From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Mallakhamb)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Mallakhamba/Mallakhamb (Kannada: ಮಲ್ಲ ಕಂಬ malla-kamb, Marathi: मल्लखांब malla-khamb, Tamil: மல்லர் கம்பம் mallar-kambam) is a traditional sport, originating from the Indian subcontinent, in which a gymnast performs aerial yoga postures and wrestling grips in concert with a vertical stationary or hanging wooden pole, cane, or hanging rope. The word Mallakhamb also refers to the pole used in the sport.[1][2] The pole is usually made from Seesham (Indian Rosewood) polished with castor oil.[3] Three popular versions of Mallakhamba are practiced using a sheesham pole, cane, or rope.[4]

The name Mallakhamba derives from the terms malla meaning wrestler, and khamb which means a pole. Literally meaning "wrestling pole", the term refers to a traditional training implement used by wrestlers.[5]

On April 9, 2013, the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh declared Mallakhamba the state sport. More than 20 other states in India have followed suit.[2]


The earliest mention of Mallakhamb can be traced to the 12th Century, where it is referred to in the 1135 AD Sanskrit classic Manasollasa written by Someshvara Chalukya. A rajput painting from 1610 AD shows athletes performing various acrobatics including pole climbing while dancing to Raga Desahka.[6]A mughal painting from 1670 depicts wrestlers or athletes practicing club swinging, weight lifting and pole climbing similar to Mallakhamb.[7] For about seven centuries after that, the art form remained dormant until it was given a new lease on life by Balambhatta Dada Deodhar, the renowned teacher of Peshwa (prime minister) Baji Rao II. During the first half of the 19th century, Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi learned Mallakhamb with her childhood friends Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope.[8]

Development of Mallakhamb as competitive sport[edit]

Competitive Mallakhamb at the national level first made its appearance at the National Gymnastics Championships held at the Pahadganj Stadium, Dehli, India, in the year 1958. It was here that the Gymnastics Federation of India proposed to recognize the game and include it in subsequent National Gymnastic Championships.The first National Mallakhamb Championships was held at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India in the year 1962, as part of the National Gymnastics Championships. They were organised annually by the G.F.I until 1976, when they were disassociated from the G.F.I. from 1977 to 1980, during which time no recognized National Mallakhamb Championships were held. However, in the year 1968-69, the game was introduced in the All India Inter University Gymnastics Championships. Messrs. Rakesh & Rajesh Shrivastava, Dr. Bamshankar Joshi, and some other Mallakhamb enthusiasts at Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, India founded an All India Level Association on 21 November, 1980, which was later called the " Mallakhamb Federation of India". The first All India Invitational National Mallakhamb Championships were organised by the New Sports Association from 27-29 January, 1981 at Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, India.The event brought in representatives from all over India, who participated in these championships and together they officially formed the " Mallakhamb Federation of India" on 29 January, 1981. Since then, the National Mallakhamb Championships are being organised by different state associations affiliated to the Federation.

As a competitive sport[edit]

Currently all mallakhamb competitions are organised under the rules made by the Mallakhamb Federation of India. 28 states are affiliated to the Federation. mallakhamb competitions cover three varieties: 1. Pole Mallakhamb, 2. Hanging Mallakhamb 3. Rope Mallakhamb.


In this style, a vertical wooden pole of teakwood or sheesam is fixed to the ground. The pole is smeared with castor oil, which helps to minimize excessive friction as the body comes in contact with the pole. The specifications of Pole Mallakhamb are as follows:

All dimensions are in millimeters (mm)
Height Senior Group Sub- Junior Group
Above the Ground 2600 to 2800 2400 to 2600
Under the Ground 800 to 900 700 to 800
Neck 180 to 200 180 to 200
Top 70 60
Total Length 3400 to 3700 3100 to 3400
Bottom 530 to 550 480 to 500
Below the Neck 300 to 350 300 to 350
Neck 180 to 200 180 to 200
Top 350 300

This type of mallakhamb is similar to pole mallakhamb, but as the name indicates, a wooden pole shorter in length than the standard pole mallakhamb is hung with the aid of hooks and a chain, leaving a gap between the ground and the bottom of the mallakhamb. The specifications of Hanging Mallakhamb are as follows:

