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Okichitaw is an Indigenous martial art that is practiced both armed and unarmed; when unarmed, students learn hand positioning and attack techniques as though they are armed. Okichitaw uses force to meet force, and therefore demands a high level of athleticism from its practitioners. The gunstock war club and long knife are the most commonly used weapons, although the tomahawk, short lance, and long lance are also used. Okichitaw also includes the practice of basic principles that are expected to be followed inside and outside of martial training, namely the Seven Grandfather Teachings and the Medicine Wheel and Four Directions. The Seven Grandfather Teachings are love, respect, humility, honesty, wisdom, bravery, and truth. The Medicine Wheel and Four Directions, which are used during training and battle, are: the identification and response to an attack, which requires balance, confidence, and creatively (East); the challenge instigated against the opponent, which requires strength, focus, and success (South); the control of the opponent, by surprise or force, which requires courage, energy, and knowledge (North); and the takedown of the opponent (West).

What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

Okichitaw was created in the 1990s by George Lépine, a Plains Cree from Manitoba. Lépine used his own knowledge of martial arts and Plains Cree combat, along with research and guidance from Aboriginal Elders, to develop Okichitaw. In 2002, Okichitaw was accepted as a unique indigenous Canadian martial art by the World Martial Arts Union. The word “Okichitaw” draws from the Plains-Cree word “okichitawak” which is an honourable term granted by Elders to a Cree warrior when he has proven himself in battle.

Who takes part?

Although originating in First Nations culture, training is open to males and females of diverse ages and any ethnocultural background.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

There is only one organization in Canada which formally teaches Okichitaw, although George Lépine offers private workshops around the world. There are two locations in Toronto that offer classes.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?

OKICHITAW Indigenous Martial Arts

Is there anything else we should know?



Martial Arts
  • Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
    16 Spadina Road
    Toronto, ON M5R 2S7
  • Riverdale Martial Arts Centre
    838 Broadview Ave
    Toronto, ON M4K 2R1

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