Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kalarippayattu - Kalari - Indian Martila Arts

Kalarippayattu is the ancient Indian art of war, revived and strong even to these days. The martial art is performed in Kalari and has the combat art of hand and feet, and with the weapons. Below are some videos from you tube.

In the modern Martial Arts this is the one which amazes me most and which has impressed me the most. More than the arts i have practiced and popular arts like Karate and commercialized combat styles like Muay thai, kick boxing, MMA, boxing. Simply because it demands more than just physical practice, requires perhaps the most dedication not just in the practice of techniques but also other aspects like massage with therapeutic oils, prayers, meditation and more.

Below posted by BalB , he says about the video : 7 minutes of some amazing Martial Arts by my friends in Kerala, South India. It's from a very, very rough video - remember those? filmed by one camera at a time, so picture quality is rough. But you should be able to geta feel for the martial art form itself.

For the video clip below
mmanoba has lots to say : Kalari is a very tiny and surviving fragment of ancient Indian martial art called 'Varma Kalai'. Varma is the mother of all martial arts which spread across Asia through Hinduism and Buddhism.

1) Similarities could be found in Chinese, Tibetan, Sri Lankan, etc. dance, music, martial arts with Indian arts. E.g. Therukootthu, Kathakali (flamboyant facial make-ups), Kerala Chenda drums, the rhythm all are adopted in China, Tibet, Japan and other south-eastern countries in the form of Lion, Dragon dances' flamboyant decorations, drums, rhythm, etc.
2) Similarities could be found between martial arts and Mudras (symbolic gestures) of yoga & Indian classical dances, and their movements. Probably dance, martial arts and yoga all might have evolved at the same time along with music, meditation, etc. They share the common property of being melodic.

There are several categories in Varma: NOkku (vision) Varmam, Thattu Varmam (deals with treatments and defense based on vital points), Chandra (moon) Varmam, Surya (sun) Varmam, usage of weapons on vital points, Varma treatments for animals, etc. In local tongue often Varma is called as "Marma", which may not be correct. The word "Varma" doesn't have a Sanskrit origin as in "Varn(m)a - color". Varumam in Tamil means vital points (there are other meanings too).

These techniques are extensively developed by Siddhas (well known for their Ayurvedic and alchemy works), who dwelt in mountains of South India, especially Tamil Nadu. Even today, there are legends around Courtralam, Suruli, Pazhani and Nilgiri hills, which speak about surviving Siddhas till date, who have eventually achieved longevity through their knowledge in Ayurveda, alchemy, meditation, etc.

Sadly, many of these techniques are lost due to the Guru's fear of misuse on co-species (as we humans are notorious for turning any scientific works, bar none, into weapons of destruction), and thus they refused to transfer the knowledge to others, including to their own descendants. This happened particularly, when Buddhism turned into political movement and the Buddhists started to learn these arts for their political gains.

However tiny fragments of Varma survived in the form of literature, mainly Tamil & Malayalam, and got the attention of Gurus in Kerala, a small state in south India, arround ~15-17th centuries, and became Kalarippayattu. This famous traditional training of Kalari of Kerala, is always done inside the Kalari (literally, threshing floor or battlefield), which is a specially constructed practice area. Payattu means 'exercise in arms or practice'.

A few centuries back in Kerala, quarrels between local kings were resolved by fixing an Ankam (war), a duel to the death, between two Ankachekavars (kalari fighters), each ruler being represented by one Ankachekavar. The ruler represented by the surviving Ankachekavar was considered the winner

Below :
A documentary shot by the Discovery Channel in the 90s. It shows Guru Balachandran Nair's Kalari, his Kalaripayattu students, and his school in Trivandrum, Kerala.

Part 1

Part 2

below four video clips :
Kalaripayattu - The Orient's treasure trove, a gift to the modern world and the mother of all martial arts. Legend traces the 3000-year-old art form to Sage Parasurama- the master of all martial art forms and credited to be the re-claimer of Kerala from the Arabian Sea. Kalaripayattu originated in ancient South India. Kung- fu, popularized by the monks of the Shoaling Temple traces its ancestry to Bodhi Dharma - an Indian Buddhist monk and Kalaripayattu master.

Crafted in ancient South India drawing inspiration from the raw power and sinuous strength of the majestic animal forms - Lion, Tiger, Elephant, Wild Boar, Snake, and Crocodile ........ Kalaripayattu laid down the combat code of the Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas. Shrouded in deep mystery and mists of secrecy Kalaripayattu was taught by the masters in total isolation, away from prying eyes.

Following the collapse of the princely states and the advent of free India - Kalaripayattu has lost its significance as a mortal combat code. 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.

India Martial art - Kalaripayattu Part-01

India Martial art - Kalaripayattu Part-02

India Martial art - Kalaripayattu Part-03

India Martial art - Kalaripayattu Part-04 END

visit you tube : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=GRTYgJ6I6zM&feature=user as Embedding disabled by request

Some comments form the you tube

kalari. is freaking. amazing. live weapons?! that's alot of bravery and calmness of mind. amazing.

