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Thread: Another Gatka Video

  1. #1
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    Another Gatka Video

    This post is inspired by a thread on another forum.

    A member there posted a link to this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL00I...elated&search=

    I've seen a few of these Gatka videos on the internet over the last few months, and I have found them absolutely fascinating. One of the reasons for this is because I can't help wondering that although Gatka itself is a uniquely Sikh martial art, to what extent was it influenced by Mughul and by extension other Turco-Persian martial traditions?

    Or to put it another way, did Gatka evolve from Mughul, Persian and Turkish styles of fighting with the sabre (tulwar, shamshir or kilij)? Would the techniques used by a modern Gatka practitioner be similar to those used by Ottoman, Safavid, Mamluk and Mughul warriors?

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    That is wonderful Hisham. Thank you very much for sharing.
    You raise very interesting questions.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr


    Quote Originally Posted by H. Gaballa View Post
    This post is inspired by a thread on another forum.

    A member there posted a link to this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL00I...elated&search=

    I've seen a few of these Gatka videos on the internet over the last few months, and I have found them absolutely fascinating. One of the reasons for this is because I can't help wondering that although Gatka itself is a uniquely Sikh martial art, to what extent was it influenced by Mughul and by extension other Turco-Persian martial traditions?

    Or to put it another way, did Gatka evolve from Mughul, Persian and Turkish styles of fighting with the sabre (tulwar, shamshir or kilij)? Would the techniques used by a modern Gatka practitioner be similar to those used by Ottoman, Safavid, Mamluk and Mughul warriors?

  3. #3
    According to my friend who is a professor of East Asian (Indian) religion, Sikh martial techniques would have had their origin in Persia. She went so far as to claim that India did not have purely indigenous martial arts, which I find a bit difficult to believe unless you stress the word "purely". Nevertheless, she was quite sure about the Persian martial influence. I would like to see some more videos of Persian martial arts to compare the two. My guess is that you see a bit more of Yoga type movements in the Indian styles.
    Josh

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    Gatka Roots

    Hello Josh,

    I am curious to know who your friend is, where she teaches and her field of specialization.

    Truth be told, I have met a number of professors on Indian religions, culture etc, and have not been overly impressed with their grasp of the Sikh religion. More to the point, I have been hard pressed to find any such academic that can talk intelligently on the Sikh martial art(s).

    Given the geography of the Punjab, I think it is difficult to argue techniques were not borrowed or shared with many of the surrounding areas, but I have not come across anything expressly indicating Persian origins.

    Heck, martial arts were alive and well in the Punjab centuries before Sikhism came about. Alexander the Great fought (and became friends with?) King Porus once he had steamrolled through the Middle East and Persian lands, arriving in India. It would not be a stretch to assume that some of this martial art tradition survived and was adopted or adapted by the Sikhs.

    Going back further, both the Ramayana and Mahabharata (Indian epics) indicate there were martial arts disciplines taught to royalty by recognized marial arts experts. Again, even though these epics relate to events thousands of years before the emergence of the Sikhs, I think at least some of these martial art traditions may have survived.

    Some argue the Sikh martial tradition, fondness for military life etc can be traced anthropologically, and highlight the Scythian anceastory of Punjabis.

    Or, consider the volatile times when the Sikh brotherhood emerged, the violent and bloody environment in which it matured, and the fact that for a significant part of its early existence, being a Sikh meant a life of persecution and fighting a numerically superior ruling majority/gov't.

    Perhaps, the needs of these dangerous times produced a unique style particular to the Sikhs - where a Sikh had to learn to fight and fight well quickly - where fighting outnumbered was a fact of life, leading to an evolution (or filtering) of techniques that could be learned quickly and, more importantly, used effectively against professional soldiers after only a short period of training.

    There does seem to be some weight to this assumption - I recall speaking with Jathedar Baba Nihal Singh ji, a leader of the Nihungs/Nihangs (a Sikh martial group) and was told it took 40 days or so to learn Gatka. 40 days! I was shocked, considering I was training in karate at the time and it would take me years to learn my style!

