Ancient Martial Arts
The origin of martial arts in India dates back to 3000 years. According to legends, Lord Parasurama who was an avatar of Lord Vishnu is believed to be the founder of martial arts in India. Besides the breathtaking scenic beauty, and rich culture and tradition, Kerala also has a long history of martial arts too.
The ancient art forms of Kerala reflect the heritage, history and culture of Kerala.Martial arts of Kerala are also of historic importance. In ancient times, the disputes between the rulers of different Kingdom were settled by betting in martial arts. The martial arts were taught in Gurukul in olden days. Children at a very young age are sent to the Gurukul for getting trained in various martial art forms.
It takes years for a student to become a well-trained martial art performer. The training involves severe exercises, physical fitness and yoga for both physical and mental strength. Various fighting tactics and defensive methods are also taught by the trainers. Only with years of hard work and immense dedication one can become a perfect martial art performer.
Along with freehand combat, martial art also uses weapons. Bow and arrow, knife, stick sword, a long and flexible string-like weapon called urumi are some of the weapons used in performing martial arts. These ancient art forms are still preserved today with great importance. And the martial arts in Kerala are back on focus and has an integral part in promoting tourism in Kerala. Kalaripayattu, Velakanni, Parisa Kali, Kunderu, Vaaleru, and Njaninmel Kali are some of the popular ancient martial art forms of Kerala.
The traditional martial art form, Kalaripayattu is said to be the "Mother of All Martial Arts". With a legacy of more than 3000 years, this brilliant art form originated in Kerala. Kalaripayattu is the pride of Kerala. The word "Kalari" means the place where it is taught and the word "Payattu" means to practice.
It is proven to be the oldest martial art in existence today and is still being learned, practiced and performed by millions of people in South India. Even hundreds and millions of tourists from all around the globe visit Kerala to learn various art forms of Kerala. The primary aim of Kalaripayattu is the perfect sync of both the mind and body. Kalaripayattu is a very complicated art form to learn which requires special skills like immense concentration and attention.
Kalaripayattu has nearly 7 levels in which one will learn to fight both with and without hand-held weapons. In the basic level, the aspirant achieves mastery over his body movements and balance using unarmed techniques. The student is trained to attain the agility, flexibility, and coordination of body movements in the intermediate level. Training with weapons constitutes the advanced level.
The last level is the Instructor Level which involves a proficiency in the usage of sword, spear, shield, and lastly urumi or the spring sword. Using weapons is the most dangerous part of Kalaripayattu. Kalaripayattu is a perfect blend of meditation, yoga, relaxation and self-defence techniques and has gained immense prominence and popularity these days.
This brilliant art form has now become a source of inspiration for self-expression in contemporary dance forms, fitness techniques, theatre, and movies too. Kambadi Kali, Velakali, Poorakkali, Duffmuttu, Sanghakkali, Padayani, Margam Kali etc are some of the art forms of Kerala that contains movements similar to this martial art. Kadathanadan Kalari, Thekkady, Kerala Kathakali Centre, Kochi, Punarjani Traditional Village, Munnar, Mudra Cultural Centre, Thekkady, Kalari Kshethra, Munnar, Greenix Village, Kochi, are some of the important centres in Kerala where you can watch the traditional Kalaripayattu show.