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    August 17

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BHM: Bajan Stick licking


Added 24 February 2015


DBSS Sticklicking and Martial Arts School has revived the art of sticklicking in Barbados. (FP)

The article in CHILL 2006 Issue 4 goes on to talk about the preparation of sticks. The preparation was specific. Sticks were made from woods such as bay, wild guava, rad, black willow. They were selected base on weight, length and curing and prepared using linseed oil to increase the stick’s flexibility and sturdiness.

Obeah seemed to be used along with stick licking, which increased the Bajan competency, as in many other stick fighting forms in the Americas (Juego de mani in Cuba – Santeria; Macuelele in Brazil – Cadomble). Another Institution in Barbados, which is closely related to Stick Licking is The Landship Movement, having some of its male members being avid sticklickers.

The ruthless and aggressive character that seemed to go along with Bajan Stick Licking stemmed from the fact that as in respect to hitting areas on the body, it was a approach that anything from your head to your toes could be struck. It was from this attitude that the term ‘cover down yuh bucket’ was formed. In reference to the defensive posture that was assumed by the practitioners.

To conclude, here are two accounts of personal stories taken from the wordpress website Bajan Underground, which shows how Bajans still have a recollection of this dying art form:

‘When I was a young man, I hadda did try my hand at a lot tings including dis stick licking ting…Dem had men who used to lick stick so bad dat when de rain start to pelt down dem men used to swing dem stick so fast de rain could not touch dem.

Just after de war WWII I remember challenging a man called Nat, Nat Butcher, well let me tell you sumting dat man put so many licks pun me man, de only place I ent get hit was pun me tongue cause I had me mout shut while I was grunting.

Fuh weeks afterwards me body was in pain and de shame of the licks only went way cause me family did emigrate to ***

Sankofa? Man if I was to call it by de name dat dem licks I get instigating me to use dese 63 years later man I wid get ban and join de illustrious banned for life crew like …….

‘Many of the good stick lickers that I knew were fairly tall men, which gave them the advantage over shorter men, in terms of reach. If that was the same Nat Butcher I knew, he was also fairly tall. Was it guava wood that was normally used for the sticks? I knew a watchman, all watchmen were stick lickers, and this particular watchman got a good thrashing from the brothers of a woman he was playing around. He cut himself a stick, a branch from a lemon tree, complete with the sharp prickles. Somehow he was never bothered again.’

‘A little more than two decades ago, I witnessed what I would describe as an event that was extraordinary in nature, but phenomenal to say the least. On a sunny Barbadian evening, as I was attending to basketball practice. I witnessed two men off in this distance engaged in a stick-licking fight. And what I captured by way of memory that evening in question has stayed with me to this present day.  These two men were faced off in active combat feet apart from each other, with sticks which I would approximate three feet in length. One man was up in age, mid- seventies to extrapolate but frail from the far distance. While the next man was in his fifties but not short of his sixties; nonetheless, physically strong and quite agile by the way in which he prepared himself for battle.  And as this urban legend unfolded that sunny Caribbean evening before my eyes, my only thoughts were: “I really hope that others are witnessing this authentic piece of iconic Bajan tradition that is taking place”. But I was quite disappointed when no one spoke about the incident the next day. I was obviously the only soul party to this amazing display of stick-licking dexterity by this old fogy. Now, bearing in mind that this stick-licking fight lasted no more than five-minutes, which probably felt like an eternity to the young gentleman. Who took a phenomenal beating that evening under the sunny bajan skies? The young man was out-class, out-skilled, and out-matched by the very skilled old fogy. To make a long story short, the old man dispatched several strikes to the young man’s hands, feet, and head which drew blood and that ended the young man old advanced.’


P. E. Newberry

1893                Archaeological Survey of Egypt: Beni Hasan Part II (Egypt Exploration Fund)

E. Mottley

2014                Cover Down Yuh Bucket: The Story of Sticklicking In Barbados (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First edition)

CHILL News: Issue 4, Jul-Sep 2006, pg. 28


https://barbadosunderground.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/bajan-stick-licking/ (comments under the article)


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