Tahtib comes to us from North Africa and, in particular, Egypt. The Arabic name for Tahtib is Fann el Nazaha Wal Tahtib (roughly, the ‘Art of Uprightness and Honesty through the use of stick’). The term Tahtib derives from ‘Hatab’ which means stick or wood. The stick itself is also called Asa, Asaya, or Nabboot, and is around 4 foot (1.2m) to 5 foot (1.5m) in length.
Tahtib is an ancient art, possibly dating back to the 2nd millennium BC. Engraved tomb walls at the archaeological site of Beni Hasan on the eastern bank of the Nile appear to show stick fighting practice resembling Tahtib. Although modern Tahtib practice tends to be friendly (and there is a heavily stylized Saidi form that has been incorporated with belly dancing practice), traditionally Tahtib matches could turn earnest very quickly and the stick was often used to settle disputes and affairs of honour amongst rural families.
Tahtib practice has its own ceremony and rules of conduct and is typically performed in conjunction with music performed with the tahvol (bass drum) and mizmar (shrill pipe). Tahtib technique is highly circular in nature, and features the hanging guard and high overhead exchanges familiar to other Mediterranean longstick arts such as Bastone Siciliano and Jogo do Pau. There is a good deal of feinting and the overall style is very energetic and has a counter for counter flow.
Video of authentic, martially focused Tahtib is difficult to find on the internet, but the following videos offer a glimpse into the variety of approaches: