Just looking at the chronology, we have no references to Sebbekha (in English, anyway) before the Black Belt article in 1988; your reported experience in Cairo was 1989/90.
Mr. Selim/Seleem and Mr. Ali were apparently both former soldiers in the Egyptian Army and were based in Cairo. I still don't buy the "ancient origins" claim re. Sebbekha but I can imagine some Egyptian soldiers/martial artists getting together during the '80s, perhaps combining some native wrestling styles, calisthenics etc. and deciding that they had rediscovered the ancient art of Egyptian crocodile combat. Similar things are happening now in Russia ...
Except Mr. Ali seems to know what he's doing, unlike Mr. Seleem, who sounds like a psycho.
I think "psycho" is a bit extreme; Mr. Seleem sounds like a New Age eccentric and perhaps a fraud but on the other hand he may genuinely believe that Sebbekha is the "world's oldest martial art", especially if it does incorporate indiginous Egyptian wrestling styles. Plenty of modern martial arts claim ancient roots by virtue of the fact that they incorporate folk-styles of indeterminable vintage, as in, no written records, just oral histories.
Originally Posted by kwoww
My main interest right now is to determine whether Sebbekha itself existed as a codified style before, say, the 1980s.
I have a BA in Near and Middle Eastern Civilization with a focus in Egyptology from the University of Toronto. The name doesn't even make sense. There is no evidence of any detailed, recorded form of martial arts from ancient Egypt.
45,000 BC? LOL, Egypt was jungle at this time, the Nile flowed west and the area now called Egypt wasn't inhabited by anyone but hunter-gathers who didn't have the time to develop art, nevermind a complex martial art system.
Later on in Egyptian history, around 1000 BC or so, a form of boxing developed (likely similar to Minoan boxing systems) but we know nothing about it.
The wrestling pictures at Beni Hassan clearly document a codified form of wrestling as far back as the Middle Dynasty, and there are pictures illustrating an interesting form of stick fencing on the walls of the Tomb of Merire II at El Amarna, c. 1350. Of course, this says nothing about the validity of what Mr. Seleem claims about the history of Sebbekha.
Originally Posted by Student1980
Right, didn't I say around 1000 BC or so?
The stick fighting ceremony is also referenced in Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus. It involved a drunken mass of people after a religious ceremony in Bubastis (Modern Tell-Basta) and there is nothing recorded describing any of the forms or practices other than the fact that it was a drunken, religiously inspired, blood filled bash-fest.
Unfortunately nothing was recorded and I very much doubt a system of martial arts was passed down, uninterupted, for over a thousand generations.
Sobekkha isn't a proper ancient Egyptian name either. I guess you could claim its a bastardization of Sobek-ka, which would *very* roughly translate into "The spirt of the crocodile" or "Life essence of Sobek" (the crocodile god).
I'm not disagreeing with you. We all concur that the 45,000 year claim is ridiculous, so the focus has to shift to whether Sebekkha had any verifiable existence before Mr. Seleem (then "Selim") went public in his Black Belt article in '88, and perhaps also to the (presumed) connection between what he wrote about and what losttortoise reported studying in Cairo in the late 1980s.
Lacking much else in the way of verifiable info., at this stage my best guess is that Gamal Selim and perhaps also Mr. Ali were involved in a more-or-less deliberate effort to reconstruct an ancient Egyptian style while they were in the Egyptian Army during the early 1980s, combining an interest in ancient Egyptian lore with an interest in close-combat training.
They may have justified the "ancient Egyptian" claim by incorporating some form(s) of Egyptian folk-wrestling into their training. It's difficult to prove that a fighting sport with no written history doesn't extend back into time immemorial, and easy to believe that it does, if that's what you want to be true. Best place to start would probably be an investigation into Egyptian folk-wrestling styles during the 1800s up through the 1980s, though nothing comes to mind there.
It's possible that as Mr. Seleem has continued to research (fantasize?) and publish books about ancient Egypt, he's simply convinced himself of the 45,000 year theory.
He did define Sebbekha as "crocodile spirit" in the Black Belt article, and if that etymology is dubious, it's another indication that he may have made the whole thing up. The transition of his own name from Gamal Selim in 1988 to Ramses Seleem in 2007 is another pointer in that direction.
Last edited by DdlR; 9/26/2007 10:57pm at .
You guys are going to love this ...
I trained with Gamel / Ramses Saleem for 4 1/2 years in London some years ago. You might have called me a blind follower at the time !! The long and the short of it is this. The art is pretty much a load of old crap - however in spite of this there were somethings that he taught that I just have not found anywhere else ...
a typical session went like this:
1. Some yoga type stretching called sesh. This was often hardcore like a combo of yoga mixed with old school kykoshnyki karate (bad spelling) thrown in. Verp painful, always to the max and involved a lot of fellow students sitting and standing on you until you got into the required stretch - yes there were always a lot of injuries.
2. Techniques - very much a combo of katate, wing chun and judo mix - with some strange 'seemingly orginal animal forms thrown in - snake, tiger etc. Very classical in it's approach, very form and technqiue driven - again he would drive us until total failiure all the time.
3. Finshed with some mad breathing techniques - again stuff I have never come accross before or since - much of it looked like stuff from Egytptian statues - these breathing exercises were nuts - I would often fall into uncontrolable fits (unfortunately not of laughter) rather muscle spasms - he claimed that it was my nervous system - I would often loose consciousness and awaken a few minutes later to continue
4. When we got more 'advanced' we studied the 'bo' or pole and sticks we also trained on a wooden dummy type thing - although the forms were different from wing chun (I studied that years before). We also did some breaking of boards etc and pushed some serious weights.
on top of all this we studied natural medicine and a host of related 'arts"
Why did I do it - I was naive and I enjoyed it - I also learned a lot about a lot of stuff, I even went to Egypt with him and a group of others.
Benefits - I got incredibly fit and pretty bloody powerful, I started to train in mma after my 3rd year and normally kicked everyones arse in conditioning and raw power - some of his stuff helped me with my ground game and I could hit and kick hard. However it was inherenty useless as a fighting art both in the ring and on the street - BJJ, mma and close combat fighting systems crapped all over it from that perspective.
Conclusion - he has something in it all that is original and in my opinion possibly based on some 'true' Ancietnt Egyptian Heritage, (he used to give public talks and 'eminent' Egyptologists would come and long and he would crap all over them with his knowledge on that topic.
However he has mixed it with anything and everything he can from judo, karate, kung fun, new age, natural medicine, self help etc etc and as an individual was seriously flawed. He wanted a personality cult, in my opinion was a narcissist and at the end of the day took money, promised everything but delivered very very little ...
However saying all that - what a great experience, laughed alot - always learning I suppose - even if its **** - at least you know now what **** is and what to avoid!!
I hope this has been of use.
Hello yesman :wave:
Since it is something unusual that I have never even heard of before AND it is based around London I am curious as to its popularity:
Roughly how many students on average would there be in a class when you trained with him?
Were there a lot of Egyptian and/or Arabic students?
Absolutely impossible. Complete bullshit.
It's well-documented that warriors in ancient Egypt and Nubia exclusively practiced Comba-Tai.
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