For some, stick fighting in T&T exists in a vague corner of modern consciousness, a relic, rural activity of unknown origin.
For some, the dust of the gayelle and the pulse of drum-accompanied lavways (songs of the art form) are distantly tolerated amid more preferred adventures of liming on the avenue, jostling each other for acceptance into towering buildings of development and maintaining social lives totally removed from an authentic form of cultural expression.
No Bois Man No Fraid seeks to destroy these mental barriers to a deeper knowledge and understanding of stick fighting by bringing the Kalinda tradition front and centre as the star of this feature-length documentary, directed by veteran filmmaker Christopher Laird and starring Soca and Martial artist Keegan Taylor and Co-Founder of the Bois Academy of Trinidad and Tobago, Rondel Benjamin.
A release from the producers said No Bois Man No Fraid will be screened on September 4 at the eighth annual CaribbeanTales film Festival in Toronto, Canada and again in Trinidad in late September.
In the film, these two young, internationally certified, multi-disciplined martial artists re-discover their roots in this unique Trinidadian martial art. In brief, a 'gayelle' is an arena–a special battle ground upon which warriors from villages across Trinidad and Tobago assemble to meet in combat with sticks, crafted by hand and blessed by hundreds of years of tradition.
The dance-like martial art was brought to the Caribbean slave plantations from the Congo and Angola.
One lineage which transitioned from Africa still resides in the village of Moruga, with its own special history and style of stick fighting.
Over two years of contact and filming with some of the legends of Kalinda in the village of Moruga, Taylor and Benjamin were accepted for mentorship by these living giants of the art form.
Warriors featured in the film include Congo Bara, Acid/King David, Kali, King Stokely, Mother Marva and King Tony, the Dancing Prince who holds four National stick fighting Championship titles–three of them consecutively. With humility, respect and the total commitment of the martial artist, Keegan and Benji enter the potentially lethal arena of the gayelle, which to them is like a ring of liberation, the release further added.
The film producers have engaged with an interactive social media presence on Facebook to encourage all Internet-savvy citizens to begin the journey to understanding and learning about the legends, the art form and the film.
Join the "online gayelle" and meet the wise Moruga Boisman at Facebook.com/NoBoisManNoFraid to learn more about stickfight training.