Mallayuddha (literally “wrestling combat”) is the martial art of classical Indian wrestling. Some form of Mallayuddha is known to have been practiced before the Aryan invasion, making it the oldest martial art in India. It is described in the Indian epics as the fighting style of warriors such as Bhima.
From extrapolation of the epics, the art is supposed to have gained maximum prominence in ancient India at the time when the oral tradition of the Mahabharata was conceived. As the Mahabharata was compiled in textual form around the 5th century BC and the epic’s setting has a historical precedent in Vedic India, it is believed then that mallayuddha was regarded as a prominent martial art in that era.
The Manasollasa of the Chalukya king Somesvara III (1124â€“1138) is a royal treatise on fine arts and leisure.
The chapter entitled “Malla Vinod” describes the classification of wrestlers into types by age, size, and strength.
It also outlines how the wrestlers were to exercise and what they were to eat. In particular the king was responsible for providing the wrestlers with pulses, meat, milk, sugar, as well as “high-class” sweets.
The wrestlers were kept isolated from the women of the court and were expected to devote themselves to building their bodies.
The Manasollasa gives the names of moves and exercises but does not provide descriptions.
The Malla Purana is a kula purana, dating most likely to the thirteenth century, about the Jyesthimallas, a Brahmin jÄti(clan) of wrestlers from Gujarat, which categorizes and classifies types of wrestlers, defines necessary physical characteristics, describes types of exercises and techniques of wrestling as well as the preparation of the wrestling pit, and provides a fairly precise account of which foods wrestlers should eat in each season of the year.
- HanumantiÂ : Hanumanthi type concentrates on the technical superiority of the wrestler and here superior skill will help one to beat an opponent of greater strength.
- JambuvantiÂ : Jambuvanthi wrestling uses locks and holds to force the opponent into submission.
- JarasandhiÂ : Jarasandhi is the most lethal form among the above as it concentrates in breaking of the limbs and joints.
- BhimaseniÂ : Bhimaseni wrestling stresses the acquiring of strength and its use. Most suitable for persons of huge build and strength.