Musti-yuddha or mushti-yuddha is the traditional form of boxing from South Asia. The term literally means "fist combat", from the Sanskrit words muśti (fist) and yuddha (fight, battle, conflict). While this would originally have been used as a general term for any boxing art, today it usually refers to the only surviving form which is practiced exclusively in Varanasi. Aspiring boxers undergo years of apprenticeship, toughening their fists against stone and other hard surfaces, until they are able to break coconuts and rocks with their bare hands.
The British colonial introduction of western boxing in the 1890s caused a decline in native musti-yuddha, until it survived only in Varanasi. A city considered holy to Hindus, Varanasi has a tradition of annual boxing festivals dating back more than 300 years. Individual fights as well as group matches were once held. Any part of the body may be targeted, except the groin. Injuries were frequent and often severe. The colonial government once attempted to ban musti-yuddha from its last refuge, but the one-on-one matches were revived by a European police commissioner. Musti-yuddha has become increasingly rare over time. The most famous post-independence fighters include Narayanguru Balambhat Deodhar and Lakshmanguru Balambhat Deodhar, both of whom were said to have been able to defeat 12 men at once.