05 Jan 2020  |   04:31am IST

The martial monk at Moira

Goa has great potential to be the martial arts hub in India with international level instructors now residing here. Teaching a variety of mixed martial arts at his martial arts school - Light Haven- in Moira, the calm monk like Aditya Roy, is among a select few in Asia to be conferred the rank of ‘Agalon’. He is also one of only two certified instructors in India to teach the Filipino martial art form, Pekiti Tirsia Kali, provides the right infrastructure, training and discipline in learning a variety of martial art forms.
The martial monk at Moira

Deepa George

The scenic village of Moira may have many hidden narrow

pathways that lead you to beautifully restored homes. Unexpectedly, one such hidden gem through a thickly forested slope, is Light Haven - the Martial Arts School run by Aditya Roy - a proficient teacher in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the Filipino martial art form, Pekiti Tirsia Kali (PTK). PTK is an indigenous martial art form and the fighting style of the Tortal family from the Philippines, based on the use of a blade. What’s more amazing is that right here in Goa, we have one of the only two masters of PTK in India, who are certified to teach this form.

As scary as that sounds, Aditya comes across as a complete antithesis to what one has in mind and is almost mellow and pleasant - the only thing giving away his alert disposition is his unwavering, focused gaze. Having achieved the rank of ‘Agalon’ in PKT, Aditya is the only one in India and amongst select few in Asia to be conferred this honour. “More than a recognition for me, it is a recognition of the school,” he says, not feigning humility. Introduced to the art form by Shifu Kanishka Sharma, based in Delhi and having trained for 14 years, Aditya journeyed to the Philippines seven years ago to train under the legendary master of PTK, GrandTuhon Leo T Gaje. Since then, he makes it a point to go every year and learn new facets of the form with his teacher. “At the global convention, the tournament ends with a spar and people from military backgrounds also participate. It’s fascinating to see how seemingly staid people completely switch on; their real life experiences come to the fore and the adrenaline is tough to replicate,” shares Aditya.

“I never wanted to teach but only keep training in martial arts,” he admits, but life had other plans and he moved to Goa from Delhi in 2017. “The purpose was to immerse myself in an environment that allowed me the space to keep training,” he says. In November, 2019 Light Haven completed two years and is most well known for the Filipino Martial Arts programme. With courses that extend to 3 months residential course, the school attracts students from all over India and the world. “Learning Pekiti Tirsia Kali is an integral part of the training in law enforcement and military personnel, world over. It is the only system which has been tried and tested in actual war,” he explains.

His proficiency in Muay Thay was further sharpened at Warrior Strength Martial Arts School in Seattle, USA where he went on train in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. An exponent of Mixed Martial Arts, he has also trained in Judo and Filipino Dumog besides training in grappling since 2007. “While I may have trained in all of these as separate arts, it is expressed in my body as one seamless flow,” he reveals. Apart from his obvious love for martial arts, Aditya is also a musician with a penchant for theatre. “Anyone in any kind of combat sport needs a creative outlet to channelise their energy away from being violent or reactionary all the time,” he divulges with a smile.

Admittedly fascinated by the sword especially after reading about King Arthur and Excalibur, he explains his early fascination for the sport as a child, “In school, I was on the smaller side and though I never got bullied, I wasn’t among the ‘cool’ kids. Shy and not particularly athletic, I was greatly influenced by the Japanese martial arts based animation series, Dragon Ball which made me take up Shotokan Karate.” He adds, “Within two years, there was a remarkable difference in my ability to focus and concentrate. Also in terms of results, I did a lot better academically and made me more confident.” Having been there as a student before, it’s no surprise that Aditya enjoys training kids. “I am at the same mental age as them,” he chuckles.

Goa was the location of choice for Aditya who believes that the weather and open spaces makes it possible to train all year round. “India has a malady of fraudulent martial art teachers but Goa surprised me. Here, we have expert instructors; Dinesh Garg who teaches Capoeira, Parag Mody who teaches Kalaripayattu and Master Rahim Bernard, an international Taekwondo instructor. With all of us here, Goa truly has the potential to be the hub for martial arts in India,” he opines.

With 25 students spread over 4 programmes and 10-12 residential students, Light Haven also includes children of migrant workers who are completely sponsored by the school. Recently, Aditya conducted a self defence workshop for women and has also devised an Urban Survival workshop, which is also offered as an experience. Dedicated to his mission, Aditya in true monk fashion states, “It is the teacher’s responsibility to cater to the class in a way that everyone learns.”

While incurring injuries has been part of his training, Aditya is less brutal in the way he trains. “I have been subjected to slash wounds, broken ribs, broken toe, fractured arm and nose to even a concussion,” he gruesomely shares. Those were the old methods of training that made it mandatory to ‘feel’ pain which isn’t really a sustainable way of training. As martial artists, we need to train consistently to build a basic level of strength to avoid injuries.” Making a case for all types of martial arts without getting into which is the best form, Aditya says, “Any martial art form that survived 200 years has to have value. It is imperative that we don’t change the way it is taught. The way you express the technique could be your own just like your handwriting is your own but you have to know the language for what it is and that language needs to be practised consistently.”

Who knew Goa would attract martial artists of all kinds? Well, if monks and meditators have found their way here, it isn’t all that surprising to see martial artists find their combat groove here. Now, who’d want to mess with that?


Iddhar Udhar