When I say martial arts, most of you must have thought of kung fu or karate or some movie of Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee. Now that these martial art forms have become so cool, many people have started taking karate and kung fu classes thinking they can tackle dozens of men at a time with their skills. Not many know that India is also home to a large array of martial art forms which are equally powerful. Most of them have often been overlooked. We list for you the different types of martial art forms in India.
Also known as the “Mother of all Martial Art”, Kalarippayattu originated in Kerala in 3rd century BC. Kalari is the training hall where the martial art is practiced and payattu means practice. This martial art form takes inspiration from movement and strength of animals like the lion, tiger, elephant, wild boar, snake and crocodile. Weapons are also an essential part of the training and the combats.
Gatka is a martial art form created by the Sikhs of Punjab and is an essential martial art form of North India and even Pakistan. Weapons like Stick, Talwar, kirpan and kataar are used in Gatka. The attacking and defence method depends upon the position of hands and feet and the weapon used. Gatka is said to be the toned down version of the much deadlier Shastar Vidya.
Silambam is a weapon based martial art form from Kerala which is also practiced in Sri Lanka. The word Silam means hills and Mambam means bamboo from the hills. A wide variety of weapons are used in Silambam, many of which are made of bamboo found only in the Dravida-Naidu region. This martial art form takes inspiration from the movements of animals like snake, tiger, and eagle forms. The unarmed version of Silambam is called Kuttu varasai.
4) Thang Ta
Thang Ta literally means ‘swords and spears’ is one aspect of Huyen Langlon which is a traditional martial art form from Manipur. This strong yet sophisticatedly graceful martial art form has various kinds of basic strokes and stepping patterns.
5) Mardaani Khel
Famous for its use of Indian sword and corded lance, Mardaani Khel is the martial art from Maharashtra which were created by the Marathas. Kolhapur used to be the region where the Marathas used to practice the martial art form. After the revolt of 1857, British banned the use of weapons and in order to keep Mardaani Khel alive, the Talims were forced to turn it into a folk game.
Sqay is an ancient martial art from Kashmir. Single edged sword and shield are used in armed Sqay. The International Council of Sqay has some rules and regulations about the sword and shield. The sword should be made of synthetic fibre covered with leather. The shield measuring 9-19 inches in diameter should also be covered in leather. The official uniform is blue in colour.
Lathi is also the weapon used in this martial art form, which is also one of the world’s oldest weapon used in martial arts. This martial art is traditionally practiced in many parts of India and even the Indian police uses the lathi when it comes to crowd control. Lathis are mostly bamboo sticks which can be wielded in many ways.
Thoda martial art form originated in Himachal Pradesh and is also known as “the dance of archery”. Archery is still practiced in Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Arunachal and archery as defence is still one of the noblest form of defence within Indian culture.
It’s time we start reviving these dying martial art form by practicing these instead of karate and kung fu. Made in India!