Historically, Punjab was a gateway to the riches of India, as such plagued by constant raids by foreigners such as the rapacious Afghans. The raiders often targeted women; the beauty and courage of Punjabi women was legendary. Since these ancient times, women were taught to defend themselves, their families, homes and villages. A European observed about Akali Nihang Singhs and their women:
"They [the Akali Nihang Singhs] are the fanatics of the Sikh religion - literally covering themselves with iron, generally wearing, besides 2 swords at their side, from 1 to 7 quoits on their turbans which they make very high by means of a knife stuck in the centre, and an iron chain wound round. They stick 3 or 4 more knives in their turbans, and have generally a spear besides, several daggers in their waist-band. Their women are also armed like the men, and are said to be expert horsemen - and to be able to make good use of these arms when required."
(Major R Leech, "Notes on the Religion of the Sikhs and other Sects inhabiting the Punjab", Foreign/Secret Consultation Volume, 20 December 1845, Nos. 143-144 (NAI)
Sikh history records an incident concerning a 'Singhni' (Sikh warrior woman) captured by Afghans:
"An Afghan [guard] tried to get hold of one [imprisoned] Singhni. She grappled the Afghan to the floor and pounded in his ribs. The fiend screamed in agony. Three or four more guards then came. Taking one Afghan's sword, the Singhni swiftly cut down these other three. Other 'Singhnia' took hold of their swords, and, like cheetahs, they drew them and attacked. In showing them the pleasure of touching Sikh women, they had wounded thirty and killed ten. The other guards stood back, afraid and refused to come near and fight. Without orders, they fired arrows and muskets upon the women."
(Giani Gian Singh, Panth Parkash, (Bhasha Vibhag Punjab, 1987), 905-906.)
As with children, in Sanatan Shastar Vidiya there exists a whole repertoire of traditional good advice, tactics and techniques specifically tailored for women. Self-defence for women takes into consideration the female psychology, anatomy, and physical strength. The tactics deal with many forms of attack, and engaging in pairs and groups.