Verumkai is extremely important in Kalaripayattu. Literally meaning “bare hands,” Verumkai trains a person to use his own body as a weapon both to defend himself against an armed or unarmed adversary, and to overpower him physically. Thus, for the most obvious reasons, mastery in Verumkai boosts the self-confidence of the individual.
Certain palm leaf manuscripts that contain instructions about Verumkai have been known to insist that it should be used only for self-defence and never for attack. Slow moves have no place in Verumkai because they offer no protection. The student is trained to side-step for cover, cross his hands against his chest to protect his vital organs, use his fingers to execute certain specific grasps that will inflict pain on the enemy, break his organs or trip him, use the side of his hand to hit the marmas on the neck and the ribs, use the elbow and the knee to punch the chest or ribs of the attacker, kick with his legs and feet and so on. While the trick is to defend and attack simultaneously, Verumkai also teaches the student how to escape the clutches of the enemy and flee.