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Tejo: Exploring the Traditional Colombian Sport


Rooted in the country’s history, Tejo has become a symbol of Colombian identity and a source of entertainment for both locals and visitors.

The origins of Tejo can be traced back to the indigenous peoples who inhabited the Colombian region long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. They played a similar game that involved throwing stones at a target, which eventually evolved into Tejo as we know it today. With the Spanish colonization, the game underwent further modifications and incorporated new elements, including the use of gunpowder.

How the Game Tejo is Played

Tejo is played on a field called a “tejo court” that consists of clay or sand pits, with a metal ring in the center known as the “bocin.” The objective of the game is to throw a metal disc, called a “tejo,” and land it as close as possible to the bocin. To add excitement and a touch of spectacle, small paper packets filled with gunpowder are placed around the bocin. When hit by a tejo, these packets explode, creating a loud bang and a cloud of smoke.

Tejo is not just a game; it is a cultural experience that reflects the spirit and traditions of Colombia. It is often accompanied by lively music, dancing, and friendly banter among players. In many regions, Tejo is enjoyed alongside traditional Colombian beverages, such as aguardiente, adding to the festive atmosphere.

People playing Tejo in Bogota. Credit: Matt Zimmerman/CC BY 2.0

Popularity and Competitions

Tejo has gained widespread popularity throughout Colombia, and it is not uncommon to find tejo courts in cities, towns, and rural areas across the country. The game has even reached international recognition, with Tejo tournaments and competitions being held in various countries.

One of the most notable events is the National Tejo Tournament, which brings together teams from different regions to compete for the title of national champion. This tournament showcases the skill, precision, and camaraderie that define Tejo, while also promoting cultural exchange and celebration.

Tejo stands as a testament to the cultural richness and diversity of Colombia. It represents more than just a game; it embodies the country’s history, traditions, and spirit. Whether you’re a spectator or a participant, experiencing Tejo offers a unique opportunity to connect with Colombian culture, forge new friendships, and create lasting memories. So, next time you find yourself in Colombia, be sure to immerse yourself in the world of Tejo and discover the joy of this traditional sport.

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