Nidar Singh Nihang has devoted his life to the mysterious Sikh martial art of Shastar Vidiya.
Having learned his skills from an 80-year-old Indian guru, he is now seeking an apprentice
 to keep the ancient art alive.


The 45-year-old former factory worker is looking for someone to inherit both his unique knowledge and his armoury of amazing weapons.
He said: 'Shastar Vidiya is a part of my history and culture and without it we lose our character. It has changed history and produced great warriors - for it to die out now would be a tragedy.
'Throughout the day, no matter what I am doing, Shastar Vidiya is always in my mind.



'I am the last known remaining master - it is my mission in life now to find a successor to carry on this great martial art. If I die with it, it is all gone.'
Nidar conducts a rigorous daily routine, awakening at dawn to recite ancient mantras followed by seven hours of writing and study.
After a late siesta listening to classical Indian music, the expert swordsman embarks on six hours of martial yoga and Shastar Vidiya, before mediation and sleep at 2am.
The basis of Shastar Vidiya - the 'science of weapons' - is a five-step movement: advance on the opponent, hit his flank, deflect incoming blows, take a commanding position and strike.
It was developed by Sikhs in the 17th century when their fledgling religion was coming under attack, but it was forced underground when the British banned Sikhs from using arms after the first Anglo-Sikh War.
In 1984, Nidar met Mohinder Singh, the last remaining master of Shastar Vidiya, while working on his aunt's farm in the remote village of Shadipur in the Indian Punjab.
He said: 'The master was from the next village - he saw my physique and asked me if I wanted to learn Shastar Vidiya.
'He got me to attack him with a stick, but before I knew it I was on the floor. I thought it might be a fluke, but I did it over and over again and each time he threw me around like a rag doll.
'I was awestruck because I was 17 and he was in his 80s.
'I stayed for 11 years, milking the buffalos in the morning and spending the remainder of the day training with my master and learning the philosophy.
'I then returned to Wolverhampton in 1995 to marry my wife Satinderjat.
'When my master Mohinder died later that year, I became the last Sikh warrior - now I am looking for someone to succeed me. I will teach them here in my home in the Midlands so they will have to travel here.'




He is now the ninth gurdev (teacher) of a school established in 1661, called the 'Baba Darbara Singh Shastar Vidoya Akhara'.
Well-armed: Nidar's collection of weapons is full of antiques which have actually been used in battle
Well-armed: Nidar's collection of weapons is full of antiques which have actually been used in battle
He lectures worldwide and teaches his pupils how to use swords, daggers and spears, most of which were used in historical battles.
Nidar said: 'Ninety-five per cent of our weapons are antiques, from as far back as the 16th century - they've all been passed down through various families.
'The fighting is geared towards a lethal outcome, but it takes many years of training before students are allowed to handle a blade.'
Students of the martial art achieve 'master' status, which can take decades, when they are deemed ready by living masters.
He said: 'The current group of people who practise the martial art have all been taught by me - without my teaching, they would not know it and Shastar Vidiya would be on the brink of extinction.
'Although learning can last a lifetime, and more, I have become a master after fully committing myself to the martial art - at least 70 hours of training a week for almost 30 years.
'My students show promise but are only at the first rung of the ladder. After all, they haven't been training for more than seven or eight years maximum - and that's only for 10 to 15 hours a week.
'To become a master of Shastar Vidiya takes decades of dedication, often as the sole student of one master.'