Tuesday, February 26

Kalaripayattu - Mother Of All Martial Art Forms

This is a guest post by Syamnath JG

Indigenous is the buzz word of any tourism industry in this century. Globalization has arranged for shrinking this world, making room for mixing of cultures, traditions, languages and races. Such mixing though has been very detrimental to the progress and growth that we see and experience in the world today, it is not without its negative side.

When mixing of cultures took place, the ethnic, indigenous traditions, customs and practises started fading out slowly. For a traveller, each journey is a quest to know what the place really is, how the people used to live there, what were their traditions and customs and so on. Kerala is a place where traditions, age old customs and practices of the yester years are still found to be in use. The next generation of Keralites, though very much open to the world outside have been mature enough to not let go of their roots. The importance given to the ancient martial art of Kerala, Kalaripayattu, is testimony to this. 

Kalaripayattu, believed to be the forerunner of Chinese martial arts and with a history dating ack to more than 2000 years is the indigenous martial art form of Kerala. Myth has it that Kerala was created when the warrior saint Parasurama threw his axe into the sea, and he established forty-two kalaris in Kerala and taught twenty-one masters kalaripayattu, to ensure that the land he created was safe. This martial art has the basic principles of psychology mixed with physiology guaranteeing a whole some development of the person practising this martial art. 

The teacher of Kalaripayattu is called Gurukkal and it is directly from the Gurukkal through the Gurukula system of education that Kalaripayattu is learned. The mud floor on which Kalaripayattu is practised is called the Kalari and is treated with much piety and respect by all the Kalaripayattu practitioners.

The Kalaripayattu Gurukkals will also be healers, who with their knowledge of all the marmas or the energy points in the human body is able to heal most of the diseases by making energy flow in the body steady. 

There are two schools of Kalaripayattu in Kerala-the southern and the northern. Though with slight changes in the moves, both these are based on the same principles. Modern day medical research and studies have shed light into the benefits Kalaripayattu training can do on a person. Improving concentration, maintaining physical fitness and aiding in anti-ageing are some of the positives of
practicing Kalaripayattu. 

There are many good and authorised Kalaripayattu practitioners across Kerala, but mostly in southern district of Thiruvananthapuram and to the north in Thalasserry.  Watching a Kalaripayattu session can be a new experience for many as the moves and steps used by a skilled practitioner are one of its kind and cannot be enjoyed elsewhere. Kalaripayattu courses can also be had while in Kerala to get a first-hand experience of the martial art. Feel and enjoy God’s Own Country at its best.

Syamnath JG is from Kerala, India and writes for Home of Ayurveda
Images by Author and Wikimedia Commons.

Have you tried your hand at a martial art ever? Do share your experiences with different martial arts in the comments section

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