A martial art form that uses various weapons like the sword, spear and dagger, yet has a soft, rhythmical movement coordinated with one's breathing - this is the Thang-Ta of Manipur or the Art of the Sword and Spear.
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Method of safe-guarding
Also known as Huyen Lallong ("method of safe-guarding"), this art form is not just about fighting but also involves an elaborate system of physical culture that includes breathing methods, meditations, and rituals.
Thang emphasizes Phidup (coil) - lowering one’s body near the ground to enable a spring action for expansion and attack. Ta emphasizes Phanba, an opening out of the body for attack.
Origin of this form
This martial art form originated in medieval times when warring states were commonality. It is believed that at least one in the family was taught Thang ta, either male or female, to protect family members.
During colonial rule (1891-1947), Thang Ta was prohibited as the British believed that it could be used to revolt against them. But Thang Ta retained its fighting character at individual teachers' or Gurus' secret home schools.
Types : Ritual, Dance and Actual Fight
Thang Ta is practised in three different ways.
The first way is an absolute ritual related to the 'tantric' practices.
The second way consists of a spectacular performance involving sword and spear dances, which can be converted into fighting practices.
The third way is the actual fighting technique.
A Guru that brought laurels to the State
Born on April 15, 1936, in Manipur, Gurumayum Gourakishor Sharma is a distinguished Thang-Ta (Manipuri Martial Arts) Guru of Manipur.
His family had a long tradition of martial arts, and he showed great skills in the art from early childhood.
He established a school near his home at Keirao and imparted training to those interested in learning this art form.
In 1983 he became the first Manipuri to receive the National Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the field of Manipuri Martial Arts. Manipuri Sahitya Parishad also honoured him with the 'Kala Ratna' title in 1985 for his outstanding contribution to the field.
This art form of Manipur, an intrinsic part of Manipuri culture, not only strengthens one but teaches self-defence and discipline.
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