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Exponents Bemoan Lack Of Govt Patronage : Thang-Ta gurus left in the lurch
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, November 01 2012: Having dedicated their life in fine-tuning and promoting Thang-Ta, the ancient Manipuri martial art form, they may probably be at the fag end of their journey but its exponents Gurumayum Gourakishore Sharma and Leitanthem Heramot have repented that Thang-Ta is yet to get the recognition it deserves.

Apart from cultural artistes of Manipuri and sportspersons putting the tiny State on the world map, Thang-Ta is undoubtedly one of the world's oldest martial arts forms and these two living gurus have made the most significant contribution in sustaining popularity of the martial arts form among the present-day generation.

While Gourakishore Sharma is the founder guru and president of Irilbung-based Huyen Lallong Manipur Thang-Ta Cultural Association, Heramot heads the Kanglei Enat Thang-Ta Sindam Shanglen, Kongpal chanam Leikai.

Talking to The sangai Express, Guru Gourakishore Sharma said his Association was formed on October 25, 1958 and presently has 150 students learning the intricacies of Thang-Ta, the same martial arts form that the Manipuri forefathers employed to keep away adversary forces when it was an independent kingdom.



Guru Gourakishore with a student
Guru Gourakishore with a student


The Association provides training in performance group apart from the students pursuing foundation course and diploma in varied stream of the martial arts form, he said while adding that currently there are three students who are engaged in research work on Thang-Ta under the Ministry of Culture, Govt of India.

It is said that the Ministry of Culture is extending monthly grant in aid of Rs 5000 each for 18 persons, including six instructors of the Association while for the last three years State's Art and Culture Department is providing annual financial assistance of Rs 50,000, a significant increase compared to the amount of Rs 15-20,000 the Association used to get from the Government .

Inspite of creaky bones due to advancing age, Gourakishore said he ensures his presence during training classes whenever possible since the Association's inception decades back.

stating that from the first year of the Association's establishment and training programmes over 1 lakh students have rolled out from its training academy, including many foreigners, he said Thang-Ta enthusiasts from the USA, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Italy have had limited opportunity to study the ancient Manipuri martial arts for they are not allowed to stay here for extended period.

However, these foreign students return home with satisfaction on learning the basics of the ancient martial arts, said the living Guru who explained that the academy has training courses in armed as well as unarmed combat styles, besides theory classes.

Noting that under the sponsorship of University Grants Commission Manipur University recently added Thang-Ta course as a sports science study, Gourakishore opined that Thang-Ta study will remain incomplete if the students are not acquainted on the martial arts form from its basic stages.

Understanding Thang-ta will necessitate including it as an academic syllabus from the lower class such as from class V standard onward, he said.

While confiding that the Association is lucky enough to get Rs 6 lakh assistance from the Ministry of Culture to construct its training academy, Gourakishore nevertheless regretted that almost all the students who had passed out from the academy are struggling to live a decent life for there is no Government policy to guarantee them secured jobs.

Suggesting that including Thang-Ta as a curriculum from the school level will not only ensure decent livelihood to individuals who had mastered the martial arts forms but would be helpful in further development of the martial arts form closely associated with the Manipuri forefathers, he conceded that the students perform at Government functions as well as religious events and festivals to generate income for the Association.

On the otherhand, Kanglei Enat Thang-ta Sindam Shanglen president L Heramot informed that institution was set up on May 15, 1951 and that he had documented the Manipuri martial arts form in the form of a book entitled 'Thanghairol Vol-1' in 2011 .

A Thang-Ta practitioner since 12-years of age, Heramot stated that his main objective of writing the book on Thang-Ta is to enable the future generation learn about the ancient martial art form.


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