Gatka is a Sikh martial art that utilizes mental, physical, and spiritual skills in order to learn techniques of self-defense. Gatka also promotes discipline and self-control within the fighters. The various tools used during Gatka are called Shastars and the teaching of Gatka is called Shastar Vidya. This art has been passed down by Nihangs (Sikh warriors) since the time of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji (6th Sikh Guru). Also 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji was not only spiritual master but warrior who mastered weaponry as well. Gatka was used by Sikhs to defend themselves against the Moguls in the 16th-17th Century. In present day, Gatka is a sport with standardized rules and uses sticks in order to simulate swords when fighting. The traditional style of Gatka is known as Rasmi and the sports style is known as Khel.
The traditional outfit worn during Gatka is called a Chola which is a blue or orange or white long robe with buttons. Sikhs also tie a dastaar or Dumala (turban) along with the chola when fighting.
Main Shastars of Gatka:-
-Soti (Wooden stick) and Fari (leather shield)
-Kirpan (Full sword) and Dhaal (metal shield)
-Khanda (Double-edged sword) and Katar (Smaller version of Khanda)
-Lathi (Quarterstaff, 5-6 ft wooden stick) and Marati (Lathi with balls or fabric at the ends)
-Gola (round Metal hollow from inside and tied with string)
-Chakkar (Wagon wheel with weights at the spoke-ends)
The Sangat at the Westborough Gurudwara Sahib was presented with the opportunity to learn Shastar Vidya through various camps and weekly practices. Everyone started at a beginner level and slowly progressed towards more advanced techniques. Jaskirat Singh, a student of Deep Singh from New York City (Sangat member of Sikh Cultural Society Gurudwara Sahib in Richmond Hill) helped at the Gatka Camps to teach kids, teens, and adults. The techniques taught were attack/defense with the wooden sticks, chaar-var with sticks, Kirpans and khanda and spinning of chakkar, Gola, Kirpans, Marati and lathi. Many of the kids and adults have shown amazing potential and have advanced beyond the beginner level of Gatka. Each practice is started with ardas (prayer) and a fatehnama (salutation) to the shasters.
The most recent Gatka Camp was held from January 10th -12th. The members of the Gatka camp had a chance to display what they had learned on January 12th during the normal Sunday diwan. This display was part of the celebrations for the Parkash utsav (birth) of the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
The gatka participants included: Amarjit Kaur, Asreet Kaur, Danveer Singh, Gurasis Singh, Gurpreet Kaur, Harneet Kaur, Harman Singh, Hridhveer Singh, Jaswinder Kaur, Livnoor Singh, Prabhnoor Kaur, Ratan Singh, Raunaq Singh and Tanisha Kaur. The entire team was coached by Jaskirat Singh. The Gatka demonstration was well organized, extremely energetic, fast-paced and well-praised by Sangat. The sangat feedback was to continue these efforts and the organizers were encouraged to involve more youth and adults in future performances.