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.

Kalaripayattu – Kerala


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. photo credit- Kerala Tourism

Silambam – Tamil Nadu


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. pic credit –
The Hindu

Gatka – Punjab


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. pic credit- sikhnet

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 – Manipur

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.

Huyen Langlon martial art from Manipur consists of two main components, armed combat and unarmed fighting. Sword and spear are the two primary weapons of huyen langlon.

Lathi Khela West Bengal

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 – Maharashtra

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

Pari Khanda -Bihar

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.

Martial Arts of Indian States

Kathi Samu is very old Indian martial art originated in Andhra Pradesh.
Thoda martial art also known as the dance of archery from Himachal Pradesh.
Varma Kalai is another popular Martial Arts of Tamil Nadu.
Paika is the Orissan martial art and still used as part of the chhau dance.
Garadi mane is the fighting arts of Karnataka, taught exclusively for demonstrations at festivals.
Pehlwani is the most popular form of wrestling from the Indian subcontinent.
Kick-fighting (aki kiti) is the traditional art from of tribes from Nagaland.

Apart from the above list, there are wide array of weapons are used in the Indian subcontinent and each fighting system named with respect to weapons such as Lathikhela, Khadgavidya, Dhanurvidya, Gadayuddha, Mushtiyuddha, Mallayuddha and 64 different types of skills & arts of Bal Vidya.


  • sarjeet singh bakhshi says:

    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

    • admin says:

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

      • rahul says:

        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….

        • S. Sarkar says:

          I agree with you Rahul.

          to know most of the hidden facts of out country we should always keep on searching about it, either by practically experiencing it (which is not always possible) or by talking about it with local people or by google.

          India is really incredible.

  • GowriShankar says:

    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) says:

    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!

  • Abby says:

    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 says:

    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……………..

  • chetan says:

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

  • subha says:

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

  • sailaja lakshmi pampani says:

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

  • Kascan Sarmah says:

    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.

  • san says:

    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.

    • admin says:

      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.


    • ajay says:

      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.

    • a20 says:

      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.

    • GS Chandy says:

      I am not a martial art expert at all, but i have great respect for kalari payat of Kerala and silambu atam of Tamil Nadu (as well as for the martial arts of every part of the country. Just for information, there are specific such arts that had been developed in every part of India. Check out http://www.walkthroughindia.com/sports/8-different-forms-of-martial-arts-in-india/ for information about at least some of them). From his (or her) comments AND from whatever little I know about these martial arts, I’m pretty sure that Mr (or Ms San) knows little or nothing of any of them. Better, I think, to try and understand the background and history of such arts before one makes a fool of oneself as Mr/Ms San has done.

    • Mozoak says:

      These are not combat situations, they’re demonstrations. The fighters are demonstrating their skills. During these demonstrations, most of the movements are choreographed and exaggerated, to make the sport interesting to the audience (and also to showcase the individual ability of the fighters). These exaggerated jumps and leaps also help in building the muscle memory of the fighters. So, if the fighters face a real time situation where they have to make fast evasive movements, they do so instinctively because they had practiced those jumps and leaps thousands of times. All martial arts teach you about ‘pressure point’ attacks. So, in reality, these fighters don’t need all these techniques to kill/maim/immobilize an untrained opponent, they can easily do it by attacking pressure points. But they still train because they have to make sure that they are good enough to SURVIVE an attack from another trained opponent. All that energy, stamina, muscle memory that they have build with years of practice becomes vital.

      Stop dissing Indian martial arts. Take a look at other ‘popular’ martial arts of the world -Jiu Jitsu, karate, you name it. All of these martial arts make the students go through choreographed training sessions. Some call it ‘Katas’ and others call it ‘routines’. You wouldn’t dare ask a karate master why he’s making his students go through dance steps, would you? Those katas also have exaggerated movements, which are redundant during a real fight. Why does the army make the recruits go through rigorous training sessions? They just have to pick up their modern machine guns and kill people, right? Why do they need to undergo all those hurdle trainings and such? Why don’t you call out the army on their ‘outdated’ training techniques?

      Simple, short movements, you say? Yes for sure. That works when you are fighting an inanimate object like a wood stump or pillow. If you are up against another highly skilled and trained fighter, you better be ready to move like a cat, if you want to survive.

    • Martial arts doesn’t restricted to any certain types or forms. It varies according to culture and needs. About the jump you seen in the picture are just the magic moment of that specific martial arts forms which not meant energy loss, actually it is defines how to defend or attack in the right time. If you want more certain answer of your question i suggest you to join karate class to experience with all heart out from best karate training institute http://www.right2fight.in/ .

  • manasi says:

    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.

  • ajay says:

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

  • ajay says:

    varma kalai is not included in this list.


    • sree says:

      varmakalai is part of kalaripayattu,

      • Om says:

        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 says:

        no not so varma is diff from kalari

    • akash says:

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

  • Deepak says:

    Yaar Kaha Pe sikhata Hai Lathi chalana ki kala
    [email protected] pe address dal do koi bhai

    Traditional martail arts ki bhi

  • Rongon Majumder says:

    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: [email protected]

  • santosh kumar seth says:

    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….. [email protected]

  • hoh says:

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

    • ritik says:

      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.

  • john says:

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

  • Met Seryer says:

    Your Martial Art is Pure Shit, Some claiming origing of Kung fu my foot. Why cant a master of your Crap fight a Kung fu Master? Because he will spill all your shit out like dalls. Go live in slums and shit on the road thats all indians worth. They make too much unrealistic movies and you start beleive its real! Get into the cage and see how much of a trash you are.

  • Krishna Rg says:

    It is just different names of the art in different languages. How different is Lathi and Silambam?

  • Ronith Das says:

    Have included every martial arts of India except one – Paika Akhada.

    The oldest and famous form of Martial Arts originated from Khorda, Odisha has been in practice since 1817 till today is “Paika Akhada”. It incorporates acrobatic maneuvers and use of the khanda (straight sword), patta (gauntlet-sword), sticks, shield and other weapons. This is the only Martial Arts originated in the state. Today Paika Akhada is one of the best Indian martial arts in the world.

    Whoever is the maker of this website, I request him/her to please add Paika Akhada to it.

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