The Indian Army’s Maratha Light Infantry soldiers show their Malkhamb skills at a rehearsal ahead of the Vijay Diwas celebrations on Dec.16. Mallakhamb is the ancient traditional Indian sport. ‘Malla’ means gymnast and ‘khamb’ means pole. The origin can be traced to the 12th century. For seven centuries, the art lay dormant, till it was revived by Balambhatta Dada Deodhar, the sports and fitness instructor to Peshwa Bajirao II, who reigned during the first half of the 19th century. The apparently simple ‘khamb’ does not reveal the complexities of the exercises, which require the performer to turn, twist, stretch and balance on the pole. It is this consummate grace, this agility, dexterity and suppleness of body, combined with quick reflexes, muscle coordination and sense of timing, that single out this game as special.