    Without a doubt, more reasearch is needed in this area.

    regards,
    Perpinder

    Quote Originally Posted by josh stout View Post
    According to my friend who is a professor of East Asian (Indian) religion, Sikh martial techniques would have had their origin in Persia. She went so far as to claim that India did not have purely indigenous martial arts, which I find a bit difficult to believe unless you stress the word "purely". Nevertheless, she was quite sure about the Persian martial influence. I would like to see some more videos of Persian martial arts to compare the two. My guess is that you see a bit more of Yoga type movements in the Indian styles.
    Josh

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    I think you can see similar theme's of one martial art in another... but there is usually enough of a difference to say that each is distinct ! I would also think that a martial art has to survive by being effective or how else would it stand the test of time

    i'd put my money on a regional development and origin... with a small touch of cross-cultural influence.... as usually when some cultures have ties, there is some cross-cultural sharing of differing degrees..

    I'd definitely like to see more on this subject..

    the video does show that sabers can be used on foot... which for some people is unbelievable (for some bizarre reason some folks think sabers are only for cavalry ??? )

    take care
    Greg

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    Definitely, India has a very rich martial tradition and the Sikhs have their own style of fighting for sure. Gatka is truly an amazing martial art with indigenous roots. I am really fascinated by the martial arts and traditions of the Sikhs.

    Surely sabers (shamshirs) can be used on foot. There are a number of chronicles and tales from Iran (at least) saying that people used sabers on foot. To give an example, one needs to read the Safavid manuscript Hossein Korde Shabestari where all challenge matches with shamshirs in the city are fought on foot. There are also miniatures showing this Greg. I think the problem is due to the lack of training in martial arts. Having experience in any fighting system is truly educational, you understand the body mechanics, distance, timing, etc. Another problem is the limited number of miniatures in the American and European museums.
    Kind regards

    Manouchehr

    Edited to add:

    Perpinder,
    How many different style of Gatka exist?
    Last edited by Manouchehr M.; 02-22-2007 at 06:06 AM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Perpinder Singh View Post
    Hello Josh,

    I am curious to know who your friend is, where she teaches and her field of specialization.

    Truth be told, I have met a number of professors on Indian religions, culture etc, and have not been overly impressed with their grasp of the Sikh religion. More to the point, I have been hard pressed to find any such academic that can talk intelligently on the Sikh martial art(s).
    My friend's specialty is women’s rituals in Jainism so she is about as far from Sikh martial arts as one can be. I have learned more about Sikh martial arts from a taxi driver (a very dignified man with a mustache that Salvador Dali would envy) than I have ever learned from her. However, she is quite well versed in the general history of India and its religions, so while I doubted her blanket statement about Indian martial arts, I suspect she is correct that there are significant Persian influences in Punjabi culture in general and martial traditions in particular. I think that was the original question being asked.
    Josh

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    If I'm not wrong (I hope I'm not!) the 10th guru learnt his shashtar vidya (weapons training) from a Rajput. However, Gatka (fighting with Laathi [stick]) itself was handed down to the Sikhs by Guru Hargobind, the 6th guru.

    On doing a wider look into this it seems Guru Hargobind Singh ji learnt this off the Rajput's too and then the 10th master perfected it

    Hmm.. where the rajput's learnt it from, I don't know.

    Laathi stick fight video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_6uU...elated&search=

    2 'vs' 1
    Last edited by Varinder Singh; 04-06-2007 at 11:42 AM.
    Looking for a blacksmith around Greater London.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Varinder Singh View Post
    If I'm not wrong (I hope I'm not!) the 10th guru learnt his shashtar vidya (weapons training) from a Rajput. However, Gatka (fighting with Laathi [stick]) itself was handed down to the Sikhs by Guru Hargobind, the 6th guru.

    On doing a wider look into this it seems Guru Hargobind Singh ji learnt this off the Rajput's too and then the 10th master perfected it

    Hmm.. where the rajput's learnt it from, I don't know.

    Laathi stick fight video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_6uU...elated&search=

    2 'vs' 1
    Thank you very much for sharing this.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr

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    Never heard that...

