Kalaripayattu is a martial art originated in India.It is believed that this is the oldest form of martial arts and Parashurama (avatar of Lord Vishnu) is the founder of this martial art.It was initially rehearsed in northern and focal parts of Kerala and southern parts of Tamilnadu.”Kalari ” means “battlefield” and “payattu” means “fight”.
Kalaripayatu techniques are a combination of “steps” and “postures”.Kalaripayatu postures are inspired from attack positions of different animals.These postures are called “vadivus”.Ancient masters gave 8 basic poses called “Ashtavadivu”.
“Simham”-Lion “Gaja”-Elephant “Varaha”-Wild Boar “Kukkuda” – Cock
“Marjara” – Cat “Sarpam” – Snake “Mayura”-Peacock ” Haya”-Horse
“Vatta Chuvatu” -Circular steps “Ottakkal Chuvatu”-Single-leg steps
“Aakka Chuvatu”-Inside steps “Neekka Chuvatu”-Moving steps “Kon Chuvatu”-Corner steps.
There are three different styles of Kalaripayattu they are northern,central and southern kalaripayattu distinguished by the regions :
Northern Kalaripayattu– It is practiced mainly in North Malabar.It mainly focuses on the fight with weapons than bare hands.Parashurama is believed to be the founder of this style.This style is distinguished by “Meipayattu(exercise with the body)” designed to achieve peak flexibility and fitness of the body including full body oil massage .
Southern kalaripayattu:The southern style, was practiced largely by the Nairs and Nadars Southern Style Kalari specifically deals with Chuvadu Murai(self-protecting method), Ati Murai (the ‘law of hitting’-bare hand techniques),Aayutha Murai(Usage of wood and iron weapons), marma (pressure points).
Central kalaripayattu:It is practiced mainly in the Central and Northern parts of Kerala.central style is about speed and strength of lower body .It focuses on Chuvadu which is a position of the feet .Once it is mastered by student then students practice advanced fights using weapons.
This martial art was more in practice during 13th and 14th centuries.The form was extensively used in the battle field by kings of Cholas during the period of war between the Chera and Chola dynasties.The art was declining during 19th centuries due to British rule and negligence but south Indian regions kept this art alive.
The interest in kalarippayattu again grew since last few decades.
Movies made significant contribution to rising of interests in this martial art such as Ondanondu Kaladalli (Kannada),The stunts scenes involving kalarippayattu was critically acclaimed.Other films like Ashoka(Hindi),The Myth,Indian involved the stunts involving Kalari skills
Recent Indian movies Commando,Baaghi ,Veeram and Rangitaranga involved fights and stunts where Kalari skills were used.So the popularity of kalari has increased in India and youth are attracted to this ancient martial art .Indian youth should practice and preserve this ancient martial art.