Kalari payattu is considered as the Veda of Defence. Kalari payattu is one of the oldest fighting systems in existence.
In Tamil, kalari is known by the umbrella terms kaḷarik kalai ( art of the battle ground ) or taṟkāppuk kalai ( art of selfe defence )
Legend has it that Lord Siva taught this art form to his son Lord Murugan and Lord Murugan taught this art to the sage Agastya, foremost of the Siddhar’s, during the times of Sangam Literature. He transferred the knowledge of this art to other Siddhar’s and he also wrote treatises on this art in Tamil.
Written evidence of martial arts in Southern India dates back to the Tamil Sangam literature of about the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD.
The Akananuru and Purananuru describe the use of spears, swords, shields, bows and silambam in the Sangam era.
Each warrior in the Sangam era received regular military training in target practice and horse riding
References to “Silappadikkaram” in Sangam literature date back to the 2nd century. This referred to the silambam staff which was in great demand with foreign visitors
The British colonial government banned kalaripayat in 1804 in response to a series of revolts. Silambam was also banned and became more common in the Malay Peninsula than its native Tamil Nadu.
The resurgence of public interest in kalaripayat began in the 1920s in Tallasherry as part of a wave of rediscovery of the traditional arts throughout south India which characterized the growing reaction against British colonial rule.
Kalari word meaning:
Kalari is considered as the arena where a traditional physio-psychological discipline is practiced which helps to generate physical, mental and spiritual benefits. The Kalari legacy is also considered as a scientific system of physical-culture training beneficial to the modern sportsman and physical culturist
Kuttu varisai is a part ok kalaripayattu which was popular in tamil nadu. In Kuttu Varisai the whole body is used to create power., gymnastic, stretching (asanas), and breathing exercises (pranayamas) are conducted before training. It is also said that Bodhidharma (the founder of ZEN buddhism) was very good at this art. he observed fights between monkeys, snakes and other animals in his travelling way towards Nepal, Tibet and China. Than he implemented this to kuttu varisai and gave a start to the Chinese Martial Art which we now call as “Kung Fu”. Kuttu Varisai is one of the ancient arts of India.
Different styles or traditions of kalari:
Mainly there are three traditions basing on the place.
- TEKKAN (southern style)
- VADAKAN ( northern style )
- MADYA KERALAM ( middle style )
Steps of learning:
- Meai thari (body exercises)
- Kol taari ( blunt weapons/sticks)
- Anga taari (sharp weapons )
- Verum kai ( bare hands )
- Marma kai ( vital points )
- Kalari chikitsa
- Yudhistira vijayam ( spiritual )