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. The pole is usually made from Seesham (Indian Rosewood) polished with castor oil. Three popular versions of Mallakhamba are practiced using a sheesham pole, cane, or rope.
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.
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.A mughal painting from 1670 depicts wrestlers or athletes practicing club swinging, weight lifting and pole climbing similar to Mallakhamb. 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.
Development of Mallakhamb as competitive sport
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
Currently all mallakhamb competitions are organised under the rules made by the Mallakhamb Federation of India. 29 states are affiliated to the Federation. mallakhamb competitions cover three varieties: 1. Pole Mallakhamb, 2. Hanging Mallakhamb 3. Rope Mallakhamb.
- POLE 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:
|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|
|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|
- HANGING MALLAKHAMB
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:
|Height||1700 to 1900|
|Neck Height||180 to 200|
|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
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:
|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|
- Mallakhamb Confederation of World, MCW
- Asian Mallakhamb Federation, AMF
- South Asian Mallakhamb Federation, SAMF
- Mallakhamb Federation USA
- Mallakhamb Deutschland e.V
- Mallakhamb Federation
- 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. 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.
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. 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.
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- Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. "Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art". jameelcentre.ashmolean.org. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
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- Pole Dancing, Empowerment and Embodiment, S. Holland. 2010. pp.62
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- Mallakhamb: An Investigation Into the Indian Physical Practice of Rope and Pole Mallakhamb, Jon Burtt, Edith Cowan University, 2010
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- "IndiaPress.org". Listing of traditional games and sports of India. Retrieved April 1, 2007.
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- Mujumdar, D.C., ed. (1950). The Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture. Baroda: Sree Ram Vijaya Printing Press.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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