'Bois' back in style and touring schools this Carnival
Stick fighting in Trinidad and Tobago is usually a passionate niche event, embraced over the years by pockets of loyal fans and attendees in specific villages across the central and southland. Its popularity over the years has certainly grown thanks to projects like documentary feature film "No Bois Man No Fraid" and the tireless work of the Bois Academy of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT). At Skinner Park's Calypso Fiesta in San Fernando last weekend, mainstream audiences were exposed to 'Kaiso Bois', themed after the local martial art, brilliantly performed by Mistah Shak. This week, the art of stick fighting is heading out on a nation-wide tour.
This week, the resurgence of stick fighting as a discipline and the only authentic martial art form in T&T will see the pinnacle of its renaissance with the availability of a series of school tours where co-Founders of BATT and professional fighters, Keegan Taylor and Rondel Benjamin will visit a series of schools to share their knowledge of the art form, its origins and methodologies.
According to Taylor, the curriculum for this week's 'Kalinda' or stick fighting sessions is about the basics of the art form. "To give you an idea of what we intend to teach, we are looking to give students and teachers alike direct and physical exposure to the history art and culture of Kalinda thorough the journey of songs or 'lavways', drumming, stick fighting and the dancing itself."
The workshops will be held by Benjamin and Taylor together, along with a team of bois men from the Academy including Arnim Cooper, Noland Cummings and David Brown. The method of teaching will include story-telling and traditional Carnival characters such as the Jab Jab and Pierrot Grenade among others. This, according to Taylor, is all in keeping with the Bois Academy's objective to disperse information about the art form to the world at large in a positive and exciting manner. "Our method of transferring the information is going to be interactive and dynamic, allowing children to become part of the culture helping them to acquire an actual feel for the art form."
The focus of the Academy has been to protect the living tradition of Kalinda through archiving, immersion, dissemination and seeking national recognition for the living Masters of the art form. Over the years they have used strategies such as lectures, seminars and workshops, their latest being a well-received and lively presentation at the recently concluded TEDx Trinidad and Tobago events in 2013.
BATT advises that Kalinda is not about random acts of violence, it is a system of discipline and self-management that takes hard work and patience. The Bois Academy team has also realized the urgent need to revitalize the iconic figure of the 'Bois Man' in modern culture. They have embarked on several projects to expose key elements of this cultural expression in modern media such as the production of two documentary films, music CDs, a book, and also developed a very large music, video and literature achieve. The Academy has also performed and contributed to the annual Canboulay re-enactment celebrations at Carnival time. For more information on how you can host the Kalinda tour at your school in your community, please contact BATT at 354-8354 or 290-2197 or on Facebook.com, search: Bois Academy of Trinidad & Tobago.