    Hello Varinder Singh,

    I have never heard that the 10th Guru learned swordsmanship from a Rajput. In fact, I'm trying to recall names of Guru Gobind Singh ji's martial arts instructors but am drawing a blank. I can't recall ever having come across such information.

    Could you please indicate your source for that information.

    Now, it is recognized fact, that the 10th Guru's father was a master of the sword and it would be no stretch of the imagination to believe the father would teach the son for as long as he was alive; he died when the 10th Guru was 9.

    In fact, the 10th Guru's father was so proficient with the sword, that after witnessing his skill with the blade, his name was changed from 'Tyag Mal' to 'Tegh Bahadur' ('Sword Brave' or 'Master of the Sword').

    From whom did Guru Tegh Bahadur learn martial arts? Without a doubt, his father, Guru Hargobind played a role, but his martial arts instructor was most likely the same man who had taught his father, the venerable Baba Buddha ji.

    Baba Buddha ji was fencing master to the fifth Guru, and similarly, martial arts instructor for the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind ji. As he was alive during Guru Tegh Bahadur's youth, chances are, he taught Guru Tegh Bahadur ji martial arts as well.

    Baba Buddha ji was not a Rajput. While caste has no place in Sikhism, there is some indication he belonged to the Randhawa Jatt clan before becoming a Sikh.


    Quote Originally Posted by Varinder Singh View Post
    If I'm not wrong (I hope I'm not!) the 10th guru learnt his shashtar vidya (weapons training) from a Rajput. However, Gatka (fighting with Laathi [stick]) itself was handed down to the Sikhs by Guru Hargobind, the 6th guru.

    On doing a wider look into this it seems Guru Hargobind Singh ji learnt this off the Rajput's too and then the 10th master perfected it

    Hmm.. where the rajput's learnt it from, I don't know.

    Laathi stick fight video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_6uU...elated&search=

    2 'vs' 1

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    I love the end of that video. The elderly man in the blue turban is well into is 70's if not 80's

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    Sorry for the misaccuracy of my first post Perpinder (still learning the history ).

    In all likely hood it is exactly as you said. The art was passed down to Guru Gobind Singh ji via the predeccesor.

    Origionally the art had been passed to Guru Hargobind Singh ji. Source

    As you can see on the source page it also mentions an alternative legend as to the origins of Gatka.

    Let us also not forget that this style was battle tested time and time again and may have had some changes since it was origionally passed to the Sikhs.

    - Varinder
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    That is Marvelous! Beyond the social, religious and marshal aspects of this, those gentleman are having so much fun, look at the eyes of the man in black in this video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojhDTRbq3EA&mode=related&search=
    and simply amazing.
    Thank you for sharing, while I have been aware of Gatka for a while this is the first time I have seen people participate. The older gentleman in the originally posted video are a special treat to watch. Thank you for posting and sharing.
    Mr Perpinder Singh when my father was in his late 70’s he still rode horses, would string fence and sling 60 or 70 pound bails of hay around like a man half his age. He was 70 when I was borne,
    [/font]
    Last edited by David Lewis Smith; 05-13-2007 at 03:54 AM. Reason: readablity

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    good stuff

    after seeing that vid... i checked around some more.... there lots of great videos..

    look in the middle of this video.... there is a move where the swordsman does a stabbing thrust with a saber.... ...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWsgh...e=user&search=

    great stuff...
    Greg

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    Hello Varinder Singh,

    Please, no need for apologies and I hope my post did not come across as too harsh - such was not the intent, as I too am learning

    The Rajput link seems a bit more plausible when we consider that, yes, Guru Hargobind ji was imprisoned along with 52 Hindu princes and kings, and did free them; however, this plausibility loses weight when we consider timelines.


    First, Guru Hargobind ji, upon taking the guru-ship at an early age, ascended upon the 'guru's seat' with two swords. It is safe to assume his training in those swords had already begun or began shortly after. Most historians indicate Baba Buddha ji was the martial arts instructor.

    Second, Guru Hargobind ji had started recruiting soldiers early in his Guru-ship, and had established a significant standing army at a very young age.

