Kalaripayattu,kerala martial arts

Kerala Martial Arts


This is one of the most ancient martial arts in the world. Its purpose is to help maintain an inner and outer harmony in man and in society

This training, open to both men and women, leads to a very precise and complete knowledge of the body. It demands concentration and mental alertness combined with strength and suppleness. It always begins with basic body exercises and proceeds on to intricate body movements evolved out of animals. It needs some time for the student to advance to the level of using weapons

Believed by many historians and scholars as one of the oldest and most scientific and comprehensive system of martial training existing in the world today, Kalaripayattu the ancient martial art of Kerala truly deserves the title of the forerunner of all martial arts

Many of the traditional performing art forms of Kerala like Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Valakali etc. have drawn elements from Kalaripayattu during their stages of evolution. Kathakali has borrowed much from Kalaripayattu in its basic body preparatory training of the actor not only in terms of techniques in practice but also from the body massage for the trainee. Many of the body postures, choreography and footwork of the Kathakali characters are taken directly from Kalaripayattu

With the help of the available historical evidences, the present practicing traditions origin can be traced back to the 12th century A.D. The word ‘Kalaripayattu’ literally means ‘combat training inside the gymnasium’. The word kalari has been derived from the sanskrit ‘kholoorika’ meaning a military training ground. The traditional training of Kalaripayattu is always done inside a ‘Kalari’ which is a specially constructed practicing area, where the presiding deities of the art and the entire line of gurus of the tradition is ritualistically represented. Not only is the Kalari a temple of learning, it is also a temple of religious worship with a cult and ritual of its own. The master who is addressed as the ‘Gurukkal’ is revered as the representative of the deity and is considered as the living embodiment of a long line of gurus

The training consists of self-disciplinary training anD physical culture. The pupils are given regular physical exercises and training in the use of such weapons as Kuruvai (short stick), spear, dagger, sword shield etc. The most promising of the trainees are taught the Marmas, viz the vulnerable points in the human system. The Kalaripayattu training aims at the ultimate co-ordination of minds and body

The traditional training of the Kalari Gurukkal includes as can be seen in some other martial arts, specialization in indigenous medical preparations and techniques of treatment and healthcare. Based on the Ayurvedic system of medical practice the old masters of Kalaripayattu has indigenously developed methods of treatments for Kalari related injuries like bruises, fractures etc. known as kalarichikilsa. The training of the gurukkal also includes the special system of full body oil massage to develop flexibility and muscular texture and also the stimulate circulation to maintain general health and blood

Kalaripayattu declined after the 17th century but in recent times it has staged a revival