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Shubhyatra >> Kerala Yatra >> Kalaripayattu


Kalaripayattu : Father of modern martial art, including kung-fu
Weapons : Short stick, spear, dagger, sword and shield
Dress Code : Kachha (loin cloth of 5-6 feet in length and one feet wide)
Famous Institutions : Indian School of Martial Arts, Kalmandalam

"Kalaripayattu - A Game of Eyes Shut And Mouth Wide Open"

Kalaripayattu Martial Art - Kerala
Kalaripayattu Martial Art - Kerala

Meaning of KalariPattu : Kalari means Gymnasium or School, Payattu means Excise and Fight.
Stages of KalariPattu : Spread over Three Stages – Meippayatt ( Exercise to Control the Body).
Kolthari (Fighting with Sticks).
Ankathari (Felicity in using metal weapons like daggers and swords).
Weapns used in KalariPattu : Otta (curved Stick), Urumi (a flexible sword), Kettukari (long Stick).
Important Aspect : Every Kalari Fighter is given Uzhichil or massages using Medicinal Oils.
Don't Miss : Watching a fight between marshal art players of Kalaripayattu.
Inside Tip : Kalaripayattu is also used for treatments nowadays as it has links with Ayurveda and Specialises in curing ailments like back pain and Spondalitis.
Places of Origin : Kondotty – 26 km from Malappurram is the Birth Place of Kalari.

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"One always finds a form of yoga whenever there is a question of experiencing the sacred or arriving at complete mastery of oneself . . ."

- Mircea Eliade (Eliade, 1975:196).

What a fun would be to engage your ears to the euphony of jangling swords and your eyes to the incredible aerial acrobats, to witness a combat that creates a unique, rhythmic feel that can make you forget that what you are seeing was once a module of war. Originally a traditional form of martial art that started in South India, Kalaripayattu is believed by many historians to be one of the oldest existing martial arts of the world. Emphasising skill over flashiness, Kalripayattu is a form of art which asks for fervid mental discipline, for the battles are fought as much in the mind as on the ground. And it does require a certain amount of intrepidity to swing heartless weapons with eyes wide shut, an archaic signature of Kalari fighters! Following a dearth in the patronages by the princely states after Indian independence - Kalaripayattu gradually lost its significance as a mortal combat code from the pages of history. However, in the recent years, like a phoenix-like renascence, Kalaripayattu emerged in a new avatar, as a source of inspiration for self-expression in dance forms - both traditional and contemporary - in fitness and lately, in movies. Come to learn the famous martial art of India, which is better known as Kalaripayattu art in Kerala.

Kalaripayattu Martial Art - Kerala
Kalaripayattu Martial Art - Kerala

Tracing The History of Indian Martial Art

The word kalari is said to have been derived from the Sanskrit words "kala", which means art, and "ari", which means enemy. Literally, thus it means art of defeating an enemy. Legends has it that around 525 AD, an Indian Buddhist monk named Bodhidharama travelled to China and trained the monks in kung-fu at the Shaolin temple. Kalari practitioners claim that Bodhidharama taught them the eighteen hands of Buddha - a special set of exercises and from this evolved the Chinese art of Shaolin Boxing. These eighteen hands of Buddha are said to be derived from the eighteen 'adavukals' (adavu = technique), which form the substratum of the 'Vadakkan' or northern style of Kalarippayattu. Slowly this fighting style traced its route to Japan and blended with the fighting skills of those regions, resulting in today's martial arts. There are many martial art schools in Kerala that train the person in this art.

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The Style

The artistic discipline of 'Kallaripayattu' consists of a series of intricate and progressively more difficult movements that establish a synergistic analogy between the body and the mind. One can visit the small alcove (known as 'kalari'), facing the east, where the art is practised. The south-east corner houses the guardian deity on a seven-tiered platform called the "poothara", the seven steps representing the seven exigent abilities a warrior should possess - Vignesu (force), Channiga (patience), Vishnu (commanding power), Vadugashcha (animal posture), Tadaguru (training), Kali (the wild expressions of the Goddess) and Vakastapurushu (sound of animals). One might find these names bizarre and out-of-this-world, but so do the art, which demands not just tremendous physical fitness but also the swiftness and ferocity of wild animals. Indeed, Kalaripayattu's movements draw inspiration from animals, and there are even poses named after the boar, the elephant, the lion, the fish and the serpent among others. The illumination of Kalaripayattu envelopes many arcane and darker secrets of human life, like the knowledge of human 'marma' - 108 highly sensitive, vulnerable and vital parts of the body). Interesting, isn't it?

