Rediscovering forgotten arts of self-defence
AS DUSK closes in on the capital, a group of motley youths and men gather on a roof in Sabzi Mandi to practice the nearly forgotten Indian arts of self-defence. It is well past midnight and Chand Miyan asks the boys to perform the particular ?chaal?.india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 14:44 IST
AS DUSK closes in on the capital, a group of motley youths and men gather on a roof in Sabzi Mandi to practice the nearly forgotten Indian arts of self-defence. It is well past midnight and Chand Miyan asks the boys to perform the particular ‘chaal’.
The youths start moving in a circle, steadily gather speed, perform acrobatics almost lyrically and enrapture you with their styles of traditional martial art skills so much that everybody around forgets to sip the tea that is turning cold in glasses.
The labourers (hammal), vegetable sellers, shopkeepers and teenagers are seen practicing the arts the under the guidance of the Ustad who also hones his own skills.
With Id Milad-un-Nabi approaching, the members of the Akhada are preparing for their show at the main procession on April 11. As the weapons are banned, the youths practice with lathi and other weapons like swords, knives and daggers carved of wood.
“Our Akhada has survived for almost a century and though we had got inactive for the last few years once again excitement is back especially among youths who want to learn the skills,” says Pappu Bhai of Raeen Samaj.
“There are 80 boys in the Akhada of late Shammu Ustad,” says Hifzur Rahman, office-bearer of the Madhya Pradesh Muslim Tehwar Committee. Shammu Ustad’s son Chand Miyan is now the Ustad. “The Akhada of Syeds (Ustad is Ejaz Bhai) from Shahjehanabad and that of Ghauris (Ismail Ustad) from Barkhedi are also practicing,” adds Rahman.
“Sab purani chaalein sikha rahe hain, kuchh nai bhi hain” (The boys are learning all the styles of lathi, binwat, banaithi and other traditional martial arts though a few styles are new also), says Chand Miyan. His father had performed the banethi and binnaut/binwat for heroes in Bollywood films in the past. Though he is the ustaad, the other veterans are also present to encourage the boys.
“It de-stresses the men after a hard day’s work and it’s great fun besides we are carrying on elders’ tradition,” says Aslam Ustad, after a breathtaking display of fireworks.
Now, comes Chand Miyan’s turn, who will save Danish, a seven-year-old boy, who stands amid the lathi-wielding youths. They launch the attack and the rhythmic sound of striking lathis enlivens the atmosphere. It may be a mock drill but you can’t bat an eyelid as long as it is not finished.