The fighters of ancient Egypt were the greatest and most feared in the ancient world. Their ways of battle were the most efficient and brutal; they revered their discipline so much that tribute came from across the old empire to keep the forces of the Two Lands appeased. Aha,’ Kamat employs the latest archaeological research to construct the lessons for you to learn the secrets of the Aha’atyu – the fighters of ancient Egypt.
The Par Madja’at (House of Books) of the ancient Edfu Temple to Horus housed a papyrus titled the Book of Aha’ (Combat). As the book itself is lost to history, Aha’ Kamat sought to recreate a book of Aha’, and their research yielded a wealth of information. Using this research, Aha’ Kamat created a structured form of techniques to harness the power of the Ah’a of ancient Egypt to teach a modern generation of warriors with the spirit of ancient Egypt within them.
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Aha’ Satash – Combat of Seth
Aha’ Satash is intended to be a reconstruction of the first and only unarmed form taught to new soldiers. In a military environment, unarmed combat is rightly considered a secondary skill. The basic structure of Aha’ Satash is made up of eight different techniques, each four offensive and defensive.
Aha’ A’asir – Combat of Osiris
Aha’ A’asir teaches all of the grappling of Ancient Egypt, the most extensively documented fighting sport. With more than 400 maneuvers Aha’ A’asir is prime in all grappling sports. Found on the walls of tombs in Beni Hassan and Medinet Habu, the grappling of Ancient Egypt was very popular in its day, not only as combat training but as a sport. We named this ancient sport after A’asir or, Osiris, the Natjar deity of the Netherworld, whose mummiform image reminds us of the object of wrestling being bound submission.
Aha’ Manatju – Combat of Montu
Aha’ Manatju is intended to be useful in urban situations. While Aha’ Satash is constructed to push an opponent away so that a weapon can be acquired, Aha’ Mantju is to get inside the opponent’s defenses, to use a weapon they might have against them, for close-quarter combat.
Named after the Natjar deity Manatju (Montu), His image as a bull is symbolic of the hooked punches, the use of elbows, and thrusting knees resemblance to the goring horns of Mantjw in His form as a bull. In His form of the falcon, He gives His inspiration for specialized clawing attacks. The Madja’u (Medjay) take a prominent role in the reconstruction of this combat technique, as this originally Nubian ethnic group was assimilated into ancient Egyptian society and served ancient Egypt of the New Kingdom as special forces in battle or policing the streets of Thebes were devoted to Mantju
Aha’ Kh’au – Weapons Combat
Studying the reliefs of war as well as working with the weapons themselves, AHa’ Kamat has created a formidable fighting style of ancient Egyptian weapons.
Weaponry evolved slowly, with the most significant improvements occurring in the New Kingdom. Weapons in ancient Egypt were similar, if not identical to weapons in surrounding countries.
The earliest weapons discovered in ancient Egypt are from c. 4,000 BCE, axes, maces, and cutting blades. The weapons of the predynastic era were simple flint blades lashed to wood sticks with rope or strips of leather. Flint blades were still widely used even as copper and bronze became available due to the durability of stone over copper and bronze weapons.
By the Predynastic period’s end, weapons were made from copper mined locally. Some ores of copper being formed into the spearheads and battle axes naturally blended with deposits of tin to form a natural bronze alloy long before bronze smelting was prevalent in Egypt.
The spear, probably the earliest projectile weapon, started as a heavy staff with one end sharpened. It evolved from the spearhead, which was the first flint or some other stone. It began with its use to bring down large animals in the Neolithic era, later being used as a weapon in battle. The spear consists of a wood staff, 5-6 ft long (1- 1.8 meters), and a leaf-shaped blade attached to the end. The earliest spearheads were made of flint but then replaced with copper as smelting facilities were available.
From the predynastic period until the late middle kingdom slotted spearheads were used. The slotted spearhead was made with an extended tab that is slotted into the staff and lashed with leather thongs. After the Middle Kingdom, a new form of spearhead, the socketed spearhead, came into use. The socketed spearhead was fashioned with a socket beneath the blade that the wood shaft was fitted into and then bolted on. The socketed spear proved superior in battle and was used exclusively.
A shorter spear or javelin was used as a short-range projectile, and most likely was the result of the spear shaft being broken. As wood was a valued commodity, instead of bolting the spearhead to new staff, it was thrown or a pommel would be attached to the end to balance the javelin.
Iunat – Bow
The bow and arrow was the primary and most effective weapon of the ancient Egyptian fighter. The earliest bows varied in the design of wood or antlers. Bows were strung with sinew or gut string but only when in use as the tautness of the bowstring causes strain and fatigue to the wood and accelerates breakage.
The most common bow, which was simply a wooden stave made commonly from acacia wood. The stave bow’s range of firing an arrow was up to two hundred meters. Even with the introduction of the composite bow, most archers were still equipped with the stave bow.
Arrows were usually constructed from reed shafts, then tipped with bone, ivory, or metal arrowheads. Arrow construction has remained relatively unchanged, and most modern examples of arrowheads match their ancient counterparts.
The a’amas is one of the oldest weapons in ancient Egypt. An a’amas consists of a heavy stone lashed to a haft made of wood. By the Predynastic era, the a’amas had become more sophisticated.
