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Former National Security Guard (NSG) commando Balram Kundu believes that learning self-defence is important for each one of us. So, nine months ago, he set up the Delhi-based Commando Fitness Club, where he uses techniques learnt during his commando training to teach people self-defence moves and fitness regimens.

“My main motive was to make people feel confident so that they can take on anyone when they are protecting themselves. Doesn’t matter if the person who is attacking you is built heavily. Even if you are half their weight, you can use the different self-defence pressure points on their body to free yourself," says the 36-year-old from Haryana. From 2009-14, Kundu was a sky marshal commando for an NSG unit called the 52 Special Action Group, which is trained in counter-hijack operations.

The club’s Instagram page is full of videos that show a combination of locks, holds and kicks which can be used for self-defence. One recent demonstration—especially for women, says Kundu—shows him trying to grab a club team member by the waist. She tries to resist but can’t break his grip. She then pushes her index fingers into Kundu’s neck, right below his earlobes, triggering a pinching effect that forces him to release her. Other videos demonstrate ways to fight off multiple assailants or evade objects, such as sticks or knives, they might use to attack you.

Kundu says he also learns from different self-defence videos and tries to perfect them with his training techniques.

Kundu, who is currently teaching some of his students in open-air settings, started off on YouTube and the video-sharing app TikTok. He says he had uploaded close to 90 videos and had more than 10 million followers on TikTok. But after the Union government banned the app in July, Kundu has been trying to reach out to people through his Instagram handle. He now has close to 144,000 followers there—one of them being Formula One and Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen.

Commando Fitness Club’s Balram Kundu demonstrating a wrist lock.
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Commando Fitness Club’s Balram Kundu demonstrating a wrist lock.


These free videos are interspersed with some do-it-yourself fitness tests, especially on the club’s YouTube page, which has more than 22,000 subscribers right now. Kundu shows how you can judge fitness levels based on the number of commando chin-ups you can perform. This chin-up requires a person to hold their body in an L-shaped position as they try to lift their chin above the chin-up bar. Another video shows how you can judge fitness levels through variants of a vertical rope climb.

“Before the covid-19 pandemic, my plan was to go to different schools, colleges, and organize self-defence training camps for students. But all that is on hold for now," says Kundu. He produces most of his videos with a team of five-six people, which includes some of his students. I ask him about the club’s logo, which features a black commando, with the words “Mission Save Nirbhaya".

“When the Nirbhaya incident (the rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi in 2012) happened, I was deployed at the Delhi airport. It left a profound impact on me; having seen its aftermath so closely, I decided that whenever I start this club, I would put these words on my logo."

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