Sony Sahota

Adi-Murai: More Techniques and Marmas (Wednesday 2013.11.20)

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Sachi Asan applied more oil on my knee.

“Asan, whats in this oil?  What does it do?” I asked.

Asan explained this particular oil has some 75 different medicinal herbs he grew.  Others he obtained on Agasthyakoodam–the sacred mountain containing a treasure-trove of medicinal plants.  The base is mustard oil.  The oil will seep through the skin and enter deep into the tissues to help get rid of the swelling.  I felt no sensations when this oil was applied however Asan claimed its very potent.

I looked towards my right and found an altar to some deities.  Lakshmi Devi and Agasthya Muni.  Agasthya was a divine being who is considered to be the founder of marma medicine and martial arts to the Nadars.

“Sachi, how did you learn all this?  Who taught you?

Sachi said he started training adi-murai at age five.  He was officially initiated to learn marma medicine at the age of 18 by his Asan Rajeyan for 12 continuous years.  Alongside his practice of adi-murai, his father and other family members also contributed to his marma education.  I asked other questions like treating chronic ailments and broken bones/dislocations.  Sachi had many experiences treating chronic disorders.  He described incidents where a person would have to be dehydrated and eat a special diet for 2 weeks along with marma treatments and massage.  The results would be more than positive.  Asan is also an adept in bone-setting.  Western doctors would apply a cast.  That would develop scar tissue and some range-of-motion would be lost.  Possibly some nerve damage.  Sachi noted that one must force some motion (supported if serious) to the injury such as what he did to my knee yesterday.  It would heal faster and full motion would be regained.  I have to admit my knee did flex better than ever.  Still hurt though.

We chatted about the cold Canadian climate.  He assured me he would make me something special for soar throats and headaches.  I had a great time.  I felt that Asan was opening up more.  He invited me to train on his rooftop while he deals with a local client.  I went over the sets and forms he taught me yesterday.  Blocking, striking, spinning, crouching.  Executing knife-hands and kicks simultaneously.  Focusing on my footwork: the circle, square, plus sign.  Sachi joined me 30 minutes later.  He taught me some new sets and applications.  One in which I crouch down evading an attack then grab a handful of sand to throw at my opponent, followed with a knife-hand strike.  If your enemy attacks, strike right away or be pre-emptive about it.  He also demonstrated various angles in which the knife-hand strike can be thrown, including turning your back and swing your arm around.  Sort of like a spinning back-fist.  Asan stressed that in adi-murai, you must not look like you are fighting.  There is no fighting stance.  The element of surprise is key.  All this reminded me of the reality-based combatives of the West like krav-maga.  It really isn’t anything new.

We sat down and cooled off with some fresh coconut water.  I had mine in an orange coconut.  It had a citrus after-taste.  I asked Sachi what was training like when he was practicing.  He went to describe a terrifying experience: when he was 9 years old, Sachi’s cousin Rajeyan, brought him to a well.  Rajeyan Asan told Sachi to climb in.  Thinking it was a game, Sachi did so.  Rajeyan also climbed in.  The well was deep and dark. He was waist deep in water.  Rajeyan pulled out a knife and started to attack Sachi.  Sachi was forced to defend himself in the dark and enclosed space.  On other days there were episodes of full-contact blows during staff training and unarmed combat. Such was the seriousness of training.

“Do people still train this way?”  I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders.

“My family fight this way.  Others maybe not.  Don’t know.”  Sachi said.

Its hard to tell how many families practice adi-murai.  Its so secret hardly anyone knows about it or cares.  Its sort of like an ubran myth.  The Nadars like to keep it that way.  We went on a discussion about marma points.  I threw an “adi” strike at Asan.  He wedged his arm between my head and shoulder then placed me in a full-nelson followed by a knee strike at the centre of my spine.

“Marma.  No move anymore.” He said.

