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Gatka - Sword Dancing


Boys Spar With Gatka Sticks During Hola Mohalla Exhibition

Boys Spar With Gatka Sticks During Hola Mohalla Exhibition

Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

The dictionary definition of gatka is a wooden sword used for sparing and training in fencing. In Sikhism, Gatka refers to sword dancing, and is a battle technique of the Nihang warrior which dates back to the 16th century martial period of Sikh history.

Gatka entails a series of maneuvers involving a pattern of foot work combined with offensive and defensive thrust and parry motions using the gatka stick or other weapon. In modern Sikhism, Gatka has been preserved as a martial sport. Training may be carried out individually or with a partner. Opponents may spar with wooden sticks, or fence with actual swords. Students are trained by a Gatka martial arts master. Gatka troupes put on demonstrations during Sikh holiday parades especially during the martial festival of Hola Mohalla.

Pronunciation: Gatka sounds like gut-caw
Alternate Spellings: Gatkaa
Common Misspellings: Gutka is a different work with a different meaning.

Traditional Sikh weaponry used in the art of Gatka is called shaster and may include:
  • Chakar - circular steel throwing ring or woven spinning net.
  • Chain - whirling chain with stick or ball at ends.
  • Dhal - had held shield
  • Gatka sticks - wooden rods or bamboo dong.
  • Kartar - hand weapon.
  • Khanda - double edge blade.
  • Kirpan - short sword (Sikh article of faith).
  • Mace - ball with iron spikes.
  • Talwar - sabers and swords of all types.
  • Theer - bow and arrow or spear.

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