Stone for mace heads was usually granite or diorite, but any hard and colored stone was used. The mace head was polished highly to show off the colors and grain of the stone. A hole was drilled through the center of the stone, then wedged into the haft. Additionally, the stone was secured with leather thongs.
The shape of the mace head varied; the most common was a flat disc. Other shapes include an oval-shaped mace head with sharp points, a round head, and the pear-shaped mace head depicted as being held by the predynastic Pharaohs.
A’aqahu Battle Axe
Axe heads made of flint and other stone survived from the earliest times. In the Old and Middle Kingdoms, the stone axe head was replaced by copper, and in the New Kingdom, bronze.
Axe heads varied in shape, such as a rectangular shape with a rounded blade, or an elongated head with a paddle-shaped head. Another type of axe that evolved in the New Kingdom consisted of a half-oval blade close to the handle, with three tangs that fit into the haft.
Ancient Egyptian axes had similar constructions. Axe heads had projecting lugs on either side, which was used to lash the axe head to the wooden handle by using wet leather thongs. The thong was wound around the handle securing the lugs, then threading the thongs through a hole in the top center of the axe head. The leather shrank as it dried, securing the axe head to the handle.
Axes with engraving and ornate openwork were of ceremonial use.
The Khapash evolved from the iqahu battle axe. Originating in Syria, the khapash was first employed by Thutmose III c. 1504-1450 BCE, with depictions of this ‘weapon of victory’ being given to Pharaohs by gods. It is depicted being the favored weapon of Manatju or Montu, and Iman, or Amun, and depictions of Pharaohs Rameses II being shown wielding the khapash atop his chariot, as well as Rameses III using the khapash to execute Sea People prisoners.
The word khapash means ‘foreleg’ and is named for its resemblance to the hieroglyph for the foreleg of an animal. It also has a deeper meaning, being its connection to the foreleg offering in the opening of the mouth ceremony, where the foreleg of bulls from Upper and Lower Egypt are offered with their hearts to allow the statue of the deity or the dead to see and speak. The khopesh had several different styles, but all have a foreleg-shaped curved blade. There are examples of the khapash being one or two-handed. The khapash is used for various attacks, such as stabbing, slashing, and blunt force attacks
The damat is one of the earliest weapons. a small blade is effective for close-quarter combat, easily carried, light, and easily manufactured.
Flint was the first material used, and even still continued to be used after bronze smelting technology was widely available.
New Kingdom bronze knives or daggers were discovered in tombs. Bronze damatu knives were formed by molten cast poured into clay forms, then heated in fire and hammered to temper.
Evolutions of the New Kingdom damat included a mid-ridge running the length of the center of the blade that added strength. Another addition was the pommel, which was cast in one piece with the blade and added balance.
During the New Kingdom, the new bronze knives became longer and thinner, becoming the nakan sword. However, with the limitations of bronze weapons technology, the nakan could not be casted longer than about 24 inches overall, or 2 feet long.
The Madja’ayw police force utilized a hand shaped madu to combat criminals in ancient Egyptian cities. As weapons of war were banned in urban areas, Madja’ayw were equipped with the madu and trained baboons.
The madu was also used by stick fighters in sports games, which evolved into the modern-day Tahtib.
‘ama’at Throwing stick
The primary use of the throwing stick is to hunt birds. The throwing stick was used as a secondary weapon on the battlefield.
In the myth of Horus Behdety and the Winged Disk, the Shamasw Har (Followers of Horus) were workers of metal with spears and chains, and they smote the Followers of Seth who rebelled against Ra:
The enemies of Ra rushed into the water, and they took the forms of crocodiles and hippopotami. Ra-Horakhty sailed over the waters in His boat, and when the crocodiles and the hippopotami had come near to Him, they opened wide their jaws in order to destroy Ra-Horakhty. Horus-Behdety arrived, with His followers behind him in the forms of workers in metal, each having in his hands an iron spear and a chain. In Horus’ name, they smote the crocodiles and the hippopotami. There were brought in six hundred and fifty-one crocodiles, which had been slain before the city of Djeba. Ra-Hor-ma-A’akhet said to Horus-Behdety, “My Image shall be here in the land of the South, which is a house of victory; “the House of Horus-Behdety is called hwt-nakhatat to this day…The enemies rose up to make their escape before Him, as the face of the god was toward the Land of the North. Their hearts were stricken through fear of Him, as Horus-Behdety was at the back of them in the Boat of Ra with His Metalworkers wielding spears of metal and chains of metal in their hands. The god Himself was equipped for battle with the weapons of the metal workers. He passed a full day before he saw them to the north-east of the Nome of Tantyra (Dendera). Ra said to Thoth, “The enemies are resting, hidden from their lord.” The Majesty of Ra-Horus-Behdety, “You are my exalted son who comes from Nut. The courage of the enemies failed in a moment.Myth of Horus and the Winged Disk – Temple of Edfu
The ancient Egyptian shield was constructed of wood and covered in cowhide with fur. The wood and hide shield was shown to be more effective against the weapons of the time than shields made of bronze. It was utilized on the shield arm or lashed to the back to allow full use of arms and to prevent attack from behind.
ikam a’a forearm Shield
The ikam a’a was utilized in sport stick fighting. This shield was made from slats of wood bound in leather and lashed to the arm to block strikes from the A’aryat and to strike the opponent.