Sports and Stamina — the Gurkhas

Subjects covered by this section include:

Background — the Gurkhas and sports and stamina

Natural contexts to the military prowess of the Gurkhas are sports and especially those where testing and developing stamina are concerned.  In addition, the competitiveness and the team coordination that sports are well known to encourage and perfect, have been natural companions to the element of discipline, coordination, and focus that are particular characteristics of the military calling.

The special connection that the Gurkhas have with particular sports can rightly, largely be said to have origins in the endurance and stamina training that are the main basis of preparation to become a Gurkha, and to pass the necessary tests to be accepted into the British Army (and of course also the Army of India). 

The origins of the Gurkhas association with endurance sports go back to the times at least of the last King of Gorkha and first king of Nepal, Prithivi Narayan Shah, and certainly established on a large scale by the time of Prime Minister Jang Bahadur Kunwar, later first King of the Rana Dynasty. 

With at least 10,000 aspirant Gurkhas competing for approximately 300 places each year in the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkhas, and an even larger parallel phenomenon concerning those seeking to join the Gurkha component of the Army of India.

In terms of scale of numbers of aspirants since Nepali Gurkha regiments were formed in the first half of the 19th Century no other country has a culture of such large scale recruitment of the highest calibre soldiery across such a long period of time in the modern world.  Perhaps the best parallel being the martial culture of ancient Sparta the most warlike state of ancient Greece, birthplace of the Olympic Games and multiple forms of competitive and often endurance-orientated athletics, including famously the Marathon and broader racing. 

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