I threw another “adi.” He slipped it and stabbed my foot with his big toe.  My foot went into shock and the calf muscles started to cramp–that was cool.  Asan massaged the soles of my feet until the discomfort subsided.  He sat me down and showed me how to revive an unconscious person.  There are 45 marmas on the human head.  Many of these can cure headaches or unconsciousness.  Also pressing marmas located at the knee-pit can revive someone.  I was fascinated.  My sceptical side stepped in:

“Asan, can you really make someone unconscious simply by hitting marmas?  Especially in a fight?” I asked.

Sachi smiled.  It depends on the situation of course.  Aside from an obvious blow to the head, marmas don’t work that way.  You can hit a marma and he won’t feel it 16 to 28 days later.  He described there are books illustrated with all 108 marmas.  People open Ayurveda centers and put on staged fights for business.  All this is theatre.  Marma is a serious science.  I was relieved when he mentioned that.  I pantomimed no-touch knock-outs and throwing my prana energy or chi.  Sachi laughed.  All this ridiculousness works in the Nadar’s favour.  It keeps the real art secret.  A marma practioner does not go into business.  His duty is to help anyone who asks.  How can anyone profit from someone’s suffering?  One must make a living but with Sachi he hardly charges anything at all.  I was touched.   After this, Sachi overlooked my forms and sets for an hour until I ended it to recover by the sea.

Written by sonysahota

November 27, 2013 at 5:01 am

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Adi Murai: The Secret Fighting Art of the Nadar Caste (Tuesday 2013.11.19)

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I hung out in downtown Trivandrum. Its not dusty or as busy as North India.  Its clean.  Its fragrant.  Colourful.  I watched the people as I strolled the markets.  Over here the women have more freedom.  They conduct business and transactions much like the men do.  They feel safe walking the streets.  They are beautiful–not in the Western sense.  Dark bodies with long back hair massaged daily with coconut oil.  They are adorned with colourful saris and wear flowers as jewellery.  Black eyes with long lashes that never blink.  Their movements are graceful. The men are blissed out.  They have all kinds of mobile devices but hardly use them.  They’re not ranting on phones or texting like squirrels.  They speak minimally and clearly.  Most wear a sarong type of dress called a “mundu.”  I bought some while I was here. The shop owner showed me how to tie one.

Later I arrived in Neillikunnu village to learn a martial art called kalaripayattu or kalari.  Many scholars and historians believe India is the birthplace of the martial arts in Asia.  I haven’t seen any evidence of this but I will certainly find out soon enough.  Kalari is a holistic martial art which includes yoga-type conditioning, practice of wooden weapons, metal weapons, unarmed combat, submissions, pressure and vital points, and of course ayurvedic medicine.  Its classified in three different forms in Kerala: The Northern, Southern, and Central styles.  All of which have elaborate rituals and pre-arranged forms.  In my opinion its divorced from the reality of fighting. From what I see in Kalari today, its reduced to a performance art to entertain crowds in order gain acceptance in the martial arts and theatre world.  I’m not interested in that.  I want the genuine article.  I came to Kerala to see a living tradition, one that’s alive with this stuff. Something practical.  As I stepped out of my vehicle, a thin, unassuming man quietly addressed me.  Mr. K. Sachidanandan Asan or “Sachi.” “Asan” means “teacher” or “master.”

“Hello Sachi Asan, I’m Sony from Canada.  We talked on the phone yesterday.” I said.

Sachi didn’t say anything.  He turned his back on me and walked towards his backyard.  A few steps later, he turned around slightly to see if I was following him.  I guess he wanted me to come in.  As walked down steps towards his backyard I was amazed.  There were many potted plants of various types.  Some even had fragrant wild flowers.  I figured he used these plants for medicinal purposes.  Chickens, roosters, and goats were all over the place.  Coconut trees canopied the space.  At the corner of my eye I saw something that resembled a white cat.  I side-stepped away and realized it was a sleeping baby goat.  I never seen one before.  It was the cutest thing I seen in awhile.

“Sit.” Asan offered as we reached his clinic.

I explained I was here to learn kalari.  I have three days.  I also required treatment for my injured knee.  He didn’t say much.  Just one word answers in a quiet, controlled, manner.

