Martial Arts in India : UPSC Notes

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Martial Arts in India : UPSC Notes

Martial arts are methods and traditions of fighting that have been written down. People practise them for many reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, entertainment, and mental, physical, and spiritual growth.

Literally, the word “martial art” means “arts used in war.” Some martial arts in the country are very similar to dance, yoga, and the performance arts.

India is a country with many different cultures and ethnic groups. It is known for its many different martial arts, which have been around since ancient times. These arts were once used for fighting, but now they are usually done for show, as part of a routine, to get in shape, or to protect oneself.

Some of the arts, like Kalaripayattu and Silambam, were banned when the British were in charge, but they came back and became famous after independence.

List of Indian Martial Arts


• Kalaripayattu is a style of martial arts that started in Kerala, India, in the 13th century. This is an old form of traditional Indian martial arts from Kerala.

• The word “Kalari” was first used in Sangam writing to describe both a battleground and a place where people fight.

• Kalari is a word from the Malayalam language that means a certain kind of school, gym, or training hall where martial arts are taught or practised.

• “Kalari tatt” meant a brave act in battle, and “Kalari kozhai” meant a failure in battle.

It is thought to be one of the oldest ways to fight. It is now performed in Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu that are close by.

It was first used in the northern and central parts of Kerala and the Tulunadu area of Karnataka. • Kalaripayattu means battlefield training or practise that takes place in a mud-floored arena or gym of a certain size.

• Kungfu grew out of Kalaripayattu, which is the basis of all martial arts like Karate.

• This art form involves fighting with and without weapons in mock duels, as well as physical training.

• The style of fighting is the most important thing. There is no music or drums.

The most important part of Kalaripayattu is how you move your feet. It also includes kicks, hits, and practise with weapons. This art is done by both men and women.

• Kalaripayattu is still based on ceremonies and customs from the past.

• There are many methods and parts to Kalaripayattu. Some of them are Uzhichil, which is a massage with Gingli oil, fighting with Otta, which is a stick in the shape of a “S,” Maipayattu, which are body exercises, Puliyankam, which is sword fighting, Verumkai, which is fighting without weapons, Angathari, which is using metal weapons, and Kolthari sticks.


• Silambam is a modern and scientific martial art from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a type of fencing with a stick.

• “Silambal” is usually used to describe the sound of a fast-flowing spring, the rustling of leaves, or the singing of birds, among other things.

• Lord Muruga, who is also known as Kartekeya, is Lord Shiva’s son. He and the sage Agasthya made this style of martial arts.

• During their rule, the Pandyas, Cholas, and Cheras all helped to spread it. The Tamil literature Silappadikaram, which goes back to the second century AD, talks about selling silambam staves, pearls, swords, and armour to foreign traders. The silambam bamboo stave was one of the things that people from Rome, Greece, and Egypt liked to buy and sell the most.

ALSO READ  Indus River System : Introduction, Tributaries, Origin, Features | Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas & Satluj

• This art is thought to have come to Malaysia from its home state, where it is both a popular sport and a way to protect yourself.

• The long-staff was used both for pretend fights and for real ones.

Silambam is similar to Keralan kalaripayat and Sri Lankan angampora. It was first done with bamboo sticks, but later steel swords and shields were used instead.

• Silambam uses many different techniques, such as quick footwork, using both hands to hold a staff, and thrusting, cutting, chopping, and sweeping to gain mastery and develop force, momentum, and accuracy at different levels of the body (head, shoulder, hip, and leg).

• The player must learn how to stop an unruly mob with strokes like snake hits, monkey hits, and hawk hits, as well as how to dodge stones they throw.

Thang-ta and Sarit Sarak

Thang-Ta, which is a popular form of martial arts in India, comes from Manipur.

Thang-ta is a form of weapons martial arts that was made by the Meitei people of Manipur. It is known as one of the most dangerous ways to fight.

Sarit Sarak, on the other hand, is a form of hand-to-hand fighting that does not use weapons.

