8 Different Forms of Martial Arts in India

Martial arts is a part of India’s ancient culture and a traditional games.Originally a traditional form of martial art that started in South India, and now it has different names and different forms in the culture of the regions in India. Khusti The Indian Wrestling is also a part of Indian Martial arts found throughout the India. Indian martial arts has an important influence in the development of modern Asian martial arts. Nowadays a sense of self-defense and for fitness lots of people are opting for martial arts.As in other respects of Indian culture, Indian martial arts can be roughly divided into northern and southern styles.


Kalarippayattu is a famous Indian martial art from land of attraction Kerala and one of the oldest fighting systems in existence. It is practiced in most of the part of south India. A kalari is the school or training hall where martial arts are taught. It includes strikes, kicks and some weapon based practiced, Footwork patterns is most important key in Kalarippayattu. It is the best Indian martial art that has been used in many movies to make it popular, like Ashoka and The myth.


Silambamis a weapon-based Indian martial art from Tamil Nadu. Every states has it own style of martial arts. A wide variety of weapons are used in silamban, some of which are not found anywhere else in the world. Silambam art also used animal movements of snake, tiger, eagle forms and footwork patterns is play a key role here as well. Another part of Silambam is Kuttu varisai, it is the unarmed kind of martial art.


Gatkais weapon-based Indian martial art basically created by the Sikhs of Punjab.There are many weapons used in Gatka like, Stick, Talwar, kirpan and kataar. The attacking and defense methods are based upon the positions of the hands feet and nature of weapons used. It is also displayed during the different celebrations or at fairs in Punjab.

Musti Yuddha

It is unarmed martial art from the oldest city of India “Varanasi“. Technique used in this martial arts are punches, kicks, knees and elbow strikes. This style is a complete art of physical, mental and spiritual development. This art is very rarely visible but was very popular in middle age.

Thang Ta

Thang Ta is popular term for the ancient Manipuri Martial Art also known as HUYEN LALLONG. Manipuri martial arts with swords and spears, is a strong yet gracefully sophisticated art.


Lathi is an ancient armed martial art of India. It also refers one of the world’s oldest weapons used in martial arts. Lathi or stick martial arts practiced in Punjab and Bengal region of India. Lathi still remains a popular sport in Indian villages.

Mardani Khel

Mardani Khel is an armed method of martial art created by the Maratha. This traditional martial art of Maharashtra is practiced in kolhapur.


Pari-khandaa style of sword and shield fighting from Bihar. This art is created by the rajputs. Pari-khanda steps and techniques are also used in Chau dance.


  • sarjeet singh bakhshi

    The history of Indian martial art

  • the information provided was very useful and interesting. It would be helpful if you could also post something regarding “Raibeshe” – a martial art form of Bengal…thank you

    • Hi Gauri, Thanks for beautiful comment and suggestion to add “Raibeshe–A martial dance form of Bengal”.

      • rahul

        hey guys!!! to all indian as well as others u shuld know about “BODHIDHARMA” the founder of kung fu… was an indian from Tamil nadu… he taught chinese this art… chinese still learn it and we have forgotten…
        if u want to know just google it… wiki and other reference…… INDIA is full of mystery and hidden knowledge which we are losing day by day….

  • GowriShankar

    The forum was really intersting but you have missed out to include a great martial art named “varmakalai” a weaponless martial art adopted in ancient times, which has been modulated after so many sacrafices, art emerged in Tamilnadu, now after so many years we even dont have its own shadow……we just know only te name thru the movies.

  • david bohn (Hawaii)

    It is interesting to see the martial arts of India. We normally hear about Chinese, Japanese or Korean martial arts but India has been completely forgotten. Let’s hope that the Western countries will get more exposure to Indian martial arts! Have a nice day!

    • Hey David, Thanks for valuable comment.

  • Abby

    I was searching for Indian martial arts, as I was curious to know if yoga asana have a direct correlation to any school of these ancient arts. Would you have any suggestions, such as a particular style, or any book, teacher or ashram that you could direct my research?
    Thank you, this information was very interesting.

  • Amish

    Indian martial arts is very famous outside India but we people of India really don’t care about them. Many ancient people had devoted their life for India and Indian martial arts and its shame for us that we forget it all……………..

    • Melissa

      “Indian martial arts is very famous outside India”….

  • chetan

    IS There any details for gujarati or kathiyawadi martial art?!

  • subha

    hi guys… can anyone suggest me a good book(s) on indian martial arts….

  • sailaja lakshmi pampani

    Thank You So Much Walk Through India for providing such wonderful information.

  • Kascan Sarmah

    I am glad to get all the information about some Indian Martial Art Forms…Hope you will add more forms. Thanking You.

  • I am glad to get all the information about some Indian Martial Art Forms…Hope you will add more forms. Thanking You.