    Both of the above events happened well before Guru Hargobind ji was imprisoned with the 52 Hindu princes and kings. As such, I do not think these kings and princes taught him much, if anything, of the martial arts.

    I agree, change is inevitable, and I am sure the gatka we see today may not be exactly as was practiced at the time. That said, given that Sikh history is quite young, and that Sikh soldiers were still relying on swords well into the 19th century, as evidenced in accounts of the Anglo-Sikh wars, we can hope not THAT much has changed

    Perpinder
    Quote Originally Posted by Varinder Singh View Post
    Sorry for the misaccuracy of my first post Perpinder (still learning the history ).

    In all likely hood it is exactly as you said. The art was passed down to Guru Gobind Singh ji via the predeccesor.

    Origionally the art had been passed to Guru Hargobind Singh ji. Source

    As you can see on the source page it also mentions an alternative legend as to the origins of Gatka.

    Let us also not forget that this style was battle tested time and time again and may have had some changes since it was origionally passed to the Sikhs.

    - Varinder

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    The two sword's mentioned represented the concept of miri-piri, one sword to be the symbol of the spiritual (Piri) and the other that of his temporal investiture.

    Guru Arjun as you may know was martyred which had an overwhealming effect on the masses.

    We're going into abit of history here but please bare with me ( )

    [After the inauguration, some Masands represented to the Guru's mother that the preceding five Gurus never handled arms; if Emperor Jahangir heard about this, he would be angry and where would they (Sikhs) hide? She showed courage to the Masands, however, she remonstrated with the young Guru,"My son, we have no treasure, no state revenue, no landed property and no army. If you walk in the way of your father and grandfather, you will be happy.]

    Source

    [The Guru issued an order to the Masands that he would be pleased with those who brought offerings of arms and horses instead of money. He laid down the foundation of Akal Takhat (Timeless Throne) in 1606 (the fifth day of light half of month of Har, Sambat 1663) just in front of Hari Mandar]

    So we can conclude that the arming of the Sikh's started around 1606 when the political wing of Sikhism was set.

    Bandi-Choor incident (52 kings) did indeed happen afterwards

    I personally think that the arming of the Sikh's happened earlier and the origional form of Gatka may have been how Baba Budha Singh ji taught it.

    [Guru Nanak passed this martial knowledge on to his trusted Sikh, Baba Budha Ji, with the stated intention of claiming it back in his sixth form. It was the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, who received Shaster Vidiya from Baba Budha Ji at an early age. Baba Budha Ji also trained an army of twenty two hundred Sikh warriors who were the soldiers of the Akal Boongah (the Immortal Fort, built in 1606), and known as the Akalis (Immortals).]

    Source

    However, as this was the early stages of the warrior side I still think the Rajput side may have had a significant infulence.

    I think it all comes down to having to compare the other form's of martial art that were around and how Gatka is. If it was indeed a pure at given to Guru Nanak and passed down it would be different (or so I hope) from the other art's of a persian/turk decent.

    I spoke to an friend who practices Gatka once & he said the Gatka that is taught today is not taught to a 'battle' level. I'll try and get him to share some light on what he mean's exactly.

    Kind regards,
    Varinder S.
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    Hello David,

    Regarding your father, wow - that is pretty amazing. I'm sure there must have been weak, couch potatoes in that generation of men as well, but it just seems they had more than their fair share of tough, hard men. I only hope, in my generation of nintendo-playing, club-hopping, metrosexualized-to-the-point-of-nausea 'man-children', I can grow old with the kind of dignity and strength many more seemed to possess in years past.

    And thank you for that video - lol - that was great. Some practitioners, those with flair , not to mention good memories, will start off their bouts with a bit of testosterone-producing words in the form of poetic verses - each one challenging the other, but referencing some glorious aspect of Sikh history at the same time.

    Some of the bits I remember from the video: In reference to Sikh freedom fighters of years past, from the 17th century onwards, and Sikhs being imprisoned for being Sikhs: "...who asks about these ('free') foxes and crows, when caught lions pace behind cages..."

    (As an aside, the name Singh, while used by some Hindus as well, is the middle name of every Sikh male; Singh means lion.)

