Hungarians are inherently a warrior nation; thus characteristic martial art traditions are part of their heritage. During the course of history, the Hungarians had stood up to defend their country against various enemies (Mongols, Ottoman Turks etc.). Sometimes they suffered great losses but the more pressure they were in the stronger they got.
Just as in the case of the emergence of the Far Eastern martial arts the self-defense of the unarmed population was determinative so does folk combat culture, which survived among the peasants and shepherds, pertain to the Hungarian combat culture. Certain elements of this folk combat culture can be traced back to the way of life of rider shepherds and hunters.
Gábor Kopecsni had been researching folk combat culture with ethnographic methods for already a decade. During his work, he collected data from shepherds and in this way enriched our knowledge on staff wrestling, combat with the Hungarian shepherd’s axe (called “fokos”) and the whip (called “karikás ostor”). Besides these, he collected various forms of Hungarian folk wrestling. His basic sources were the practices preserved in folk dances and games developed for improving fighting skills.
His research extends to military combat culture as well, which due to the military training stands in centuries old interaction with folk combat culture. He studies in particular the three characteristic weapons of the Hungarians: the bow, the shepherd’s axe, and the saber.
Gábor Kopecsni created the Dalia School of Upper Hungary (now Slovakia, old name is Felföld) using the elements of the folk and military combat culture and relying on his practical experience in competition and training. The school does not represent the tactics of a certain period but unites the characteristics of hundreds of years’ knowledge of Hungarian martial arts. The curriculum of the school contains seven main areas of knowledge: sabre, bow, shepherd’s axe, staff, whip, offensive weapons, and Hungarian folk wrestling. The Dalia as a Hungarian national martial arts style was born in Felvidék (Upper Hungary), a historic region separated from Hungary by the Treaty of Trianon, where a number of teams already function, additional schools are also opened in Hungary.
The center of the school is based in a small village in today’s Slovakia, in Gömörpéterfala (Petrovce), where generally team leader trainings are held. Those interested can join the already functioning teams or those that are in the process of formation, which can be found in a number of places in the country.
The aim of the Dalia School of Upper Hungary is to return the collected ethnographic data in a synthesized, elaborated, and adapted form to the everyday life of those, who wish to live their Hungarianess through martial arts. It is a school, where national consciousness and the relationship to our ancestors can again strengthen the nation, and also perfect for those, who wish to experience our traditions through martial arts.
The “Felföldi Dalia Iskola” can be found on the following social media sites: Facebook, Instagram.