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Kalaripayattu for the urban Indian

This is a discussion on Kalaripayattu for the urban Indian within the Health | Fitness forums, part of the :- Life Style -: category; Kalaripayattu for the urban Indian Q. Why did you choose to take up Kalaripayattu? A. I started at the age ...

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Old 02-24-2015
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Kalaripayattu for the urban Indian

Q. Why did you choose to take up Kalaripayattu?
A. I started at the age of ten under the instruction of Guru CS Menon, Vallabhatta Kalari Sangam Chavakkad, Thrissur, in Kerala. My father had taken my brother and I to learn self-defence techniques as well as gain self-respect.


Kalaripayattu is a traditional martial art form from Kerala. Weapons are used in this martial art only at an advanced stage

By the end of the last century, it was a custom in our villages to master such martial arts at a young age for self-motivation. However, I found Kalari to be much more than a method of self-defence, and decided to perfect it without failing its traditional values. It’s what has kept me motivated till today.

Q. Kalaripayattu is usually considered a traditional, rural form. How can it fit into modern day lives and benefit an urban person?
A. Kalaripayattu has lived through centuries and is still, and will be, practised in its traditional form. It is now approached, as more than a self defence martial art. Once used as a combat mode in wars, today, it is a source of attention, speed, accuracy, strength, co-ordination, flexibility, memory power, concentration, peer respect, health and immunity.



A person can develop mental discipline, good physical culture, mind concentration, perfect memory, and co-ordination through Kalari practice. Kalaripayattu is today emerging in a new avatar, a source of inspiration for self-expression in dance forms, both traditional and contemporary, in theatre and in fitness. It includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry and healing methods.


Regular practice of Kalaripayattu helps lose 2 to 3 kg weight, in a week

As far as Mumbaikars are concerned, they lead fast and independent lives where they interact with different kinds of people. They work day and night, and need to be equipped to tackle unfavourable situations. Practicing Kalari will give them the confidence to face any difficult situation, physically or mentally.


It takes years of dedicated practice to master this martial art form

When I started practicing Kalari in Mumbai in 2007 barely two students were actively involved. Now, due to overwhelming response to workshops, I am forced to limit the seats on a first-come-first-serve basis. More than 30 students attend every batch. In these five years, I have held many workshops and regular classes in Mumbai alone, and have trained over 600 students in all, including dancers and theatre artistes.

Q. How many levels does it involve? How long does one take to excel in the art?
A. There are three styles of Kalaripayattu–Vadakkan or Northern style, Madhya Kerala or Central style, and Thekkan or Southern style. In the Northern style, in which I am trained, importance is given to the flexibility of the body.

Training methods of Kalaripayattu, which includes the way of lifting legs, body postures, and different kinds of body movements that need greater flexibility, help to systemise the flow of energy in the body. The training is not only a means of self-defence but also a way to become determined and self-disciplined.

Meithari (the body control exercises designed in a special sequence with peculiar combinations), if regularly practiced, gives controlled, flexible and graceful movements of the body along with strength and stamina. Kaalkal (which literally means legs) refers to kicks as well as leg raising exercises (kaal eduppu), which increase flexibility of legs and abdomen.

Kaikuththippayattu is a compound of kai (hand), kuththi (hit) and payattu (exercise). It consists of punches, leg moves, stretches, twists, and jumps performed in a particular sequence. These moves are mainly for the arms and shoulders. It is said that the hand becomes as quick as a sword with the practice of these moves.

Chumattadi teaches how to attack and defend against multiple opponents from all sides. It naturally helps to develop Pranayama or breath control, and enables the practitioner to achieve its highest degree so that one can easily evade the attack of enemies. The essence of the kalari dictum is Meiyyu Kannavuka (the body becomes all eyes). It takes years of learning and practice for one to master Kalaripayattu.
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