    In reference to the 10th Guru's words, that I will make each Sikh fight against 125,000, and of a history of guerrella warfare, fighting grossly outnumbered etc: ".....what fear have I of you/what can you possibly do - you, one enemy - I, who can stare down 125,000 men"

    lol - funny but it does get the ole testosterone/adrenaline going as well



    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    That is Marvelous! Beyond the social, religious and marshal aspects of this, those gentleman are having so much fun, look at the eyes of the man in black in this video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojhDTRbq3EA&mode=related&search=
    and simply amazing.
    Thank you for sharing, while I have been aware of Gatka for a while this is the first time I have seen people participate. The older gentleman in the originally posted video are a special treat to watch. Thank you for posting and sharing.
    Mr Perpinder Singh when my father was in his late 70’s he still rode horses, would string fence and sling 60 or 70 pound bails of hay around like a man half his age. He was 70 when I was borne,
    [/font]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Perpinder Singh View Post
    Hello David,

    And thank you for that video - lol - that was great. Some practitioners, those with flair , not to mention good memories, will start off their bouts with a bit of testosterone-producing words in the form of poetic verses - each one challenging the other, but referencing some glorious aspect of Sikh history at the same time.

    Some of the bits I remember from the video: In reference to Sikh freedom fighters of years past, from the 17th century onwards, and Sikhs being imprisoned for being Sikhs: "...who asks about these ('free') foxes and crows, when caught lions pace behind cages..."

    (As an aside, the name Singh, while used by some Hindus as well, is the middle name of every Sikh male; Singh means lion.)

    In reference to the 10th Guru's words, that I will make each Sikh fight against 125,000, and of a history of guerrella warfare, fighting grossly outnumbered etc: ".....what fear have I of you/what can you possibly do - you, one enemy - I, who can stare down 125,000 men"

    lol - funny but it does get the ole testosterone/adrenaline going as well
    thanks for the translation, there were severl dozen vidios on Ytube, all were marvalous, one done in Washinton DC was amazing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    thanks for the translation, there were severl dozen vidios on Ytube, all were marvalous, one done in Washinton DC was amazing.
    Which one was done in DC, is there a Gatkha group here?
    Steve

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    Great summary of the history Varinder Singh.

    I still think a Rajput connection is tenuous at best, but we can leave this point open to discussion and disagreement

    Re the gatka being taught not being 'true' gatka/shastar vidya, I've heard some individuals say the same thing...some were motivated by pushing their own style of gatka as the 'true' gatka, and others because they were disillusioned by the gatka they were learning.

    I really believe it depends on your teacher and the teacher's education in gatka, from whom the teacher learned.

    As an example, I've trained in karate (and a few other things) since I was very young, and began looking for a muy thai instructor one summer. I joined one gym, where the instructor sucked, and my appreciation of thai boxing lessened drastically. However, at another gym, the instructor was great, and I got a taste of just how effective the art can be in combat.

    I think gatka is similarly dependant on the teacher's skill and lineage of training as well.

    regards,
    Perpinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Varinder Singh View Post
    However, as this was the early stages of the warrior side I still think the Rajput side may have had a significant infulence..................

    ........I spoke to an friend who practices Gatka once & he said the Gatka that is taught today is not taught to a 'battle' level. I'll try and get him to share some light on what he mean's exactly.

    Kind regards,
    Varinder S.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Hick View Post
    Which one was done in DC, is there a Gatkha group here?
    Steve
    the vid was dated 1999, and if there is a Gatkha group any where in the US i would guess DC and NY NY, i am stationed at fort bragg NC, and i have no idea if there is agroup any where near by, i would love to attend, it it is allowed.

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    Hi David,

    I'm sure if you found a group, they would be happy to have you train with them. As with any martial art, however, it's a bit of a crap shoot whether you end up with a good instructor or not. At the least, your existing martial arts background will allow you to more readily glean the true gold amidst the glitter.

