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Martial Arts of the Kshatriyas

Martial Arts of the Kshatriyas

                India is a “cradle” of “the Eastern model” of civilization in almost all of its aspects including martial arts. However, some experts suppose that the area of martial arts remained in this “cradle”, i. e. after spreading beyond India Eastern martial arts went their own way dissolved in Japanese and Chinese styles but in the ancestral home their secret seemed to be lost soon.

     Military science in India was the matters of the special estate – the Kshatriyas, or military caste.  Of course, first of all, Kshatriyas cultivated the art of weapon mastery but hand-to-hand fighting and supporting weapons (for example, a stick, if a spear was broken in the battle) were not ignored. Moreover, the Kshatriya’s “code of ethics” obliged him to improve the skills of weaponless fighting. As far as it can be judged, there is an idea of Kshatriya that penetrated into various kinds of martial arts. At some times in some countries those who had a legal right to carrying the sword, considered it beneath his dignity to master anything at all, except for the methods of "noble weapon" handling.

         The data of combat system of the Kshatriyas in ancient times and the early Middle Ages is undoubted but rather poor. In addition, it is hard to tell the reality from the legend…

         The military art of armed or unarmed Kshatriya had very active, though not openly aggressive nature. The movements had rather piston-like, linear features without Chinese roundness. The attack was like an explosion, namely a cascade of lightning strokes on different levels… On the highest level of mastership the battle acquired the stepped character, i. e. the alternation of “explodes” and pauses could last long. An “explode” didn’t stop immediately as well, maintaining certain duration, and a pause didn’t come to idleness. A fight merely lost its activeness temporarily getting more defensive. Butthewholebattlewassingle-stepped. If an opponent was able to stand the first tens of seconds of furious onslaught, then it was a big misfortune to the attacker who exhausted himself with no result…

          A weaponless Kshatriya used arms more than legs, punches and kicks more than throws and holds (though they were trained as well). A punch was made by a fist, by an open palm with fingers strained. Fingers could be widely used in holds digging into a trunk.

          Nevertheless, the prevalence of punches displayed only in the beginning of a fight. It is not connected with the ability to beat but with the ability to take a punch…

         The usage of legs relatively increased in the armed battle, because hands were occupied with weapon, so a leg had a chance to undercut or strike. As it can be judged, the attack was always straight on the lower or middle level, that is below the chest…

       The vulnerable points of a human organism were also familiar to Kshatriya, but applying them in skirmishes combining with powerful punches was never the end in itself. The defence elements (mainly tough blocks) were also significant, although the mastery of an active attack predominated.  It seems that justbythismeanssemilegendaryBodhidharma, a Buddhist Kshatriya,wontheheartsofthen little known Shaolin Monastery inhabitants…

        Sometimes the Kshatriyas intentionally limited their military mastery. At least, it relates to “the battle of equals”, which means struggle with the fellow. In such struggles even if they happened in wars and not in duel-type battles, the Kshatriya estate complied with certain rules. The rules were unwritten but nevertheless not less strict.

          The Ancient India paid great attention to unarmed battle but both armed and unarmed duel had a number of serious restrictions.

          If all these restrictions entered into the wushu style "branched off" from the Kshatriyas’ art, perhaps, the Shaolin Monastery would have remained obscure.

          However, the Shaolin wushu soon ceased to be a purely Indian (if ever it was originally, as it seems that from the very beginning Bodhidharma and his associates combined their system with the ancient Chinese, that is, Taoist samples). But Indian sources are stored in a combat practice, psychological training and meditation...

                                                                                   

Panchenko GK. “Nontraditional martial arts”

 

 

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