What is Kalaripayattu?
It is the most ancient martial art and considered to be the mother of all martial arts. It is believed that a budhist saint called Bodhidharaman took it to China where it later transformed to Wushu, Karate and other forms. It is so ancient that it’s roots cannot be traced. The ancient beliefs point to Dhanurveda as its ancient text, some believe it originated from Shiva Tandava, and some even still credit it to gurus like Parasurama, Vasishta and Agasthya. Logicians believe that humans at the time of being tribals observed different animals and developed this form.As he became civil it got evolved to self defence, medical therapy and spiritual practice among Indians. Atma Kalari imparts all aspects of Kalari for the complete physical and mental development of the aspirant.
What does Kalaripayattu teach?
It is divided into four sections. They are Meythari, Kolthari, Angathari and verumkai. The first of them is Meythari, which is for the developement of the physique of the warrior to make him ready for combat. They are fluid movements called Meypayattu that helps to achieve flexibility, strength and stamina. It is a combination of stretching, bending, stamina, athletism and precission in movements.
Kolthari:- It is combat with wooden weapons like short stick, long stick and otta (curved stick) that helps the warrior to use weapons as a part of his physique.
Angathari:- Angathari is combat with metal weapons like spear, knife, sword, flexible sword(Urmi), Mace, Battle axe etc.
Verumkai:- It is advanced combat technique with bare hands. It also includes ‘Marma Vidya’ , which is knowledge of the pressure points in the human body, that can beuse for healing and for inflicting pain.
Who can learn Kalari?
From ancient times Kalari has never differentiated in age, gender or race of an aspirant. The folklore of Kalaripayattu is full of male and female warriors of every caste, creed, race and religion. Atma Kalari is proud to follow this tradition of Kalari, where age, gender, caste and creed is no bar.
KALARIPAYATTU FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
In today’s times crimes on women are increasing on an alarming rate. It is time that we teach the girl child not just academic knowledge but also the ability to overcome fear, pain and in-subordination. Kalari has pioneered this field from ancient times as the history of kalaripayattu is full of female warriors like Unni-archi, thumbol archa etc. It is a tradition in Kalaripayattu to teach boys and girls togethar, while many modern educational systems have still not accepted even co-education that too in different benches. There are no seperate classes for girls and boys and they are taught togethar. The women who have completed their education in kalaripayattu where given the title of ‘Archas’. It shows their importance in this tradition of martial arts. Isha sherwani is a well known exponent of kalaripayattu who has made her mark in bollywood. ‘Meenakshiyamma or Meena Ragavan’ is a very famous lady Kalari exponent and has been teaching Kalaripayattu for a very long time. At the age of 74 she is as good at kalaripayattu as a youngster. In an interview she even said that she has never been afraid to walk even at midnight and is not afriad of anyone. Along with giving strength, stamina and flexibility to the female body, kalaripayattu also gives them a size zero figure which many women dream of and also a gracefull body language and a calm and focussed mind. Atma kalari is proud to be a part of a tradition that has respected and empowered women from ancient times.
KALARIPAYATTU FOR SPORTS
Sports and athletism definitely require more physical exertion that any other art. For all aspriring sportsmen a strong, flexible, agile body is a must. Along with that ,a proper treatment of injuries is also a must of sportsmen. Kalari since it has been moulding and treating warriors for centuries could contribute a lot in this respect, as its knowledge of human body, pressure points, muscle co-ordination etc is unparalleled. The Kalari massage which is done in different methods can help mould the physique of sportsmen by a 7 day, 14 day or 21 day massage course. The person is expected to stay and complete this course which would give him a body as flexible as that of a baby. Also the kalaripayattu training gives any aspirant a very flexible, strong and agile body. Depending on the sport the sportsman is aspiring for, there are various exercises in kalari to develop the particular capability the athlete is trying to build. Atma Kalari is already a pround owner of students who are in the sports field. The fluid and athletic meytharis of Kalari can increase stamina, strength and muscle memory. Kalaripayattu medical system can also help in case of dislocation, physical injuries, muscle pain, back pain, spine problems, ligament issues, uric acid problems and many other physical ailments.
KALARIPAYATTU FOR PERFORMING ARTISTS
Acting profession is the most sort after carreer in todays world. But many people do not understand that body language control is one of the main aspects of acting. The body has to be in complete union with the actors heart. This phenomenan in kalari is known as Meyvazhakkam (The body control), that is body should move the way the heart demands. The meythari’s (or kalari forms) are fluid movements that combine, stretching, strength and stamina to mould the body to listen to your heart. Many actors and acting groups use Kalaripayattu as a part of their trainging regime.
DANCERS AND STAGE PERFORMERS:-
Dancing professionals could also benefit a lot from Kalaripayattu as kalaripayattu is not just the mother of martial arts but also of many dance forms like kudiyattam, kathakali etc. The gruelling regime of Kathakali performances that go on for hours have imbibed their power from Kalaripayattu. People who aspire to be owners of beautiful strong and a supple body with great stamina can benefit a lot from kalaripayattu. Many aspiring Mime groups, dancers, ballet groups also use kalaripayattu as a part of their trainging regime.
