Kalaripayattu literally means “training ground-exercise” and the term “Kalari” can be used both to describe the practice, as well as the room in which it is practiced. Kalarippayattu is the only form of the most ancient traditional systems of physical, culture, self-defence and martial techniques still in existence. Among the many exciting experiences that Kerala has to offer, none is more unique than kalaripayattu. Kalari payat includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry and healing methods. It combines the dynamic skills of attack / defence and the power of the secret knowledge of the body, with a scientific system of healing and therapy based on allied disciplines like Ayurveda.
|Kalaripayattu prefomed by two people|
Kalaripayattu is possibly the most historic martial art in the globe. The practice of Kalaripayattu is said to originate from the Dhanur Vedic texts encompassing all fighting arts and described by the Vishnu Purana as one of the eighteen traditional branches of knowledge. The origin of Kalaripayattu is nonetheless in the midst of obscurity. Classic Kalari masters attribute mythological stories and legends to the origin of the art. Historically, the art can be traced to the Middle Ages, or ca. the 11th to 12th century, more specifically to the account by historian Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai who attribtues the birth of kalari payat to an extended period of warfare between the Tamil Kingdoms Cheras and the Cholas in the 11th century AD. Kalaris are the schools where training in this martial art form is imparted by Gurukals or masters
|Group of people practicing Kalaripayattu|
Kalaris were primarily of two types, the first being smaller known as ‘CheruKalari’ (cheru means small) or KuzhiKalari (kuzhi means the portions formed by caving in the earth) and the second one known as ‘AnkaKalari’ (Ankam means fight). It is called KuzhiKalari because the floor of the Kalari is built at a level lower than the surrounding land by removing soil to achieve the necessary depth. CheruKalari or KuzhiKalari was built for the purpose of impailing physical and weapon training. It was in this Kalari that systematic training in scientific exercises in Kalarippayattu was imparted. Remnants of such ancient ‘Kalaris’ are seen at some places in Kerala even now and the similarity in size and shape they bear to each other is ample proof for the existence of this type of Kalaris throughout the region from very ancient days
Kalaripayattu has clearly affected the evolution of a number of of Kerala’s theatre and dance kinds, most prominently Kathakali and Theyyam. Kathakali practitioners are required to prepare below Kalari masters to create several attributes this sort of as fitness, stamina, and martial movements enacted in their performances. Kalari practitioners claim that Bodhi Dharma, a Buddhist monk who was accountable for training the Shaolin monks in kung-fu, was in fact a Kalari master.
In many places in Kerala, especially North Kerala, kalaripayattu is going through a vigorous revival. Now learned for its traditional values and fitness quotient, and more as a performing art than a fighting technique, the art form is gaining popularity all over Kerala. It is a stimulating, thrilling and aesthetic experience for the senses- a heady mix of supple movements and brisk action- guaranteed to leave the viewer enthralled. In a Phoenix-like resurrection, Kalaripayattu is today emerging in a new avatar – an ancient art form – a source of inspiration for self-expression in dance forms – both traditional and contemporary, in theatre, in fitness and in movies too.