Kurdish wrestling or wrestling with Choukhe is one of the oldest and most popular traditional and rural sports in Iran played in northern areas of Khorasan.
Wrestling with Choukhe which was known to be Kurdish wrestling in the past, is one of the customs of Kurdish people in the north of Khorasan which effects on the life of the people not only as a sport but also as a cultural and championship ritual.
This type of wrestling is reminiscent the spirit of bravery, chivalry, unity and championship among the people in this area and usually is performed in ceremonies, wedding parties and Eids in outdoor and nature on turf or soft soil in the villages and residential places of nomads and the glory of this sport can be seen in Esfarayen at 13th and 14th of Farvardin.
Today, this sport is also done on wrestling mats. This wrestling is the only form of Iranian traditional and local wrestling officially registered as an international sport. The wrestlers use particular clothes including a particular trouser its length up to the wrestler's knees or a local long trouser that fold its legs up to the knees – a wool or local cotton coat with no sleeve which named as Choukhe longer than usual coats – a cloth which is famous to Shawl tied up to the waist; the sport is famous to Choukhe wrestling because of using the Choukhe coat. The beauty of Choukhe wrestling can be seen in the traditional form with the presence of many fans in a round square with 10 m diameter, the sound of drum and Sorena and local dances. The rules of this type of wrestling are simple and frankly. The wrestlers are divided into 4 or 5 weight groups and come to the square by kissing the sport field or wrestling mat, then the competitors shake hands and kiss the cheeks of each other after that the competition starts in 10 minutes with no stop.
The competition will be continued more 5 minutes after 2 minutes break if no competitors won in an official time. Choukhe wrestling is a highly rough sport and an actual heroic battle which is played like the classical wrestlings on the ground and with no shoes. Foot has an important role in this wrestling and the competitors win by use of different techniques. The referees of this sport are the elders who are professional in these kinds of competitions. The awards of Choukhe wrestling are different due to its traditional and national nature and the award of winner is a ram based on the local customs.
This wrestling is common in the other countries such as Uzbakestan, Kazakhstan and Tatarstan with different names like “Goarsh”, ”Golash’, ”Alish”, as well. In additional to the Kurdish tribe, other tribes such as Turk, Fars, Afghan and Baluch live in the north of Khorasan and Choukhe wrestling is common among them, too. However, the origin of Choukhe wrestling is the North Khorasan, it is also common among the people of Khorasan, Gorgan and Kerman. There are different types of wrestling arena in the other parts of Iran in the cities such as Khorasan, Qochan, Esfarayen and etc., among which the oldest is “Emam Morshed” in Farouj County and the other arena in Esfayen where the stadiums have been built in Roman.