Indigenous sports to showcase India’s deep rooted sporting culture at the Khelo India Youth Games 2022 Madhya Pradesh -

Indigenous sports to showcase India’s deep rooted sporting culture at the Khelo India Youth Games 2022 Madhya Pradesh

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Khel Today Bureau

Bhopal: Traditional Sports have always been an important part of the nation’s tradition. In 2018, when the Khelo India Mission was launched with Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi’s vision of taking sports to every child and making India’s sports ecosystem the most powerful in the world, the inclusion of traditional sports was an important step towards the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Made in India’ concepts. The trend of including traditional sports in Khelo India was visible in the different editions of the games.

Khelo India Youth Games 2022 Madhya Pradesh is another step towards taking forward this journey of sports revolution and this edition will have five traditional sports at display – Mallakhamb (which is the state sport of Madhya Pradesh), Thang Ta, Gatka, Yogasana and Kalaripayattu. Mallakhamb and Yogasana will be organized in Ujjain, the city of Mahakal, while Gatka and Thang Ta will be organized in Mandla. Gwalior will play a host to Kalaripayattu.

Interestingly each of these Indigenous sports showcase India’s deep rooted sporting culture from ancient times, but also how each of these sports have played a role in many other forms of international sport. Mallakhamb, the state sport of Madhya Pradesh first came to limelight in front of the whole world during the Berlin 1936 Olympics as it was displayed there. Mallakhamb is also used as a traditional training style by wrestlers. The sport of Thang-Ta lent its methodologies to Defendu or Close Quarters Combat System, a modern form of martial arts developed before World War II.

Yogasana needs no introduction as one of the most prominent forms of fitness regime practiced globally and is a gift from India to the world. Kalaripayattu is one of India’s oldest surviving martial arts that was developed in the state of Kerala. This form of martial arts widely acclaimed as the mother of all martial arts forms finds a prominent presence in many Indian and foreign dance forms. Gatka is a traditional form of combat sports mainly practiced by the Sikh and finds its origin in the 15th century when it was promoted and further developed by Guru Hargobind Singh.

Schedule for Indigenous Sports at Khelo India Youth Games 2022 Madhya Pradesh






6-10 February 2023



1 – 3 February 2023



2-4 February 2023



8-10 February 2023



8-10 February 2023

A brief description to each indigenous sport that will be at display at the Khelo India Youth Games 2022 Madhya Pradesh


Mallakhamb involves gymnast performing aerial yoga or gymnastic postures and wrestling grips in concert with a vertical stationary or hanging wooden pole, cane, or rope.

The traces of Mallakhamb can be found as old as 2nd century BCE – 1st century CE in ancient Chandraketugarh pottery carvings. Apart from this, the game is also mentioned in the books of Buddhist Chinese pilgrims in India. However, the earliest direct description of Mallakhamb can be found in the early 12th century text called Manasollasa, which was written by the Chalukya King, Someshvara III.

It was dormant for a long time in the medieval period but was revived by the Maratha kings in order to train the Peshwa army. Since then, the sport has spread all over the country. The first ever Mallakhamb World Championships was held in 2019 in Mumbai, in which over 150 athletes from 15 countries participated.

The sport is completely based on fitness and flexibility and is performed on a 2.6 m tall wooden base with a width of 55 cm and has simple rules which make it quite similar to gymnastics. Competitors perform acrobatic stunts while standing upright on a pole or hanging rope and judges score them according to the mastery of the skill. Over the years three types of Mallakhamb have gained popularity in competitions namely Pole Mallakhamb, Hanging Mallakhamb and Rope Mallakhamb.



Gatka originated in Punjab in the 15th century. It is a style of stick-fighting, with wooden sticks intended to simulate swords. The stick used in Gatka is made of wood and is usually 3–3.5 feet (91–107 cm) long, with a thickness of around 1⁄2 inch (13 mm). It comes with a fitted leather hilt, 6–7 inches (15–18 cm) and is often decorated with Punjabi-style multi-coloured threads. The other weapon used in the sport is a shield, natively known as phari.


Kalaripayattu is a form of Indian martial art that originated from the southern state of Kerala and it is one of the oldest surviving martial art forms in the world. Kalaripayattu is revered as the mother of all martial arts. Kalaripayattu includes strikes, kicks, grappling, pre-set methods, stockpiles of weapons and methods of treatment.

In the Vadakkan Pattukal – a collection of ballads written about the Chekavar of the Malabar region of Kerala, it is stated that the cardinal principle of Kalaripayattu was that knowledge of the art be used to further worthy causes, and not for the advancement of one’s own selfish interests. Kalaripayattu is a martial art designed for the ancient battlefield (the word “Kalari” meaning “battlefield”), with weapons and combative techniques that are unique to Kerala.

Kalaripayattu is also used in dance forms like Kathakali. This is the reason why some traditional Indian and foreign dance schools still include Kalaripayattu as part of their exercise regimen.


Yoga as a part of lifestyle is India’s gift to the world. In order to promote Yogasana among the youth and maintain physical fitness, the Sports Ministry gave it the status of a competitive sport in the year 2020. After this announcement Yogasana was included in the Khelo India Games.

It requires athletes to hold asanas for three minutes while rhythmically synchronizing their performance with music. Athletes have to include 10 asanas from a predetermined list in their routine. It includes leg balance, hand balance, back bend, forward bend and body twisting.

Thang Ta

Thang Ta is comprised of two words, Thang means sword and Ta means spear. It was started by the Raja-Maharajas of Manipur about 400 years ago. The British had banned this game as it involved to play with sword and spear and could have been dangerous to the colonial rulers. However, the sport has managed to survive and is now being regularly practiced in the north eastern states of India and it has received national recognition through Khelo India.

In competitive Thang Ta, a stick is used instead of a sword and shield is used instead of a spear to avoid dangerous situations.

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