Martial arts

Martial arts in New Mexico. Martial arts were called ikaesinne, daahijiga, arte marcial, or artes militares. The focus of the majority of New Mexican martial arts are the cognizance of postulants through self-control and exercise.

“I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.”


There is no official list of martial arts represented within the state. In the modern era people have practiced and mastered multiple art-forms; hand-to-hand combat (boxing, karate, mixed martial arts), sword-play, spear, archery, horsemanship, and firearms.

“In the ring I’m at peace, there’s nothing they can do to me… this is a one-to-one thing, its just me and him. He could give a black eye or break my nose, and its like I don’t care, give me another black eye.”

Johnny Tapia

The first instances of martial arts date back to Ancient Pueblo prehistoric culture, Clovis prehistoric culture, and the Mogollon prehistoric culture; and the modern Native American warriors from the Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, and Comanche. The Spanish Santa Fe de Nuevo México brought with it the Spanish soldier, the New Mexico National Guard can trace its roots to this era. The martial arts of both the Native American and Spanish pre-date any other forms of continuing martial art practice within the United States, the New Mexico National Guard is the oldest group of citizen-soldier national-guardsmen in the nation. The Apache religion, Navajo religion, Pueblo religion, and Catholicism provided the basic philosophy which gave warriors the resolution, even at the face of death, to improve their hand-eye coordination and weapon handling skills. A transcendence of events, through the aforementioned philosophies, also allowed for clarified reasoning while honing skills; reverence of a city-state honor and cultural dignity were paramount from these belief systems, however other parts of the belief systems with God, Jesus Christ, patron saints, spirits, santos, and/or kachinas also frequently cited as absolutions.

“You don’t walk in thinking, “I’m going to hurt this person.” You walk in knowing that if it were up to them, they would be doing it to you. So you’re in there for survival.”

Holly Holm