The National Sport of Georgia: Wrestling

August 25, 2023

Georgia, a small country nestled in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, boasts a rich cultural heritage and a strong sense of national identity. One of the key elements that defines Georgia's identity is its national sport - wrestling. Known locally as "Chidaoba," wrestling holds a special place in the hearts of Georgians and plays a significant role in their history, traditions, and social fabric.

The Origins of Georgian Wrestling

Georgian wrestling has ancient roots, stretching back thousands of years. It is believed to have originated from the ancient sport of Pankration, an ancient form of martial art and wrestling that was practiced in ancient Greece. Over time, Georgian wrestling developed its unique techniques, rules, and traditions, making it distinct from other forms of wrestling.

The sport gained further significance during the medieval period when it was adopted as a crucial part of military training. The Georgian warrior class, known as the "Khevsurs," considered wrestling as an essential skill for combat and self-defense. It was also used as a way to resolve conflicts and maintain order within the community.

The Rules and Techniques of Georgian Wrestling

Georgian wrestling is a form of belt wrestling, where opponents aim to throw each other onto the ground. The sport is characterized by its simplicity, adherence to tradition, and emphasis on technique and physical strength. Matches are often accompanied by traditional music and are performed on an open field or on a specially prepared surface known as "akhtahandoba."

One of the unique features of Georgian wrestling is the use of a special leather belt called "Sambo." The belt is an essential part of the wrestler's attire, and grapplers aim to grip it to gain leverage and throw their opponents off-balance. The objective is to either force an opponent's back or both shoulders to touch the ground, resulting in a victory.

Georgian wrestling also incorporates a variety of gripping techniques, throws, and holds, which have been passed down through generations. These techniques require a combination of strength, agility, and intelligence, making the sport both physically demanding and mentally stimulating.

Georgian Wrestling as a Cultural Symbol

Wrestling is more than just a sport in Georgia; it is a cultural symbol that represents the core values and identity of the nation. The high regard for wrestling is evident in its integration into various aspects of Georgian society, including literature, folk dances, and traditional celebrations.

Georgian wrestling tournaments, known as "Kakhetian Pankisi," attract participants from all regions of the country and abroad. These events not only showcase the exceptional skills of the wrestlers but also provide an opportunity for communities to come together, celebrate their heritage, and pass down the traditions to younger generations.

Furthermore, the government of Georgia has recognized the importance of wrestling in preserving the national identity and has taken steps to support and promote the sport. The Georgian Wrestling Federation organizes national championships, international competitions, and training camps, ensuring that Georgian wrestling continues to thrive both domestically and internationally.


Georgian wrestling is not just a sport; it is a cultural phenomenon deeply ingrained in the traditions, history, and social fabric of the nation. Through its long-standing heritage, unique techniques, and cultural significance, wrestling has become one of the defining elements of Georgia's national identity. It serves as a reminder of the strength, resilience, and unity that are deeply rooted in the Georgian spirit.

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