Break Out Your Gaffi Sticks! The Tusken Dance

Photo by Kevin Shirley

The sand people of Tatooine (also known as the Tusken Raiders) made their first appearance in film in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. In the film saga, they have been at best foils, serving to advance the narrative and development of the main characters. We knew little of them and their perspective through the films. Disney+’s Book of Boba Fett changed that. The series opened a window into the world of Tusken culture, and showed us a rich tribal society built upon ties of kinship and loyalty. In the series we also learn the importance of the Gaffi stick as both a weapon and symbol of an important rite of passage, initiation into the tribe. The Tuskens trained in its use as a weapon and incorporated it into their celebratory and bonding dance. The Star Wars Track at Dragon Con welcomed Tomas Cap Quin and his martial arts team to Hyatt Regency V Saturday to lead a session of instruction on the Tusken Dance.

The dance is widely recognized as an homage to Hakka/Polynesian culture. A careful analysis of the elements by Quin (a black belt certified instructor of Wing Chun Kung Fu) revealed though that many of the positions and moves are in fact rooted in martial arts. It took some time to break down the component steps but Quin succeeded in the end. The result is a multi-step Kata as well as a “fire dance.”  He introduced those steps to those in attendance. Members who participated in the “lesson” were interested, engaged, and energetic in their training. They made great progress in just 60 minutes. For those interested in continuing their studies, Quin plans to post an instructional video on the Star Wars at Dragon Con (SW@DC) YouTube page.

Photo by Kevin Shirley

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