Kalaripayattu is one of the most stunning legacies of Kerala. This is a practice that originated over six thousand years ago in Kerala, South India. Kalari means combat zone/ battleground and payattu comes from payattuka meaning to “exercise/ fight. Kalaripayattu is the oldest, most scientific type of martial art form and a way of life consisting of five interrelated parts – fighting, healing (Ayurveda), astrology, meditation and spiritual practice, none of which can develop or exist in isolation of the others.
The origin of Kalaripayattu is traditionally attributed to the gods. Introduced by Lord Vishnu’s incarnation Parsurama, Kalari, as the martial art blends the basic principles of psychology and physiology with the purpose of developing the person as a whole. Though this claim might just be a little fanciful, there’s no doubt that the kalaripayattu has been around for a few thousand years.
Forming an essential part of the region’s socio-political system, Kalaripayattu was also used as a fighting method of medieval Kerala’s warrior caste with intense training in physical discipline, armed and unarmed combat. According to early scriptures, it spread beyond India in the 5th or 6th Century AD, when a wandering Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma, introduced it to his Chinese brethren, laying the foundation for Asian martial arts. Karate and Shaolin Kung Fu are but two of the forms that evolved from it.
It is claimed that skilled Kalaripayattu warriors can kill or disable their opponents merely by touching the correct marmam (vital point). Sage Sushruta, one of the famous Indian Ayurvedic medical practitioner who lived in 6th century BC identified and defined marma points of the human body in his book Sushruta Samhita. Nevertheless, the objective of Kalaripayattu is not the attainment of supremacy through the ability to kill or cure; but rather self-perfection or self-improvement, considered as a reward in and of itself, yet without the awards, belts or other forms of credit that are presented in the other martial arts. Kalaripayattu is an absolute example of the human spirit in its purest form.
Kalaripyattu experienced a period of decline during the British colonial rule in the 19th century. The British banned kalaripayattu for fear of anti-colonial sentiment and rebellion, undoubtedly fearing its effectiveness. But it then went secretive, resurfacing in the early part of twentieth century as part of a rediscovery of traditional arts in South India.
This ancient tradition is still practiced today and the art form is going through resurgence, and there are again some high quality schools in Kerala. However, many of the instructors believe that a few section of the body of Kalaripayattu has been lost forever. The tradition is passed down from guru to student, with its code of ethics and distinct style together with Kerala’s unique culture, history and geography. Kalaripayattu’s actual movements and techniques originated from observing the habits of eight “warrior” animals that inhabited the region: Gajja Vadivu(Elephant posture), Ashwa Vadivu(Horse posture), Simha Vadivu (Lion posture), Sarpa Vadivu (Snake posture), Matsya Vadivu (Fish posture), Varaha Vadivu (Wild boar posture), Kukuda Vadivu (Rooster posture) and Marjara Vadivu(Cat posture)
Though the deadliest fighting system in the world and mother of all martial arts, this is also the most ethical, as its wisdom was and remain stringently intended for self-defence and healing, a reminder of the fact that with strength and knowledge comes responsibility. Today, the practice of Kalarippayattu has become more about how to harness one’s mind-body powers with the aim of crafting an ideal lifestyle than how to prepare for mortal combat. Until now, today’s greatest masters still expect students to live by its ascetic dictates and moral code, resisting those temptations of modern life that corrupt the soul, such as alcohol and drugs.
So whether you're a beginner who wants to try something a bit off-beat and lose weight with exercises or a fitness junkie looking for a new fix, why not try this kalaripayattu training in Kochi?
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