Sachi entered a room and came out with a bottle of oil.  He applied the oil on my knee without saying anything.  I wasn’t worried.  Somehow I had trust in this guy.

“We practice now?” Sachi asked.

We climbed a set of stairs to his rooftop.  After a few moments of silence he began to speak.  Sachi said he didn’t teach kalari anymore.  Just his friend’s children who kept bothering him.  Sachi’s focus is on marma treatments. He explained the human body has 108 vital points called “marmas” that can potentially cause serious injury. Some of these points also heal. If one wants to understand kalari, one must not separate the healing aspect. If one wants to learn ayurveda, they must learn kalari. He started to show me some techniques and basics.  From that, under the hot sun and coconut trees, I started my first lesson.

Basic foot work drills are in various shapes. I learned three of twelve. The square, circle, and the plus sign. striking is mostly done with an open hand. “Adi” is an open palm strike. The heel of the palm connects with the opponent’s jaw-line while the palm cups the ear, leaving the fingers touching the temple. That’s three marma points in one strike. “Thada” is an open hand palm block. One or two hands can be used. “Thada” can also be used to describe a block transitioning into a submission. “Vada” is a knife-hand strike which is a specialty of kalari. Sachi Asan described various marma points in which “vada” can be used. The front, side, and back of the neck as well as under the pectorials. There’s even a point on the foot (between the instep and shin). I continued to practice a few sets of these forms. Unlike most traditional styles, applications are taught with the form. A lot of these sets remind me of “jurus” from pencak silat.

Two of Asan’s teen-aged students arrived. They gave me a short demo. They free-styled striking and kicking along with defensive maneuvers. One would apply submissions while the other effortlessly escaped. As one would strike, the other would block and clinch followed by a knee strike to the solar plexus. Sort of like Muay Thai. The empty-hand techniques can be applied to defend knife attacks as well. Various disarms and locks were used. Some simple, others not. Asan went into an explanation about his system as the students were training.

Sachi said his system is not kalari. Kalari is an umbrella term used to describe fighting arts in Kerala. Also kalari is mainly a weapon-based art used for warfare. Sachi’s system is unique to his caste belonging to the Nadars. The Nadars live at the very Southern tip of India. They are found in the region bordering Kerala and Tamil Nadu known as the former kingdom of Travancore. Nadars are primarily fishermen and working-class folk who also practice marma medicine. Its been handed down to them by family-ties throughout generations. High castes practice ayurveda, Nadars do marma. Sachi feels marma is more potent since Brahmins don’t work much. Nadars are always soar from fishing, so his medicine has to be more concentrated. He criticized the Northern style. When someone attacks you with a knife, the Northern stylist would kick the knife away from the enemy’s hand. Sachi said it was simpler to just evade the attack and guide it with your hand or, if possible, block it (thada) instead of wasting time. Nadars don’t practice kalari. They practice Adi-Thada (to strike and block) or Adi-Murai (to strike vital points/areas). Adi-Murai comprises of unarmed combat with locks and holds, the staff, and knife-work.

Asan pointed at my right leg. “Can you bend?”

“A little bit. Not much. Its been seven weeks since I got injured.”

“I will bend it tonight” Sachi said. “Seven weeks too long.”

I had to admit I was a bit rattled by that remark. However I didn’t worry. Yet.

We walked downstairs to his clinic. He sat me down outside with his wonderful greenery. Asan added more oil to my knee. He got me to lie down and grabbed my leg by the foot. He made a count to five. With each count he pushed the heel of my foot to my glute, gradually forcing the bend that would make any Western physiotherapist protest. On the fifth count, Sachi pushed to make a full bend. I heard a crack and my knee started to swell. Immediately, Asan straightened my leg and placed his foot on my MCL ligament–massaging it upwards. Soon after he worked my LCL doing the same thing with his foot. Oddly I didn’t feel much. It didn’t hurt.

“It will hurt. For next days.” Sachi said in his broken English.

Before I left, Sachi Asan handed me a liquor bottle filled with that massage oil.

