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The Last Sikh Warrior

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 29 October 2011

It ranks alongside Chinese Kung Fu or the Samurai Bushido, yet the ancient Indian martial art of Shastar Vidiya is nearly forgotten - not least because the British colonial masters banned it after the Anglo-Sikh wars.

After centuries of practicing its fearsome techniques, Sikh fighters in Punjab were shot on sight for simply carrying a sword.

Now the last known master of the art, Nidar Singh Nihang, is searching for a successor to carry the tradition forward.

Ironically, he grew up in Britain, in the English Midlands town of Wolverhampton.

As a child, he was sent to live with relatives in Punjab, where a chance meeting with an elderly man changed his life.

The man was an ageing warrior who could trace his lineage back to the time of the Sikh Gurus.

He introduced young Nidar to the secrets of Shastar Vidiya, or the knowledge of weapons.

Hardeep Singh Kohli joins Nidar Singh Nihang as he searches for his own successor among young Sikhs in Britain.

(Photo shows Nidar Singh Nihang, the last Sikh warrior. Copyright: Rajbir Hundal 2011)

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