This kind of wrestling is neither like oil wrestling nor mat wrestling. This is another type of wrestling brought from the Middle Asia to Anatolia. Every year a wrestling floor is established in Gaziantep. In history, this is the oldest type of wrestling known. It is common among the Iskit, Saka, Uyghur, Karahan, Moghul, Uzbek, Kazakh, Cagatay Turks and among the Kizik Turks in Gaziantep and Antakya in Turkey.
Aba wrestling was at first practiced as military training rather than sports, to keep the soldiers fit. Today it has become a sports activity. The Turks have brought aba wrestling everywhere they went. For example, Judo, which is considered as the sports of the Far East, is another version of aba wrestling. The "trouser" wrestling, which is common in Sweden, is estimated to be started by the Hun Turks who emigrated from the Middle Asia to the Baltic.
Aba wrestling is practiced in the provinces of Hatay and Kahramanmaraş in Turkey. However, passover aba wrestling is peculiar to the province of Gaziantep. The name comes from the wrestler's cloth, which is made out of aba (sheep wool and goat’s hair), weaved on handloom, without sleeves but strengthened on shoulders and back with leather. The cloth goes down to the knees of the wrestler.
There are numerous types of aba, most of which are the "Native Aba" (Red Aba, Gray Aba), Aba of Maraş, Aba of Hamis, Aba of Broadcloth, Black Aba, Aba of Urfa and Grandson’s Aba.
Passover aba wrestling is technically and visually different from other types of wrestling. The wrestlers are categorized in ages and the ones to wrestle wear aba and belt. They wrestle on barefoot, trying to grasp each other by the belt to pass the rival over himself. The wrestle manages to do so twice is the winner.
In the recent years, the Metropolitan Municipality of Gaziantep has been organizing the wrestling tournaments every year. The municipality has established a facility for the organization, which is 12 km from the city center. This wrestling, laying the basis for the Turkish wrestling, is the primary reason why the Turks are rarely defeated on wrestling mat. Oil wrestling, Aba wrestling, Passover aba wrestling, wrestling with short baggy trousers and black lap, which are preserved by local governments and which have been the traditional sports in Turkey for centuries, establish the worldwide success of Turkish wrestling.
Forbidden Maneuvers in Aba Wrestling
- The wrestler who is passing the rival over the head shall not let go in the air.
- He cannot scythe-hit on the heel of the rival by hand.
- The wrestler who is being passed over the head shall not push his head through the armpit towards the chest of his rival.
- The wrestler who is passing over his rival shall not let go of his rival’s belt and make a double or a single attack.
- The enemy shall not be grasped from the knee down.
- The wrestler who grasps his rival on his armpit shall not squeeze his neck.
- The wrestlers shall not make dangerous movements such as breaking, when he opens his arms more than 90 degrees.
- The wrestler who wins or loses shall not be applauded by the spectators.
- The wrestlers shall pass over with the right hand.
Victory-Defeat in Passover Aba Wrestling
- The wrestler who passes his rival over and grasps him by the belt shall be deemed defeated if he lets go.
- The wrestler who falls on his back or front shall be deemed defeated.
- The wrestler whose haunch and side of shoulders completely touch the ground shall be deemed defeated.
- If the back or side of the wrestler, who throws his rival back or does a similar movement, touch the ground, and if it is visible, he shall be deemed defeated.
- If the wrestler, who is being passed over, falls on the ground when he raises his rival, the one who passes over shall be deemed defeated.