Kushti is a traditional form of Indian wrestling. Practiced in an Akhara, the wrestlers, under the supervision of a guru, dedicate their bodies and minds to Kushti on average for 6 to 36 months. Wearing only a well-adjusted loincloth (langot), wrestlers or Pelwhans enter a pit made of clay, often mixed with salt, lemon and ghee (clarified butter). This clay, representing Mother Earth is renewed every 2 years. Before every match, each wrestler covers the body of his adversary with this earth. During combat, the coated bodies meld with the color of the arena. It is also a spiritual quest and a spartan lifestyle that requires rigorous discipline as in all martial arts. Experienced wrestlers set the example and transmit their skills in the pit and in the community to younger boys (7-8 years old) and new recruits, whereby promoting camaraderie, respect, solidarity and fraternity.
Traditional martial arts and older forms of wrestling are quickly losing the battle to modern globalized sports. I am documenting these once popular sports before they completely disappear. Given their similarities, there are numerous forms of combat to be explored all over the world.
Alain Schroeder is a Belgian photojournalist born in 1955. In 1989 he founded Reporters, a well-known photo agency in Belgium. He has illustrated over thirty books dedicated to China, Persia, the Renaissance, Ancient Rome, the Gardens of Europe, Thailand, Tuscany, Crete, Vietnam, Budapest, Venice, the Abbeys of Europe, Natural Sites of Europe, etc. Belgian books include: “Le Carnaval de Binche vu par 30 photographes”, and “Les Marches de l’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse, Processions de Foi”. Publications include National Geographic, Geo, Paris-Match. He is represented in Paris by the photo agency HEMIS.