Grand Master Acharya Mak Yuree Vajramunee was kind enough to reply an emailed interview to Dhaka Tribune regarding the new and unique sport, butthan
It’s been quite a few years that Grand Master Acharya Mak Yuree Vajramunee earned Superhuman status in strength category by Discovery Channel, featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not and honored with Grandmaster title at the World’s Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
He was also featured on the cover page of multiple international martial arts journals thanks to his amazing feats.
The illustrious life journey of the Dhaka-born martial artist in the field of self defense and mind training through psychological development had its roots from his early cadet life.
He later went on to become professional defensive tactics and close protection trainer to different government, military and intelligence agencies.
He founded Bangladeshi combat sports and martial art and named it after Sanskrit word, butthan.
Yuree said he travelled over 50 countries in search of different meditation systems, and did research and training in some 40 different kinds of combat arts, besides history and heritage related research.
He is currently promoting butthan worldwide in a bid to revive the lost heritage of martial art of south Asia.
Yuree was kind enough to reply an emailed interview to Dhaka Tribune regarding the new and unique sport of the country:
Please tell us briefly about butthan. How is it different from other martial art and combat sports?
The word butthan means "Defense with distinction or awakening". It is a Bangladeshi martial art and combat sport. It is a system of self defense and personal development rooted in south Asian heritage. Butthan is practiced in different parts of the world under the guidance of International Butthan Federation. The system of butthan is based on the spirit of Janaism as its core philosophy, in company with Badal Arrhas the essence of knowledge and scientific principles of psychology, trigonometry, human anatomy, physiology, logic, human nervous system, vajra-pran, meditation, siddha medical knowledge blended with selected self defense methods combining the arts such as bando, varma kalai, chuan-fa (Shaolin boxing), vajra-mushti, and other strategies of the ancient Indian, Burmese and Tibetan unarmed and weapons systems. Butthan specially emphasizes on cultivating mental prowess to bring lasting impact in one’s life.
Butthan has many a significant distinction in its own right. The definite approaches in its attires, weapons, rituals, music et cetera are developed in the light of south Asian heritage or traditions. Here we are considering four major aspects as major differences, they are – psychophysical development, pioneering co-competition system, transformations through mind training, and inspirational teaching.
We learned from you that the systematic form of martial art was developed by an Indian monk in the sixth century. Why was it forgotten over centuries since then?
Indian sub-continent was famous for nourishing psychophysical exercises, science, advanced education system, astronomy, mathematics etc. The systematic form of martial art was first developed in ancient India. South Indian monk Bodhi dharma traveled from Kanchipuram to Shaolin Temple in 520AD. The systematic forms of self-defenses were later nourished at Shaolin monastery. Bodhi dharma introduced rich psycho-physical training to the Shaolin monks to strengthen the internal and external organs which is found as a fact in many Chinese scripts, painting, books and history as well.
Over centuries due to lack of proper patronization and constant manipulation by the foreign invaders stopped the growth of martial art and other psychophysical practices in this sub-continent. Besides, political and religious doldrums also destroyed many of the temples, Bihar, manuals, scripts etc. Colonial influences also hampered the survival of the traditional training systems. In the passage of time people stopped going in guru-grihos to learn it and this wonderful arts got faded in the pages of the history.
Why is it called psycho-physical game?
Apart from extreme physical training and approach in muscular and bone conditioning butthan emphasizes on mindfulness training and conscious use of mind to activate the physical movement, thereby maximizing the engagement, efficiency and delivery of power which is known as mon-chala. The practice of the martial art produces physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balance through a process of inculcating self-discipline and pragmatic restructuring of personal habits known as vaz-sodhon. Butthan also uniquely stages a memory test as a part of the tournament rules to ensure the quality of participants’ mental and physical powers equally which is called jhalak khela. Butthan is not merely a game but empowers a life and beyond.
Why did you get interested to introduce such a sport in the first place? How were the initial days?
As we all know south Asian region is always considered to have an unforgettable heritage and tradition of contributing role in many fields of human development. Apart from the dream of having a distinguished path of empowerment the few vital points may be taken as the elements for the movement involved at the first place. First, the combat system of butthan develops psychophysical capability for defending oneself effectively in unpredictable and dangerous situations without being unnerved. Second, my purpose was to eliminate this mentality of jealousy from martial art and instill brotherhood, empathy, sense of co-operation through co-competition system. Third is revival of lost heritage and fourth is to inspire and empower human life with significance.
My initial days were though challenging like any new venture but the profound love and dedication of my students and followers were remarkable indeed.
How many athletes, clubs or institutions are practicing butthan currently? How has the Bangladeshi people took to this new discipline so far?
Since 1981 almost three generations of people in Bangladesh is practicing butthan in different districts. At the beginning of 1990s, butthan spread across Bangladesh with the formation of training camps in different districts of the country. Bangladesh Ansar and Village Defence Party took a three-year butthan project to train around 12,000 men and women selected from 64 districts both from villages and cities. It was a six-week long residential course from 2015 to 2017. Cadet college governing body introduced butthan compulsorily in all cadet colleges of Bangladesh in 1994. Since then, butthan was also adopted by different security, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies in Bangladesh for the last 20 years.
Though the butthan sports form came into being to general people only in recent years, actually the butthan original school of martial arts was one of the few oldest martial art skills providing institutions in the country, though we have hardly any exposure.
Bangladeshi people have taken butthan pretty well. Many Bangladeshi parents bring their kids to the butthan schools with the notion to enrich their lives through training. The number of followers is increasing day by day in significant numbers with the continued initiatives of Bangladesh Butthan Association with support of National Sports Council, Ministry of Youth and Sports.
You are also general secretary of IBF. What are its activities and plans to promote the sport?
Today butthan is being promoted globally in different countries. Recently government of Brunei Darussalam officially declared butthan as a nationally practiced sports in that country. In 2013, I was selected and featured as one of the top five Superhumans of this planet in the strength category by Discovery Channel scientist team and my fourth world record is for the highest neuro-engagement ability (96%) plus being featured in the Ripley's Believe It or Not. That opened a path to interact with huge number of fans and followers from many countries of the world. These connections gradually along with the dedicated initiatives of the instructors, students and followers built a wave of global movement as a whole.
IBF constantly kept the activities in the different continents through appointing personnel from different countries as our country representatives/directors to accelerate the functions of our federation as well.
Currently it is emphasizing on promotion in the region through the South Asian Butthan Federation.
Besides promotion of butthan, IBF has also contributed and participated globally in different social welfare movements such as anti-drug movement, women self-defense, blood donation, tree plantation, youth motivation etc.