* Thanks 4 posting this one! Just Love Kalari..best martial art on Earth!We Hindus are blessed with great gurus who are able to pass this great artdown to us. Jai Hind! Jai Bhavani!

* on 3,20 min they said that this exercise is unique to kalary, nis not true, some kung fu like chin na exist a very similar exercise os kinf of push ups jumping

reply : It was an Indian Budhist monk "Bodhidharman" who took Kalari to China... he was the one who started the Shaolin temple ! Pls google- Shaolin Kungfu!

* UFC is by no means real, get a clue. Even with the best endurance in the world, any of those fights would end prematurely should dangerous strikes and holds be allowed again in there.

* in the video game Tekken 6 (comes out in 2007)

Zafina, a new female character from india, will fight using


She frickin amazing

* If you check it out, Kerali focuses on extreme flexibility, strength, and speed. To be able to defend and go back on the offensive within a very short time span. Its pretty cool.

* I'm pretty sure that the bendy sword is rather unique to kalaripayattu. as for blocking, the only real way to do it is with a shield. If you use a weapon, it'll just wrap around it and strike you like that.

* I think European and the Middle East had a separate branch of fighting based from Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Where as Bodhidharma from India went to the monks of China and taught them how to smoke ganja, meditate, and fight (kalaripatattu to kung fu).....because kung fu styles could be taught to the people which is a custom Indians passed to China who only trained the elites.

* Please help!
Where do yo have this video from? I own a book which i got years ago where exactly this interview with the indian master is featured. I would really like to know the name of the film or see more of it!

* This is one of the most primitive forms of self defence and attack known to mankind. Kalaripayattu masters know the weakest points on a human body and they realise that a quick dab on one of those points can either dibilitate the opponent or kill them. Itseems it takes under 20secs for a Kalaripayattu master to paralyse his opponent by tapping a specific point on the body and only he or someone who knows Kalri points well can release it!!! Isnt that amazing??

* Really good history of the Art.
The female fighter is very good.
The fight sequences are incredible

* i agree, the combatants are fighting and blocking at full speed without knowing where the next attack is coming from

i wanna learn

* Hindu pushups and Hindu squats. When i started wrestling in north america our coach said that too many people train like body builders and power lifters with the weights so mainly our coach thats all he wanted us to do with hindu pushups, hindu squats and bridging exercises. Even many russian wrestler abandone the weight rooms.

* Tamils were given Kalari by Parasuram. Then a Tamil gave it to the Chinese.

* No, there aren't. And there wont be. There's a few videos showing their training which, if you look closely , aren't preplanned. It just looks that way from the sheer speed of their reflexes.
But no, there is not and hopefully never will be a video of someone using Kalari against a true opponent.

* Bullshit, theyre the mother to no martial arts. I've studied Chinese, japanese, vietnamese, thai, malaysian, korean, plains, south american, hawaiian, german, french, greek, russian, british, angolan, nigerian martial arts theyre all different from eachother the only ones that could compare to indian martial arts are other miditian arts such as persian, egyptian, arabian, etc.

* Bodhidarma also introduced the healing art of Varma Cuttiram and herbal medicines from the Tamil country which evolved into Acupuncture, Tai Chi Chuan, Qi Gong, and Chinese medicine of today.

* plus, saying that Muay Thai works and TKD does not contradicts your other point where you said all martial arts are the same, they just have different names

* kalaripayattu is awesome.



  1. Japan's Emperor Akihito and other members of the royal family are unlikely to attend the Beijing Olympics amid concerns here about China's crackdown in Tibet and other issues, a report said Wednesday.

    The Japanese government thinks it is not a good time for a rare royal visit because of the unrest in Tibet, a recent health scare over Chinese-made "gyoza" dumplings and a spat over disputed gas fields, the Sankei daily said.

    "We were planning not to ask royals to go even before the gyoza incident (surfaced in January). It is all the more true now that the Tibetan unrest occurred," it quoted an unnamed government official as saying.

    Japanese authorities have confirmed at least 10 people suffered pesticide poisoning after eating tainted dumplings imported from China.

    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao invited Emperor Akihito and other royals to the opening ceremony of the August Olympics when he visited Japan last year.

    The emperor told Wen then that the government decides on the royal family's foreign trips, a palace spokesman said.

    The foreign ministry said no formal decision had been made.

    "Nothing has been decided regarding the attendance of dignitaries," a ministry official said.

    The last trip to China by members of Japan's imperial household was a landmark visit by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in 1992.

    China remains deeply resentful over Japan's brutal occupation from 1931 to 1945, an era in which the Japanese revered Akihito's father Hirohito as a demigod.

    The two countries have recently worked to mend ties, which were strained by former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to a war shrine in Tokyo, which Beijing regards as a symbol of Japan's militarist past.

    Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to visit Japan in the coming months.


  2. Kalaripayattu may have been a martial art couple of hundred years ago but what remains today is not really a complete form. Most of those so called gurus are larger than life and don't possess the full skill set their ancients used to. What really remained of that art is the massage and voodoo medicine. I have been to India to check it out. It's image is over blown for the sake of national pride and commercialization

  3. taekwondo yes..martial art oke...