Just when we thought we knew all we want to know about pole dancing, we discover its origins in an ancient sport, and find that its modern form, still in practice, actually elevates the concept of human potential.
Today on EWC we share something that turned my view of the subject upside down, literally and figuratively!
You may know that our Ever Widening Circles mission is to share the best of the human experience while keeping this “a family show.” Well, we’ve done that today, and this web-find is a doozy!
Today we are introducing to you a sport called Mallakhamb, which has its origins in a form of wrestling called Kushti, once practiced in India. In its earliest days, thousands of years ago, the pole was used in place of a training partner, helping the wrestlers to develop strong leg locks and jumping moves. When you watch this remarkable practice, you’ll also recognize some of the classic grace and flexibility of yoga.
This is a little mind bending at first. Take a look at the extraordinary Indian sport of pole gymnastics:
The videos test your cringe response, don’t they? One is certainly left with an appreciation for the skill, strength, and courage it takes to practice this sport.
Here’s an interesting historical detail: Originally, the performances were 90 seconds, and it was considered a failure if the athlete touched the ground. Wow! If I managed to suspend myself around a pole for a millisecond, I would consider that a success!
As you might guess, people begin training for this sport at a very early age. Have a look at this great video, below, made by a resource called the Sangam Institute of Indian Martial Arts. This looks like a sporting event much like many of us might attend every weekend, to watch our kids in a gymnastics, or track and field meet. I can imagine proud coaches, parents, and friends cheering for these kids as they hone their skills for this 2000-year-old test of strength and flexibility….. just as we cheer for our young soccer players and swimmers.
I’m trying to imagine dragging my folding chair to this kind of an event every Saturday, watching my son hurtle through the air, periodically scrambling up and down a pole with grace and fearlessness. It makes our weekend basketball tournaments look a bit tame, doesn’t it?
Stay open, hopeful and curious!
~ Dr. Lynda
- “The Topmost Mallakhamb Players Vol.1.” YouTube. Sangam Institute of Indian Martial Arts, 29 May 2010. Web. 07 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FTBrtifKYQ>. ↩
- “Mallakhamb Young Generation 2 Pole & Hanging.” YouTube. Sangam Institute of Indian Martial Arts, 20 Nov. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjMg8eTncMs>. ↩