Huyen Langlon is an Indian martial art form; it comprises of two parts: Thang Ta (armed combat) and Sarit Sarak (unarmed combat). ‘Thang’ means sword, while ‘Ta’ means spear – the two main weapons of the form. Practitioners also used axes and shields sometimes. Thang Ta can be practiced in tantric (ritualistic), dance and combat ways.
Huyen Langlon’s ancient history is hidden in local hymns and legends that credit the martial art and its related dances to native gods. It is considered so sacred that violating any of its strict rules is seen as shameful and sinful.
Following a challenge, a day is selected for the combat; in the meanwhile, warriors will prepare their weapons. Allowing your opponent to shoot the first bow or spear is a sign of immense courage. After the battle, it was customary to take the loser’s head as a trophy. Opponents who ran, begged for mercy or cried in fear were usually spared by the victor.
While it was not necessary for a warrior to kill his opponent, it was expected that he would behead the loser. As a token, either before the combat or before the beheading, the two warriors share a meal prepared by their wives.
When the British went to northeast India, they prohibited martial arts, duels to the death and other violent customs of the region. This ban was hard to enforce as the area was pretty inaccessible. It was only with the adoption of Christianity that the local people left their more violent customs behind.
Anyone who wishes to learn the fighting form starts off with the armed combat aspects of it before progressing to the unarmed tactics. Thang Ta also incorporates ningsha kanglon (breathing exercises), layeng kanglon (traditional medicine), and thengouron (sacred dances).