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Indian martial arts fighters. Source: Zzvet / Adobe Stock.

India’s Ancient Martial Art Feared by the British Raj (Video)


Sanatan Shastar Vidya is an ancient martial art that traces its roots back thousands of years in northern India. Originally developed as a comprehensive system of combat techniques, it has evolved over time and has been shaped by various influences. In the 17th century, Sikh warriors embraced Sanatan Shastar Vidya and incorporated it into their own martial traditions. Sanatan Shastar Vidya is not merely a physical discipline; it is also considered a spiritual practice. The art emphasizes discipline, self-control, and a deep connection with one's inner self. It combines physical movements with meditation and breath control, fostering a harmonious balance between mind, body, and spirit.

In the 19 th century, a more modernized version of Sanatan Shastar Vidya, known as 'Gatka,' came to predominance during the British Raj. Gatka primarily focuses on stick fighting and tactical positioning. It has transitioned into a sport and a sword dance performance art, captivating audiences with its dynamic movements and precision. Today, practitioners of Gatka, both Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike, engage in this art form as a means of physical fitness, cultural preservation, and self-expression.

Top image: Indian martial arts fighters. Source: Zzvet / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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