The Indian Air Force commandos have set their sights on becoming unstoppable killing machines.
The IAF’s special operations wing, Garud, has begun training its commandos in a deadly form of martial arts practiced by the the likes of Russian Spetsnaz special force, German GSG9 commandos, the US Delta Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Austrian Cobra commandos.
The commandos are perfecting the deceptive moves of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, a 112-year-old fighting style specific to Filipino martial arts, at their Chandinagar base on the outskirts of New Delhi.
“We have selected 30 of our best commandos and trained them in the basics of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali used by the some of the world’s top special operations units. The IAF will train the entire Garud force of around 500 commandos in this fighting style. The ones already trained have proved to be a cut above the rest,” said an IAF officer, not authorised to speak to the media.
Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is a close-quarter combat system against multiple opponents based on the use of blade.
The IAF raised its first Garud flight of 60 commandos in 2005. The commandos are tasked with protecting airfields from terrorist attacks, capturing enemy airfields and carrying out hostage rescue operations.
“The underlying philosophy of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is to kill your opponent in three seconds and get out of there. Alive. You know with one hundred per cent certainty that you could kill anyone who is a threat,” said 31-year-old Kanishka Sharma, who is training the IAF’s commando force.
Sharma has also helped the army’s special forces (1 Para and 21 Para) and Assam Rifles’ crack troops hone their close combat skills through martial arts such Shaolin kung fu, muay chaiya and Bruce Lee-devised jeet kune do.
“The Garuds are an exceptional force — tough, rugged and intelligent. With Pekiti-Tirsia Kali skills, they will become more lethal than ever before,” said Sharma, who has trained the likes of Akshay Kumar and John Abraham and choreographed the fight sequences in Farhan Akhtar’s Don.
The Garuds trained in the basics of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali have learnt techniques of close-quarter knife, gun disengagement and tactical arrest. After completing the one-year training module, they will know that apart from swords, daggers, knives and sticks, the deadliest weapon of them all is the human body.
The IAF’s Garud force is the first Indian special operations unit to train in this form of martial arts to make its dirty work much easier to carry out.