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Gatka, an ancient martial art
Posted on Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 7:07 am
by IDMA Editor

A Nihang or a Sikh warrior performs Gatkha, a traditional form of martial arts, during a media preview of the 25th Surajkund Crafts Fair in the northern Indian state of Haryana - photo credit - B MATHUR/REUTERS - The Globe and Mail

Gatka is an ancient martial art which has been thoroughly battle-tested and has existed in northern India for many thousands of years. It is considered to be a spiritual as well as a physical exercise. Both these aspects of the person are developed to a high level during the learning phase in this ancient art. Although it uses the sword as its primary weapon, many other weapons are available to the Gatka master. Today, this art exists exclusively amongst the Sikhs who have passed down the flamboyant techniques through generations.

Gatka demonstration where a Sikh spins the Chakar

The Sikhs have been responsible for the revival of this early art ensuring it's survival despite mass persecution of the native population in India by foreign invaders like the Mughals and others for many hundreds of years.

Gatka is a complete martial system which uses spiritual, mental and physical skills in equal portions to help one fully competent in defending themselves and others. It is a system that can only be used in defence as per:

"When all other means have failed, it is proper to take the sword in one’s hand", Guru Gobind Singh in Zafarnama

In addition to giving the student defensive skills, it also helps the individual with other aspects of their life: makes the mind alert and responsive, maintains the body in a near perfect condition and makes soul fearless, compassionate and tranquil.

The techniques involved are extremely effective for defence and attack as well as visually spectacular. The Sikhs mastered Gatka and perfected its use in battle. Many battles were won by the Sikhs, despite almost always numbering far fewer than the opposite forces. The techniques within Gatka were combined with the spiritual practices of the Sikhs to create a perfect fighting system.

The art of Gatka involves a series of integral combat training systems that include several systems of duels armed - unarmed and the use of weapons of defense and offence. It aims at the coordination of mind & body through the meditation of spiritual verses of Gurbani, a holistic system by which the character and moral attitude of a student is shaped.



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