    You would laugh or cry (with me) if I told you of the lengths I've gone to for proper instruction. The first man who taught me is a living legend - Jathedar Nihal Singh of Harian Velan, of the Taruna Dal; he is a Nihang. (Jathedar is a title meaning leader of a group). I only learned from him for a short while, but it set the bar high...maybe too high, maybe unfairly so, for subsequent teachers. It doesn't help that the man is considered a saint as well...

    After training under one or two instructors afterwards, I realized I'd have to check my ego at the door, and even though much of what I saw, I knew could not transfer to real combat, I took what positives I could. For example, one instructor's strikes were wrist flicks -sure they were fast, but there was no power - he was playing tag - it was too much sport. That said, I still learned valuable marathi drills which help to develop wrist strength in general, and fluidity of movement. Took the good, left the bad.

    I finally did find a good instructor, more than good even.
    I did a 'wrist-flick' against him with my sword and he stopped and asked me, "Are you fighting, or swatting flys? Strike with power". I learned a fair bit from him - how to throw useful combinations, when to use parries and when a hard static/pushing block is useful..........unfortuntely, he was lazy - ridiculously lazy - he had a great deal of skill and knowledge but no real desire or passion to teach. I begged and pleaded with him to teach me but after a while, it was like trying to squeeze water from a stone.

    Anyhow, that was my rant but I sincerely wish you good luck in finding a decent instructor- they must exist somewhere! Cheers.

    Perpinder

    ps. I've attached a few pics of Jathedar Baba Nihal Singh ji; he's older in these pics then when he first taught me - still a big guy, 6'2, 6'3. You might see one or two of his gunmen in the pictures with him.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    the vid was dated 1999, and if there is a Gatkha group any where in the US i would guess DC and NY NY, i am stationed at fort bragg NC, and i have no idea if there is agroup any where near by, i would love to attend, it it is allowed.
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Last edited by Perpinder Singh; 05-16-2007 at 01:59 AM.

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    small hilts on tulwars...

    I think this is a point Manouchehr has raised before, but there is sometimes an incorrect assumption made that the small hilts on tulwars must be due to Indians having smaller hands. In Northern India at least, there is a pretty good variance in the size of men, and, as follows, the size of hands.

    Check out the picture below - this is a man who is a master swordsman and would not be carrying around a less than ideal sword. He's also pretty big, at around 6'3. Check out the size of his hand against the size of the hilt - that hilt looks too small to be comfortable for that hand, but again, this man is a master and knows what he's doing.......leads me to think there might be some advantage to that smaller hilt although I don't know what....
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Perpinder,

    Thank you for bringing this point up again. I have never believed in the theory Indian had/have smaller hands. Northern Indians and Persians had/have the same size but then why are shamshir handles big enough for hands and tulwars not? This was a question that I have always asked myself. You can take Safavid period shamshirs and their equivalent tulwars from the same period in India. You can take any period and you end up with the same result. I mean you can test it on museum pieces with provenance and you see the same. You find out that shamshir grips are big enough, but tulwars are not. To me that is a clear case of lack of understanding of the functions of a weapon. If you look at the tulwar movements in Gatka you clearly see that moves in constant circular motions, in that case having such a grip that locks the hand is excellent and ideal. Techniques determine the shape of a weapon and other way round. There are also people who assert that yatagans were not meant for fighting but for carrying as a symbol of power. This statement is also a lack of understanding of the functions of a weapon. Safavid-period manuals clearly state that the Ottoman infantry had their shamshirs (note that this is the general word for sword) sharpened on the wrong side! This is a reference to yataghan and they were reporting from battle zones. In doing research on weapons from any region, one needs to go to the source and Gatka provides us with lots of valuable information. Truly a fascinating martial art.

    Kind regards
    Manouchehr

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    Here's a video I found today of Uptej Singh of the Baba Fateh Singh Akhara here in the UK.

    http://www.rajkaregakhalsa.net/video...%20Runners.wmv

    It also features a training bit where you can see the student's handling swords.

    Also there has been some violence in Punjab in the past few day's and whilst viewing the news I noticed the various weapons being used:


    Not big or clear enough to identify exactly what era they are from or looking in with more detail but there you go.

    - Varinder S.
    Looking for a blacksmith around Greater London.

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