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Last master of Sikh martial art seeks apprentice to keep ancient art alive

The last remaining master of Sikh martial art Shastar Vidiya, Nidar Singh Nihang, is seeking an apprentice to keep the ancient art alive.

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After learning his skills from an Indian guru, 45-year-old Nihang says budding warrior eager to follow in his footsteps must travel to his home in Wolverhampton.

Shastar Vidiya – the 'science of weapons' – is a five-step movement: advance on the opponent, hit his flank, deflect incoming blows, take a commanding position and strike.

It was in 1984. Working on his aunt's farm in India, Nidar met his guru Mohinder Singh, from whom he learnt the art. He is now the ninth gurdev or teacher of a school called Baba Darbara Singh Shastar Vidiya Akhara.

Looking for someone to inherit both his unique knowledge and his armoury of weapons, the former factory worker says: "I am the last known remaining master – it is my mission in life now to find a successor to carry on this great martial art. If I die with it, it is all gone."

Nihang follows a rigorous daily routine. His day begins at dawn with the recitation of ancient mantras. It is followed by seven hours of writing and study, as reported by a newspaper in the UK.

The Vidiya was developed by Sikhs way back in the 17th century, when the religion was coming under attack. It was forced underground when the British banned Sikhs from using arms after the first Anglo-Sikh War.

 

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