“Put on.  Two times daily.  Just apply on.” He said.

I thanked him while Asan guided me to the road where my driver was waiting. We would meet again the next day. Same time.

Written by sonysahota

November 25, 2013 at 4:49 am

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Kerala, India (Monday 2013.11.18)

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A nine hour drive to Delhi.  Navigating through traffic.  Dehydrated. Waking up at 3am. Catching a flight at 6am. Very groggy. Stopping in Cochin.  Flirtatious looks from the female flight crew.  Finally descending onto Trivandrum. I look out the window and could see the whole state covered with coconut trees.  Once we stepped out, a rush of humidity blasted me.  It was so hot.   We hailed a cab but none approached us.  Trivandrum was on strike.  Great.  We hired a driver.  The hotel was great.  We had to stay there.  Riots were happening.  Didn’t see any.  I stepped outside and saw the roaring sea.  I sat and watched the waves.  My head cleared up fast. 

I took my slippers off and dipped my feet in the warm foamy water.  The sea was violent.  Large waves almost pulled me in.  I loved it.  local fishermen, dark skinned and lean, were pulling their nets back onto the shore.  long boats were scattered on the beach framed by coconut trees.  It was iconic.  I stayed by the sea. I wanted to drift into it.  I looked far into the horizon wondering what I would hit if I swam it.  It was evening.  Couldn’t pull myself away from the sea.  I had to chat with the locals.  They taught me some Malayalam.  “Kilkun” or “namaskaram” is hello.  “Hi” means bye.  “Nani” is thank you. 

We had dinner soon after.  Vishal, Jeetu, and Dad had Punjabi food.  I ordered Keralan cuisine.  Poppars or Indian chips sprinkled with coconut oil.  Sambar, coconut chutney, Appam, and vegetable coconut curry.  Very yummy. 

That night I couldn’t sleep.  The humidity was too much. I could hear the sea. Eventually I fell asleep waking up to the bright hot sun a few hours later. 

Written by sonysahota

November 24, 2013 at 2:17 am

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Sri Chand and OSHO (Saturday 2013.11.09)

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I spent the last week resting my injured knee.  It’s not as bad as I thought but I’ll be out of action for awhile.  I’m indebted to my dear relative Manpreet (my brother’s wife’s eldest sister) who happens to be a physiotherapist–a doctor in fact.  She has been giving me daily interferential and ultrasound treatments.  Thank you so much Manpreet! 

“No training.  No fighting.  Come back 100%.” I tell myself. 

Inactive and out-of-shape, I manage to do some conditioning exercises I borrowed from my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor Marcus Soares.  I fire off some sets on the rooftop as the town of Gurdaspur wakes up.  I finish my last reps and look directly at the sun through the smokey haze.  A red dot in the sky.  Historically India is the land of non-attachment.  I realize I have to give up fighting; just for a little bit.

Vishal drove my father and I to Madhopur near Jammu and Kashmir.  There’s a dam of some sort so I decided to tag along.  The river was a tourist trap filled with cafes and hotels.  We stopped for some coffee and decided to get closer to the dam.  We drove across a bridge when I noticed a small billboard with a face I recognised instantly.  Those penetrating black eyes, long grey beard, and silly futuristic costumes.  It could only be one person: Osho.  Apparently Madhopur is home to one of Osho’s ashrams. I asked Vishal if we could visit and he was game.  Being a fan of Osho I knew what to expect. 

The ashram was impressive.  Inside had a variety of beautiful trees from all over India which were clearly labelled as well as 25 different species of birds.  Near the entrance was a bookshop.  Vishal and Dad were clearly obsorbed in the material.  After purchasing some items we took a stroll throughout the green space overlooking the river.  The name of the river eludes me but it was quite a sight.   It was perfect for meditation.  The fragrance of the trees and the sound of the river was a pleasant experience.  I was happy to be here.  The ashram was lined with dormatories and halls.  No one was here save for the helpful volunteers.  My interest and practice of meditation/Eastern philosophy is directly influenced by Osho.  Unfortunately everything cool about India is either dying out or non-existent.  Things like yoga, martial arts, meditation, non-violence, Buddhism, the Upanisads, and much more are relics of the past.  Its refreshing Osho’s ideas are attempting to bringing them back. 

