This Japanese hybrid martial art form is instilling confidence in the young women of Rajasthan

The first thing that you might think of when it comes to martial arts is Karate, Kung fu or Boxing. However, the hybrid form of Kudo is now gaining prominence. Rajkumar Menaria, provides more insight on this martial art form and how it is changing lives.


Stand-up striking, restraint, locks, chokeholds, throwing and grappling - Kudo is all this and much more. The term Kudo in Japanese means ‘a disciplined way towards a peaceful life’. Well, this martial art form which is usually practised with headgear and gloves was founded in 1981 by Takashi Azuma in Japan and is known to be both safe and scientific.

A lot of individuals have promoted Kudo in India including Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, Maharashtra politician Aaditya Thackeray and the President of KIFI Association (Kudo International Federation India), Mehul Vora. But, when it comes to Rajasthan, Rajkumar Menaria is one of the most popular flag-bearers of Kudo. He is a founding member of the KIFI Association and presently works as the joint secretary of the entity. Though he has a black belt in Karate and loves training people in Kudo.

Rajkumar Menaria interacting with students during a training session (Image credit: Rajkumar Menaria Facebook)

Menaria says that it was the purity of the martial art form that drew him to Kudo.

“Kudo has some of the best techniques in mixed martial arts. Its’ moves encompass a bit of everything - Karate, Judo, Jujutsu, etc. Today, kudo tournaments are attracting more people than ever before and the Akshay Kumar Kudo Tournament is recognised as one of the biggest events. Well, it was once only a national level competition, but now we have teams from Australia, France, Russia, Japan and Mexico participating in it”, says Menaria.

Enabling young women to defend themselves

In 2006, Rajkumar Menaria learnt several tactics specific to women's self defense in Washington DC. On his return to India, he laid the foundation for ‘Swayam Raksham’ (self defense).

Rajkumar Menaria at the 2006 Kudo event in Washington DC where he learnt special tactics on women’s self defense. (Image credit: Rajkumar Menaria)

This programme, which was kicked off in Rajasthan, now trains women and girls not just in 19 districts of the state, but across 22 states and UTs in India. In the last 15 years or so, it has empowered and infused confidence in more than 50,000 individuals. The three layer intensive self defense programme has no restrictions in terms of age. It is open to one and all.

Rajkumar Menaria teaching women self-defense techniques (Image credit: Rajkumar Menaria Facebook)

Lauding the outreach of ‘Swayam Raksham’, Menaria says, “Women and girls from all walks of life are seen in the programme. From school and college going students, women officers in the police force to working professionals. Besides enabling them to become stronger and more fit, we train them in a variety of attack and defense strikes to boost confidence,” he quips.

Rajkumar Menaria (centre) with some of the trained women commandos at his academy in Udaipur (Image credit: Rajkumar Menaria Facebook)

Future of Kudo

Menaria considers Kudo to be one of the most effective martial art forms in the country.

“While karate is an old freehand form, Kudo involves a slew of modern techniques. When it comes to road fights which require self defence, it is the best according to me. While karate is distinguished fighting, kudo can be used in any situation”, he says.

With the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, School (games) Federation of India and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) giving due recognition to Kudo, there is a good chance of it being included in the Olympics as well as other renowned sporting events in the near future. The KIFI Association on the other hand is working hard to promote the martial art form in India. So, the coming years do look bright for Kudo.


Edited by Roshni Shroff


Some resources and links to help you learn more about Rajkumar Menaria and Kudo-

KIFI Association (Kudo International Federation India)