South Indian Martial Art
As a martial art it teaches the principles of fighting in a codified system which enables the artist to develop high level of fitness, self confidence, technical ability, maintain a healthy body and mind. The training program is extremely comprehensive and scientifically based. Through the constant practice the student rapidly discovers also another aspect: spiritual growth. The aim of this tradition leads to a non-fighting attitude and always ready to die warrior like state of consciousness.
Traditionally the training is divided into 4 areas:
Maithari – body control exercise.
Kolthari – training with wooden weapons like longstick, shortstick, otta etc.
Ankathari – training with metal and edged weapon like sword, dagger, spear etc.
Verum Kai Prayogam – unarmed combat, using marmas the vital points of the body.
Martial practice, like meditation, is understood to tame and purify the external sthula-sarira, as it quiets and balances the body’s three humours. Eventually the practitioner should begin to discover the suksma sarira most often identified with Kundalini/ Tantric yoga. For martial practitioners this discovery is essential for embodying power (sakti) to be used in combat or for healing.
3 prominent styles in Kalarippayat
The Northern Style
It it a combat-oriented martial art used at the traditional battlefields of India. It is characterised by animal positions that are linked together by large body movements which leads to achieve the so-called “animal spirit”. The practitioner quickly reaches the instinctive quality where focus and action become unified. The use of different weapons is practiced through partner training. Each weapon has its own character, which passes through its handling onto the practitioner.
The Southern Style
Also called Adi Mura or Ati Murai, it is a “stand up open hand” self-defence martial art. The use of weapons happens only during the training in order to practice the ability to oppose. During the practice of the “forms” one is consistently defending or attacking multiple opponents in all four directions. The fight with open hands is a key feature of this style. The procedure is scientific and happens mainly at the intellectual level. As a warm-up exercise Indian clubs are combined with martial gymnastics.
The Central Style
It is the wisdom of Kalarippayat and unites all three styles. However, with much more focus on evading and exploiting the momentum of spiralling motion patterns. Combat avoidance comes first, followed by exploiting the opponent’s power. The style is based on a modular system with very sophisticated footwork and all kinds of arm and leg techniques. An infinite number of combat combinations is possible, which can be worked out depending on the task a prerequisite is a strong imagination. This style is practiced to this day by the Sufis in Kerala.