A Way Of Life

Kalaripayattu (sometimes shortened as Kalari) is an Indian martial art and fighting system that originated in kerala. Some practitioners claim that it’s the oldest martial art in existence, with its origin dating back to the 3rd century BC. Early written evidence of martial arts is found in Dhanurveda a part of Atharvaveda and Rig Veda and also in Sangam about Kalarippayattu in the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD. 

Kalari is a Martial art which generally evokes the image of violence. Elements from the yoga sutras of Patanjali, as well as finger movements in the Nata dances were incorporated into the fighting arts. Northern style Kalaripayattu is based on elegant and flexible movements, evasions, jumps and weapons training make use of internal and external concepts.

Marmashastram stresses on the knowledge of Marmam(vital point) and is also used for Marma treatment (marmachikitsa).  It is certain that India’s early martial artists knew about and practiced attacking or defending vital points. Sushruta (c. 6th century BC) identified and defined 107 vital points of the human body in his Sushruta Samhita. Of these 107 points, 64 were classified as being lethal if properly struck with a fist or stick. Sushruta’s work formed the basis of the medical discipline ayurveda which was taught alongside various Indian martial arts that had an emphasis on vital points, such as Varma Kalai and Marma Adi. As a result of learning about the human body, Indian martial artists became knowledgeable in the field of traditional medicine and massage.

Kalaripayattu teachers often provide massages (Uzhichil) with medicinal oils to their students in order to increase their physical flexibility or to treat muscle injuries encountered during practice. Such massages are generally termed Thirumal and the unique massage given to increase flexibility is known as Katcha Thirumal.  

It is said to be as sophisticated as the Uzhichil treatment of ayurveda. Kalaripayattu has borrowed extensively from Ayurveda and equally lends to it. It is very popular in Northern Kerala. Kalaripayattu masters are not only experts in martial arts but also highly skilled in sports injury treatment and rehabilitation.