Being a regular Mallakhamb artist in her younger days, Neeta Tatke knows its advantages. She started at the age of 7 and still at the age of 53, she continues to practice this unique sport. But it is her research paper on Mallakhamb that has been appreciated in many parts of the world. Being a student of psychology and currently Vice-Principal of a reputed college in Mumbai, Neeta Tatke’s study reveals that after the initial hiccups of bruises and cuts, what one achieves are immense physical strength and absolute mental stability. A candid chat with her brought forward the intensity of her concept and the brilliance of its execution.
- What made you to think of studying Mallakhamb in your doctoral project?
I am into coaching Mallakhamb to students and what I realized during training was that the students not only learn the tricks but at the same time their concentration and grasping power increase. Once they go on air, the judgement of direction and balance has to be tremendous. So, we could see that the students were improving on their mental ability also. But when foreigners started coming in, they wanted case studies from us. They always believe in evidences. At that time I thought of conducting a research study and thus took it as my doctoral project.
- How did you start your research and for how long you continued that?
I studied girls who were not into any physical activity and girls who were given training in Mallakhamb for 1 year. I looked into their psychological changes in three areas. One area was emotional intelligence. I found that girls who were practicing Mallakhamb had better emotional score because during their performances they had to manage their stress level. Once they climb the pole they had to rule the emotion of fear. The second area that I studied was neuro-cognitive functions in which the impulse control through the brain comes foremost. It was found that as Mallakhamb students could not take any impulsive decision once they were on the air, they had better impulse control ability than others. The third aspect was that the students who were practicing Mallakhamb saw their failures in a positive way in spite of all the negative aspects surrounding them. This was because, once they took to a 8 ft high pole, they had to keep their positives alive of completing their performance in spite of all the negative fear, troubles and difficulties in their mind. So these were some very significant researches that I completed in my 5 years of research in Mallakhamb.
- As your research has been quite significant in the field of an Indian sport, how far it has helped in spreading the sport?
Yes, I tried to spread it by interacting with children, parents, coaches. I tell parents to put their children in Mallakhamb or any other sport. This research of mine is quite significant for other sports too but for Mallakhamb students, these are implemented better. I also placed my papers in national conferences. It was well received in many international seminars and it was even published in recognized international journals. So it’s an effort from my part and its happening in all the levels from my side.
- How do you see the future of Mallakhamb?
The future seems to be attractive as far as I see. What is interesting is that girls are coming in large numbers in this sport. Even the girls are now performing on poles that was only restricted for boys some years back. The only hurdle is that the boys perform bare bodied with castor oil spread on them. But seeing the interest of girls in pole Mallakhamb, we are planning a sleeveless swim suit type of dress for them. The physical and psychological aspect of Mallakhamb is not only for the Indians but have a world-wide appeal. Throughout the world we are seeing an increase of stress, depression, obesity, violence etc. Internationally we place Mallakhamb as an exercise that can act as a unique remedy for all these problem. Its scientifically proven that if you practice Mallakhamb, then it has a far more impact than any other exercise.