On our way back home we stopped by a temple dedicated to Sri Chand (17th Century).  A siddhi yogi who happens to be the son of Guru Nanak (founder of Sikhism).  No one knows anything about the life of Sri Chand but his image is filled with myths and legends.  Sri Chand is someone I can relate to.  Like him, I also decided not to marry and live with minimal possessions.  Popular Sikhism is militaristic which I cannot agree with.  Sri Chand enlightened many through knowledge not through propaganda or a shared history.  I sat under his favourite banyan trees which were gorgeous.  The locals informed me this site was once a large forest filled with banyan and pipal trees.  The forest was clear-cut to make way for a village and temple.  Only Sri Chand’s trees were spared.  I felt hurt about the forest.  Ironically the temple featured more on the 10 Gurus of Sikhism than Sri Chand. 

Another banyan tree I sat under had an interesting story:  Once upon a time Sri Chand was brushing his teeth with a twig (neem bark which is minty flavoured and medicinal.  Also used as an antiseptic).  A thief (a Muslim by Sikh accounts) walked towards Sri Chand threatening to kill him.  Sri Chand took the twig from his mouth and threw it on the ground.  Instantly, out burst a large banyan tree. The thief backed off in astonishment.  This tree still looks in excellent condition.  I’m not sure if the story is true but such are Indian tales. 

It was late.  We had to get back home, soldiering through the dense Indian traffic eventually entering Gurdaspur. 


Written by sonysahota

November 16, 2013 at 2:12 am

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Indian Judo II (Friday 2013.11.01)

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I arrived at the Judo club on time but could not find Mr. Shastri.  I watched the class warm up for 30min until one of the coaches invited me to join the warm-up.  We loosened our shoulders and necks and finished with some breakfalls.  Everyone started to put their gi’s on.  The coach approached me:

“Where is your Judo kit?”

I explained Mr. Shastri was supposed to be here with my gi and belt.  The coach rolled his eyes. 

“Ah…” He uttered in annoyance.  “Mr. Shastri…”

He called over one of the teenage boys and ordered him to take off his gi and hand it over to me.

“No, No! That’s not necessary.” I said.  “I’ll just watch.”

The coach didn’t seem to understand my English.  More so my broken Punjabi.  I put the gi top and belt on and thanked the boy, pressing my palms together in a gesture of respect.  The boy was left to himself in a corner doing push-ups and squats; in his underwear.  I felt like a douche.  That douchiness was felt throughout the gym as I joined the class with much stares and glares.  Some introduced themselves.  I greeted myself as a visitor from Canada.  The word “Canada” travelled throughout the club of 45 people with laughter met with more stares.  I suppose I did look funny.  A brown guy who only speaks English, wearing a gi two sizes small with MMA shorts on.  I smiled seeing the humour of it.  Man, I was just happy getting a workout in after being weeks out of the game.  I decided to go easy tonight. 

We did some practice throws and drills.  I took it slow for my injured knee, which was feeling great.  It was time to spar and I was paired up with the club champ, Jasleen.  He came at me conservatively, trying to maintain dominate grips.  I didn’t care to be thrown, just wanted to work my defence.  He made several attacks which I defended well.  Near the end of the match, Jasleen threw me with a beautiful Osoto-gari or “major outer-reaping leg throw.”  It almost knocked the wind out of me.  I heard some snickers by the students seated on the side-lines. 

On my second match, I was paired up with another advanced student, Rohit.  I noticed this club relied mainly on hip throws and shoulder throws, so I changed my strategy and prepared to attack with sacrifice techniques, requiring me to swing underneath their centre of balance.  Rohit attacked me.  Hard.  I managed to establish dominate grips and apply a technique I’m not good at: yoko tomo-nage.  I swung my body underneath him and placed my foot on his lower abdomen.  Rohit flew over my head, flipped in the air, and landed squarely on his back.  It was a text-book throw.  I’ve never done that technique in sparring before.  The club went silent.  I scored with several of my favourite techniques afterwards for the rest of the match, including some Indian wrestling moves.

