Yesterday a video of a failed gatka – the Sikh weaponry martial-art – stunt was shared by a mainstream media organisation.
The video, allegedly in circulation since December, has been removed from many YouTube links to the gratuitous nature of the content, which shows someone getting hurt during a gatka demonstration involving a blindfolded man smashing objects on the ground around participants who are laying down. Here we share a statement on the incident from UK based gatka practitioner Gurpreet Singh Chandsure;
Gatka is about connecting the mind, body and soul to Akaal Purakh (Sikh term for “God”, meaning timeless being) through the shastar (weapon). The practice of gatka was and still is key to bringing freedom, justice and protection to all that need it.
Gatka demonstrations can involve cutting fruit blindfolded for those trained in using an array of indo-Persian/Afghan weapons. However, the stunt done with the sledgehammer has no rooting in the centuries old tradition of gatka. It has been added to demonstrations as recently as four years ago after the hype of the Bir Khalsa group, who ignited a new interest in the art because of the wild stunts they preformed on an Indian talent show. Other Indian weaponry martial-arts systems cut fruit with blades, such as kalaripayattu, mardani khel and pari khanda to name just a few. This sledgehammer stunt is just a new fad. Martial-arts are a skill to study and master. Dangerous stunts such as this are performed for showmanship. The fruit stunts are only performed by gatka masters. This sledgehammer stunt is being done by mediocre practitioners, and unfortunately but not unsurprisingly, this is when things can go wrong.
Gurpreet Singh Chandsure has studied gatka for seven years and is also a certified IFMA (International Filipino Martial-Arts) instructor.