Guwahati: Thang-Ta, a martial art from Manipur, is set to be showcased at the Khelo India Youth Games 2022 at Panchkula in Haryana for the first time ever.

The traditional martial art – Thang (sword) Ta (spear) – however is not just about fighting. Artistes are trained in sword fight and sharit-sharak (unarmed combat). Their holistic development is ensured through sajen kanglon (physical exercise), thengouron (spiritual arts), ningsha kanglon (breathing exercise), layeng kanglon (natural medicinal education) and hirikonba (meditation).

As a warrior, the artists also need steely calm and deadly precision to win the combat, experts say.

The Khelo India Youth Games 2022 will be held from June 4 to 13, 2022.

Elaborating on introducing the sport on such a big platform, Huidrom Premkumar Singh, who will manage and oversee the Thang-Ta contests at the Games from June 4 to June 6, revealed that there would be close to 140 boys and girls in the fray.

“Most are from Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, West Bengal, Bihar, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh,” Singh said.

Though not much is known about this art form, its origins are believed to date back to 1404-1432 AD, when, according to the Thang-Ta Federation of India, a king named Punshiba set up a military department called Shingchep Meira Haijouroi.

By 1709-1748 AD, this defence system was strengthened by King Pamheiba and every male, over the age of 16 years, was ordered to serve the state voluntarily for a fixed number of days in a year and train in martial arts.

The men had to be adept in the art of war as attacks from neighbours increased.

“We share borders with Burma (now Myanmar) and invasions from surrounding states were frequent too,” Singh pointed out.

Tribal clans such as the Mangang, Luwant, Khuman, Angom, Khaba-Nganba, Moirang and Sarang Leishang Them in Manipur valley also often fought among themselves, underscoring the need for strong defence measures in all the villages.

An expert in the art form, Singh, who is also president of the World Thang-Ta Federation, has been instrumental in setting up Thang-Ta training centres and in organising championships in India and abroad.

“Except for performances before select audiences, there will be no use of swords in the Khelo India events and players will be contesting with cheibee or phunachei, which are leather-covered canes,” Singh said.

The contest is in a circular arena 30 feet in diameter; with contestants in Angangba (Red corner) and Higok (Blue corner). 

“They can hit any part of the opponent’s body above the belt. Use of chungoi (shield) is allowed only for self-defence. Kicking is not allowed,” he said.

One match consists of two rounds of two to three minutes each for boys and girls with a minute’s rest. One central referee, six scorers, one timekeeper and either one or two chief jury members are assigned for each match.

“Medal ceremonies will be held each day, and there will be separate performances for VIPs,” Singh said.

Also read: Manipur’s Shirui Lily festival: Tangkhuls showcase ‘tricycle race track’

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