| The Turkish national sport, "Yagli Gures"( Oil
was first held in Japan, at this place in the spring in 2004.
|Welcome to Japan
Nine people that came all the way from Turkey consisted of,
four wiry wrestlers, the introducer, the judge, a flute and drum corps,
and the promotion president of Oil wrestling. In other words, the
whole experience of the Turkish national sport.
The wrestlers were, Yasar Kale, Europe's champion in 99 and
2000. Murat, the runner-up in the world championships in 2000,
the third ranking of Mukkerem. And then there is Kenan Simsek,
world champion of 2003. An uncompromising group of great
|| The first performance started at 11 am on April
First was an explanation of the history of Yagli Gures by the
introducer (the interpreter was a Turkish ice cream salesman), the
of a rally schedule in Turkey, then the wrestlers dripped olive oil on
their whole bodies and began to march, which the flute and drum corps
to. A storm of applause in the place would have been appropriate,
but there were very few visitors because it was the first performance
the golden premiere week.
| Actually, I was not expecting much from this
event until I saw
a game. This was because introducing the Turkish national sport
Yagli Gures to Japan was the main purpose. So, since the explanation of
the game and the historic background was most important, I thought the
wrestlers would not fight intensely.
This was incorrect. When the first fight began, spectators
were overwhelmed by the ferocity. The wrestlers grappled suddenly with
all their power, and one of the huge figures, who exceeded 220 pounds,
was reverse dropped from the height of the head. I become anxious
that it might not be possible to continue such heated performances for
the period of one week if they fight with their full strength from the
| There was a reason in this.
For them, visiting Japan at this time was a sort of training
camp for the upcoming European rally, and also the world championships
in June. They had their breakfast, and supper, with fresh juices
and some banana, and skipped lunch at the Turkish food restaurant in
cultural village. They also were running up and down around the
after the theme park was closed at night, for exercise.
In 7 days, there were two matches in each performance, and two
performances a day. The 2003 champion, Kenan, won most of the games
almost 25, just like an actual competition. The whole time, using
the opportunity as training for the upcoming competition for the Gold
Actually, Yagli Gures is a considerably dangerous sport.
The wrestlers grapple with the power of the whole body to catch
the oiled partner. Sometimes this causes damage when an elbow slips
the oiled shoulder. You can see the ears of the wrestlers look like big
Chinese dumplings, and the hole in ear is almost blocked off if you
at the photographs carefully. Sometimes a finger slides into an eye.
an opponent changes position abruptly, an arm deep in the skin trousers
can be dislocated at the wrist, or shoulder. Also, if a fight is
oil can blind by flowing into the eyes.
Time may be allowed to wipe oil the from eyes. But it
is not uncommon for the wrestler to continue to fight with his eyes
so that his opponent does not have time to recover.
There are three ways to decide the winner.
|1. Lifting a partner's body by the head.
2. Forcing a partner's back to the ground.
3. The partner declaring that he is defeated.
Often, a match will continue until a wrestler
looses the spirit
to fight, or the stamina to lift a 220 pound man by his head ( like
Tasci, the king of Turkish Greased Wrestling ). Most victories
decided by the second case.
||Hard to watch
The spectators who visited the center dome in the Turkish
Village might have been overwhelmed by foreign events they saw for the
first time. The reactions were varied, such as a person staring
with his mouth wide open, a loving couple secretly joking about it, and
a woman who was too shy to look straight at it.
The reason is clear.
They cannot guess why the wrestlers insert their arms in the
black skin trousers (Kispet) of their opponents, and then grasp in the
crotch. If you asked the wrestlers why they do it, they would
"Because the oil slips, there is no place to catch hold, except
Because this seems to cause confusion, I have decided to explain.
| The wrestler cannot depend on friction for
grasping a partner's
body in this event because of the oil covering them. The
coefficient of the oil, warmed up at body, is near to zero. So, it is
impossible to catch hold of the body or limbs.
So the only way to grasp is inside of the "Kispet".
| There are mainly two places inside of the kispet
1. Wrinkles of the kispet which occurs at the bottom of
the thigh when
2. Wrinkles of the kispet which occurs at the back of the knee when
The wrestlers read their opponents position
changes, catch the
wrinkles occurring inside of the kispet immediately, and lift or throw.
Because the kispet is completely smooth, it does not hurt the skin, but
the inside of the kispet cannot be grasped if wrinkles are not made. If
there are no wrinkles inside of the kispet, a skilled wrestler can
and lift with all his strength by clenching his fist while his arm is
inserted in the kispet.
This technique of using the kispet may be compared to using
the lapels for grasping, and leverage in judo.
||The Japanese National Womens
During the second day of performances, the Japanese National
Womens Wrestling team, who aim to compete in all four classes at the
Olympics, visited the Turkish Culture Village to watch Yagli Gures.
In August, the Olympics will be hosted in Athens Greece, where
daytime temperatures can exceed 40C, and the wrestlers may become
with sweat if the air conditioning is not sufficient. They had an
idea to observe Turkish oiled wrestling because it would be similar to
competing while sweating a great deal.
Will these Olympic athletes, having been initiated into the
650 year old secrets of Yagli Gures, be able to win medals in Athens?
| At the performances in Japan, the event was held
in an air-conditioned
dome. Traditionally, Yagli Gures is done on the grasslands during
the summer. The oil poured on the body acts as 'suntan oil',
the skin while under the burning midsummer sun.
The olive oil, which is made in Turkey, is famous for it's high
purity. If you were to buy this oil at the store, it is five
for the small 250 cc bottle, which are the ones called 'extra-virgin'.
Approximately 100 liters of oil are used each day at the World
championships of Yagli Gures held in Edirne Turkey. The grass is
fresh and blue on the ground inside the stadium, because of the olive
and the sweat of wrestlers, even if it is midwinter.