• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in


Sep 21, 2007
It seems that every race or religion has a sorts of physical culture. Physical Culture is the promotion of muscular growth, strength and health through various physical exercise regimens like resistance training, bodybuilding, sports, stretching, and posture correction techniques. It obvious to see the impact of increased strength, muscular growth, etc has not only for well being but more specifically, combat applications.

I was wondering if anyone has any insight as to how sikhs trained for combat during the times of the gurus and how it's evolved since then (if at all). I would also like to get some info regarding strongman and wrestlers of that era (most specifically of Punjabi descent ) -

A few questions that come to mind:
  • Did the Sikhs just copy Hindu strongmen of that time or did they devise their own way of training? (different training instruments, Diet etc) Or was there a universal training approach (techniques and training instruments not limited to one specific religion)
  • How did they match up to their "other" Indian counterparts? (just curious)
  • Why is it that so little has been heard of these strongman?
  • Did the guru's themselves trained in physical cultures? If so what did they do?
I can only assume that they trained with Indian clubs amongst other fixed weight objects. If Anyone has any subject knowledge in this area in particular- please do share. {Also if I've offended anyone somehow, I apologize.} Thank You.


(previously Lion_Prince_Jatinder)
Jun 29, 2004
west london
thetony, I just saw this now. So I learn shastar vidiya and I have learnt of history of the way the singhs trained.The did exercied, they had to train in different styles. Some were more advanced than others. Need someone more knowledgable than me to post here.


Jun 27, 2010
thetony ji,

Sikhs first training for combat began after Guru Hargobind ji founded the Akal takht and began training a standing army under his banner for the protection of dharam. The original soldiers of the Akal Takht were known as Akalis (immortals). Baba Buddha a revered sikh since the times of Guru Nanak oversaw their initial training so the Gurus army carried the tag of "Buddha Dal" or Baba Buddhas army. Successive Gurus were trained in the arts of war in the ranks of this army, which soon grew to 2200 well-equipped akali horsemen.
Guru Gobind Das, Guru Tegh Bahadurs young son recast the Buddha Dal into an army of Nihangs (reckless crocodiles) in the 1680s. He introduced 2 ranks, the higher ranking and more experienced warriors became akali nihangs and those below them became nihangs.
After the Khalsa was formed in 1699 Guru ji dispersed this army in all four directions from Anandpur with special orders to initiate others into the Khalsa army. They firast went to majha, then Amritsar and Patna and this led to a big increase in numbers. The Khalsa were taught to worship weapons particularly the khanda and talwar as they were represenatative of the Khalsa's father maha-kal and mother chandi. They were given a thorough study of shastar vidya without which they could never uphold dharam.

Guru Gobind Singh ji would go hunting with many warriors, all armed with various weapons. The Guru would pit warriors armed with swords against each other. Warriors of varied skill would practice with the katar by themselves. One Singh with a musket would be sent to seek out a tiger. This how the Guru ji would set up a training camp in the jungle. The hunting excursions were used by Guru ji (and Guru Har Gobind Ji before him) as one part of the overall traning regime to develop weapons skills, instinct and courage.
From a physical point of view it is important to remember at that time the lives of people were physical, tough and never far from a fight so natural strength was a given as most members of these armies were from a peasant or other labourer background.

Sayyed Ghulam Ali Khan, Imaad-us-Saadat, c.1760 writes,

"This sect abounds in giant-sized and lion-limbed youths whose stroke of the leg would certainly cause instantaneous death to a Vilayti Qipchaq horse.Ther matchlock strikes a man at a distance of nine hundred footsteps and each of htem covers two hundred kos (600 km) on horseback."

The attached picture shows one of the earliest paintings of sikhs by an European artist. Three sikhs from Francois Balthazar Solvyns Les Hindous (1808-12) gives a dreat level of detail about sikhs during the days before Maharaja Ranjit Singhs kingdom of Punjab. From the book warrrior saints Anand Singh Madra & Parmjit Singh L.B. Tauris Publishers Palo alto 1999

Hope this is of some help.


  • sikhs 1812.jpg
    sikhs 1812.jpg
    44.4 KB · Reads: 279



📌 For all latest updates, follow the Official Sikh Philosophy Network Whatsapp Channel: