Baranta, a continuously-developing martial art, was first created when combat
and fighting techniques that had been applied throughout Hungarian history
were collected, and at the same time an attempt was made to amass and
categorize all the different movements and motions found in the Hungarian
physical-culture. Baranta is a constantly-shaping independent philosophical
movement, which gains its knowledge from the Hungarian folk-culture
otherwise known as “social psychology” or “folk psychology” (Sándor
Karácsony being one of its founders and most quoted writers).
The uniformity within the Baranta movement is due to the fact that the source
of its knowledge is the Hungarian culture as a whole, which provides a direct
connection, based on traditions and heritage, to the Hungarian social structure
and includes intellectual elements. Training and personality-forming methods
of Hungarian warrior communities, who had compiled a great amount of
knowledge of fighting skills, have been around for at least 1300 years.
Hungarian social groups had to fulfill the tasks of self-defense, farming, and at
the same time forms of worship. “Preparing” the members of the community
was a basic task in this society.
In the middle of the 19th century, the world went through a “revolution of
physical-culture”. As a result of these changes the modern well-known sports,
combat-sports and a new system of fighting came into existence. Three basic
forms of “physical-culture” appeared: the German gymnastics movement, the
Anglo-Saxon “gentlemen sports” with their ancient Greek origins, and
movements, whose goal it was to develop folk-games, dancing and fighting
competitions into structured sports.
In Hungary the competitions, games and dances of traditional “folk physical-
culture” were revived during the “Reform-age” of the late 1800’s. They were
given new importance and symbolized a form of defiance against the foreign
autocratic government. People like Count Miksa Esterházy, the founder of the
Hungarian Athletics Club (MAC), who was also Hungary’s cultural attaché to
London, his circle of friends and a few leaders of certain “rebellious” towns
attempted to create an independent “physical-culture” based on Hungarian
rural cultural literacy. To demonstrate their patriotism, people supported this
campaign to save the folk-games, games of combat and traditional sports
activities around the country by including them in county balls, national
celebrations and rural festivals.
Between 1848 and 1941, parts of Baranta appeared in the military rulebook.
During the years 1928-1941 Hungarian military officers from the Ludovika
Academy began to research earlier combat techniques to be used in the
training of the newly formed special operation branch. This research was later
continued and further developed by Ferenc Vukics at the Kossuth Lajos
Military Academy in 1991, and the first team was organized in Szentendre in
1996. The Hungarian Baranta Association was established in 2002.
Baranta aims to continue practicing, educating and researching the Hungarian
martial arts and physical-culture, and the Hungarian fighting-culture found in
folk-games, as well as increasing its cultural acceptance, thereby cultivating a
healthy, traditional Hungarian lifestyle by reviving traditions, and developing
individual personality and the communal establishment. Baranta wishes to
reestablish fundamental traditions within naturally existing and interdependent
communities by stimulating further development in accordance with the
fundamental Hungarian culturally-based ways of thinking. By cooperating with
other organizations within Hungary and abroad, the results are then shared both
domestically and internationally, thereby propagating the Hungarian culture
and Hungary as a whole, while evoking patriotism within the Hungarian youth
and mutual respect toward foreign cultures as well. Baranta wishes to establish
an independent Hungarian school model.
Baranta would like to preserve and develop all the values that have been
created by its ancestors. It uses
traditional games as a method to involve
the youth in this endeavor, and therefore
takes great pains in promoting them. A
modern system is being organized so that
it will be easy for the youth of the 21st
Century to take part in it.
A person who practices the philosophy of Baranta lives, thinks, fights, dances,
and sings like a Hungarian. His most important task is to get to know his own
culture as deeply as possible and not to fight against but rather for something.
Baranta followers live their daily lives implementing these traditions and
organizing everyday-life around this knowledge. Becoming genuinely
acquainted with the mindset allows them to further develop these newly found
Baranta does not focus on one part of history, but rather considers each period
of time as a process of learning. Its symbols include the historical flags of
Hungary and the ancient relic of the Turul bird found in Rakamaz. The
philosophy behind Baranta is not exclusive or restrictive because its followers
deem the Hungarian culture and physical-culture therein to be of such value
that it is worth even non-Hungarians familiarizing themselves with it. A key
factor in this question is the youth. Baranta would like to inform the youth
about cultural issues and raise the level of acceptance.
„Truth be told, it is a lifestyle where the first and most important person is the
community, with unchanged spirit; only the roles of the fathers and sons
change.” Áron Tamási
„ Everyone is part of our nation: those who lived before us, those working for
us, everyone in the present who tries to create something and everyone in the
future still to be born. We have to fight our battles in the present for the values
for which we stand. We have to revise our knowledge based on our own
experiences, and we have to give an ever-growing and developing world to the
next generation... „Vukics
National Gathering of Hungarians
This annual event took place between 2009 and 2013 in Bösztörpuszta in the
middle of Hungary.
In its best years, this 3-4 day long monumental open-air event was attended by
over 250 000 spectators, with Baranta taking on the lion's share in organization
and execution. The event came into existence without any state sponsorship,
solely through the cooperation and volunteer work of ordinary people, due to
their dedication toward a common goal. The main objective was to bring
manufacturers and consumers closer together and to provide collaboration
within the civil society in order to protect Hungarian culture and Hungary’s
cultural heritage. During the gathering, spectators were able to purchase
products from craftsmen and food manufacturers. Inventors had the chance to
show their inventions. Countless cultural and family oriented programs took
place. Aside from the intellectually stimulating lectures and presentations,
attendees had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with traditional
paraphernalia (such as whips, bows, saber swords, etc.) and experience many
other culturally based traditions.
