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Enchanting Kerala


ISSUE: 264



A martial art with a legacy of more than 3000 years, Kalaripayattu, the traditional martial art form of Kerala is regarded as the oldest and most scientific of all martial arts in the world.

Unlike other martial art forms, the intense training of Kalaripayattu focuses not just on exercise and physical agility, but also on the energy system of the body. It is a perfect sync of both the body and the mind.

Kalaripayattu combines a wide range of combat techniques from empty hand combat to a wide range of weaponry including long staff, short stick, curved stick, sword and shield, spear, mace and flexible sword (urumi). Agility and flexibility are the hallmarks of this legendary art form.

Threatened by the finesse and effectiveness of this martial art, the British during their reign in India went to the extent of forbidding the practice of Kalaripayattu in the country. Following this, the martial art nearly became extinct. It took the lifelong efforts of a few dedicated people like the late C.V. Narayanan Nair, Kottackal Kanaran and the like to revive this legendary art form of God’s Own Country. For Kerala, Kalaripayattu is not just another martial art. Rather, its roots are so deeply entrenched in the cultural fabric of the State that it is impossible to separate the two.

No other martial art form is known to have had such a deep influence and impact on the indigenous performance traditions of a State, as Kalaripayattu has had on the art forms of Kerala. Even Kathakali, the famed dance-drama has adapted Kalaripayattu techniques and massages to train their actors. Kalaripayattu is also used in contemporary performance training.

A blend of yoga, meditation, relaxation and self-defence techniques, Kalaripayattu these days is gaining prominence and popularity. 

  Topics: Kalari   Art   Culture  

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