Martial Arts Illustrated Column 'Learning Curves' Part 9

By Lakhvinder S. Madahar


If you’ve been following this column then you’ll be familiar with the ancient game of ‘Kabadi’ from India. If you’ve never heard of Kabadi, then you may like to familiarise yourself by catching up on the recent World Cup 2013 coverage still available on YouTube. It’s recognised internationally now with most of the leading nationalities participating. If you’re a fan of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) then Kabadi may be for you, it’s similar in many ways and I believe it’s going to be one of the main sports in the world. Remember you read it here first!


Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the techniques and tactics of Kabadi, you may be left with a dilemma of which category it is closer to, is it the martial arts or is it other recreational sports? On first impression it can resemble British Bulldog and then just as easily it can transform into wrestling. As an attempt to escape from the opponent is made, it can transform itself into intense sprints with inter-weaves of violent tags and Rugby tackles, while attempting to restrain the opposition.

‘Kabadi’ training can greatly enhance martial arts ability as it’s an amazing way for developing awareness and preparing students to deal with mass attacks, it’s also an effective way of testing your martial arts against multiple opponents.

It can teach techniques that deal against intense resistant, while entering the domain of multiple opponents, usually four of the strongest members of the team. Once a member of the team of four is tagged against the opposing four team members, then that opponent attempts to stop the other team member from getting back to their own safety zone. It can seem a tough contact sport with lots of open palm pushing and tagging, grappling and flying scissor kicks which are all allowed to any part of the body. A larger percentage of these are aimed at the legs – extremely exciting combative stuff!


During my early teens, in India, we played Kabadi every day after school, just as children play football in England. When I moved back to England in 1972, I lived in Erith, Kent for a few months, before moving to Barking, Essex. I eventually settled in Coventry which remains my present residence.


While at school in Barking during one of the P.E sessions, I had taken part in a game that I later understood to be British Bulldog. At the time, I didn’t have an understanding of the English language and I would often nod without knowing what people were asking me. I remember some children attempting to pick me out to be the bulldog and I reacted as I did while playing ‘Kabadi’ so they had a hard time stopping me retaliating. It may sound as if I’m boasting but try tackling a child that plays football daily and then it may be possible to understand the difficulty in tackling them with the same ability?


“Every man what’s son like himself”– unknown


It is said that every man wants a son like himself. The wisdom of the past leads us to believe such sayings. In the case of Martial Arts, these beliefs may have developed as both the martial skills and the skills of the family trades were passed from father to son. In many cases the skills still are passed down in this way. In reference to other trades, the carpenter’s son becomes a carpenter, farmer’s son a farmer, metal worker’s son a metal worker, potter’s son a potter and the list goes on. This can be seen as a positive thing because of the wealth of skill, history, experience that is passed through the generations and can also ensure the survival of the craft.


Naturally at times, there is going to be a conflict between father and son, perhaps when the son develops his own ideas and loses the desire to continue with the trade of his forefathers. This can form a permanent wedge between the family members and thus result in breaking of family ties.


“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche


In such situations, it can be sad when family members don’t get along but are they born to be slaves to a trade and go through days full of despair. Perhaps, it is yesterday’s truth but is it the truth of today or the truth of tomorrow?


“Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system”. - Bruce Lee

Generations of the past may have acted out of necessity and tradition, they had no choice but to be known by the trade of their heritage, thus the trade governed every aspect of the family’s identity, social gathering, religious worship, politics, food preparation, and work. This worked in favour of respected trades as they lived in better conditions, in affluent, cleaner areas and enjoyed the associated benefits.

The lower class trades are considered unskilled and so they lived in poverty and attracted prejudices from society.


The caste system is imbedded so deeply into everyone’s way of life in India, that even when some of the people have emigrated to other countries, it has followed them like a virus. In many cases, it has raised its ugly head, causing misery and embarrassment. It seems almost impossible for the people of any nation to live as equals as there is always some form of prejudice, only the name is different.  