Social events -Talent research
Baranta takes on a leading role in the community and feels that it is its duty to
strengthen it. Since this is one of the basic beliefs in the Baranta philosophy,
followers of Baranta must take part in building, developing and shaping the
community. Therefore, anything that strengthens the community, builds a
feeling of fellowship, draws attention to the importance of cooperation and
stimulates working together must be supported by Baranta. Such activities
include doing ceremonial honors at national holiday events, weddings and at
funerals; placing wreaths; and organizing ceremonies, sports events, cultural
events and family programs.
Baranta believes that everyone within a well-operating community can find the
place where they can best add value to any event. Baranta also organizes a
nationwide folk-talent show for children. Participants can compete in four
areas: folk-dance, folk-song, folk-music and folk-tales. The evaluation is
carried out by a jury of internationally renowned folk-artists.
Baranta includes a wide range of fighting proficiencies. The disciplines vary
from traditional long range weapons to face-to-face combat, from individual
fighting skills to military leadership, including organizational and community
It consists of two branches, infantry and cavalry. Both branches deal with
many unique types of fighting. Their most important weapons are: bow, saber,
short and long stick, spear, lance, axe, shield, battle-axe, long whip, throwing
star, knife., etc. Bare-handed fighting methods are differentiated between
ceremonial wrestling (belt-wrestling) and the more lethal type which includes
kicking and punching, the so called combat wrestling (böllön). The cavalry
branch demands cooperation with the horse to such an extent that it should be
able to be controlled and used in battle without any equipment whatsoever.
A person practicing Baranta has to develop complex and totally different skills
in order to become adept at using such a wide range of weapons, not to
mention that all people who do Baranta have to be ambidextrous.
„Valor is not based on the deeds of one day ” Miklós Zrínyi
In 2005, Baranta gained admission into the Hungarian Martial Arts Federation.
Since then the Baranta Association has built great relationships and friendships
with other representatives of other styles of martial arts (Kung-Fu, Kempo,
etc.) in order to share ideas and experiences. Baranta has continuously been
invited to perform at their National, European, and World Cup competitions.
Members of Baranta regularly take part in various martial arts competitions and
appear in international competitions organized in Hungary. By competing and
taking part in competitions organized by other martial arts disciplines, Baranta
gets needed feedback about itself and is able to place itself in the world of
Culture - Traditions
Cultures are as diverse as the people of the world. The Baranta philosophy is
that people have to know their own culture as deeply as possible so that they
can share ideas with others. Diversity is inevitable because cultures develop
and evolve. Baranta does not think of traditions as dogmatic issues but as
strong starting points that were created for a reason by those who lived before
us. Culture has always been adapted to the given time to be used to overcome
existing challenges. In turn, a follower of Baranta should try to gain as much
knowledge of the past, its traditions and values, and adapt them to help solve
Baranta revives lost or fading traditions that unfavorable history had erased,
by reorganizing cultural events, such as ‘choosing the king of
Pentecost’ (challenge of manhood for unwed men), whipping on New Year’s
Eve instead of using fireworks, or “Regölés” (an ancient form of Christmas
Caroling). Baranta’s goal is similar to the ‘Hungarian dance-house
movement’ (which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List) but it would like
to expand it to cover all aspects of life.
„Tradition is the science of life”
The Baranta competitive system is made up of different levels. On the first
level, teams organize their own local contests, usually with the most popular
events such as saber-fencing or belt-wrestling. Then, there are regional
competitions which are suitable for gathering teams together that are in the
same region. This helps them share their own experiences and ideas which
keeps Baranta moving in the right direction. Next, there are two types of
national competitions. The first is the National Championship which is made
up of 3-5 different competition days and the person who collects the most
points is the National Champion. The second is the National Cup which is a
grueling one day long contest with 9-10 different competitions (running,
archery, fencing, wrestling, horse-riding, etc.). It is similar to a decathlon, with
a serious need of strength, stamina and will-power. Another type of
competition within the Baranta system is the thematic competition (only one
weapon but different tasks are given). To better explain, let’s use the long-whip
as an example: first, a 1 min. performance must be given; then, two
well-protected competitors fight one another; and lastly, a specially made
obstacle course is timed and scored. International competitions such as the
Balassi Bálint and Sudár István Memorial Competitions are organized to
introduce different styles and cultures within a fighting discipline.
Baranta always focuses on the children, and therefore has a similar system
applicable to them. These events give them a great fun experience and avoid
the feeling of being unsuccessful.
Once Hungary had a huge variety of games, almost every village had its own
special game or at least they had a similar game but with different rules.
Unfortunately urbanization and globalization have been having a very negative
affect because the younger generations are losing touch with these games.
Baranta is trying to reverse this tendency and encourage more and more
children to play them actively.
These games can also be used as a tool for teaching. Children learn about
honesty, fairness, cooperation and teamwork, not to mention camaraderie.
A special thing about Hungarian folk-games is that usually there is no winner.
This means that players play just for the joy of playing which is an important
message in today’s success-oriented sports life.
For children, the biggest part of their Baranta workouts is all about playing
these games. This is still an effective training method because while playing
these games the children’s coordination, reflexes and dexterity also improve.
It prepares them for the more complicated activities to come. Another special
thing is that these games do not have strict rules. Rules differ according to the
place or situation (e.g. people playing the game) in order to make the game
more interesting and amusing.
There is a really wide variety of games from the most simple “tag”, to the
many different types of wrestling games, all the way through to the more
complicated games needing more complex skills (“méta”, “hit-the-wall”, etc.).
These games are not just for children. They are perfectly suitable for adults too.
Everyone loves to play, especially Hungarians! Games are so much a part of
the Hungarian life and culture.
Baranta collects its folk-games the same way folk-songs were collected from
the countryside. They are gathered from the older generations, and many of
them can be found in our literature from a time gone by. These games date far
back into the Hungarian history.