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Kushti … Briefly

30 November 2011 9 Comments

India claims one of the largest and most socially influential traditional wrestling styles in the world. Wrestling takes place in softened earth, where a ghee mixture added to the soil. The wrestlers intent on studying – and at some point competing in front of thousands of fans – are trained by gurus (coaches) in akharas (local wrestling schools) where the wrestlers wake up as early as 4 AM for conditioning work. Wrestlers are also asked to restrict their diets and abstain from sex, cigarettes and alcohol. Like American wrestling it’s partly for healthy training, but also an effort by coaches to keep their athletes focused on the task of winning their next competition.

There are dozens of books about Indian wrestling and hundreds of Web sites, but none is more comprehensive than kushtiwrestling.blogspot.com which gives readers a chance to watch thousands of hours of video and enjoy excellent high-quality photographs.

I’ll post more in a few weeks! The American wrestling season has started which means a day full of rankings and news. And there is that whole business of writing a book …


  • deepal ansuia said:

    Thanks brother for recognising our work, at kushtiwrestling.blogspot.com, you know , we are here dedicated our life to uplift the profile of indian wrestling. i have expreinced that sometimes , people feel and connect it with some gay culture…and i feel sad for them, because they are prejudiced , while the sport has been playing here since thousands of year back…

  • deepak ansuia said:

    Thanks brother for recognising our work, at kushtiwrestling.blogspot.com, you know , we are here dedicated our life to uplift the profile of indian wrestling. i have expreinced that sometimes , people feel and connect it with some gay culture…and i feel sad for them, because they are prejudiced , while the sport has been playing here since thousands of year back…

  • Mark Lovejoy said:

    On a Saturday morning two years ago, I was standing in line at a coffee stand in a New Delhi India, (Chanakyapuri to be exact) a guy saw that I was wearing the T-shirt that we made for our high school wrestlers. The guy asked me if I was involved in wrestling. I said Yes….

    …well it turns out that this man works for the US Library of Congress and he is writing a book about Kushti wrestling. We sat and talk about the sport for a bit and then he asked me if I would like to accompany him to an Ankara later that week.

    So, a few days later, I got up daybreak and headed off to an old part of Delhi (not ironically entitled, Old Delhi) with two members of the Library of Congress and my buddy that I coached with. We arrived at the gym and I was taken aback by what we saw. This place was packed from little boys to grown men. Everyone was either in the pit wrestling, doing “Hindi” pushups, or climbing thick ropes up the tree. That was it! Their conditioning consisted of jogging, wrestling, push-ups and rope climbing.

    The place was very disciplined too; retired wrestlers walked back and forth around the gym with either a stick or a rubber hose to remind the boys to pay attention, not talk, and have proper form while grappling. I must say that one of the coaches got in my “personal space” because I was talking (one of the younger men approached me and asked me questions about where I am from, what kind of wrestling do I do, what do I weight, etc..). Well, one of the coaches did not like that and showed me the hose he was carrying (to be honest, I do think we were a distraction since the Asian Championships were later that week and the coaches wanted them focused). By having me gawking at them did not help them prepare for the tournament just days away.

    Even with such sparse equipment and quarters, it is no surprise that this gym has been home to very successful wrestlers. They were in great shape and disciplined.

    As for the wrestling itself, it really didn’t look that different than what we do in the US. Many similarities in technique, but there is that dirt.

    After the training session was over, it was time for us to go. We left as they were preparing breakfast for the wrestlers. Breakfast was a drink of butter and liquified almonds. Looking at it screamed calories. I assume after a training session, the wrestlers are just thinking about one thing: get calories in you ASAP.

    After the session was over, I asked the man who brought me there about the sport. He told me that the dirt is very significant. When they prepare it, they add spices and flowers to it…like some ceremony. It was very well cared for dirt! The dirt reminded me of sand at the beach an hour after high tide ends. There were a few shots, and all were a bit slower. It seemed like the dirt acted as an equalizer for the differences in speed and strength. Therefore, it makes the wrestlers concentrate on their technique rather than brute strength or lightning speed.

    Another interesting thing about the dirt was the conversation that it started on our ride home. The man writing the book was talking about the sacredness of the dirt and how it is almost ceremonial like when it is prepared. Marigolds and spices are even added to the dirt. Whereas I just thought “after wrestling for a few hours outside, they must sweat a lot, the dirt must help their grip from slipping when both men are really sweaty.”

    My companion’s thought about the dirt in a very poetic way and I thought of it in a very practical way. However, I am sure both explanations are right.

    As for the wrestlers, the author from the Library of Congress stated many have joined the gyms from the villages because they are hoping that being a wrestler is good on the resume. If you can handle a kushti gym, you know you can handle military training or join the police force.

    My family and I departed India three weeks later.

    • Atena said:

      I’m a blue belt training under a Nova Uniao black belt and I’ve also ranited at the main Alliance camp over in Atlanta. I wrestled for 3 years under a top 40 in the country high school and I completely agree with Kos. Jiu Jitsu is a controlled game, Wrestling is every muscle in your entire body exploding for 6 minutes straight with no rest. The practices for jiu jitsu aren’t as harsh at the best jiu jitsu school in the world (Alliance) compared to HIGH SCHOOL wrestling at a top school. Kos’s training with Div 1 champs and world champs in wrestling must be like complete hell compared to BJJ. BJJ = little sore joints (if you tap early enough, like you’re supposed to, nothing), Wrestling = black eyes, bruises, and you look like you’ve been in a real fight. And this is from someone who did, and still does, both sports.

  • Mark Lovejoy said:


    I am interested in reading more about Kushti from you. My experience with the sport was just one morning at the crack of dawn. There is a chance I will be heading back to Delhi this winter for a short period of time (a little under a week) and would love to spend more time at an Akhara.

    Can you add more of your insight to this thread?

  • Kelly Farguson said:

    Great!! Love the way how Indian Kushti improved. This is been very interesting love to read more details. Like your wonderful sharing post. Keep it up!

  • Mark said:

    “American’s are known for their wrestling, Brazilians have ju-jitsu. Do Indian fighters have their own style?

    Yes we Indians have our traditional wrestling known as Kushti , which is as strong as any other grappling discipline in the world. Indian wrestlers have also started making a name for themselves in various competitions around the world.”

    From the website: http://www.fullmount.co.uk/index.php/mma-news/1-latest-news/3365-super-fight-league-3-anup-kumar-exclusive

  • Mark said:

    Tim participating in a Kushti match while recently visiting India:


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