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Martial Art Forms of India

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  • Context (TH): Post the Galwan violent clash between India and China, the Army has added martial arts to the regular training of troops in addition to the usual physical exercise.
  • The Punjab regiment incorporated Ghtaka in the training regime.
  • The Gorkha Regiment has incorporated the Khukri dance.
  • The Madras regiment has incorporated the Kalari Payattu.
  • The Udhampur-based has incorporated the Israeli-origin martial art, Krav Maga.

Martial art forms of India

Khukuri Dance

  • Performed by Gurkhas. Only men perform the Khukuri Dance.
  • Khukuri is a small knife that symbolises victory.
  • It is a very important part of Gurkha culture. Gurkhas display their triumph using a khukuri.

Khukuri Dance

Kalaripayattu – Kerala

  • It involves physical conditioning, weapon training, strikes, kicks, grappling, and healing techniques.
  • The primary aim is the ultimate coordination between mind and body.
  • Another focus of Kalaripayattu is the specialisation in indigenous medicinal practices.
  • Kalaris are also important centres of religious worship.


Silambam – Tamil Nadu

  • References in the Silappadikaram and other works of the Sangam literature show that Silambam has been practiced since at least the 4th century BC.
  • The term silambambu referred to a particular type of bamboo.
  • Silambam art also used animal movements of the snake, tiger, eagle forms, etc,.


Gatka – Punjab

  • Gatka originated in the Punjab in the 15th century.
  • It is a style of stick-fighting, with wooden sticks intended to simulate swords.
  • Gatka’s theory and techniques were taught by the Sikh gurus.


Musti Yuddha – Varanasi

  • It is an unarmed martial art form.
  • The techniques used in this martial art are punches, kicks, knees and elbows.

Musti Yuddha

Thang Ta – Manipur

  • It integrates various external weapons – the sword, spear, dagger, etc.
  • It is an elaborate system of physical culture that involves breathing methods, meditations, and rituals.
  • One component of this art form involves performing rituals, another involves elements of dance using swords and spears, and a combative form involves the actual act of fighting.


Lathi Khela – West Bengal

  • It is a kind of stick fighting.
  • The lathi is normally made of male bamboo.

Lathi Khela

Mardani Khel – Maharashtra

  • It is an armed method of martial art created by the Marathas.
  • Uses a sword mainly & needs rapid movements.
  • Was popular during the early and later medieval era and during the time of Maratha regime.
  • It was used effectively by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to defeat the Mughals.

    Mardhani Khel

Malla Khamb – Madhya Pradesh

  • A traditional Indian sport in which a gymnast performs aerial yoga postures.
  • The name Mallakhambha derives from the terms malla meaning wrestler, and Khamb, which means a pole.
  • In 2013, the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh declared Mallakhambha as the state sport.


Sqay – Kashmir

  • It is believed that the Shaivite snake-worshipping Naga people created this martial art prior to the Indo-Aryan invasion.
  • During the period from 1325 AD to 1819 AD, Sqay Martial art training remained compulsory for Kashmiri soldiers.
  • Presently, Sqay has become a sporting event in more than 62 countries, including India.
  • Sqay employs weapons such as single swords, double swords, free hand and shields.

SQAY - The traditional martial art form of Kashmir

Other Traditional Martial Art forms

martial arts of india

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