Juego del Palo Canario (Game of the Canary Island’s Stick), Palo Canario (Canary Island’s Stick) or simply Juego del Palo (Game of Stick) are common names to refer to this martial art from the Canary Islands Archipelago developed by the aboriginal people of the land called Guanches. Originally from North African, the Guanches habitated the Canary Islands and established different kingdoms within the islands commanded by a chief called Mencey. 

Although the origin is uncertain, (whether it was a continuation of arts existing in North Africa at the moment or it was developed by the Guanches in the Canary Islands) what is known is that this art existed prior the arrival of Spaniards to the Islands. There are several depictions of this martial art in drawings and written accounts at the time the Spaniards arrived to the Canary Islands.

Similarly to other arts from other countries like the Philippines, the Juego del Palo was kept almost as a secret and it started to be developed by the families, particularly by shepherds (although not exclusively), since it was very common for shepperds to carry a long stick to go up and down the mountains and adjust to the already complicated terrain. It was not uncommon to settle disputes between them by having a little “juego del palo” competition. 

Centuries later, and as a way to rescue the traditions of the culture and martial arts of the Canary Islands such as Lucha Canaria (Canary Islands Wrestling), it was very common to see people “playing” Juego del Palo at local fares or during some local festivals.

Left: A friend game of Juego del Palo at a local Festivity. Right: Farmers practicing Lucha Canaria (Canary Islands Wrestling)

Different families added their flavor to Palo Canario and emphasize different aspects of it. Some use longer staff (up to 2 meters), and some others use smaller sticks (the size of a Filipino Stick or even smaller). 

Because of this differentiation, styles started to be developed and those styles were named after the person who developed them, normally by using their family names, but sometimes by using nicknames. Common styles are the Morales, Deniz, Acosta…

Left: Short stick (it is a little bit thicker than the medium size) Right: Long Staff. Down: Medium Size Stick.

Maestro Santiago Diaz Bacallado is an instructor and practitioner of many styles with over 30+ years of experince in teaching, but focuses primarily in two (the ones he has practiced the most): the Deniz and Morales. 

He has also pioneered and taught in international meetings of different stick fighting styles such as Jogo do Pau, Shillelagh, Palo Cubano and Palo Venezolano… and he is the Chief Instructor of Our School.

For more information about classes, please contact us at: kajukenbonyc@gmail.com