The Physical Body 2: Competition training and the Dangal
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(Oct 29, 2007)
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"I was (and still am) a big fan of the first volume of this series but, I must admit, that I find this second volume, even more fascinating. Here we find greater detail regarding the training methods and far more matches included to observe this native art in its proper environment. Vincent has done all wrestling aficionados and martial arts historians a huge service with this series of DVDs. I can't recomend them more highly."
- Mark Hatmaker,
The Complete Grappler
The Physical Body 2 is the powerful follow up to the groundbreaking DVD The Physical Body: Indian Wrestling and Physical Culture. In this second volume, we examine the intense competition training routines leading to participation in the Dangals or wrestling competitions.
We visit the Northern Railway Akhara in the shadow of the rail yards in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Delhi. There the young children are given a chance to mold themselves away from the harsh realities and slim opportunities around them.
The Badri Ka Akhara is one of the oldest active Akharas in Delhi as well as in India and we spotlight how this famous akhara build their Pehalawan for competition. We also examine the art of massage and how it is used by the wrestlers as a form of restoration.
The Chandigiram Akhara is the home of the legendary wrestler Guru Chandigiram and has become the catalyst for championing the introduction of women's wrestling by sponsoring his own daughters into competition. The contradiction in lifestyle between the celibate wrestlers and the women introduce a new change in the way an akhara is run or possibly can be run in the future.
The legendary Hanuman Akhara is revisited to examine one of its legendary champions who discusses his diet and workout. Finally, the use of the traditional Mugdal is explained as well as how Burmese bare knuckle Lethwae fighters have integrated the clubs into their own traditional training.
Three Dangals clearly illustrate the ways in which competitions are now executed, the first is a traditionally run Dangal in the pit, the second is a hybrid, half international bouts beginning with women and children with the second part done in the traditional pit wrestling manner and the final Dangal which is the yearly competition where hundreds of wrestlers take part during the all day wrestling event which is now fought under international rules on a mat with large cash prizes.
The Physical Body 2: Competition Training and the Dangal remains the only exclusive intimate first hand look at the training inside the Akharas as one prepares to take part in competition as well as the actual Dangal matches not only fiercely contested for money but for prestige and as a dominant symbol of a rigorous, perfected way of life.
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It is sad to see that many of the Akharas have abandoned traditional training devices. Gadas (maces), joris (heavy clubs), and mudgals (Indian clubs) are often replaced by barbells and Nautilus machines. Ironically, in the West, kettlebells, Clubbells, and Macebells have become popular tools for "functional strength training". Let's hope the older methods re-emerge in the near future.
PB2 includes complete, full body warm-up and cool down routines that can be learned within a few viewings. Anyone familiar with movement and mobility drills endorsed by Pavel Tsatsouline and Scott Sonnon will love this section; the routines are worth the price of the DVD. Acrobatic skills and their application to specific Kushti techniques are also displayed.
Vincent gives the viewer an authentic glimpse of the wrestler's daily life. Everything from training, to the student/guru relationship, to spiritual and cultural connections, is covered. We see young students preparing Badam, a nutritious tonic made of crushed almonds and milk or gee. We see traditional Yogic practices of meditation and asana in the Northern Railway Akhara. The integration of international rules mat wrestling is revisited. The recent development of women's wrestling is covered. This movement, spearheaded by Guru Chandigiram and his daughters, is a radical evolution in a sport dominated by celibate males.
The Physical Body 2 transcends typical martial arts documentaries. It shows an anthropological link to an ancient tradition that has stood the test of time. Anyone interested in grappling, conditioning, and Indian culture will appreciate this excellent addition to the Physical Body series.