Sayokan- The Contemporary Turkish Martial Art Developed By Nihat Yiğit


Sayokan is the contemporary Turkish martial art developed by Nihat Yiğit in 1999. Sayokan bases itself upon realistic self defense systems; the martial art takes Ottoman style strikes and grappling moves and merges it with central Asian principals.

The main focus of sayokan is to prepare and teach people to make the correct choices when it comes to an attack and how to defend themselves against smaller people, larger people and from more than one attacker.

This martial art does not focus on memorized moves as there is no guarantee that something will or will not go wrong.

When performing sayokan one focuses not on techniques that have been memorized, but focuses on learning by strategy which gives a learner a better chance in succeeding rather than failing when using sayokan in self defense.

Sayokan Used In Other Martial Arts

There are a wide variety of different martial arts that use sayokan to further their training.

Most martial arts typically use a traditional style of martial art to start off their training and once are competent in the traditional style, they like to move on to sayokan; which gives a learner more knowledge and training in the line of self defense.

By practicing both a strategic martial art and a single focused martial art it also gives a learner a balance in which they can focus on one martial art while also being strategic in their moves.

Sayokan In Competition

Although sayokan is taught in order to give people the knowledge and capability to defend themselves in an attack, like a lot of martial arts, there are competitions in which people can prove their skills in the art of sayokan.

In competition there are certain rules in which one most comply. Moves that are allowed are kicks and knees to the head; moves that are not aloud under any circumstance are punches, elbows and using ones head to strike the face. If these rules are broken you will be disqualified.

In this martial arts competition each match consists of two people (as not to compete against multiple people). As with most martial arts, the people in which one will be versing is determined by the color of their belt.

There are three different competitions;

  • Gencalp
  • Konuralp
  • Baturalp

Green belts can only compete in Gencalp, brown belts can only compete in Konuralp and black belts can only compete Baturalp.

For konuralp and baturalp there is a 5 minute fight time while gencalp has a 3 minute fight time. In order to win you must knock your opponent down first. If three warnings are distributed to a single competitor they will be disqualified.

Sayokan In Self Defense

Now that we have gone through sayokan in a competitive sense, let us talk about it in self defense.

When used to its full extent, sayokan can be very harmful when used against someone which is why it should only be used in self defense (unless used in competition).

The main thing to remember when undergoing an attack is to be rational and be wary of what is going on and the way the attacker is moving.

When focusing on how the attacker is moving it allows for you to assess the situation and determine the best way to move in a way that is less harmful to you.

Some of the techniques that can be used when undergoing an attack are twisting your core, assessing the angles of attack in order to defend yourself in the best possible way and lastly keeping an eye on the distance between you and the attacker as not to mistakenly getting close enough for them to strike or render you defenseless.