Coreeda Assoc. of Australia
Gavin Dickson established the Coreeda Association of Australia in order to re-establish the traditional form of wrestling thought to be popular among the aboriginals prior to the arrival of white settlers. His post below is an introduction into that history and some of the steps he is taking to reinstate the sport across the island. He will be updating the Australia section from time-to-time and has proven to be a valuable resource in establishing connections throughout Asia.
The Australian Wrestling Tradition
In 1857 the German explorer William Blandowski travelled down the then unmapped regions of the Murray River in Southeast Australia documenting what he saw.
When he returned home he commissioned the artist Gustav Mutzel to do a lithograph of a wrestling competition he witnessed amongst the Nyeri Nyeri people. This is the oldest depiction of wrestling from Australia outside of abstract Aboriginal rock art. Not long after Blandowski’s adventure British settlers inevitably inhabited the island and brought a swift end to cultural practices that extended back as far as 60,000 years, according to recent archeological estimates.
Cultural supplantation was common during European colonialism and ultimately led to the destruction of indigenous customs across the globe, decimating cultural diversity. I don’t think anyone can argue that this destruction was somehow beneficial, but that progress has meant that sports like wrestling were lost, only to be “re-discovered” in countries like Australia when English speakers re-introduced their styles in the late 19th century. Obviously this lithograph disproves ridiculous claims about there being a lack of indigenous wrestling and confirms that there is a universal nature of wrestling – practiced in one form or another by every cultural group on the planet.There are several further episodes of documentation for Australian Aboriginal wrestling stored in colonial records & in pre-colonial lore, many of which have been captured in my book From the Dreaming to the Dreamers.
What is true of wrestling on the Sixth Continent is most likely true of the sport around the world. Some traditional folk styles of wrestling still face a struggle for survival in the 21st while other countries have maintained their cultural integrity: Japan, Mongolia, Korea, Iran, Turkey, Sudan, Senegal and Brazil. These nations should be given credit for recognizing the intangible cultural heritage of their ancestral pastimes. My goal for the Coreeda Association of Australia is to bring a sense of revival for traditional Australian wrestling by restoring awareness of the sport amongst both Indigenous & Non-Indigenous Australians using an adapted hybrid style called Coreeda, as per our Web site .
This is why I give my support to the Wrestling Roots movement, which I believe is providing a great service to all of humanity that may not be fully recognized yet for many years to come. I implore other wrestlers worldwide to join this endeavor, to bring about a more thorough documentation & awareness for the world’s oldest sport, a habit so old that current psychological theory suggests may actually be instinctual to our species. Whatever wrestling tradition you feel you belong to, please help us to bring a sense of solidarity to the sporting genre by contributing your thoughts, ideas & concepts. I for one would love to hear from other indigenous people around the globe that are exploring the importance of traditional wrestling as part of their cultural continuity.
Coreeda Association of Australia