Gatka Empowers My Life

Gatka is the name of an Indian martial art associated with the Sikhs of the Punjab who practice an early variant of the martial art. It is a style of stick-fighting, with wooden sticks intended to simulate swords. The Punjabi name gatka properly refers to the wooden stick used. The word originates as a diminutive of Sanskrit Gada “mace.”

It originated in Punjab in the 15th century. Still, much of the Gatka forms practiced today in the west are Europeanised versions of what was the original martial art of Sikhs known as Shastar Vidya. There has been a revival during the later 20th century, with an International Gatka Federation was founded in 1982 and formalized in 1987. Gatka is now popular as a sport or sword dance performance art and is often shown during Sikh festivals.

It was the year 2015; I was nine years old. I decided to start learning a Sikh martial art called Gatka. My friends Gurtaj, Harman, Jaspreet, and Simrandip also started learning around the same time. I had always been looking forward to learning it. I would see many more senior guys and girls doing it, and at one point, it sparked enthusiasm in me. Whenever I would go to the Gurdwara, I’d always see them practicing really hard and wondered how much patience and effort it took. 

One day, I was practicing Gatka, and I was trying this new trick out, and I ended up falling from the roof and broke my leg. The scheme was jumping from the roof and trying to land on your legs and not bend your knees. It was a fantastic exercise to strengthen the legs. I tried it for the first time when I was nine, and it ended up going wrong for me. I ended up landing awkwardly and broke my leg. It was one of the most painful moments of my life, and I really regret making that decision. Everyone thought I was joking and would stop the action in a couple of minutes when everyone stopped paying attention to me. They were wrong, and I stayed on the ground crying. They then decided to take me to the hospital, and when they did an x-ray, it showed that I broke my leg. Everyone ended up saying sorry for doubting me, and we all laughed after that. 

After that experience, I could not play gatka for about a year. The doctor said like eight months, but my parents were obsessed with waiting for a year to make sure I was fully healed. I agreed, and a year passed. During that year, I was debating on if I should continue or not. I was young, so of course, I was going to say no. My friends and family showed me millions of reasons why I should continue. I then thought about it, I told myself that everyone falls, but the bigger picture is what they do when they get back up. Are they going to cry and run away, or are they going to stand there and prepare for it so it never happens again?  

I learned from this that I should never give up on doing something if I haven’t done it. It made me realize that I could have a different life and add this to my life. To this day, I remember all the pains during the years and where it has brought me. When I looked at a video of myself in 2015, and now, I see the difference Gatka has made. Gatka has defined my life.