India's Only Woman Combat Trainer Has Coached Over 20,000 Soldiers

Dr Seema Rao has successfully completed training over 20,000 soldiers of the Indian Forces in close-quarter battle.

India’s first female combat trainer, Dr Seema Rao, has successfully completed training over 20,000 soldiers of the Indian Forces in close-quarter battle. The 49-year-old has been doing this for last 20 years, without any compensation.

“I have been training commandos of the Indian forces for 20 years now. I have gone to every nook and corner of the country to train the forces. I always intended to do something for the country so I learned martial arts and when the right opportunity came across my path, that is what changed my life,” she told InUth.

A doctor by education, Seema was inspired by the ideals of her father Professor Ramakant Sinari. Her plans were supported by her husband, Major Deepak Rao who introduced her to the field of martial arts.

“I did not become a commando trainer by design. It was not my plan to be one. Like other girls, I wanted to be a doctor or engineer. My father was a freedom fighter, and as a child I had heard a lot of stories about his participation in the freedom struggle. I think these stories must have inspired me to serve the country, she added.

Dr Rao has also inspired her daughter, Komal to become a martial arts trainer. Komal is the only Indian woman to defeat a male opponent at a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournament in Germany.

“Many men have underestimated me but at my academy of combat fitness, we teach people that size doesn’t matter. Skill matters. So if you have the will power and the right determination, you can achieve any goal,” Komal told InUth.

Komal credits her mother for this feat. “She is the reason I am where I am. She has been a great inspiration in how my career has shaped up, and influencing me to become a fighter,” she added.

In a career spanning two decades, Dr Rao has suffered two major injuries including temporary amnesia and a vertebral fracture but this only made her stronger, she says.

“During both these situations I wondered whether it is right for me to continue in this profession, which wasn’t without trouble and challenges. But the more I contemplated, the more I was convinced that if there is anything I wanted to do, it was this,” DR Seema Rao said. For her service to the nation, she was awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar 2019, the highest civilian honour for women in India.