The Sikh Martial Art: Shastar Vidya

The Sikhs are a warrior religion from India, whose turbans often cause them to be confused with Muslims. In fact, the Sikhs were founded as a direct challenge to Islam. For all of the ignorant talk of Islam as a “religion of peace,” Muslim armies trampled India, razing Hindu temples and slaughtering Hindus by the tens of thousands.


When I taught in Fresno I had Sikh students and was introduced to Sikhism. I was impressed by the Sikhs I knew, and admired them for their willingness to fight for justice as well as their emphasis on charity and equality (Sikhism is also a counter to the Brahmins and the Indian caste system).


In this article, Nidar Singh is the last living master of the Sikh martial art of Shastar Vidya, which means, “the science of weapons.” I have heard of the kara, or the steel bangle worn by Sikhs being used as a weapon, but this art has an entire panoply of weapons.

Sikh Soldier and Weapons


Note the shoes with blades in the toes! The sickle blade is reminiscent of the sanggot I wrote about here.


It is interesting to see how quickly a stick fighting art (or any martial method) can quickly devolve into a sport-friendly pastime suitable for public entertainment:

Shastar vidya often gets confused with Gatka, a stick-fighting technique that was developed during British occupation of Punjab and was widely practised among Sikh soldiers in the British army.

Though it is a highly skilled art it was developed for exhibition rather than mortal combat. It is much easier to practise in public.


In my next post I will write about the 5 K’s of Sikhism and their implications for the modern warrior.

Sikh Warrior

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