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Pahalwani or Mallavidya : Ancient Indian Wrestling

Wrestling Indian wrestling pre-dates military tradition and has been variously known as mallakrida, malla-yuddha, and niyuddha-krida.

There has been claims by some experts & historians that "Alexander the Great may have brought Pankration to western India and influenced the local grappling arts". Actually this assumption has no standing proof, neither there are any resemblance to the Greek grappling arts with that of the Indians grappling arts. So this is just a baseless argument.. In fact in most Indian martial art (especially Kalari) you can see the grappling techniques as well. As sports wrestling grew different forms of grappling arts influenced each other and as a result they have adopted each other's techniques as well. So today you can see may resemblance between these grappling arts.

But as Pankration (Greek art) was the first to use grappling techniques (besides other methods), So it is thought that Pankration may be one of the root styles of most grappling arts.

Look at this anyway the fact still remains that grappling arts (especially Indian Wrestling) had evolved so much that it is unique and indigenous in itself !.. So each grappling art deserves credit and has contributed for its growth and influence.. Each of these has its own history and significance.. And Pankration is just another form of this great art.

Traditional Indian wrestling was unique in all its essence. It had not been influenced by any other wrestling forms (like that of Greek' s Pankration or Japan's Sumo). Like Pankration or Sumo this was indigenously developed by the Indians and has many advanced techniques in it. This is the reason why even today we find the world's best free style wrestlers in India (mostly in north India's villages where still this form of wrestling is practiced) !.

One of the most religion and ancient forms of wrestling that exist is Indian wrestling from India. Traditional Indian wrestling has been around since 11 AD and is integrated with the religion of Hinduism. Indian wrestling known as Pahalwani or Mallavidya is a form exercise that defines the essence of wrestling and man. Through the eyes of Indian wrestling one achieves not only self discipline through physical fitness but achieves identity and purity of the body, mind and spirit. Training resides at the Akharas (Temples, Gyms). When one enters the temple he leaves behind him the civilization that he is part of and enters a world of tranquility and acknowledgment. Akharas are equipped with fine grit dirt floors to bring one closer to natural elements of the earth. Dirt floors that cover the training have been shifted and saturated with essential oils to supple the skin of the wrestler when he is wrestling. The oils also keep the dirt clean and compressed for body's to tumble upon. Natural light and fresh air impact the training area as well to keep it in harmony with the surrounding atmosphere. Strength training is performed religiously. Indian wrestler are well known for there flexibility and power. This is achieve through several types of exercises done with ones own body weight. Performing exercises such as Yogi (posture stretches), Bethak (in place squats), Dand (push ups), Jori (swinging weighted wooden clubs) Gada (swinging weighted ball and mace) and body massages gives the wrestler a complete regiment.

A well known champion from India in the 1930's known as "The Great Gama" performed several thousand of Bethak (squats) daily for routine training. "Gama" like many Indian champions are noted for there size, strength and knowledge.

Other forms of wrestling that have appeared out of India is Vajra-Musti Wrestling. Contestants face each other with claw daggers in one hand while using wrestling techniques. This form of wrestling was banned because of frequent fatal wounds to the opponent. It can still be seen today at fairs and gatherings for demonstration purposes.

With many varies forms of wrestling that exist throughout the world they all have one basic element in common, the skill of close quarter combat. The engagement of two individuals locking limbs and body's may seem primitive but wrestling displays a high degree of skill in the science and the knowledge of leverage and fulcrum. A wrestler must learn to attack and counter attack in varies position that are constantly changing direction. This performance of strength and athleticism is dynamic in coupling ones agility and patience.