Martial arts is a huge part of India’s ancient culture and tradition. Whether for self-defence, fitness or for fun and games – these art forms have had a great influence on those who practiced it in the different regions of the country. Almost every state has had its own martial arts, though, here are the top ones that add great value to India’s culture.

Kalaripayattu, Kerala

Kalarippayattu is a martial arts from the land of Kerala. It is derived from the word Kalari which means a school or training hall where martial arts are taught. This art is used as a means of unarmed self-defence, though today it is also practiced to achieve physical fitness.

Silambam, Tamil Nadu

Silambam is a weapon-based martial arts from Tamil Nadu. A wide variety of weapons are used in Silambam; most of which are not found anywhere else in the world. It also uses animal movements of snake, tiger and eagle.

Gatka, Punjab

Gatka is a weapon-based Indian martial arts form where the main weapons used are sticks, talwar, kirpan and kataar. It is performed by the Sikhs on special occasions such as fairs and festivals.

Thang-Ta, Manipur

Thang-ta is the popular ancient martial arts form of the Meitei people of Manipur. It is also known as Huyen Langlon. This martial arts form is practiced with swords and spears, and is strong yet gracefully sophisticated. Thang-ta consists of two main components, armed combat and unarmed fighting. The weaponless version is know as Sarit Sarak.

Lathi, Punjab and Bengal

Lathi (stick) is one of the world’s oldest weapons used in martial arts. Lathi martial arts is practiced as a sport in the villages of Punjab and Bengal.

Mardani Khel, Maharashtra

Mardani Khel is famous for its use of the Indian sword and corded lance. This traditional martial arts form was created by the Marathas and is practiced mainly in the city of Kolhapur.

Pari-Khanda, Bihar

Pari-khanda is a style of martial arts that includes heavy use of sword and shield. It was started in Bihar by the Rajputs. The steps and techniques of Pari-khanda is incorporated in the traditional Chau dance as well.