Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who celebrates his 49th birthday today, is a black belt in Aikido, a type of Japanese martial arts. In a conversation with boxer Vijender Singh at the annual meet of the PHD Chamber of Commerce in 2017, the Congress President had shared that he holds a black belt in Aikido.
“I am a black belt in Aikido – have you heard of it? But I don’t talk about it publicly. I do one hour of sports every day, though I admit I haven’t been doing much in the past three-four months,” he had said.
Gandhi has been learning Aikido for several years, and has even been to Japan to get training in the martial art form. He was awarded black belt in Aikido in 2013.
What is Aikido?
Believed to be the most practised martial art form across the globe, it deals with different techniques like throwing, joint-locking, striking and pinning, coupled with Japanese weapons like sword, staff and knife.
However, it focuses not on punching, kicking or beating your opponents, instead it focuses on using your own energy to gain control of the opponent or to throw them away from oneself. It is, therefore, regarded as an effective self defence art that helps in avoiding conflicts and handling the situation with peaceful methods.
The non-aggressive martial art form has different levels or ranks whereby a beginner can take at least five years to reach the first black belt, before which there are a couple of preliminary exams to be cleared. These ranks are called Kyu ranks and are counted backwards. The first grading is for fifth Kyu and each new promotion brings the student closer to first Kyu.
Not distinguished by coloured belts, there are nine levels, including the five Kyus, and only a few people in the world are said to have reached it in the aikikai style. Gandhi is reported to have a first level black belt or Shodan which follows the first Kyu.
The official website of Aikikai India says that classes are available at Khel Gaon and Thyagraj Sports Complex in Delhi.