She is no less than a superwoman who can run a 30-km marathon, shoot an apple off a man’s head without aiming and knock out many men twice her size. She can disarm a pistol pointed at her, duck a bullet aimed for her head and twist a knife out of an attacker’s hand with ease. She is Dr Seema Rao, India’s first and only woman commando trainer.
Life is strange. You sometimes start with one path but it changes and takes you elsewhere. Seema, who started off as a doctor and ended up becoming a commando trainer, says, “Deep in my heart, I always wanted to do something for my country.”
Though her paths were her choice, life showed her a different way which she treaded boldly without feeling like the first woman doing something unique. She feels, “Today, the country made me aware by christening me India’s first woman commando trainer. It’s been a challenging and satisfying vocation. I just walked, looking ahead with perseverance and dedication. I never looked for returns monetary or otherwise. If I can do today what I couldn’t do yesterday, today was a day lived well.”
One has to have a curious mind ready to take on challenges. “Life is a battleground. There will always be physical or mental challenges. Physical challenges are in the form of injuries and mental challenges are about excelling, improvising and succeeding despite all odds. I once had a serious head injury during training, resulting in amnesia, complete loss of memory. It was a moment of serious contemplation for me, whether to give it all up or whether to walk on ahead. I decided to walk on with caution. Obstacles will always be there but one must not be deterred easily,” says the daughter of freedom fighter Ramakant Sinari and wife of Major Deepak Rao.
Seema, who was made Approved Training Resource for Anti-terror CQB training by the Home Ministry, was inspired by her father. “My father narrated bed time stories of his participation in the Freedom Struggle. Somewhere, patriotism grew in me,” she says.
The senior most woman Black Belt holder in Asia, with the seventh deg Black Belt, the senior most instructor in Bruce Lee’s art JKD and instructor in Israeli Krav Maga, she explains her commando training, “Commandos are close quarter battle warriors who engage in combat at 0-30 m. They often paradrop or insert behind enemy lines to engage in covert operations. They are supermen who are capable of fighting large numbers single-handedly. They carry up to 60 kg of arsenal, weapons and explosives and resources and cross country up to 50-100 km a day. I am unconventionally trained.”
Her expertise is in CQB. “Many mistake CQB for martial arts. It’s not. CQB is combat with bullets, bayonets, daggers, grenades, explosives as well as hand to hand. It also includes reflex shooting skills, where you have to beat the enemy fire with a quick response of firing first; where you have to kill to survive,” says an HMI mountaineering medallist, a scuba diver, a fire fighter and a doctor skilled in primary first response to medical emergency.
Seema, who travels across the length and breadth of the country to hostile locations, feels, “Life is all about balance. One needs to be comfortable. Back home, I have an understanding partner who understands the demands of my work. And I do very much feel at home even when I’m at work.”
Has she faced any kind of discrimination? “In any field, any man or woman has to prove himself or herself. In my field of work which is a physical field, I lead by personal example. As a woman, you have to break the conditioning of the system by proving your worthiness. It may take time to prove yourself but you must keep at it. I believe man and woman are equal in their capabilities. You compete with yourself and surpass yourself. And if you do it well, you will realise that you left the competition behind,” says Seema, who has also produced Hathapayi, India’s First Mixed Martial Art (MMA) movie which won the Dadasaheb Phalke film festival jury appreciation
Support system: “I have a supporting family who manage without me when I’m travelling. Due to the physical demands of my work, I had to give up on motherhood and having my own biological child. However, in order to complete the structure of a family, I decided to adopt a girl. Today my daughter is a capable, loving, strong and intelligent individual whose company I am enjoying in the walk of life,” says the 47-year-old.
Favourite sport: I enjoy swimming. It revitalises me. I have enjoyed scuba diving in Goa, Mauritius and Thailand.
Favourite pastime: I enjoy watching movies, especially horror ones. It’s not easy to scare me, but I get amused by others who scream and turn pale. I do enjoy good comedy movies too.
Favourite author: I enjoy reading philosophical books like Osho, Lao Tzu and Zen. I also keep myself abreast of combat arts and read books and watch videos on mixed martial arts.
Age is just a number: One can either slow down or learn to override the negatives that come with age. One must learn to take advantage of the positives your age offers....