Our goal is to teach Mallakhamb not just in India but all over the world – Mallakhamb instructor Sachin Malekar

Mallakhamb is a traditional Indian sport with a rich heritage in which a gymnast performs postures, aerial yoga and wrestling grips with a vertical stationary or hanging wooden pole, cane, or rope. The pole is usually made of Indian rosewood and the name derives from malla, meaning wrestler, and khamb, which means a pole. With newer forms of workouts and fitness regimes taking the forefront, especially amongst youth, Mallakhamb is also aiming to not just reach out to the masses in India but also globally and make people aware of its many benefits.

In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, Sachin Malekar speaks about his journey in Mallakhamb, the benefits of this traditional sport and its many variations, promoting it amongst the youth, overcoming challenges and his vision for the sport in the future.

Q 1) Please tell us what Mallakhamb is and how were you first introduced to this traditional sport?

I reside at Dadar near Shivaji Park. I have always been a sports person, ever since I was in school and college days, but after getting into a job and working upto age of 45 year I felt I was stuck. I have been suffering from asthma since childhood and my doctor suggested that I start exercising. One day I went to Shivaji Park for jogging and saw Deshpande sir teaching Mallakhamb to two senior people. I approached him and expressed my interest to learn and he immediately asked me to join. I went at 7 am the next day and that's when I started Mallakhamb. This is a very old and traditional sport since Peshwa times. Those days wrestlers used to do Mallakhamb on one wooden pole or cotton rope, and different yoga poses were done on a pole or rope.

Q 2) What are the benefits of Mallakhamb and how does it help in building strength and endurance ? Tell us about the various variations of Mallakhamb and how they differ from each other?

Mallakhamb’s benefits are that it improves strength, stamina, flexibility and concentration. This is the only sport that gives 4 benefits together and if you regularly participate in this sport, you become strong, healthy, energetic and medically you will be fit. After learning Mallakhamb, the sport helped me gain strength because of which I participated and got medals in not only Mallakhamb competitions but also athletics and in my Vayam Mandir I learned Yoga and Aerial as well.

Their is Pole Mallakhamb (basic), Rope Mallakhamb (on the cotton rope), Hanging Mallakhamb (on this we hang and play), Niradhar Mallakhamb (this is wooden smooth pole with no support), Bottle Mallakhamb (in this we keep wooden single table with16 glass bottles on that 4 stool above that 4 bottles and the top of that pole) on all these different Mallakhamb we exercise. We also participate in Hattori (weapons with swords or knives) and Fire Mallakhamb as well.

Q 3) Mallakhamb is a traditional sport with rich heritage, however it is losing its relevance today. What is Mallakhamb Federation of India doing to promote the sport, especially amongst the youth?

As I said Mallakhamb is very ancient tradition from Bajirao Peshwa’s time all over Maharashtra in all (Vyayam Mandir) recalling schools Mallakhamb is compulsory but because of new trends, nowadays Mallakhamb is not in demand as all kids want healthy body instantly or they prefer to follow international trends.

The Mallakhamb Federation of India and the Central Government is trying to promote Mallakhamb. Khelo India Khelo, 2017 Indian Federation and Samarth Vyayam Mandir conducted the 1st International Mallakhamb competition where 17 countries participated. A total of 22 countries have a Mallakhamb Association, not only in India and we are trying to take Mallakhamb globally.

Also read: Traditional Indian fitness works on your mobility and is highly beneficial – Nithin Jayaraj, traditional workout tools trainer

Q 4) As a Mallakhamb expert, what are some of the challenges you have faced in your journey so far? How did you overcome them?

I started Mallakhamb very late but because of the sport I have gained a lot of strength, stamina, flexibility and concentration. Within two years I was promoted as a teacher and now at the age of 52 years I am teaching Mallakhamb in Shree Samarth Vyayam Mandir.

Last Diwali in one of the demonstrations I fell from the Mallakhamb, 8 & half feet below and landed directly on my back. My backbone and back were swollen for ten days. I was in a lot of pain but because I have been practicing Mallakhamb for many years, I recovered very quickly. If it was some other person, it would have resulted in a surgery.

inside-article-image_VidYf7w Our goal is to teach Mallakhamb not just in India but all over the world - Mallakhamb instructor Sachin Malekar

Q 5) What is your vision and objectives for Mallakhamb in the future? How do you plan to accomplish them?

As this sport is traditional, the teachers are very few in India but at the Shree Samarth Vyayam Mandir we take 10 day camps (workshop) all over India and my teacher Deshpande sir takes camps in different countries as well. Our goal is to teach Mallakhamb not just in India but all over the world. If I get the chance, my dream is to start my own Mallakhamb school.


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