Stick fighting, or Juego del Palo, is used as self-defence, sport and folk art througout the Canary Islands. No protective equipment is used but the strikes are indicated rather than being applied with full force. Stick fighting is thought to have come from the Guanches (Aboriginal Canarians) hundreds of years ago.
If you want to see stick fighting, you could visit over Día de las Islas Canarias (Canary Islands’ Day) which is on 30th May. This is a big celebration and you can also enjoy demonstrations of other sports, such as Lucha Canaria, and there is plenty of eating and drinking. The Canarians certainly know how to party!
Fiesta del Charco (Festival of the Lagoon) is another good time to see the stick fighting. It is on from September 7th until September 11th. Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario on October 5th also has plenty of stick fighting shows.
Stick fighting might have been for self defence in the Guanche times but is now almost an art form, used both to entertain spectators and to preserve a historical tradition. Even though the sticks are just used to indicate moves rather than bash each other to bits, if you meet anyone carrying a big stick while you’re on holiday in the Canary Islands, be nice to them… just in case!!