Belonging to “Shastara Vidya” (i.e. Science of Weapons) is a South Asian form of martial art known as Gatka. This “weapon” based combat form is said to have originated from the northwest of India. Apparently, the Gatka apart from India has over centuries also been practiced in Pakistan. Furthermore, this martial art form may either be practiced as a “khel” i.e. a sport or performed as a “rasmi” i.e. ritual. In addition, an individual who practices Gatka is referred to as “Gatkabaj”, while a teacher/mentor is referred to as “Guru or Gurudev”.
a. History/origin of Gatka:
The Gatka is supposed to have originated from the north of India and Pakistan. Apparently, it was Lord Shiva and his devotees that created this form of martial art. Furthermore, the Gatka was developed by using the “Shiva Dhanurveda” an extremely ancient book essentially based on the north Indian system of fighting. In addition, it is also said that several Shaivite sages were also responsible in developing and popularizing this form of combat.
b. Weapon used in the Gatka:
The weapons used in the Gatka are as follows:
- Wooden sticks.
- Other forms such as the Kara, Kukri etc.
c. Technique involved in the Gatka and training availability:
In terms of technique, a fighter in this form of combat initially tactically positions the body (which is called “pentra”), as well as focuses on footwork. Furthermore, the Gatka then involves the use of “offensive as well as defensive strategies” which can be divided into two categories. The two categories are as follows:
- Sava-raksha: Basically is a form of “self defense”. This form of self defense essentially takes into consideration the specific needs, strength, and also the anatomy of the fighter. Furthermore, it also includes a number of armed and unarmed techniques that a fighter can use to overcome an opponent.
- Yuddha-vidiya: Essentially a complete form of “battlefield science”. In this category the fighter is actually taught to use various combat techniques. Furthermore, it also teaches tactics used in war such as skirmishes, ambushes, battle formations, defense of a house, and defense of a village.
As for training centers/schools, there are a number available especially around India for those interested in learning this “weapon” based martial art form.