Thanking the government for selecting him as a Padma Shri awardee, Manipuri martial art guru Kakchingtabam Shanathoiba Sharma on Thursday said ‘Thang-Ta’ has become more popular in recent times than it used to be when he was younger.
Thang-Ta is a form of armed combat and refers to a sword and a spear. It also has an unarmed fighting form known as 'sarit-sarak' which has gained popularity as a sports item in and outside the state.
"Even at this ripe age of 67, I still practise Thang-Ta alone for at least half an hour to 45 minutes daily. It keeps my senses alert and the body light and healthy," Sharma told PTI.
Born in Thoubal Wangkhem in Thoubal district, Sharma said he was initiated to this martial art form by his maternal uncle Gurumayum Gourakishore Sharma who himself was a Padma Shri in the field.
"In the mid-70s of the last century, when I was in my early teenage years, I started formally training under my uncle," he said.
Forty-fifty years ago, the situation of Thang-ta was different.
“The popularity level of the martial art form has definitely increased today. Back in those days, the number of female students learning this was almost negligible," Sharma said.
Manipuri martial art was banned by the British for decades after the defeat and colonisation of Manipur following the 1891 Anglo-Manipuri war though it was practised clandestinely.
Only due to the dedication of former gurus including Sharma's uncle, that Thang-Ta managed to survive till modern times, he said.
Sharma is one of the 91 people who were selected for getting the year this year by the Ministry of Home Affairs on the eve of the 74th Republic Day.
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