KALARIPAYATTU BINDING DIFFERENT SECTS AND RELIGIONS
From times immemorial kalari has distinguished itself from many other art forms by not being partial to its aspirants on the basis of caste, creed, religion and sex. The ancient stories of Kalaripayattu are full of such examples which show many heroes of kalaripayattu from different religions, caste and sects. The stores of Unniarcha and Thumbolarcha is the example of female might in the realm of Kalari. The story of Unniarcha having defeated over a thousand armed rascals who used to torment female travelers is very famous . With her urmi she defeated all of them single handedly and made them beg for forgiveness. The story of Kunchali Marakar, a muslim exponent of Kalaripayattu is again one such example. There has always been many kalari’s in Kerala which belonged to all sects and religion. Namboodiri kalaris, Nair kalaris, Thiya Kalaris, Muslim kalaris, Christian kalaris are example that many kalaris have thrived in kerala which many art forms cannot boast of. Atma Kalari’s proprieter and Guru Mr. Vipin das himself has learned from Mr. Vijayan Gurukul(Vadakkan kalari), Mr. Jammal(Madhya kerala), Mr. Babu Varghese(Kadathanadan) and hence proudly giving knowledge in Kalari which he has acquired from Hindu, Muslim and Christian teachers.
KALARIPAYATTU TRADITION AND CULTURE
The ancient tradition and culture of kalaripayattu has its own set of phylosophy, prayer system and beliefs. Kalaripayattu’s ‘Vaythari’ or verbiages are ancient and has the oldest malayalam ever. They are the methods of doing kalari practice which is said by the guru, during practise to avoid any confusion or contamination that happens to many arts through changing times. The verbiages have been handed from guru to disciple preserving the sanctity of kalari the way it has been over the ages. Kalari has its own belief system. There are prayer altar for Kalari with ‘Sankalpa’ or beleif. The first is the alter of the Mother goddess in the form of Shadadhara or Poothara. It is similar to the concept of kundalini shakthi and six chakras in the human body along the spine that determine the quality of human life. It is believed that the practise of Kalari could improve the flow of energy along spine.The second is Nagathara or alter of the serpent which represents flexibility as there is not other creature in nature than the snake who is the best example of a flexible body. The third is Guruthara, or the alter of the teacher representing all the ancients gurus of Kalari. Also guru represents the one who takes a person from darkness to light. The relationship of guru and disciple is considered to be the most sacred. The fourth is ‘Ganapathythara’ representing lord Ganesha who is the lord of intelligence in hindu mythology. The gound on which Kalari is practised is also an altar considered to be the altar of Brahma and hanuman, i.e the creator and strength.
The practice of Kalari also has applying of oil or Ennathepu and tying of kacha (or cloth) along your waist and hip as an important aspect. The applying of oil helps in increasing the flow of energy across the body. The Kacha or tying the cloth around the hip and waist helps in jumps and decreasing waist size. The ancient aspects of kalaripayattu is one of the important facts it attracts so many tourists even though it is so less represented in the international arena.
KALARIPAYATTU IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
Kalaripayattu is believed to have spread its wings in more than 84 countries. However Kalari, has existed in many parts of India. In Tamil nadu it is know as Shilambatam, Sri Lanka it is known as Angam pori and Kerala obviously as Kalaripayattu. Many weapons of Kalari are there in different parts of India in different names. For example the Sikh martial arts has similar weapon to urmi called Aara, in Andhra it is know as Njanpatta and in and in Tamil nadu it is know as Surul Val. As the memoir stands of Bodhidharman (probably the greatest exponent of kalari), in front of shaolin temple as the founder of shaolin who was an Indian prince and took Kalaripayattu to china where it became kungfu. Many countries revere Bodhidharman as the beginner of martial arts in many countries in many names.
FORMS OF KALARI
Kalaripayattu had many different forms. In the past there were three particular forms that were predominant. They were ‘Pillathangi’, ‘Vatomthirupu’ and ‘Arapukai’ respectively. Each form had its own unique system of practising kalaripayattu. Pillathangi was famed for performing martial arts with the body majorly crounching towards to the ground and going forward and coming backwards . In today’s times there is one Kalari form which have meytharis similar to this, ie the Kadathadan style of Kalari. Vatomthirupu style of kalari is more into gymnstic form of kalari. It gives more importance the artistic value of kalari and demonstration part of kalari. In todays times Madhyakerala and Thekkan kalari has more connection to this form of kalari.The third Arapukai gives more importance to the forms of kalari where leg lifts are used more. Vadakkan form of kalari has more similarity to this form of kalari. However it is mostly the forms which differ from each other, but most of the combat remains the same.