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Takanakuy: Peruvian Christmas tradition of fist fighting with family & friends

Centuries old Peruvian festival, Takanakuy where locals duke it out with their nearest and dearest on Christmas Day.

(Editor's note: This article has been re-featured on the Bloody Elbow front page for Christmas Day 2016.)

South America has long been a continent known for producing elite level athletes in the combat sports arena. Brazil, in particular, has been a veritable hotbed for MMA, producing numerous stars and champions. Peru, it would seem, has a unique take on the Christmas, and it involves duking it out with those family and friends closest to you.

In an awesome story by, the ancient practice of Takanakuy is the focal point. Takanakuy a centuries old tradition that was originally designed to settle legal disputes in the city of Santo Tomas. Basically, the indigenous Andean citizens of the Chumbivilcas Province, near Cuzco, wrap their fists and commence to beating the tar out of each other, as a method of celebration and a way to settle disputes (not just the legal kind).

Don't think this tradition is only for the men. Women and children participate as well, often while hundreds of spectators watch. Just because the practice may seem a little barbaric, it doesn't mean it's NHB. There are rules:

  • No biting or kicking a grounded opponent.
  • There is always a referee figure equipped with a whip to keep things on the up and up, but hey, it's a colorful whip, so if you're on the receiving end of some lashings, at least your eyes will be treated to some color.
  • Local police are on standby in case things get out of hand.

Despite the violent nature of the celebration, it is considered a joyous festival, with music, dance and not surprisingly, lots of alcoholic beverages. There is even a uniform of sorts, traditional belts with colorful ski masks and sometimes, stuffed animals worn as hats.

If you're thinking that your Christmas couldn't get any worse because of crazy in-laws or friends that always manage to wreck a party with their inebriated party tricks, take them in the back yard for a good, old-fashioned round of Takanakuy.

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