Kalaripayattu Martial Art - Kerala
Kalaripayattu Martial Art - Kerala

Mother of Modern Kung-fu

The word 'Kalari' denotes a gymnasium and 'payattu' means both exercise and fight. One needs years of training and kilos of patience to reach the perfection. The learning domain is spread over three stages - "Meipayattu" or physical training & preparation, "Kolthari' and 'Angathari' which include all forms of weapons combat, and' Verumkai Prayogam' which is about bare handed combating skills - each of which again consists of 18 phases of arduous training. An apposite epilogue to achieving perfection in the art of Kalaripayattu is the consummate use of the Urumi - the deadly double-edged flexible sword. You will be surprised to see how these masters coordinate their voluntary and involuntary muscles to inaugrate the desired perfection. They fly in the air (not exactly as it is shown in Kungfu movies) and pulsate their limbs with ample dexterity, enough to augment levels of adrenaline in the body of the beholder. Tek up martial art tours of India and learn the Kalaripayattu art in Kerala.

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The Healing Edge

Perhaps what gives Kalripayattu an extra edge over other forms is the fact that it is an inch more than just martial art. Strongly blended with ayurveda, the Kalari Chikitsa specialises in allaying ailments such as back pain, sprains, fractures, cuts and spondylitis, and revitalising the body with fresh breaths of consciousness using the knowledge about 'vital spots', otherwise meant to completely neutralise the vigour of an enemy. Kalari medication, with its own variety of potent oils, different types of bandages and unique way of application, is also popular among the tourists. Enjoy the grand pleasure of Indian message and you can also say bye to many of your chronic ailments. The advantages of learning this popular martial art form in Kerala is great.

A Hot-blooded Holiday

Plan a holiday trip to Kerala, the land renowned for its unique Dhanurveda and Ayurveda. Fortunately, Kalaripayattu today still has a few centres that practice the basics of the art in its original form as conceived and followed by masters of yore. Those were the days when a revived interest in Kalaripayattu made hundreds of people from near and far come to Kerala and undergo training in Kalaripayattu and related subjects like Marma Chikitsa (treatment). You can also now be a part of it. Among the few centres, which has carved a niche in the pages of glory is the Indian School of Martial Arts (ISMA). The centre was the outcome of the indefatiguable zeal of few young men, who under the leadership of Mr. P. S. Balachandran Nair, a master practitioner of Kalaripayattu, established ISMA in 1983. Tourists can visit ISMA, currently present at two Kalaris, one at Thiruvananthapuram and the other at Parasuvackal near Parasala. For more information related to the ancient art, contact Indian School of Martial Arts, T.C. 15/854, Kalariyil, Sisuvihar Road, Vazhuthacaud, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala -695010.

You can also visit the trivial village of Cheruthuruthy in Thrissur District, Kerala and spend some of your holiday mornings learning the tricks of fighting at Kalmandalam. As a centre of learning and research for the traditional classical art forms of Kerala, Kalamandalam attracts students and scholars from both India and abroad. The classes generally begin by 3 P.M. in the afternoon and end by 5 P.M. Besides imparting physical training to the students, it also bestows afficianados with the knowledge of the literature of the art concerned. If you are in Kerala, don't forget ot be a part of the newly initiated Cultural Tourism Project called "A Day With the Masters. This structured and professionally managed half-day tour of Kalamandalam surely provides an unforgettable experience to the visitors. There are many Kerala martial art schools in India.

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Top 5 Reasons To Visit Kalaripayattu

Kalaripayattu Martial Arts

Explore The 4000 Years Old Art of Fighting
Welcome to Kerala, the land of 'Kalaripayattu' or the traditional technique of killing an enemy. Visit the schools and get to know the 18 hands of Buddha, an archaic art that led to the origination of today's kung-fu. Kalaripayattu art in Kerala is the crude form of martial arts.

Complete Submission To The Master
Plan a few days of your holiday tour in the martial art schools of Kerala and meet the masters practising the most scientific form of fighting in the world. Watch agile bodies gleaming with oil and armed with weapons practise their feats - chattam (jumping), ottam (running) and marichil (somersault). This famous martial art is performed in Kerala.

Get a Kalari Chikitsa (Ayurvedic Massage)
Gift yourself a new life. Surrender to the magical fingers of the specially trained masseurs and let them recharge your lost vigour to acme in the various Kerala martial art schools in India.

Magnificent Fight of Wood and Metal
Visit the renowned institutions of Kerala and experience the art of objecting metallic blows with bare hands. The masters are said to be so powerful that they can kill a person by a mere touch of their fingers.

Exercises That Will Keep You Young Eternally
Register yourself in one of those Kalaripayattu academy that put a tint of adrenaline in the otherwise serene state of Kerala. Learn a few martial art tricks for self protection that can become quite handy in a foreign land. The famous martial art of India is taugt here.

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