Advice, techniques and tactics are given to young men in order to ensure they are able to defend themselves and their loved ones. The stratagems are derived from 'Mool' (basic) Pentra / Yudhan and are quick and easy to learn, yet very effective.
The main fighting form taught to the Indian shock troops such as the Nihang 'Bhangar Singhs' (suicide squads) was 'Mool Yudhan'. High on drugs, and with little care for their own safety, they would scream, shout, curse, insult and aggressively gesture the enemy in order to psychologically unbalance the opponents. Covered by a barrage of projectiles, they would dash into the opposing ranks.
Mool Yudhan has both unarmed and armed applications. Traditionally Mool Yudhan warriors fought from distance with muskets, bows, slings, javelins; as they closed in, they engaged with close-quarter weapons such as kukris, shield and swords/hatchets, shield and single-hand axes, doubled-handed axes, spears, long-shafted axes, clubs, maces, daggers etc.
From an unarmed self-defence perspective, the concepts of 'mool asan' (basic posture), and 'pentra malna' (tactical positioning) are first taught in Mool Yudhan. The posture itself can be described as being a unique crouching form, ideal for fight or flight. In case of fight, it caters for receiving strikes and grappling attacks. Whilst the posture is essential, ensuring that correct tactical positioning along the centreline is also key. This allows for a superior tactical advantage in launching pre-emptive attacks, defending oneself, and countering strikes. Once mool asan and pentra malna are mastered, a vast repository of techniques is added into the mix. The unarmed techniques are divided into 'khat' (six) divisions:
- 'Fulthabaji' - Quick, long-range strikes to 'marma' (vital points).
- 'Gutham Gutha' - Close-quarter, open-handed, strikes employing the fist, elbow, knee, head etc., designed to dig in and aid compressive strikes to marma.
- 'Geh Gich' - Grappling initiated by striking; taking hold of 'gich' (nape of neck), or with gich and holding an arm.
- 'Hath Vath' (also known as 'Hath Bath' or Hath Vakh' or 'Hath Bakh') - Grappling initiated by taking hold of the sides of torso (at the ribcage).
- 'Gaffam Gaffi' (also known as 'Jaffam Jaffi') - Grappling initiated by a variety of arm braces to upper and lower portions of the body.
- 'Paehn Gehneh' - Throws and structure breaking initiated by grasping the legs and feet.
In order to provide a comprehensive repertoire of techniques, the student is also taught how to escape from various frontal and rear arm grips, neck grabs, body braces, and chokes. A particular technique, favoured by Singhs known as 'Chada Gatta' (a throw combining grabs to the neck and groin) is also added to the arsenal of Mool Yudhan.
One much appreciate that Mool Yudhan was deemed the art of the peasants; the haughty Hindu Kshatriya warriors do not even consider it a real Yudhan. The Sikhs, some of whom came from 'Jat' (peasant) stock did not possess the same prejudices against this Yudhan as did their Hindu counterparts. This basic Yudhan lacks the subtle misalignments and sophistication of technique in comparison to the higher classical Yudhan. However, it serves the purpose of providing large numbers of novices with practical combat skills. For this reason, it is also known as 'butta sar vidiya' (science that serves the purpose). On the battlefield, the Indian generals made up for the lack of technical excellence by deploying appropriate tactics to ensure that shock troops armed with Mool Yudhan were effective. Mool Yudhan cannot be underestimated in any way; many battles in ancient India were won by unsophisticated hardy peasant warriors who utilised this fighting form coupled with tactics to overcome superior enemies. In today's world, it provides sufficient skills and tactics for unarmed self-defence and armed methods employing knifes, daggers and sticks.
Unlike the more secretive classical Yudhan, the Mool Yudhan with its above six unarmed divisions were generally known to the public in ancient Punjab. For this reason, one may still find elders in the Punjabi Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities who have some vague awareness of these skills.
A ballad composed by the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh known as 'Bachitter Natak' is rich in references to 'Hath Vath'. Famous Sikh historians such as Shaheed Rattan Singh Bhangu and Giani Gian Singh also reference 'Jaffam Jaffi', 'Plathabaji' in their works.