The Gatka

The Gatka | Introduction to Gatka | History of Gatka | Origins of Gatka | Gatka Techniques | Gatka Early Development | Meaning of Gatka | Gatka Requirements | Gatka Shastar Weapons | Weapons in Gatka | Gatka Vidyaa

“Honest Living, Remember God, Charity, Sharing, Sacrifice, Humility, Devotion, Equality, Respect, Forgiveness, Compassion, Self-Help, Integrity, and Service. The way of a Warrior : Is Forever Always has been, is now and always will be. “~ Courtesy Of Baba Fateh Singh Gatka Akhara

Gatka Punjabi (Meaning: one whose freedom belongs to grace), is a Sikh martial art. Gatka is also the name of a stick used for practicing sword fighting. Gatka originated in the Punjab region and was used by the Sikhs against the Mughal hukumat forces.

Gatka is rarely used in combat today, and has evolved into a sport and exhibition form shown at Sikh festivals. Gat: means grace, liberation, and respect in one’s own power. Ka: means one who belongs or one who is part of a group.

Gatka is an ancient battle-tested Martial art, which uses the sword as its primary weapon. Today, it exists exclusively amongst the Sikhs who have passed down the flamboyant techniques through generations.

Gatka is a very basic and practical art. It is all based upon a single movement called the “Panthra”. The Panthra is practised initially for hours (using no weapons) to help develop the accuracy of footwork needed to keep the body in balance when using weaponry.

It can be practised in all different ways, circular motions, simple forward and backward motions and also more complex motions such as star shapes using a range of 18 different weapons.

Gatka is based on the use of three kinds of weapons :

  • A stick from one to three meters in length.
  • Flexible weapons, such as a chain, rope, belt, whip and so on.
  • The Sword. Both saber (Kirpan) and dagger (Khanda) can be used.

Gatka is a martial art originating from Punjab (North West of India). Its development started in the 17th century and it was practiced by the Sikhs, to defend themselves against the Mogul invaders. The effectiveness of Gatka has been proved for centuries, not just by the Sikhs but also the earlier practitioners of this art.

It is said that in 1984 when the Golden Temple was attacked by the Indian Army, four Singhs stood at each of the doors of the temple, swinging their Shasters (full length swords) in a basic movement from the Gatka and nobody could come within a ten-metre range of them.

Combat Principles: Gat means grace, liberation, and respect in one’s own power. Ka means one who belongs or one who is part of a group. Gatka means one whose freedom belongs to grace. It was originally created along three principles:

  • it had to be easy to learn.
  • it had to make use of every possible weapon.
  • it had to allow for fighting multiple opponents at once.

Gatka groups may train in a religious or semi-religious situation, such as in a Gurdwara or in a Sikh institution. “Akharas”, usually associated with Pehlwani, have also been founded, with the exclusive purpose of teaching gatka. Gatka students train with “both hands full”, this is believed to be an excellent exercise for matching the two halves of the body.

Banda Singh Bahadur

Gatka emphasizes having something in both hands, two sticks, a stick and a sword, a sword and a shield or any other combination. The individual’s preference for weapons, combination of weapons, and movement patterns leads to the development of individual fighting methods within Gatka.

The foundation of the art is a movement methodology for the use of the feet, body, arms and weapons in unison. Gatka favors rhythmic movement, without hesitation, doubt or anxiety. The attacking and defense methods are based upon the positions of the hands, feet and weapon(s) during the dexterity regimen. Chanting holy verses may accompany these exercises. A three-beat-per-cycle is played by a drummer adds to the coordination during practice.