Gatka, in simple language, is referred to as a Sikh martial art. It is an ancient martial art form that emerged almost a thousand years ago, much popular in the regions surrounding Punjab and Northern India. It is regarded as a spiritual art, including physical tactics and strength. The primary weapon used in this sport is a sword.
It provides defensive skills to the trainee along with the strength to make him alert, fast and maintain other healthy aspects of his body. Today, Gatka is a famous martial art performed along with dancing during various Sikh festivals. The World Gatka Federation
is the global governing body for the sport.
The objective of the fighters while performing Gatka is to properly channelise and coordinate the mind and body via regular meditation of spiritual verses of Gurbani.
The sport involves a series of combat training, either in the armed or unarmed manner. The fighters use various weapons for their defence and offence. The primary weapons used in gatka are kirpan, sticks, lathis, marotis, nun-chucks, axes etc.
History of Gatka
The sport was developed in the 17th-century by Baba Budha Ji during the period from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Hargobind. During this era, he started training the Sikh army and formerly called them as the Akali Sena, also referred to as Budha Dal in Gatka.
In 1920, Gatka was divided into two significant sub-forms or styles: 'Rasmi' (the traditional form) and 'Khel' (the sport). During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Sikhs helped the British Army in avenging the mutiny with their regular gatka training and skills which led to the relaxation of the fighting restriction, earlier given by the Britishers.
By the 1860s, the practice of gatka was widely followed by the British Indian Army for various combats which led them to win.
The soldiers of the Commando Basic Training Centre in Scotland were trained with various techniques and combat skills of gatka in the Defendu system, established by Captain William E. Fairbairn and Captain Eric Anthony Sykes. Today, various instructors in schools commonly refer to it, and the Akharas (training arena) have been established to promote the sport of Gatka.
In 1936, Gatka rules were re-drafted by Major Kartar Singh Akali (Director Physical, R.S.D. College Ferozepur).
After a loss of heritage of Gatka in 1985, the Punjab University restarted the inter-college matches in 2001.