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El Juego de Maní

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Title: El Juego de Maní  
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Subject: Jailhouse rock (fighting style), List of Caribbean folk music traditions, Mock combat, Cuban Rumba
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El Juego de Maní

El Juego de Maní (meaning game of war), "Maní" is an African[specify] word for war, sometimes referred to as Baile de Maní (or simply as Maní), el Juego de Maní con Grasa (grease game) or Bambosa because of its smooth and slippery qualities[1] is a martial art/dance that was brought to Cuba by the African slaves. It has its roots in the Kongo-Angola culture and is still kept alive today in Cuba today by many folklorical groups. Maní is similar to Capoeira (which is also derived from the Kongo-Angola culture) in its African roots. It is a missing link of the arts brought from Africa to the Caribbean. The participants are referred to as "Maniseros".[2] Although not as gymnastic as Capoeira Regional, it is much more similar to Capoeira Angola or L'agya (or Damaye) from Martinique and Guadeloupe.[3] Caricao has a version and Puerto Rico has Maní, which should not be confused with Cuba's Juego de Maní.[4]


The music utilized in Maní is Palo Monte, or simply Palo, an Afro-Cuban religion. It is binary in sound. A grandmaster of the art that still teaches today is Juan De Dios Ramos Morejón. He was a member of Cuba's "Conjunto Folklorico" (Folkloric Connection) and the founder of "Raices Profundas" (Deep Roots). It is through these folklorical groups that Palo and Maní are kept alive. Although a few masters still exist in Cuba, not many truly understand the fighting aspects of the art over the folklorical version. Juan De Dios grew up fighting in the streets of Cuba and he is considered a living encyclopedia of the art when he chooses to teach it.[5]

Music, Dance & Technique

The system of maní encompasses techniques such as low kicks, sweeps, head butts, elbows, forearms, knees and the cartwheel. The foot work is similar in theory to the Brazilian ginga, but has a more stomping motion. It also uses weapons such as the machete, double machete, and staff (used similarly to calinda stick fighting). Energy is drawn from the earth. Each fight ends in a sweep, take down or grappling maneuver. In colonial Cuba, juego de maní involved a solo dancer who danced within a circle of opponents. His opponents tried to strike blows as he executed various jumps and evasive steps. The fight's rhythm is based on the rhythm that is played by the musicians and accompanying musicians were expected to synchronize drumming accents with movement accents in the performance. This form was popular in Matanzas and Las Villas provinces and featured circling, competitive male dancing, which influenced dances that were created in Cuba, such as rumba Columbia. The original martial art form of juego de maní risked particular danger, because the dancer sometimes had leather wrist covers (muñequeras) that were adorned with nails and other sorts of metal. Originally, Cuban women also danced juego de maní, and this was outlawed in the 1930s, but was still performed.[1][6] Today, maní is very folkloric and those who practice it, do it as a pastime or for socializing, because it encompasses so much: music, singing, fighting, friendship, etc. One of the main songs used in El Juego de Maní is: "Vamos a la Guerra si Maní". Again, the songs of Maní are accompanied by the music of Palo.

Prominent Maniseros

Juan De Dios Ramos Morejón has been an ambassador of Afro-Cuban music and martial arts and has travelled extensively throughout the world including: Germany, Japan, the United States, Mexico and many other places. He is based out of Cuba. He is represented in the United States by his student Miguel Quijano.


de:Afrokubanische Rumba
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