Their past goes back to the 17th century, when the Manipuri kings used them to fight the British and win. When the British took over this area, they banned these types of art. After independence, however, they started to come back.

• Thang means “sword,” and Ta means “spear.” So, sword and spear are the two most important parts of Thang-ta.

Huyen Langlon is made up of the two parts Thang-ta and Sarit Sarak.

Cheibi Gad-ga

Cheibi Gad-ga is one of the oldest forms of fighting in Manipur. It is done with a sword and a shield, but now it is done with a stick wrapped in soft leather instead of a sword and a leather shield. The fights take place in a circle 7 metres in diameter on a flat surface. Inside the circle are two lines that are 2 metres apart. The ‘Cheibi’ stick is about 2 to 2.5 feet long, and the shield is about 1 metre across.

• In this competition, you win based on how many points you get during a fight. Points are given for both skill and strength.


Pari-khanda is a martial art from Bihar that was made by Rajputs. It includes fighting with a sword and a shield. It is still done in many parts of Bihar, and many Chhau dance steps and moves come from it.

This martial art’s name is made up of two words: “Pari,” which means shield, and “khanda,” which means sword. This is because both the sword and the shield are used in this art.


Thoda is a mix of martial arts, sports, and culture. It comes from Himachal Pradesh.

It happens every year in April during the Baisakhi holiday. There are a number of group prayers that are said to ask for the blessings of the main goddesses, Mashoo and Durga.

• Archery skills are important to the martial art.

• Thoda dates back to the epic fight in the Valleys of Kullu and Manali called the Mahabharata, when bows and arrows were used.In the game, there are about 500 people in each of two groups. Most of these people aren’t archers; they’re dancers who come to help their teams’ spirit. The game is played on a court with lines on it so that there is some order. People think that the Pashis and Saathis are the children of the Pandavas and Kauravas from the Mahabharata.

ALSO READ  Waseem Ahmad Bhat: Biography, Age, Marksheet Rank, Optional Subject, Preparation Strategy

• Archers try to hit the lower part of the leg, below the knee, because hitting any other part of the body is bad.


Gatka is a weapon-based form of martial arts that is practised by the Sikhs of Punjab. The name “Gatka” means “one whose freedom belongs to grace.” Gatka involves the skillful use of weapons like the stick, Kirpan, Talwar, and Kataar.

Attacks and defences in this art form depend on how the hands and feet are positioned and what kind of weapon is being used.

It is shown at a variety of events in the State, such as fairs.

Mardani Khel:

This is a traditional form of armed Maharashtrian martial arts that is often done in the Kolhapur area.

Mardani Khel is mostly about how to use weapons, especially swords, quickly and in low stances, which makes sense since it comes from the hill areas.

It is known for using the unique Indian Patta (sword) and Vita (corded spear). Shivaji was a well-known martial artist.

Lathi (Lathi Khela):

Lathi is an ancient Indian martial art that uses weapons. Lathi is also the name of one of the oldest tools used in martial arts around the world.

Lathi is the name for a stick, usually made of cane, that is usually between 6 and 8 feet long and has a metal tip. Indian cops can be seen using these sticks to control crowds.

It is still one of the most famous sports in villages. It is mostly played in Punjab and Bengal.

Inbuan Wrestling

• Inbuan Wrestling is a native martial art of Mizoram. It is thought to have begun around the year 1750 AD.

• After the “Mizo” people moved from Burma to the Lushai Hills, it became a sport.

It has tight rules that say you can’t step out of the circle, kick, or bend your knees.

To win, you have to lift your opponent off their feet while following the rules to the letter. You also have to catch the belt that’s around their waist.

Kuttu Varisai (Empty-Hand Silambam):

Kuttu Varisai means “empty-hand combat” in Sangam literature, which dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BC.

• Kuttu Varisai is mostly done in Tamil Nadu, but it is also popular in the north-eastern part of Sri Lanka and Malaysia. It is an unarmed Dravidian martial art that uses starching, yoga, gymnastics, and breathing exercises to improve athleticism and movement.

