One of the finest examples of Indian Martial arts lies in the state of Punjab and is called Gatka. Gatka literally is used as a term for the sticks of woods used as dummies for swords during practices. Practiced much by the people in and around Punjab, Gatka is an art that is continuing even before the area of Punjab. At many places, Gatka is beautifully practiced. However, in the modern popular culture, many times this word refers to this art in general. If one observes them clearly, the science of Punjabi Martial Art must be referred as Shastra Vidhya. The art of Gatka has not only been a part of the martial arts but also infuses the essence and culture of Punjab as a whole.

History of Gatka

The origins of Gatka are often traced to the north western areas of the undivided India. The main roots of this form of arts are in the medieval periods in the fertile land of Punjab. Punjab and its people were known for their valor and their distinctively defining characteristics. They and their art are mentioned as Shastra Vidya. Gatka however, continues to be a term for basic training of swords and was hence popularized by the same way in northern India. Even the great emperor of the Mughals, Jalalluddin Akbar was himself a practitioner of the art of Gatka.

Sikhism expanded itself in 15th and the 16th century, Sikhs renowned themselves in the country as a perfectly disciplined community. The first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a Kshatriyas. His earliest disciples too were so. Guru Angad Dev, the successor further instructed a heavy training schedule to ensure the toning of the body which is the basis of the martial arts.

The British colonizers too realized the potential and extensively used the Sikh community in their forces. The art of Gatka is still used by a number of people where the Sikhs of the county went as a part of British armies. Gatka is practiced in parts of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Weapons Used in Gatka

The Gatka revolves around the proper usage of the melee weapons. The technique of working with a weapon varies from one to another. The main source of attack and practice in Gatka is that of a curved sword which is often accompanied by a shield. Some of the used weapons in the art of Gatka are.

  • Talwar: With a length of 3 feets, this is a curved bladed piece of metal.
  • Fari: With a diameter of 9 inches, this shield comes with a sword and is used as both in defensive and offensive manners.
  • Kirpan: It’s a small dagger that Sikhs use after baptization.
  • Lathi: A simple bamboo stick.
  • Kukri: A sword which is bent.
  • Barcha: A large spear.
  • Nagni barcha: A form of offensive Javelin.
  • Bothati: A horseback with a lance.
  • Khanda: This is a sword that has two different edges, one on each side.
  • Bagh nakh: Literally meaning "leopard claw", it is worn on the hand and has a spiky edge.
  • Gurj: Carved out of steel, this mace is an offensive one. Its head is often attached to a chain.\
  • Chakram: A circular piece of metal with a blade on each side.

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