GATKA Origins and current status
- Gatka comes from the Sanskrit word Gada meaning a mace. Ancient Indian martial arts practiced by the Sikhs of Punjab
- Mughals killed the fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev and his son Guru Hargobind developed the idea of learning Gatka to fight further oppression. Imbibes the spirit of both the saints and soldiers respectively.
- Originated in Punjab in the 15th century. Developed in the 17th century by Baba Budha and used to discipline the Sikh army also called the Akali Sena
- A traditional fighting style favored by the Nihang Sikh warriors and is used both for self-defense as well as a sport.
- Recently showcased at the 400th birth centenary of Guru Tej Bahadur during the “nagar kirtan” held in Punjab
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- The basic regime for fitness includes a healthy diet and physical exercises such as Sun Salutations, Indian press up, and Squats.
- Stick-fighting using wooden swords to resemble real ones. Aims at uniting the body and the spirit. Therefore recognized as a physical and spiritual practice.
- Practiced by both men and women. Wrist movements are essential in Gatka as is ambidexterity.
- Practice keeps a person bodily agile, brave, and sharp and he is mentally alert to react instantly. The same method of stick fighting is found in Kalaripayattu
Federation and rules
- The World Gatka Federation is the governing body. Recognized as a national sport in India
- Gatka rules were re-drafted by Major Kartar Singh Akali (Director Physical, Ram Sukh Das College Ferozepur) in 1936.
- Inter-college matches restarted by Punjab University in 2001.
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- The government of India has included Gatka to be part of the Khelo India Youth Games to be conducted this year. Other new inductees include Kalaripayattu from Kerala, Mallakhamb from central India, and Thang-ta of Manipur. The decision was announced by Central Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju in December 2020.
- Practiced throughout the year. Processions and public displays take place for three months, beginning from Guru Nanak’s birthday in November to Baba Deep Singh’s birthday celebrations in January.
- Past students have begun their own schools in New Zealand, Canada, and Italy