Kalaripayattu Training

Derived from the great indian scriptures of Dhanurveda, kalarippayattu is said to be the mother of all asian martial arts and is still nowadays taught traditionnally in its home land of Kerala, a state of south India.

The term of Kalaripayattu designates the particular martial training taking place inside a kalari or place of military practice. A kalari is a very unique kind of building with specific and symbolic architecture. Considered a temple in its own right, it holds different deities, the main one (Shiva-Shakti) being represented in the South-West corner where the puttara stands, a shrine for flower offerings and daily worship. Each kalari is run by a Gurukkal who is not only a master of martial arts, but also a healer, expert in kalari chikitsa – a theraputic system based on a knowledge of the body’s vital spots, or marmas.

A student should ideally start his learning when reaching seven or eight years old. This early start should give him or her a chance to develop a harmonious body and mind. Indeed, Kalaripayattu is a very complete form of practice requiring balance, flexibility, strength, endurance, and a high level of concentration. After a ritual initiation, the student is introduced to meythari or ‘body exercises’, the first of the three parts of the Kalaripayattu system. Only when the student reaches the proper level of control of his body will he be introduced to wooden weapon training, or ‘kolthari’, and even later on to ‘ankarthari’ – fighting with metallic weapons.

While Kalaripayattu remains a highly effective and deadly martial art practice, which teaches means of both attack and defence, today the emphasis is placed mostly on body awarness to bring about a total control of oneself. Thus this martial one could be said to be more a means of self knowledge than one of pure self defence.

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