Takanakuy: The Tradition Where Fist Fight Are Used To Settle Disputes, And Start The New Year With A Clean Slate

July 9, 2018 | No Comments » | Topics: Interesting


Every December 25th, it’s not Santa Claus people in Peru are looking forward to. They’re looking forward to Takanakuy, the annual tradition of getting together as a community, and beating the snot out of each other to settle old grudges, all followed and celebrated in tandem with drinking, dancing, music and family support!

Takanakuy (“when the blood is boiling” in the Quechua language) is an annual established practice of fighting fellow community members held on 25 December, by the inhabitants of Chumbivilcas Province, near Cuzco in Peru. The practice started in Santo Tomás, the capital of Chumbivilcas and has now spread to other villages and cities, the prominent ones being Cuzco and Lima. The festival consists of dancing and of individuals fighting each other to settle old conflicts or simply to display their manhood.

It’s not just men going toe to toe in settling old disputes that have boiled up over the year since the last festival, it’s women too.

They even dress up in elaborate stylized costumes:

There are five types of traditional ‘characters’ portrayed during the ceremony that have different roles based on Andean cultural symbols. The majority of the dress is based on traditional horse riding gear and brighly colored Peruvian ski masks, which are characteristic of the specific regional area. The ski masks are not all the same, they have different colors, different designs, and different textile patterns.


Children also dress up for the occasion, usually resembling their father’s character. The purpose of the fighting is to settle conflicts with an individual, friend, family member or to settle territorial conflicts that have come up throughout the year. The style of fighting used during the celebration is relatively similar to martial arts, which involves kicking, punching, and quickness of their movements. Those fighting call out their opponents by their first and last name. They then proceed to the middle of the circle and start the fight.

The men fighting must wrap their hands with cloth prior to the fight. Biting, hitting those in the ground, or pulling hair is not allowed during the fight. The winner is selected based upon a knockout or intervention by the official. There are amateur officials who carry whips in order to maintain the crowd under control. At the start and at the end of the fight, the opponents must shake hands or give each other a hug. If the loser of the fight disagrees with the outcome, he or she can appeal for another fight. This type of fighting also exemplifies one’s level of manhood in the community of Santo Tomás.

Thus, at the centre of things, it’s mainly a manly event backed by families cheering on the Father while officials carry around whips to maintain the crowd.

Though hands are wrapped in cloth, it’s basically bare knuckle, and if the loser doesn’t like that he’s lost, he can appeal to continue for an extension of the fight, or to have another.