Al-Faris International Horseback Archery Championship (Al-Faris IHAC) is a two-days event held in Jordan under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein. Al-Faris Championship was first launched in Jordan in 2011 to promote this sport in the region and also, to present Horseback Archery as a worldwide Intangible Cultural Heritage sport.
Al-Faris Championship introduces new styles and techniques every year. It includes a variety of archery styles, such as: the Oriental (Jordanian) Style, the Asian (Korean) Style, and the European (Hungarian) Style, in addition to a selection of shows and performances, such as; Saber Fighting, Mogu Show, Tent-Pegging, Vaulting, and other Archery Martial Arts performances. The best competitors from over twenty countries - including the host country - participate in this unique event, competing for the top three ranks per style, the allocated prize money, and “Al-Faris” titles.
Al-Faris IHAC offers different experiences every year. In 2011, Al-Faris Championship introduced the Jordanian Style. In 2012, the Championship featured combining the Jordanian Style with the Turkish Style under one name, known as the “Oriental Style”. In 2018, Al-Faris Championship not only introduces a new Jordanian Style, known Al-Ghara (Arabic for Raid), but also; two newly developed titles (in addition to the first three ranks of each discipline). The first is Al-Faris Champion Honorary Award for best chivalrous behavior and horsemanship, and the second is titled "Al-Muntaser" for the best overall ranking competitor out of all three Styles (in addition to the allocated prize money).
- Al-Faris: “Al-Faris” is Arabic for “the knight”. The Arabic word is derived from “faras”, meaning “a horse”. “Al-Furusiyya” means “Equestrianism” in general, and it is the historical Arabic term for knightly martial arts and/or exercise, particularly during the Middle Ages, the Crusades, and the Mameluke period. The term also denotes “nobility, chivalry or heroism” – in other words “knighthood”. It also refers to those who are trained to use the spear, bows and arrows, and the lance, in addition to horse riding, wrestling, hunting, fighting, and mixed martial arts skills.
- Knighthood: "Knighthood” is the title, rank, or status of a knight, and it is granted as an honorary title by a monarch. It is rooted in the values of truth, goodness, and beauty. The majority of world nations have known “knighthood” as one of their most important cultural traditions, and also, as one of the most prominent physical and spiritual activities. “Knighthood” and “Horsemanship” occupied a privileged place that no other sport occupied for those nations, many of which, equally in the East and West, regard horsemanship as “The Sport of the Nobility”.
- Mounted Archery: Mounted or Horseback Archery was introduced in the Middle East Region by Turkish tribes in the early 8th century. It was perfected among the Turkish Emirates, such as; the Mameluke Reign in Egypt and by the Moguls of India. This sport developed during the Ottoman Empire into an imperial activity and consisted of different types and techniques, such as; target archery, far distance archery, and short distance archery. Horse-racing and mounted Horseback Archery were amongst the favored sports by the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, the Caliphs, Princes, Governors, and State Officials. Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, was well versed in horsemanship and knighthood arts, encouraging his companions to emulate him in this regard. The Prophet, peace be upon him, used to organize horse and camel races, as well as marksmanship, swimming, fencing and lancing competitions.
Archery was a main pillar in the way of “Furusiyya”. The ancient archery schools were set up like guilds of a spiritual brotherhood carrying this knowledge and understanding of the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him. Unfortunately, the knowledge of archery and the training of warhorses were later forgotten by Muslim communities for more than 100 years. Al-Faris International Horseback Archery Championships, however, brings back this knowledge and revives this sport in the region, while preserving and manifesting knightly skills and traditional weapons, such as; the spear, the sword, and the bows and arrows.
Sources and References
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