Pictures: Winners emerge as KCCN stages Ssireum competition in Nigeria 

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A Korean traditional Wrestling sport Ssireum has been officially introduced in Nigeria with a debut amateur competition organised by the Korean Cultural Centre Nigeria (KCCN).

The two-day event which held in Abuja Nigeria’s capital weekend drew at least 30 participants with winners emerging afterwards in its demonstration.

At the end, Tosin Olaniyan and Suruola Faari emerged winners.

Olaniyan defeated Philip Yina Labba and Chisom Adati to cinch first place at the male category of tournament, while Faari swept past Bella Daniel and Emeka Maryann (3rd place) to win the female category.

Those who lost were placed in second and third positions respectively.

Talking about the sport, the head coach of KCCN Gbolahan Ogumuyiwa said, “Ssireum is growing rapidly in the world today. Taekwondo is the number 1 martial arts from Korea, but I tell you that in the next few decades Ssireum will assume a position such that it will begin to feature at the Olympics.

“In Nigeria today, as we engage in annual demonstrations of Ssireum, we will come to a point where we will have Ssireum clubs all over the country. We want to take it to the school because the school system is the basic place to develop any sports. Our emphasis is to organize Ssireum clubs at primary and secondary schools. Overtime, we will have associations at the state, then national levels. By the time you have it at the NUGA Games and the National Sports Festival, then the sport is here to stay.”

Coach also spoke of the virtues Ssireum exude said, “Beyond wrestling as a competitive sport, Ssireum teaches athletes humility; and individual strength and skills.

“Just like other Korean martial arts I am used to, courtesy is very important (in Ssireum). When people come to the ring/arena, they come with humility; no one comes to the arena with arrogance. Also, the referee’s decision is final.

“It is a sport that tests your strength. Beyond strength, there is technique and skill. Any skill demonstrated without skill might not give you the expected result. People think Taekwondo is the only traditional sport in Korea, but there are many other martial arts of Korean origin that are doing well in Korea.”

He said there are expectations that the sport will soon be introduced in the Nigerian Universities Games (NUGA) and National Sports Festival (NSF).

However, Blueprint gathered that Ssireum is a traditional Korean game usually played during Chuseok. 

It is played between two players where both players hold onto each-others satba, a red and blue band tied across their thigh, and the one whose upper body gets pinned to the floor first loses.

It is played on various occasions, including traditional holidays, market days and festivals.

Different regions have developed variants of ssireum based on their specific backgrounds, but they all share the common social function of ssireum – enhancing community solidarity and collaboration. As an approachable sport involving little risk of injury, ssireum also offers a means of improving mental and physical health. Koreans are broadly exposed to ssireum traditions within their families and local communities: children learn the wrestling skills from family members; local communities hold annual open wrestling tournaments; and instruction on the element is also provided in schools.

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