Competition was fierce but I wasn’t there to compete or prove anything.  However, it definitely felt like Canada vs. India.  Gassed-out and dehydrated from the Indian heat, I was matched with a heavy-weight, Jasbir.  My lungs were on fire as Jasbir and I fought for grips. We stale-mated most of the match.  Finally I threw him with an Osoto-gari.  He caught me with a shoulder-throw soon after.  Near the end of the match, Jasbir attacked my injured leg with a Ochi-gari or “major inner-reaping throw.” I heard a ‘snap’ and a ‘pop’ then my leg went numb.  I reinjured my knee: damn it!  It didn’t hurt much but I had to stop.  In the background I heard a series of “Sir! Sir! Sir!”  Five students helped me out asking if I was okay.  As I was trying to sit down I assured them I was fine. 

“Sir, its my fault.  I am most sorry, Sir!”  Jasbir said. 

“No. its my fault.” I said.  “I shouldn’t have been training injured so don’t feel bad.  It’s my stupid ego.” 

I observed the class for 15min until my driver arrived.  I waved the club good-bye.  They all, to my surprise, waved back-smiling warmly.  They probably did not understand my butchered Punjabi but I’m sure they got a very good idea of who I am as a human being through my fights.  Many escorted me to my vehicle to make sure I was safe.  It’s too bad I got injured again.  I would like to train at this club regularly but I have to respect my body.  If I am able to learn any Indian martial arts during my stay here, it would have to be restricted to techniques and theory.  No sparring.  What a time to be injured!  I’m expecting a bad swelling around my knee in the morning. 

Written by sonysahota

November 9, 2013 at 9:33 am

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Indian Judo (Thursday 2013.10.31)

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I’m here to learn traditional Indian martial arts.  From where I’m staying, a small town in Punjab, there isn’t any.  The locals are more into academics, business, and “development” than combat arts.  I randomly met a judo coach on one of my walks, Mr. Shastri, who invited me to his club.  I took him up on his offer and visited the dojo.

After trenching through the heavy traffic, I entered an alley and into a courtyard of an all boys high-school.  There were piles of rubble and red bricks everywhere.  The gym looked like a warehouse.  Mr. Shastri was sitting on a plastic chair with one of his coaches near the entrance.  He invited me in for a look.

There were some 30 to 40 people around the age of 12 to 21 years.  Everyone had a white gi and a white belt.  There were no coloured belts-even black.  Mr. Shastri explained his club was about competition and practical techniques.

“No theory, just practice.” He reiterated.

The cement walls were covered with peeling blue plaster.  There were four ropes attached to the ceiling 45 feet up for grip exercises.  I was surprised the tatami mats (dark blue and yellow-made in India) were in good condition and hygienic.  Above the mats on the north-side wall was an altar.  In the centre was a photo of Judo founder Jigoro Kano adorned with marigolds.  Kano’s photo was surrounded with images of Hanuman, Shiva, Lakshmi, and Sikh gurus.  A student lit several sticks of incense and respectfully waved them around the pictures.  He then held the incense sticks above his head and walked to all four corners of the gym.  When entering the practice space, a simple bow would do in Japan or anywhere else in the world.  In this gym, a student would enter and bend down, touching his fingertips on the mats then bring his fingers up to touch his forehead.  Afterwards, he would press his palms together and bow.  The same series of gestures would be done when entering the altar area.  Much respect is given to Kano and Hanuman.

The class started off with randori or sparring.  A lot of the students were evenly matched so there were not much throws or takedowns going on.  After about 45min they moved to ne-waza or ground-work.  There were so many white gis flipping around it looked like laundry.  I seen some submissions, mostly arm-bars.  The skill level was not very advanced however the athletes were mostly under 17 years of age or novices.

