Martial Arts of India…warriors and saints…


The spiritual art of war is something, that in popular Hollywood films, is often linked with little old chinese sages with drooping eyebrows and a Buddhist approach to defeating your opponent…and Buddhism travelled to China from India…but what about the other forms of spiritual warfare that originated in India? The Bhagavad Geeta is an entire Hindu text which is written as a conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjun, where he is counseled and given a metaphysical ethics and philosophy of warfare. Arjun hesitates (this is during the climactic war of the Mahabarata) before killing his family and teachers, and Krishna, who is driving his chariot, helps him see the bigger picture so that he can go ahead with his dharma…arjun.jpgkrish.jpgand the bigger picture is…according to Krishna, that its all a game of karma, and that in material form each person has to fulfill his function- Arjun is a Kshatrya warrior and he must fight…and when Arjun is slightly unconvinced…Krishna show him his true form… with a glimpse of the infinite cosmos…which sort of puts an end to the conversation and Arjun, slightly dazed by the infinite, is prepared for battle…

With such an intense history of war and spiritual practice often even associated with war, you would think that India’s martial arts would be pretty well known but Indian martial arts aren’t particularly famous internationally…definitely not as well known as the japanese korean and chinese martial arts…this is partly because Indian martial arts traditions suffered during the british raj and have been getting resurrected and revived since independence…So here are some of the modern day warriors practicing their art today:


Gatka is the martial arts form of the Sikh Warriors which uses the sword as a weapon of choice. Gatka was a tradition that is said to be passed down from God to Guru Nanak…but it was Guru Hargobind who propogated the theory of the “warrior saint”, making it mandatory for his followers to engage in martial arts…acting as an army of defenders not only of the sikh faith but of other faiths as well…….gatka.jpg you don’t want to mess with these guys- can you imagine them in the heat of battle? At the end of the clip the teacher slices a watermelon in half off of the belly of one of his students. And click here to see a Punjabi girl practicing Gatka and her brother puts kajol on her eyes with the edge of his sword while blindfolded

Gatka Warriors:

Check out the South Indian martial arts form Kalaripattu…legend has it that it may be the original mother of all martial arts…but
following the collapse of the princely states around Kerela in which it was practiced it dissapeared into obscurity and is now being
resurrected…Kung- fu, popularized by the monks of the Shoaling Temple traces its ancestry to Bodhi Dharma – an Indian Buddhist
monk and Kalaripayattu master. Legend traces the 3000-year-old art form to Sage Parasurama- the master of all martial art forms and credited to be the re-claimer of Kerala from the Arabian Sea. And Parasurama the sage is also known as one of the Hindu god, vishnu’s 10 avatars…who (during his incarnation as Parasurama) weilded an axe and was a devotee of Lord Shiva, who was the one who gave Parasurama the axe and taught him the martial arts. parasurama.jpgParasurama translates from sanscrit as “Rama who weilds the axe” (Rama was another incarnation of Vishnu). In other words, The biggest bad ass in the Hindu pantheon invented this martial art form and taught it to another major god in human form and its still kicking. Although I have to admit…it might be deadly…but some of the moves don’t look particularly…sexy…(such as the limp chicken arm at the beginning) still…they have some moves which would probably put Darth Vader and Yoda to shame…well…maybe not Yoda…check it out…


And finally check out the deadly martial arts of Manipur… “The art of the Sword and the Spear” THANG TA (The art of sword and the spear) which was secretly taught in the home schools of individual gurus after being prohibited during the period of the colonial raj (1891-1947). It survived during the period of Manipur’s integration with the Indian Union in 1949, where the art was shown in festivals and performance platforms abroad since 1976.thang-ta.jpg Unfortunately, the internal system of meditative practices and its essential spiritual character is at risk of being lost through lack of knowledge and committed practice by the present generation. Contemporary theatre practitioners are gaining awareness of its basic energy use and creative exercise of the body’s resources which would enhance the performance energy of the artist. Anyway I’ve seen them do this live quite a few times and they always use real sharpened blades and these tiny sheilds and no skin protection…with the real Thang Ta masters they always get within milimeters of slashing eachother’s veins open. Really hard core. (check out more info at thang ta)

Thang Ta



  1. wow, that’s a lot of really good stuff. I would love to learn Gatka. It would improve my war prowess and I would love that. Thanks for the info on this type, I’m going to look around for a school that teaches it. 😀

  2. It seems that India have a lot more martial arts styles. Thanks for a valuable info, I’ll be researching Indian martial arts to be included in my website.

  3. India is rich in all artisitic performace and real warfare tha only thing it’s lacking is(Not able to forget british and Mughal rule) Before that it is widely known about these war games that played. That’s why INDIA is great

  4. i’m am interested in kalairi martle art i want some cd and books on this. how can i get plz mail me.

  5. One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is Holy Gita which is considered to be one of the first revelations from God. The spiritual philosophy and management lessons in this holy book were brought in to light of the world by the great Sri Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Swamiji. the greatest philosopher of India. Maharishi calls the Bhagavad-Gita the essence of Vedic Literature and a complete guide to practical life. It provides “all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level.” Maharishi reveals the deep, universal truths of life that speak to the needs and aspirations of everyone. His followers in Hare Krishna! iskcon continuing the mission by keeping this lantern burning always knowing the wishes of the modern generations. Arjuna got mentally depressed when he saw his relatives with whom he has to fight.( Mental health has become a major international public health concern now). To motivate him the Bhagavad-Gita is preached in the battle field Kurukshetra by Lord Krishna to Arjuna as counseling to do his duty while multitudes of men stood by waiting. Arjuna face the problem of onflict between emotions and intellect . In almost all of the cases, emotions win. Only a very
    few people have a conflict-free emotion and intellect. Emotions, are required, for, without them, one is a mere robot

  6. i am interested in martial art of kerala.if u r distance traning and a book than reply me in my e mail id plz.amritmoy das.i am rearcr in indian traditation martial art.if u r able to give me any information than plz reply me.

  7. Nice mark out of things – Interesting – one could think this way also . Thanks for the post

  8. India is the mother of all Nation.. Every Religion & knowledge derieves from our Motherland

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