This film, compiled from earlier documentaries filmed in 2016, depicts daily life in a martial arts training center in the suburbs of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Men of all ages perfect their skills at mixed martial arts, including Khridoli, a traditional Georgian fighting technique. As they see it, a fight might start anywhere; day or night, in the village or in the city. It could punctuate routine, daily life or break out at a wedding. Either way, these men want to be prepared. So do the boys: children from six years of age train here everyday and participate in a championship at the end of the year. Their families watch them practice from a specially designated area.
Most parents explain that this is about more than physical exercise; they also see martial arts as an opportunity to instill their children with traditional values.
By the end of the year, some of these little fighters will be competing in tournaments in the ring. Some of them will win, others won’t; some of them continue training, and others leave, soon replaced by newcomers. Society may change drastically, but for many young men, the martial valors of combat and fighting remain at the heart of masculine identity.
Masculinities, April/May 2019