Ancient martial art of ‘stick-fighting’ was in vogue for self-defence since times immemorial and Sikh martial art ‘Gatka’, based on stick-fight, developed as self-defensive style after fourteenth century in old Punjab. It is associated with the Sikh history and an integral part of vast arena of Sikh Shastar Vidiya (skills to use weapons). The sixth Guru, Sri Guru Hargobind Ji had promoted the flamboyant techniques of Shastar Vidiya, (Sikh Martial Art), among the Sikhs who passed on these skills through generations. The tenth Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji was known as the greatest master of weaponry of his time.
During the British colonial rule in India, the British rulers eventually banned Neja (now called as Javelin), Gatka and the Sikhs’ custom of carrying Kirpan (sword) to prevent rebellion and anti-colonial sentiments. During that time, Sikhs had to practice ‘Shastar Vidiya’ in secret and were often confined to rural areas. Due to such restrictions, many Indian martial arts including Gatka suffered a lot and survived as folk-sports in certain changed patterns.
The University of Panjab, at Lahore, now established at Chandigarh, is the pioneer university in Gatka sport as it had been organizing inter-college and inter-varsity Gatka tournaments regularly before partition of India. This university had drafted Gatka rules book in 1936 for playing Gatka as a game in sports costume. But, after 1985, this game suffered a lot as all colleges and universities in Punjab discontinued holding its regular competitions.
Through its own evolution and efforts of Gatka sports organizations like NGAI, International Sikh Martial Art Academy, Gatka Association Punjab and Gatka Akharas (training schools) running in the country, Gatka progressed through the years to its present status as a martial art of great valour.