Kalaripayattu – World’s Oldest Martial Arts Form
Kalaripayattu is the oldest existing Indian martial art as well as world’s oldest. Said to be the predecessor of the well-known Chinese martial arts from the Shaolin School. Dating back more than 200 years, this martial arts originated in Kerala, the souther most state of India. Indian science scripts of Vishnu Puranas describe the practice of Kalaripayattu as one of the 18 traditional branches of knowledge including all fighting arts.
This is a special kind of martial art where the art of understanding and activating all the 107 energy points (Marma) in our body is taught. It helps in correcting the energy level, thus making the person a warrior as well as a self healer. It helps to attain a sound mind and body. The school where this art is taught is known as KALARI and the teacher is addressed as the GURUKAL.
There are kalari training schools preserving the old and traditional martial art in Kerala and other states now. CVN Kalari is one of them. They conduct special classes for international students as well. Many malayalam movies were filmed here incorporating the martial art techniques . You can visit one of these schools to see the art form in practice.
The Legend of Kalaripayattu
Legend says that, the warrior saint Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, created Kerala by throwing his axe into the sea. Parasurama then established 42 Kalaris and taught masters the skills to protect the land he created. Earlier Kalaripyattu was practised only by certain sections of people from the Hindu community; later the Muslims and Christians also started practising this art.
This art includes kicks, wrestles, strikes, rhythmic movements, weaponry and methods of healing. There are variations depending on the geographical position in Kerala such as the Northern style of Malayalis, the Southern style of Tamils, Central style of inner Kerala. The southern style emphasises on soft techniques, where as northern style follows principle of hard techniques, however both style focus on internal and external idea.
So how early can you start Kalari? Normally students begin their training at the age of 7. There are different stages of training. The 1st stage of training is exercises to set the body to attain balance and stamina that will help to endure the difficult training.
Kalaripayattu & Human Science
“Marma chikitsa”, (treatment of vital spots) is very important. It is the study of the human body and its 107 points. During Kalaripayattu accidents can occur and can be fatal. So it is compulsory to take Marma Chikitsa training with Kalari training.
Kalaripayattu is an excellent method of physical training, an efficient self defence techniques – both armed and unarmed, a great system of vital pressure points based system of fighting and treatment and a complete guide to attain flexibility, desired physical and mental strength. Some moves of Kalaripayattu can be applied to dances and Kathakali (a traditional Kerala dance). It is said that those who knew this martial art were good dancers.