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Mallayuddha (literally “wrestling combat”, Devanagari: ?????????)[1] is the classical Indian martial art of wrestling [2].

The term mallayuddha “prize fight”, from malla “wrestler, boxer” and yuddha “fight”, is used in the Sanskrit epics, e.g. of Bhima.

Generally Indian wrestling can be divided into two categories. The malla kri?a “wrestling sport” and the malla-yuddha “wrestling fight”. Malla krida is the sports version while mallayuddha is the combat wrestling version.

According to the techniques and methodology used, the wrestling is divided in four types: Hanumanti concentrates on the technical superiority, Jambuvanti wrestling uses locks and holds to force the opponent into submission, Jarasandhi concentrating on breaking of the limbs and joints and Bhimaseni focussing on sheer strength.[3]

Vajra-mushti (literally “grasping a thunderbolt (vajra)”) is the name of both a knuckleduster-like weapon and an ancient Indian martial art identified with that weapon that incorporates striking aspects, grappling aspects, and a study of vital pressure points (marman).[4] The striking aspects of Vajra Mushti are similar to Kung Fu, Boxing and Karate,[5] while the grappling aspects are similar to jujutsu and Vale tudo.[6] The Vajra-mushti has been identified with the Malla-yuddha wrestling described in the Manasollasa and the Malla Purana by Donn Draeger and Robert Smith.

The Manasollasa of the Chalukya king Somesvara III (1124–1138) is a royal treatise on fine arts and leisure. The chapter entitled “Malla Vinod” describes the classification of wrestlers into types by age, size, and strength. It also outlines how the wrestlers were to exercise and what they were to eat. In particular the king was responsible for providing the wrestlers with pulses, meat, milk, sugar, as well as “high-class” sweets. The wrestlers were kept isolated from the women of the court and were expected to devote themselves to building their bodies. The Manasollasa gives the names of moves and exercises but does not provide descriptions.[1]

The Malla Purana is a Kula Purana associated with the Jyesthimallas, a Brahmin jati of wrestlers from Gujarat, dating most likely to the thirteenth century. It categorizes and classifies types of wrestlers, defines necessary physical characteristics, describes types of exercises and techniques of wrestling as well as the preparation of the wrestling pit, and provides a fairly precise account of which foods wrestlers should eat in each season of the year.[1]