Kushti or Pehlwani is a form of wrestling from the Indian Subcontinent. It was developed during the Mughal Empire. The practitioners of this sport are referred to as a Pehlwans while the teachers are known as Ustads. Kushti is taught at a training ground known as an Akhara, which is usually made of mud, clay mixed with oil and ground turmeric. Water is added every few days to keep it at the right consistency; soft enough to avoid injury but hard enough so as not to impede the wrestlers' movements. During wrestling or practice sessions, every wrestler has to wear Langot, a type of an attire consisting of a loincloth or underwear which is usually worn by the Indian mud wrestler before entering the Akhara. Kushti isn't just a sport — it's an ancient subculture where wrestlers live and train together and follow strict rules on everything from what they can eat to what they can do in their spare time. The focus is on living a pure life, building strength and honing their wrestling skills.
Kushti: The Art of Indian Mud Wrestling
A typical day for the wrestlers starts as early as 6 am.
The Pehlwans have their unique style of free hand exercise
In the wrestling arena nothing goes unused, even a couple of heavy bricks are employed for exercising.
The morning training regimen focuses on strength, weight and flexibility.
Two Pehlwans practice under the supervision of their seniors.
It is often said that all the modern day wrestling moves are present in Kushti.
The rules of Kushti do not permit strikes or kicks only locks and throws.
Every Akhara has a temple to the God Hanuman who represents strength and bravery.
The choke hold movement in Kushti is a favorite among many wrestlers.
In Kushti, age is just a number, will power is all that matters.
Pehlwans massage eachother’s backs after their wrestling bouts.
It is said that the clay has medicinal properties, which will heal the wounds of the Pehlwans who wrestle in the mud-pit. Here the wrestler applies it over his body and on his face.
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