“A game of sticks” is the literal English translation of a South Asian form of martial art known as Lathi Kela. This “stick fighting” form of combat is said to have originated from Bangladesh. Furthermore, the weapon used in this form combat is known as a “lathi”, and the practitioner was referred to as “lathial”. In addition, as of today Lathi Kela is mainly performed during festivals and weddings.

a. History/origin of Lathi Kela:

According to the cultural history of Bangladesh, many rich Zamindars i.e. feudal lords and rich farmers wanted to exert their power over the villagers by either grabbing their land or other possessions. And so it was to demonstrate “power” that this form of stick fighting was developed as a form of combat. In fact, the feudal lords used to hire groups of “lathial” (a practitioner of Lathi Kela) to forcefully collect taxes from the villagers. Apparently, it is also said that Lathi Kela has essentially been created having been inspired from a popular proverb belonging to the South Asia region which states that “Whoever yields the lathi keeps the cow”.

b. Weapon used in the Lathi Kela:

The weapon mainly used in this form of combat is a “stick”. Furthermore, the stick known as “lathi”, has been made from “bamboo”, and is about 8 feet (2 to 2.4 meter) in length. In addition, shields were also used in the past.

c. Technique involved in the Lathi Kela and training availability:

In terms of technique, the fighters “attack and defend” each other using a long bamboo stick. Furthermore, earlier a “shield” was also used by a fighter. As for training schools/centers, there are none available around the world since this “stick fighting” form of martial art is mainly practiced in Bangladesh.

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