Katte samu or Karra saamu is one of the oldest martial art forms wherein the weapon (a stick in this case) is almost like an extension of the human hand. The art form didn’t come out of villages and it used to be performed during marriages, temple-related programmes or deaths. With newer entertainment sources making their way into villages, most Katte saamu artistes changed their profession and pursued this only as a hobby.
Noticing that this oldest self-defence technique was on the verge of disappearing, the Department of Language and Culture has stepped in to revive the martial art and bring back its lost glory. In association with the Department, ‘Vastad’ Dr Aakula Sridhar, who belongs Godavarikhani in Peddapalli district, has been training youngsters in the art.
Sridhar completed his MA in folk arts, and, later on, pursued MPhil and PhD. Interestingly, he is the first individual across the Telugu-speaking States to do a PhD at Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University on the topic ‘Karra Saamu Pradarshana Paddhatulu – Vishleshana’.
Now, he is helping youngsters (women and men) with different stick-twirling skills and handling tough situations efficiently. “A person practising this form will be alert at all times, and have supreme confidence in himself/ herself. It results in an increase in memory and concentration, helps a person to stay physically fit, improves hand-eye coordination skills, situational awareness skills, boosts confidence levels and more,” says Sridhar who conducts free classes across Telangana to propagate the art.
Last year, the Department organised a 45-day workshop on Katte saamu at Ravindra Bharathi. They received a tremendous response and, to everyone’s surprise, women were seen in a large number.
Swarna Yadav, a folk singer who is pursuing her Master’s in Telugu University, has mastered the art of Katte saamu from Aakula Sridhar and recently performed on Women’s Day in front of Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan at Raj Bhavan. “After my performance, all the bureaucrats told me that they were very happy to see a girl perform so well and wished that women learnt this art form. ‘This is what we want to see a women as’ they said,” shared Swarna.
“When I started to learn this art, I understood how concentration, knack and physical fitness are needed. I practised a lot and now I think I am very confident of lifting a man and throwing him into a corner if he tries to misbehave with me. That confidence I got by learning Katte saamu,” added Swarna.
An entrepreneur and insurance agent, Aruna Kalburgi was always a fitness freak, but realised that she had to increase her stamina and “learn how to protect myself”. “Once I saw an ad in television about this art form being taught in Ravindra Bharathi premises and that too for women. I immediately grabbed the opportunity and I feel glad that I performed in front of our Governor after completing the workshop. When I started to learn the hand movements, I hit myself many times. Due to constant practice, I am able to handle the stick very well now,” says Aruna.
Vijaya Mojarla from Mahabubnagar, who is pursuing her MA Telugu in Potti Sriramulu Telugu University, always saw her father twisting the stick and was fascinated to learn that art since childhood. When she tried it as a child, she hurt herself many times. “Luckily, my senior Aakula Sridhar is conducting workshops and I enrolled myself. We are seeing many incidents happening on women, stick is one weapon that can be found anywhere — why not learn the art as there’s no harm in learning. In fact, I became more alert and fitter after taking up this art form,” concludes Aruna.
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