“If you do what you've always done, you’ll get what you've always gotten”. - Tony Robbins 

I’ve done many different types of jobs, I’ve been a Milkman, Gear cutter, a Brick layer, Insurance salesman, a Plumber and a Factory worker but I was mostly employed as a Carpenter on building sites which I did for over twenty-five years. Although I’ve never felt any job to be beneath, in my experience, most were not fulfilling. Overall, I didn’t have the inclination to pass my experiences onto the next generation which included my son. Martial Arts were the only trade I considered that was worth passing on to him.


Initially, my son rejected Martial Arts in favour of Football. However, things changed when there was a change in coaches. My son Pindi hadn’t responded well to the original coach’s method of unorthodox teaching. He went on to be introduced to some amazing Martial Artists such as Grandmaster Chokechaichana Krutsuwan (Mr Pimu), Rick Young, Bob Spour, Tony Myers, Tony Moore and Erik Paulson. At some point while training with them he had chosen his path and is still walking the Martial Arts path true and strong. Presently, he is a full time instructor in Martial Arts and is fast developing as a fighter, as an instructor, as a Martial Artist and as a person.  


Here follows, an excerpt from Kahil Gibran’s Classic book ‘The Prophet’ which addresses the issue of allowing/supporting children and students from reaching their full potential.

      Your children are not your children. 
      They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. 
      They come through you but not from you, 
      And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. 
      You may give them your love but not your thoughts. 
      For they have their own thoughts. 
      You may house their bodies but not their souls, 
      For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 
      You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 
      For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. 
      You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 
      The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. 
      Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; 
      For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable


In my opinion, it is important to seek instruction from a genuinely qualified teacher so a student can reach their full potential. The teachings in our Martial Arts, in our Religious Studies, in our parents/grandparents guidance teaches us to excel and go through life with heads held high, passing on the lessons learnt from experience to the next generation. The Martial Arts are a great character building vehicle, provided they are taught by taking students beyond their limitation in training - mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.


Primarily, Martial Arts are fighting systems. An individual Martial Art/Style is a fighting system specialising in a specific range or ranges of combat and all the other positive qualities are a by-product of training in the Martial Arts. Why when the Martial Arts have so much to offer would anyone want to settle for anything less? I would say to seek out the real wisdom of the warriors who earned it with blood, sweat and tears, through actual combat on the battlefield. Nature has always made us work hard for anything that is precious. If something’s easy to come by or is easily achieved, it can be perceived to be of less value.


Here’s a little food for thought:      


Does the modern Black Belt have the same value today as it did back in the day?

Has the Black Belt that was once feared and respected been hijacked by the value (£) of McDojo’s and is worn by paper tigers?

Are the Martial arts continuously being watered down to the point where we can see the day on the horizon when we’ll have to arse the word ‘martial’ all together?

What will these paper tigers pass onto the next generation?


Martial arts industry has a responsibility to preserve and improve on the martial knowledge for the next generation just as all other sports are developing and playing to packed stadiums. Setting out long term goals are more important than building up temporary bank balances.


On a positive note:


Pindi has had fulfilling month. He ’The Warrior’ won his Muay Thai fight in Leeds. A week later, Victor Camach, our student from University of Warwick/Total Martial Arts Academy won his first Muay Thai fight at a K-Star show. Also, in the same weekend Richard Green, a fellow Coventry instructor, asked if he could host Phil Norman’s ‘Ghost’ seminar at our Academy. It’s always a pleasure to have great Martial Artists to visit us and Phil Norman was no exception and from what I had seen of his ‘Ghost’ system, I look forward to seeing him again at our Academy.

Furthermore, the following week we hosted our annual Erik Paulson seminar and as always he was full of energy and taught lots of new technical material to students from all over the country.


The Rick Young seminar is next on our list for 8th Feb 2014 followed by Pindi’s next fight on 8th March and Erik Paulson is pencilled in for June/July 2014, there are certainty exciting times ahead!


Until next month – God Bless!


Contact detail:


Total Martial Arts Academy,

Unit B1 Endemere Road;

Coventry, CV6 – 5PY


Tel: 024 76 666988


Lakvinder Madahar mobile: 07834 767 487

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