    • Thanks Hemant, Sure will do.

  • san

    why they r jumping so high and wasting their energy? in every martial arts there should be no extra moments. simple, short and direct moves are always powerful and effective. they save your energy, u get less tired. in combat situation u must save ur energy and stamina. most of the Indian martial art is out dated and dead. it is useless for the modern man.

    • Hi San,
      Every Martial art has its own unique way to attack and defend, By jumping here they are not wasting the energy they are seeking for an approach to attack at the right point. These traditional Indian martial arts not out dated they are still in use, These art’s are the Mother of all other that you have seen and yet to see.


      • Giri

        well Said.

      • Hari Krishnan

        Well said…I have been practising kalaripayattu for a couple of years…We used to do a lot of jumps,leaps,and flexible movements…Still we used to perform several hours..There are people who criticises others with out proper knowledge & awareness.That shows their immaturity.In every martial arts the key thing is the mind control and maturity.Shame on them!!!

    • ajay

      How can a martial art be out dated?So funny and silly it is the same bone,flesh and skin .Now to answer your question why do they jump? It is to add power to their strike.And what do you mean by modern man have humans evolved so much in last 5000 years now we are having 2 legs and 2 hands and did they have some 4 legs and 4 hands?Nowadays martial arts itself is useless because of modern weapons.But we learn it for a good physique,and to defend ourselves against unarmed or light armed opponents.


      san every martila art is orginated from india .even so called kung fu and karatae.

    • Shreesh

      Hi…There is not only jumps and flying in Indian Martial art……….don’t go to posters its just showing symbol not the entire techniques….your question is valuable….but if you really want your answer come and experience it in kalaripayattu @ http://www.kalarikendramdelhi.in/

    • a20

      You build stamina that way. In practice if you have built all the right muscles and stamina, in actual fight your enemy (who did not train his stamina or muscles) will be defeated very quickly.

  • manasi

    its very informative. but why ‘Chaau’ is not included in this list? Though it is a recognized as dance style,basically it is a martial art form.

    • Thanks for suggestion Mansi, will add the Chhau martial dance.

  • ajay

    there are many more like sastravidya,dhanurveda,gada yuddha,e.t.c

  • ajay

    varma kalai is not included in this list.


    • sree

      varmakalai is part of kalaripayattu,

      • Om

        It’s a misconception…the essential knowledge of varmam in Kerala are compilations of informations and sutras from tamil palm leaf manuscripts…in fact between the Sidha and Ayurvedic traditions of medicine, it is the Sidha medicine which speaks extensively about varmam. Anyone with rudimentary knowledge knows that the Sage Agasthya who is supposed to have written the kambu sutram for silambam is the same person who is credited with the treatise on varmam. However, it is true that Kerala definitely can boast about some good Asans of varmam. I do not want to question the antiquity of Kalari as I consider it as a very beautiful art form. However, sometimes one needs an informed perspective before claiming anything….

      • Mage

        no not so varma is diff from kalari

    • akash

      We’re we can learn silamban and many forms ?? Is there any schools for that??

  • Deepak

    Yaar Kaha Pe sikhata Hai Lathi chalana ki kala
    deepakaggarwal81@hotmail.com pe address dal do koi bhai

    Traditional martail arts ki bhi

  • Rongon Majumder

    Why don’t the ADMIN give me the Phone No. of different groups who performs those 8 form of Martial Arts…My ph 09836050606 & mail id: companion4events@rediffmail.com

    • Hello Rongon,
      Thanks for your comments, will contact you with the information we have.

  • santosh kumar seth

    Hii my name is santosh seth and m from up. In up there are akhada. I m learning here laathi, banana,banethi, galashiels,bhala etc. And in future we organise a national level martial art kalaari singham.. Please help me.my cell no. Is 09670448283,09532826826, and my Facebook /emai account is….. Upkenyuryukarate@gmail.com

  • hoh

    0i cant get why they jumpes so much , in real battle field jumps never really works.

    • ritik

      I wanna tell u that in martial arts making small moves or jumping high cannot be the reason for ur defeat. if u use the technique correctly then it will surely make u win
      and also jumping high is not the only move in indian martial arts their are many other moves which u may feel awesome as these arts were once most dangerous martial arts of world. even a good martial arts fighter can be easily defeated by a person learning these arts
      other arts u can learn in 4-5 yrs but these arts may require ur whole life to learn.

  • Shreesh
  • Shreesh

    best kalaripayattu Center Am practicing @ Delhi ___ http://www.kalarikendramdelhi.in/

  • john

    san, what u said is partly true, except thangta and kalari , all others arts are just jokes

  • Ricardo Kroc

    Martial art is very useful for everyone, but their process of learning is differ from
    country to country. http://bit.ly/1Gu9snm