During the years of training, from time to time I would hear the first generation martial artist speak of a Martial Art that was handed down from generation to generation in the Bahamas. I once took it as just old stories teachers would tell their students to encourage them in their training. I had heard of stories of fishermen who used the techniques on the beaches to settle disputes but the most popular story was of a lady who knew this art form and dared that any man that could hold her down would be able to have his way with her. Needless to say no one was able to defeat this Bahamian martial art practitioner.
It wasn’t until I was surfing the internet one evening that I came upon an article written in Black Belt Magazine, Black Belt Times in 1971, that it became real. This article spoke of Master Kermit Ford as he was photographed performing a technique to his students. The article was suppose to be about the formation of the National Bahamian Karate Federation by Mr Ford but instead I some how focused on one particular paragraph that mentioned this word that ive been hearing for most of my martial life… PiapPry
Below is an excerpt that caught my eye.
The popularity of karate was aided by its resemblance to a native self defense art called piapry, which sprang up among the sponge fishermen in the early 1900’s. At that time there were may battles over sponge beds rights. Piapry boasted a front kink and many deceptive maneuvers. One of the techniques was first pretending to submit to the opponent and then slapping him in the face. However, this art did not find any permanent base in the land where it was conceived, since it was strictly a father-to-son deal, and no schools were ever established.
To read the entire article you can visit the Black Belt Times page at this link Black Belt Magazine. Be sure to scroll down to page 11 to view the article.
This article sparked something in me. To know that we as Bahamians actually have our own form of Martial Art. The questions started to flood my mind. What is it? How is it executed? Who teaches it? does it still exist? It has been my driving force to find out more about this Bahamian Martial Art PiapPry and document its existence.
Ever since I saw this article it has been on my mind to find out more about martial arts in the Bahamas and the history behind the many martial arts schools in the Bahamas. This is ofcourse one of the driving reasons for the formation of this website and although it has been difficult maintaining it with appropriate and timely information it is something that needs to be done as much of the history is buried in the minds of the first generation martial artist.