Some of the most important moves in this art are grappling, hitting, and locking. It also has sets based on animals, like a snake, an eagle, a tiger, an elephant, and a monkey. It is a part of Silambam that doesn’t have weapons.

Musti Yuddha

Musti Yuddha is a form of unarmed martial arts that has its roots in Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the world. It is similar to boxing.

It has moves like punches, kicks, knee strikes, and elbow strikes. Even though you don’t see it very often now, it was a famous form of art in the 1960s.Musti Yuddha helped people grow in all three ways: physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The fights in this art are split into four groups, each named after a Hindu god who was good at that type of fighting. The first one is called Jambuvanti, which means to lock and hold an opponent until he or she gives up. The second is Hanumanti, which stands for expert superiority. The third one is called Bhimaseni, and it is all about raw strength. The last one is called Jarasandhi, and it is all about breaking limbs and joints.

Kathi Samu

• Kathi Samu is an ancient form of fighting that started in Andhra Pradesh and is used by the royal forces.Kathi means “sword,” and Kathi Samu is a form of martial arts that uses swords to fight.

ALSO READ  Sakshi Garg (UPSC) Wiki, Age, Caste, Boyfriend, Family, Biography, Marksheet, Rank, Optional, Date of Birth

• This well-known form of martial arts uses different kinds of swords. The place where Kathi Samu is done is called “garidi.”

• In Kothi Samu, the fight with sticks, called “vairi,” is important because it leads up to the real sword fight.

• ‘Gareja,’ in which a person holds four swords, two in each hand, is another important part of knowing how to use a sword.In the past, both the Kingdom of Vizianagaram and the Kingdom of Karvetinagaram used this method.

Sqay (Kashmir):

Sqay is a type of sword fighting that comes from the area of Kashmir.

• Armed sqay use a single-edged, bent sword and a shield.

Armed Sqay can hold one sword in each hand. Unarmed Sqay can use kicks, punches, locks, and chops. Sqay has many different ways to fight. Freehand and sword techniques and classes for both single and double swords.

Paikha Akhadha (Odisha)

• Paikha akhada, also known as paika akhara, is an Odia name for “warrior scholl.”

• In Odisha, it was used as a school to train people to join an army.

• It’s used for regular physical exercises.

• In this performance art, rhythmic movements and swinging weapons in time with the beat of the drum are used.

Malla Khamb

Malla Khamb is an old Indian sport in which a dancer does yoga poses in the air.

• Mallakhamb is the word for the pole that is used in the sport.

• Using a sheesham stick, a cane, or a rope are three popular ways to play Mallakhamba.

Mallakhambha’s name comes from the words malla, which means “wrestler,” and “Khamb,” which means “pole.”On April 9, 2013, Mallakhambha was named the state sport of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.


Bandesh is one of the oldest types of Indian martial arts. It is a collection of techniques that are mostly used to disarm and beat an armed opponent without killing him.Lock holds are used against different kinds of weapons, such as knives, swords, long staffs, etc., and there are many different kinds.In this old form of martial arts, the winner is the person who takes the other person’s weapon.

Saldu – Nicobar:

Saldu, a type of wrestling, is one of the Nicobarese people’s most popular sports. It doesn’t need a court, just some open land. The field is separated by a line down the middle, but there are no other lines.

• You can have as many people as you want, but each team must have the same number of players.

• Usually, each team can have up to 20 players.

Kirip – Nicobar

Kirip is an indigenous form of wrestling that is popular with the Nicobarese tribe. Before the match starts, the wrestlers grab each other from behind and don’t let go until the end of the match. The wrestler tries to throw his opponent to the ground by using different parts of his body, including his leg. If a contestant’s back touches the ground, he loses.

Insu Knawr – Mizoram

• Rod-pushing sport is unique to the Indian state of Mizoram, which is in the north-east.

• A 16-foot-width circle with a straight line through the middle is drawn. • A suk, which can be made of wood or bamboo, should be about 8 feet long and 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter.