Every year, residents of Chumbivilcas Province, located near Cuzco in Peru, engage in a unique tradition called Takanakuy.
Takanakuy translates to “to hit each other” in Quechua language. This practice involves bare fist combat between fellow community members to settle disputes and conflicts that have arisen throughout the year.
The tradition of Takanakuy started in Santo Tomás, the capital of Chumbivilcas, and later spread to other cities and villages, including Cuzco and Lima.
It is believed to have originated from the indigenous peoples who practiced it as a way of resolving disputes before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. Over time, the festival evolved into a cultural and social event that has become an integral part of Peruvian identity.
The Takanakuy Festival is a day-long event that includes dancing, drinking, and feasting, but the main highlight is the public combat. The participants, who are mostly men, wear traditional clothing and gather in a circle to combat one-on-one using martial arts techniques, such as punching, kicking, and dodging. Before, the opponents call out each other’s names and shake hands or hug as a sign of respect.
The combat is supervised by amateur referees who carry whips to keep the crowd under control. The rules dictate that biting, hitting those on the ground, or pulling hair is not allowed. The winner is decided based on a knockout or an intervention by the referee.
One such KO recently went viral.
Supporters of Takanakuy argue that the tradition provides an alternative method of conflict resolution that promotes peace and unity within the community.
By engaging in public combat, individuals can release pent-up aggression and settle their disputes in a controlled and non-lethal environment. Additionally, the festival reinforces the value of respect and forgiveness, as opponents shake hands or hug after regardless of the outcome.