Traditional Sikh martial art 'gatka' is about to join modern sporting disciplines. From the upcoming session, Punjabi University will run a one-year diploma course in the coaching of Punjab's newest recognised sport.
Once part of religious fairs, it'll be broken into theoretical, technical, and practical training to be given to the maiden lot of 'gatka' coaches. Punjab's stick-fighting martial ?sport has also been included in the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) sports calendar for the year 2015-16. Punjabi University has been holding all-India university championship in the discipline for the past three years.
The idea of the coaching course came from professor Paramvir Singh, head of the university's sport sciences department, after he read 'The art of Gatka' written by KS Akali in 1939. "The under-training coaches will also be educated about gatka's origin, historical perspective, socio-cultural importance, and how it helps in physical development," said Paramvir Singh, adding: "it'll be like international-standard training in any other sport."
Even a syllabus has been designed, after consulting the departments of religious studies and Guru Granth Sahib studies; World Gatka Federation, and the Gatka Federation of India. "The pattern of one-year diploma is same as the NIS (National Institute of Sport) diplomas. The purpose is to bring uniformity, as different Sikh groups play it the different way," said the idea's creator. Religious group Buddha Dal, a 'gatka' school for decades, has been asked to run practical classes.
There will be practical as well as written examinations. The course fee will be `25,000, 75% of which for all 25 candidates will be sponsored by Sarbat Da Bhala Trust. Gatka is a form of combat training, in which the players have wooden sticks and swords. Sikh Gurus employed it to help defend their religious beliefs and fight oppression. The art form is popular among Nihang Sikh groups.
The Punjab government gave official recognition to gatka when it made it part of the affiliated sport, while the Sports Authority of India (SAI) made Amristsar's Gatka Training Academy an affiliate, and School Games Federation of India included the sport in the national school games calendar.