hooks, etc.
    The player or fighter must have great speed with the feet, skill with the arms and many reflexes.
    The sticks can receive a wide variety of names depending on the Island or the place: Palo, Garrote, Lata, Asta, Astia, Vara, Lanza, Regatón, Vera, etc.
    Regarding the classification of the clubs, the following differentiation has been reached:

    Palo largo or grande: it is the largest of all, preferably used by shepherds, and can have various measures, although one of the shepherd's size is used to play. As for thickness, they are usually of a homogeneous diameter that fits the hands. This type of stick, being larger and thicker, gives more forceful blows. It is usually grasped by the center and the ends are used to hit.
    They receive a great variety of names depending on the island or the place: Palo, Garrote, Lata, Asta, Astia, Vara, Lanza, Regatón, Vera, etc.

    Palo medio: of this type there is a great variety of measures, although generally it extends from the ground to the heart. As for thickness, they are usually thicker at one end than at the other.
    This stick can be grasped by either end, although it is generally held by the thickest part.
    This stick is usually used, normally, in the technique called "collecting", which is mainly based on defensive techniques.

    Palo corto or Macana: it is a very effective and dangerous tool, if you know how to use it it can cause great damage to your opponent. To use it requires great skill with your hands and arms.
    Very fast footwork is also required. Sometimes it was the case that the fighter had been or was a dancer himself.
    The sticks can receive a wide variety of names depending on the Island or the place: Palo, Garrote, Lata, Asta, Astia, Vara, Lanza, Regatón, Vera, etc.
    The materials with which these instruments were made used to be the woods obtained from fruit and endemic trees, typical of the Canary Islands. In the Eastern Islands, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, the wood had to be imported from other places due to the lack of good woods for the manufacture of quality clubs. The choice and cutting of wood is part of an ancient ritual, which depends on the phases of the moon; straightens with fire.

    The types of trees most used for this purpose are:
    - Fruit trees: Quince tree (Cydonia Oblonga), Almond tree (Prunus Amygdalus), Plum tree (Prunus domesticus).
    - Endemic Trees: Palm (Phoenix canariensis), Barbusano (Apollonias barbujana), Palo Blanco (Picconia excelsa), Acebuche (Olea europaea), Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis).

  • Current status:

    The National Days of the Traditional Garrote Game to be held in October 2022 in Telde, Gran Canaria, aim to present the results of different investigations in fields as varied as physical activity and sports, archaeology, history and ethnography, in addition to dignifying the practice and returning prominence to its true rescuers, the shepherds of Gran Canaria.

  • Sources of information :


    GONZÁLEZ, A., y MARTÍNEZ, G., El Juego del Palo Canario. Centro de Cultura Popular Canaria. Santa Cruz de Tenerife,1992



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