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Martial Art forms in India

  • 13 Jun 2022
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Martial arts in India

For Mains: Indian Heritage and Culture

Why in News?

Recently, in Kashmir, a maulvi stepped in to save thang-ta, a martial law practice.Thang Ta is a martial art technique highly prevalent in the state of Manipur.

What are the Various Martial Art Forms in India?

  • Thang Ta – Manipur:
    • Huyen langlon is an Indian martial art from Manipur.
    • In the Meitei language, huyen means war while langlon or langlong can mean net, knowledge or art.
    • Huyen langlon consists of two main components:
      • Thang-ta (armed combat)
      • Sarit Sarak (unarmed fighting).
    • The primary weapons of huyen langlon are the thang (sword) and ta (spear). Other weapons include the shield and the axe.

  • Lathi Khela – West Bengal:
    • Lathi is a wooden weapon to fight and is an ancient weapon used in martial arts in India.
    • Lathi or stick are used in martial arts in the state of Punjab and Bengal.
    • Lathi is also popular for its utility in sports specially in the Indian villages.
    • A practitioner is known as lathial.

  • Gatka – Punjab:
    • Gatka is a traditional martial art form associated with the Sikh gurus.
    • It imbibes sword and sticks fighting skills and self-control.
    • Gatka is believed to have originated when the 6th Sikh Guru Hargobind adopted ‘Kirpan’ for self-defense during the Mughal era.
    • A style of stick fighting between two or more practitioners, Gatka is a toned-down version of the deadlier Shastar Vidya. The sharp swords of Shastar Vidya have been replaced by wooden sticks (soti) and shields in Gatka.
    • It is considered as a battle technique.
    • 10th Guru Gobind Singh made it compulsory for everyone to use the weapons for self-defense.
    • It was earlier confined to gurudwaras, nagar kirtans and akharas, but now it finds presence in the sports category after the formation of the Gatka Federation of India (GFI) in 2008.
    • Today, it is used to showcase self-defense and fighting skills and is open to people of all faiths and communities.

  • Kalaripayattu – Kerala
    • Kalaripayattu is a martial art based on the ancient knowledge of the human body.
    • It originated in Kerala during 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD. It is now practiced in Kerala and in some parts of Tamil Nadu.
    • The place where this martial art is practiced is called a 'Kalari'. It is a Malayalam word that signifies a kind of gymnasium. Kalari literally means 'threshing floor' or 'battlefield'. The word Kalari first appears in the Tamil Sangam literature to describe both a battlefield and combat arena.
    • It is considered to be one of the oldest fighting systems in existence.
    • It is also considered as the father of modern Kung - Fu.

  • Mallakhamb- Madhya Pradesh
    • Mallakhamb is a traditional sport, originating from the Indian subcontinent, in which a gymnast performs aerial yoga or gymnastic postures and wrestling grips with a vertical stationary or hanging wooden pole, cane, or rope.
    • The name Mallakhamb derives from the terms malla, meaning wrestler, and khamb, which means a pole. Literally meaning "wrestling pole", the term refers to a traditional training implement used by wrestlers.
    • Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have been the hotspots of this sport.

  • Silambam – Tamil Nadu:
    • Silambam is a martial art which allows the use of weapons. It is very famous in Tamil Nadu.
    • In silambam, a broad range of weapons are utilized.
    • Silambam art incorporates animal motions such as snake, tiger, and eagle forms. Use of footworks is a very prominent characteristic of these art forms.
    • Lord Muruga (son of Lord Shiva, also known as Kartekeya) and sage Agasthya created this martial art style.

  • Musti Yuddha- Varanasi:
    • It is basically an unarmed technique of fighting.
    • This technique of the martial art basically belongs to the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
    • In this martial art the use of punches, kicks, knees and elbows are very prominent.
    • It teaches how to protect himself without the use of arms and ammunition.
    • This technique of the martial art needs complete physical and mental coordination.

  • Kathi Samu – Andhra Pradesh:
    • Kathi Samu is a very famous ancient martial art from Andhra Pradesh.
    • Use of various kinds of sword is very prevalent in this technique of the martial art.
    • 'Garidi' is the name given to the location where Kathi Samu is performed.
    • In Kothi Samu, the stick fight known as 'vairi' plays a significant part as a precursor to the real sword fight.
    • Other essential components of sword skills include 'Gareja,' in which a person holds four swords, two in each hand.

  • Sqay – Kashmir:
    • Sqay is a martial art that belongs to Kashmir.
    • It is a kind of sword-fighting.
    • A curved single-edged sword and a shield are used by armed sqay.
    • Armed sqay can use one sword in each hand.
    • Kicks, punches, locks, and chops are examples of unarmed tactics.
    • Various approaches are used by Sqay. Techniques and lessons in both freehand and sword for single and double swords.

  • Paikha Akhadha – Odisha:
    • Paikha akhada, also known as paika akhara, is an Odia name for "warrior scholl."
    • It was used as a peasant militia training school in Odisha.
    • It is used to do conventional physical activities.
    • Rhythmic gestures and weapons swung in synchronization to the beat of the drum are used in this performance art.

Source: PIB

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