Gatka

I remember going to Nagar Kirtans and being awed by those doing Gatka (i.e. Sikh martial arts)! Their performances were eye-catching with action, discipline, determination, and spirituality. Watching Gatka helped me connect with Sikh history at a time when there were little resources around me to learn about Sikhi. This martial art gave me some insight into the concept of a saint-solider one who exemplifies Miri/Piri (spiritual/temporal power). I got to see how a saint-solider physically fought to defend Sikhi.

Lately, I have heard people ask, Is Gatka a performance or a “martial art? I think the performance part of the question comes from those who think Gatka is being done more to please crowds than spiritually connect with Sikhi. Also, some think Gatka techniques are being compromised in order for it to be more safe for crowd performances? I personally think, Gatka is both a performance and a marital art, but that does not mean spirituality or technique has to be compromised. What do others think?

A recent BBC show on Gatka addressed how it is becoming a way for Diasporic youth to connect to their Sikh heritage, while focusing on physical fitness. It also touches on non-Sikhs participating in Gatka. Let us know what you think!

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p.s. I have always found it empowering to see Sikh girls participating in Gatka, even though I rarely see women on Gurdwara management committees!


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4 Responses to “Gatka”

  1. sundeep singh says:

    Shastar vidya (or as it is often informally referred to, gatka) is actually a real martial art. However, the skill level of performers at nagar kirtans sometimes leaves one with the feeling that it is more of a show art. I guess it's encouraging to the young martial artists to put on these performances. Watching Indian artists really shows that this is at it's core a hardcore martial art, although even then it seems to have a bit of flair!



  2. sundeep singh says:

    Shastar vidya (or as it is often informally referred to, gatka) is actually a real martial art. However, the skill level of performers at nagar kirtans sometimes leaves one with the feeling that it is more of a show art. I guess it’s encouraging to the young martial artists to put on these performances. Watching Indian artists really shows that this is at it’s core a hardcore martial art, although even then it seems to have a bit of flair!

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