Gatka championship held in Delhi to promote the traditional Sikh martial art

- October 12, 2023
| By : Mohd Shehwaaz Khan |

Young performers, coaches, and the oldest registered organisation of Gatka attempt to promote the martial art for self defence

Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium was transformed into a battleground of skill and tradition as the 11th National Gatka Championship kicked off with fervour.

India’s oldest registered Gatka organisation, the National Gatka Association of India, in collaboration with the Gatka Association Delhi and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, organised the championship on October 11 and October 12.

Ashneet Kaur, a 22-year-old Gatka performer from Delhi, showcased her eight years of dedication to this traditional Sikh martial art. The traditional martial art form has been practiced since the martial period of Sikh gurus.

“I first joined an akhara (wrestling ground) and then shifted to Gatka martial art to learn self defence,” she says when asked about her motivation behind pursuing the art.

Gatka, an Indian-origin martial art, is deeply rooted in Sikh culture. Traditionally, it was employed for self defence, but it is now evolving into a competitive sport. The main weapon in Gatka, the “Soti,” takes center stage as two opponents engage in a combat. Earlier practiced using metallic swords, the sport is simple, with two opponents fighting each other with a Soti.

Gatka is a short name for Gatkabaazi or Gatkabaazi, where Gatka (also called Soti) is a weapon used for self defence.

“This year we are witnessing a very high footfall. Over 900 boys and girls from 18 different states have come. Telangana’s Gatka team is visiting for the very first time,” says Jaspal Singh, a Delhi-based Gatka coach.

“I have been doing it for over three decades. Now, with modern techniques and through these tournaments we want to carry forward our legacy,” he adds.

This year, 700 boys and 200 girls participated in the national championship. Jass Nadar, a 13-year-old participant, who is competing for Delhi in the Under-14 category, has recently started practicing the martial art form.

“I practice daily in akhara for about 1-1.5 hours in the evening after school. When a competition is near, I increase my practice time,” she adds.

Jass Nadar aspires to educate people about Sikhism and the idea of self defense through this traditional artform.

“The idea behind such championships is to promote our traditional martial arts forms for the coming generations. This year, participants from across India, from different communities are participating in the competition,” added Major Singh, Joint Secretary, National Gatka Association.

“We are encouraging Gatka players from different communities and different states to actively take part in this prestigious competition, to showcase their skills and dedication to this traditional martial art,” he adds.