Uzbek games

Uzbekistan Traditional Games

National games and entertainment have always been an essential aspect of the Uzbekistan culture. Throughout history, festivities and significant occasions were celebrated with a range of competitions, games, and performances. Today, some of these traditional games, such as kurash wrestling and ulak-kupkari, have gained global recognition and are now considered international sports. These are just a few examples of the many traditional games that are played in Uzbekistan. They are not only a fun way to pass the time, but they also serve as an important reminder of Uzbekistan’s cultural heritage and traditions.

Kopkari (Horse polo)

Kopkari also know as a Buzkashi, Ulak Tartysh is a traditional horse sport game across Central Asian. Kopkari involves players on horseback trying to score by putting a carcass of a goat or calf into a goal.  People have enjoyed playing Kopkari for centuries, a traditional horse sport that originated from the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. Due to their nomadic lifestyle, horse riding and archery skills were essential to their way of life, providing a military advantage for centuries.

Kopkari requires immense strength and skill from both horse and rider and teaches valuable military skills, such as how to work together with the horse in battle. Kopkari games were often organized by Uzbek military leaders to strengthen their cavalries. Today, the game is played during national holidays and feasts in Uzbekistan, along with other traditional sports like Kurash.

Kurash (Wrestling)

Kurash is a type of folk wrestling that is practiced in various styles throughout Central Asia. Kurash, a traditional form of wrestling, is one of the oldest and most popular sports in Uzbekistan. It is a common sight at holidays and events, and does not require any special equipment or location. In the past, people would wrestle on the ground or on carpets. The rules of kurash are straightforward and inclusive of all ages, with even elderly men taking part in holiday wrestling matches.

The sport highlights strength and endurance rather than complex techniques and tactics. Contestants can only wrestle while standing up, and are only allowed to throw or trip their opponent. Blows, painful grips, strangleholds, and below the waist moves are strictly forbidden, making kurash a dynamic and safe sport. Kurash was once used by Tamerlane in the 14th century as a training exercise for his soldiers. 

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Page update 31.3.2023

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