This is Nidar Singh, a 44-year old factory worker, father of four, and the last master of the Sikh martial art shastar vidya. After learning the so-called “science of weapons” in his youth, Singh believes that he is now the only living master of the art and is seeking someone willing to take the responsibility of keeping the tradition alive.
Though he has many students, Singh says that none of them have truly mastered his art. Originally developed in the 17th century, shastar vidya has largely passed into history through the ravages of colonial occupation, religious strife, and a modern lifestyle disinterested in demanding fighting techniques. Which is a shame, since anything that involves bladed “war shoes” strikes me as worthy of preservation.
Amazingly, Nidar Singh’s intorduction to the fighting style is like something out of a kung-fu movie. He recounts his first encounter with Baba Mohinder Singh, who would eventually train him. From the BBC:
“When he [Baba Mohinder Singh] saw my physique he looked at me, even though I was clean-shaven and he asked me: ‘Do you want to learn how to fight’,” recalls Nidar Singh. “I couldn’t say no.”
On his first day of training, the frail old man handed him a stick and instructed Mr Singh to hit him. When he tried, the master threw him around like a rag doll.
“He was a frail old man chucking me about and I couldn’t touch him,” he says. “That definitely impressed me.”
Though some commentors on Reddit have voiced their doubt that Singh truly is the “last” master of the art, I’m inclined to believe him. Then again, I am likely to believe anyone with that many blades on him. However, if any of you out there are looking for a new direction in your life, and think toe-blades could be your kind of thing, you could do worse than this.
- Last two speakers of dying language won’t talk with each other
- If the whole martial arts thing doesn’t work out, there’s always music
- Maybe the disinterested modern generation just needs to drink more pop
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