Much time and effort is put into these classes.  Training is twice a day, six days a week.  The gym offered its hospitality; a young student offered me a steel cup of water on a steel tray.  I respectfully declined for fear of getting sick.

I asked Mr. Shastri about kushti or traditional Indian wrestling. My impression was he didn’t seem to care.  Perhaps his judo club is in competition for funding with other sports like basketball, volleyball, badminton, or (heaven forbid) wrestling.

“We’ll see,” he said, stepping outside to join his buddies.

I was left there watching white gis rolling around and garlanded deities.  Moments later my driver arrived to pick me up.  I desperately needed some training and my knee injury is healing well.  I told Mr. Shastri I’ll participate in a class the next evening. He was pleased and would arrange to have a gi ready for me.

Written by sonysahota

November 5, 2013 at 3:57 am

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Amritsar (Wednesday 2013.10.30)

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After breakfast I went for a walk and crossed the street to the crematorium.  The place was packed with colourful images of Lord Shiva-the god of destruction.  There were also images of Ganesha and Guru Nanak; credited as the founder of the Sikh religion.  I tried to get a good picture of the giant Lord Shiva with my I-POD touch but without any luck.  There were numbered funeral pyres and a series of colourful statues depicting a story I’m not familiar with.

I strolled back to my neighbourhood and ran into my Dad who also wanted to walk around.  We walked for about 30mins until I spotted a sign on someone’s house: “Amarjit Shastri-Judo Coach.”  Perfect!  I desperately needed some excersise! I asked my Dad if he could translate while I inquired.  I rang the doorbell and after a few minutes an unassuming man in his 50’s approached the door, toothbrush in hand and paste foaming from his mouth.  My dad told him to finish up and we’ll wait.  A few more minutes, a presentable Amarjit Shastri greeted us.  My father explained I’m a martial artist from Canada and was looking to do some training during my stay in India.  Mr. Shastri was kind, spoke little English, and was positive of me training with his team.  Mr. Shastri’s team represented India in the Asian and South-Asian games several times; recently in Kazakhstan.  The team trains in an all boy’s high-school 15min away complete with tatami mats.  Practice is 7am to 10am and 4pm to 8pm, seven days a week.  Getting me a Judo gi is not a problem he said.  I explained I’m a beginner in Judo and mainly study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Mr. Shastri smiled warmly and shook my hand.  I didn’t know what to make of this gesture.  Did he know what BJJ was?  Or did he think my name was “Ju-Jinder from Brazil?”

I turned to my Dad to ask if Mr. Shastri knew anything or had information about Traditional Indian Wrestling or Kushti around Gurdaspur.

“We’ll see.” is what he said.

I’ll visit the boy’s school tomorrow.  My knee is feeling alright if I take it easy.

Later today we drove to Amritsar to see the Golden Temple.  I’m not a religious person and have some strong critisisms of Sikhism.  Basically I see it more as a socio-political force than spirituality.  Nevertheless it meant a lot for my father so I tagged along taking pictures and shooting video.  I also shot footage of street life in Amritsar.  Afterwards we picked up Gulu from his college and headed to a newly opened mall for dinner.  Consumerism is exciting for Indians-it’s new to them.  They are delighted by such “Hi-Fi” corporations as Pizza-hut, Dominos, Subway, Ray-Bans, Levi’s, etc.  Many consider it a privilege to buy such products compared to the average Indian.  Malls are seen as centres of sophistication and taste.  I see it as neo-colonialism. I don’t see any opposition to corporate-control; its openly welcome here.

Dinner was great: a masala dosa with coconut chutney and sambar.  Had to buy local.  For a food-court style meal, it was quite flavourful.  Gulu was excited to have coffee at a new coffee shop so I conceded and ordered an espresso.  He wasn’t familiar with coffee terminology so I gave him a crash-course.  Gulu was astonished my espresso was so small, more so when I shot it down.  The coffee buzz was perfect for our ride back to Gurdaspur.



Written by sonysahota

November 3, 2013 at 12:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized