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History of Baranta

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Baranta is a continuously developing martial art, which has been created by collecting all the movements from Hungarian body-culture, fighting and battling techniques that had been applied during our history. It is based on the knowledge of folk-culture and a still shaping independent philosophical tendency of Hungarian origin called ’social psychology’ or ’folk psychology’ (one of its founder and most quoted writer is Sándor Karácsony). At the moment, in six countries, in more than a hundred communities, about 2500 people are practising the style based on the traditional hungarian values, moral and culture of motion.

The word Baranta has remained mainly in those western and southern parts of Hungary where the population had always been Hungarian (Somogy, Ormánság, Göcsej, Őrség). In literature the most often we can find it the artworks of János Kodolányi. The meaning of the word is competing with weapons, challenge, training for a fight or a battle, legaly applied violence or applying force. Between some Kaukazian peoples it refers to the place for armed practices, and according to the oldest written sources it means ’warriors of the Sun’ and ’the men who allied with the Sun’. Baranta communities in East-Turkestan (land of the ujgur people) had been working as martial artist groups until interference of chinese authorities.

According to the habbit that has remained near Somogyvár the people who practised Baranta were the oathed, specially trained helpers of the judge of the old tribe-union (Horka) who protected the ancient laws. These warriors, beside the special skills in fighting and using their weapons, cultivated the highest levels of moral values.
In the case of Baranta consistency is given by the organic Hungarian culture, which provides a straight heritage with its’ social sructure and intellectual elements. These informations, about the training and personality-forming methods of these warrior communities that had great fighting knowledge, has been available from at least 1300 years all in all.
In the case of Hungary it can be observed that Hungarian social groups had to fulfill the tasks of self-defense, farming, and sacrality in the same time. ’Preparing’ the members of the community was a basic task in the society. The so-called ’Baranta-skills’ had been being restricted for about 5OO years with different laws, orders and local regulations. The most elements of motion were saved in fight- and weapon-dances (woodstick). The ethnograhic studies revealed that these elements were the ’school-practise’ for the real fighting skills. The motions usually followed more the rules of a fight than the rhytm of the music. Since ’fight-dances’, the ancient emulations, the teaching of games and the preparation for weapon-practice seems to be a progression, the basic motions are being developed all the time, which means that Baranta has contents from really ancient times.
Baranta is basically not a model of a master’s collected motions and personality-forming methods, but it is the manifestation of a nation’s cultural effects in a fight that is working organically.
In the middle of the 19th century the world went through a ’revolution of body-culture’. As a result of this process the nowadays well-known sports, the combat-sports and a new system of fighting motions came into existence. Three basics ways of ’body-culture’ came off: the german type etatist gymnastics movement, the anglo-saxon ’gentlemen sports’ which lean on ancient greek origins, and the attemptions of raising folk-games, dances and fighting competitions into sports.
While in some countries of Asia, partially they managed to raise the martial arts and fighting forms into the modern sports-life as a ’folk-movement’, in Europe that has not happened.
In Hungary the competitions, games and dances of traditional ’folk body-culture’ were revived by the ’reform-ages’ and they were vitalized and mistificated in the ’defiance-ages’ of the autocracy. The founder of Hungarian Athletics Club (MAC) and cultural attaché of London, count Miksa Esterházy and his circle of friends in company with the elite of some rebellious towns attempted to create the independent ’body-culture’ leaning on Hungarian cultivation and literacy. In this campaign for saving the folk games and forms of fighting rivalry, from county-balls and national casinoes to lowland-festivals local guests wanted to demonstrate with their patriotism.
The games including fights with sticks, pocket knives, swords and wrestling soon faced the problems of the movements promoted from the top. In bigger cities where neccessary human and financial resources were available, the games looked out of place. In villages and towns however, people either missed the message or there were no people who could teach the in-depth knowledge of the collected moves. Movements founded in Békéscsaba, Tata, Nagykanizsa, Hódmezővásárhely, Kolozsvár, the outskirts of Budapest, rural areas of Sárospatak, Kisalföld and Székelyföld were short lived. Between 1848-1941 some parts of baranta appeared in the military rulebook. During 1928-1941 Hungarian military officials began the research of the (Hungarian) warrior moves which were used in the training of the newly formed special operation branch and paladin training.
„ The Hungarian culture is an ongoing battle between tradition and western culture. Peace can only be achieved if the tradition becomes the dominant culture, only scalvaging and dissolving the neccessary European knowledge to do so....” Kodály 1939
Baranta is, in fact the result of the fight for independent Hungarian body culture.
The reasearch was carried on by Ferenc Vukics at the Kossuth Lajos Military Academy in 1991, the organizational design was also formed around this time.
Baranta includes a wide range of fights. The curriculum varies from traditional long range weapons to hand-to-hand combat, from individual fights to military leadership, and organizational and leader knowledge of communities.
It consists of two branches, infantry and cavalry. Both branches compete in 10 unique competitions. Their most important weapons are: bow, saber, short and long stick, fustély (another type of stick) , spear , lance, axe, shield, battle axe, longwhip, throwing star, knife. During hand-to hand combat it differentiates between cultical wrestling (belt-wrestling) and a special type which includes kicks and punches, the so called fight wrestling (böllön). The cavalry branch demands a cooperation with the horse to the extent where it can be controlled and used in battle without any equipment or whatsoever.
The cummunal discipline and proper education is a key element to Baranta.
„There is no other nation which would ridicule the order and ordinatia than the Hungarian, even though there isn't any which would need it more...” Mikós Zrínyi
The people who practice Baranta continously grows not only in the motherland but areas traditionally populated by Hungarians. Significant Baranta centres were opened in Székelyföld (Transylvania) and Felvidék (Southern part of Slovakia), which are part of the Hungarian Martial Arts Allience since 2005.
Communities who were actively involved in research for culture, arts, and lifestyle strongly influenced the social life of the country. They have their own independent colleges, community all around the country. They don't accept government foundings, their communities are build and operated by creative forces. They don't accept the traditional and non-traditional thesises of the western philosophies. In their opinion the Hungarian folk traditions show eastern signs. The tradition is the ever developing showcase of experience about life. It has to represent the work of every generation.
„Truth be told, it is a lifestyle where the first and most important person is the community, with unchanged spirit, only the fathers and sons changing roles.” Áron Tamási
„...being Hungarian is not about race nor blood, but spirit. It was not the blood that created the Hungarian soul and thus also creating the Hungarian race, on the contrary, it was the Hungarian soul that influenced the blood and this is the Hungarian race, now and any time, imbued by the Hungarian spirit. Everyone is only Hungarian to the extent to how strongly does the Hungarian soul live inside and act through him..” Sándor Karácsony 1938
„ The nation is but a group of people sharing the same language, religion, and love bound together by their aspect of future...” Vukics 1998
„Tradition is the science of life” Vukics 1998
„ Everyone is part of the nation who lived before us, working for us, everyone in the present who try to build and everyone in the future who will born - thanks to these. We have to fight our battles in the present for the values which we stand for. We have to revise our knowledge by our experience, and we have to give an ever growing and developing world to the next generation... „Vukics 2001
And because of this they are not connected to parts of history, they consider it as a process of learning. Their symbols are the Hungarian line of flags, and the Turul bird of Rakamaz. According to them the Hungarian literac and body culture includes enough values so that people of other nation would like to learn it. As of now Baranta is not only practised by Hungarians but by the younger generation of some Germans and Japanese.