The world’s last surviving Sikh warrior master who has devoted his life to learning an ancient martial art is – from WOLVERHAMPTON, it was revealed today.
Former factory worker Nidar Singh Nihang, 44, was trained in the mysterious art of Shastar Vidiya by an 80-year-old guru from northern India.
Selfless Nidar has devoted his entire life to the ancient warrior culture and holds master-classes around the world.
But the father-of-four is now searching for a successor in order to pass the secrets of Shastar Vidiya to a new generation.
Nidar is inviting potential candidates to learn the ancient martial art at his Midlands home in Wolverhampton.
He said: ”Shastar Vidiya is a part of my history and culture and without it we lose our character.
”It has changed history and produced great warriors – for it to die out now would be a tragedy.
”Throughout the day, no matter what I am doing, Shastar Vidiya is always in my mind.
”I am the last known remaining master – it is my mission in life now to find a successor to carry on this great martial art.
”If I die with it, it is all gone.”
Nidar conducts a rigorous daily routine, awakening at dawn to recite ancient mantras followed by seven hours of writing and study.
After a late siesta listening to light classical Indian music, the expert swordsman embarks on six hours of martial yoga and Shastar Vidiya – before mediation and sleep at 2am.
The basis of Shastar Vidiya – the ‘science of weapons’ – is a five-step movement: advance on the opponent, hit his flank, deflect incoming blows, take a commanding position and strike.
It was developed by Sikhs in the 17th century when their fledgling religion was coming under attack from hostile Muslims and Hindus.
The British forced Sikhs to give up arms in the 19th century after the first Anglo-Sikh War, which forced Shastar Vidiya underground.
But the martial art was kept alive by a handful of people who covertly passed it down the generations.
Incredibly, the last remaining master of Shastar Vidiya was Mohinder Singh, who Nidar met in 1984 while working on his aunt’s farm in the remote village of Shadipur in the Indian Punjab.
Nidar added: ”The master was from the next village – he saw my physique and asked me if I wanted to learn Shastar Vidiya.
”He got me to attack him with a stick, but before I knew it I was on the floor.
”I thought it might be a fluke but I did it over and over again and each time he threw me around like a rag doll.
”I was awestruck because I was 17 and he was in his 80s.
”I stayed for 11 years, milking the buffalos in the morning and spending the remainder of the day training with my master and learning the philosophy.
”I then returned to Wolverhampton in 1995 to marry my wife Satinderjat.
”When my master Mohinder died later that year, I became the last Sikh warrior – now I am looking for someone to succeed me.
”I will teach them here in my home in the Midlands so they will have to travel here.”
Nidar gave up his day-job in a food factory in 2002 to become a full-time writer and teacher of Shastar Vidiya – instructing Muslims and Christians as well as Sikhs.
He is now the ninth gurdev (teacher) of a classical school of learning established in 1661, called the ‘Baba Darbara Singh Shastar Vidoya Akhara’ – the last remnant of the warrior culture.
He lectures worldwide and teaches his pupils how to use swords, daggers and spears, most of which have killed real people in ancient battles.
Nidar said: ”Ninety-five per cent of our weapons are antiques, from as far back as the 16th century – they’ve all been passed down through various families.
”The weapons are not gaudy gold and silver – they are practical and powerful, real battlefield weapons.
”But I have never known any serious injuries, because we take more care with our very sharp weapons.
”The fighting is geared towards a lethal outcome, but it takes many years of training before students are allowed to handle a blade.”