All dimensions are in millimeters (mm)
Height 1700 to 1900
Neck Height 180 to 200
Top Height 70
Distance between bottom & ground 650 to 700
Height of the Structure 4600 to 4800
Bottom 4500 to 5000
Neck 180 to 200
Below the Neck 250 to 300

Rope Mallakhamb was previously performed on a cane but nowadays, due to unavailability of good cane, a cotton rope is used. Performers are expected to perform various exercises without knotting the rope in any way. The specifications of Rope Mallakhamb are as follows:

All dimensions are in millimeters (mm)
Senior Group Sub- Junior Group
Length 6000 to 6500 6000 to 6500
Thikckness 18 to 20 12 to 13
Height of the Structure 5800 to 6000 5800 to 6000

Official organizations[edit]

  1. Mallakhamb Confederation of World, MCW
  2. Asian Mallakhamb Federation, AMF
  3. South Asian Mallakhamb Federation, SAMF
  4. Mallakhamb Federation USA
  5. Mallakhamb Deutschland e.V
  6. Mallakhamb Federation
  7. Maharashtra Amateur Mallakhamb Association, MAMA


Between 25 and 31 types of Mallakhamb apparatus have been tried and tested over the years. 16 various types are recognized presently, but for sport, only six types are used. Mallakhamb is present in the Hind Kesari, Indian Wrestling championship.[9] Competitively, there are three main variations of Mallakhamba. All types are practiced by both men and women, though pole Mallakhamb is more popularly practiced by men and boys and rope Mallakamb by women and girls.[10]


In this variation, a vertical wooden pole is fixed in the ground and the participant performs various acrobatic feats and poses while hanging on the pole. Wrestlers mount, dismount, and utilize this pole for various complex calisthenics designed to develop their grip, stamina, and strength in the arms, legs, and upper body.

There are a number of pillars, although the most common is a free-standing upright pole, some eight to ten inches in diameter, planted into the ground. The pole used in competitions is a straight pole made of teak or sheesham wood, standing 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) in height with a circumference of 55 centimetres (22 in) at the base. It gradually tapers to a circumference of 35 centimetres (14 in) at the top.


The hanging Mallakhamb is a wooden pole that is shorter in length than the standard pole and is hung from chain and hooks, leaving a gap between the ground and the bottom of the Mallakhamb.


In this variation, the participant performs exercises while hanging on a rope suspended from a support at the top.[11] Typically the rope is 5.5 m long, and approximately 1 to 2 cm in diameter. The rope is caught by the performer in the gap between the big toe and the second toe, along with one or both hands. The performer then ties the rope around himself or herself through a sequence of steps, after climbing upwards on the rope. The performer then reaches various positions called Udi (to fly), some of which are imitations of standard Yoga Asana.

A mallakhamba team of the Indian Army's Bombay Sappers performs on the pole.
Performing mallakhamb

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Mallakhamb: An Investigation Into the Indian Physical Practice of Rope and Pole Mallakhamb by Jon Burtt, Edith Cowan University, 2010.[12]


  1. ^ Games, Sports and Cultures, Noel Dyck, Bloomsbury Academic, 1 Jul 2000, pp.96
  2. ^ a b Photos Mallakamb the art of aerial yoga, Hindustan Times
  3. ^ Sport in the USSR. - Issues 1-12; Issues 286-297, pp.9
  4. ^ Sport Across Asia: Politics, Cultures, and Identities, Katrin Bromber, Birgit Krawietz, Joseph Maguire. 2013, pp137
  5. ^ "Mallakhamb - History, Indian Gymnastic Pole, Information In English". Mumbai, India. 12 September 2018.
  6. ^ "painting". British Museum. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  7. ^ Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. "Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art". Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  8. ^ Rani Lakshmibai, by Deepa Agarwal, Puffin Books
  9. ^ "Mallakhamb vies for pole position... bottoms up". The Sunday Indian. India. 15 July 2007.
  10. ^ Pole Dancing, Empowerment and Embodiment, S. Holland. 2010. pp.62
  11. ^ "Mallakhamb: Ancient Indian sport". MSN News. India. 5 December 2012.
  12. ^ Mallakhamb: An Investigation Into the Indian Physical Practice of Rope and Pole Mallakhamb, Jon Burtt, Edith Cowan University, 2010

External links[edit]