No Friday evening goes without a debate at home,
“What movie should we watch— search, selection & rejection goes for almost an hour and sometimes we both don’t agree on anything and skip movie night. I blame it on Netflix, Amazon prime databases….it was easier for my parents to just watch one Sunday Movie in DD.
Obviously many days I don’t win this movie battle and end up watching all type of action movies, War & Wild Western Cow Boy movies.
But before I knew it, I built an inclination towards good action movies. Though I can’t stand blood gushing crime scenes nor I can’t really watch a boxing or wrestling combat.
Few years back I happened to hear a kids conversation…
Kid 1: Why is Germans always the bad guys in all war movies, and American the good guys?
Kid 2: That is because you are watching the movie in US, Go to Germany and you will see Americans as bad guy
And the kids were convinced.
There is a very deep meaning attached to this discussion – Fighting is always justified depending on which side you favor to , So is history of wars around the world. At some point, You tend to decide who is a brutal (Villain) and who is fighting to save their country and people (Apparently the hero) though warfare means ‘killing on either side’.
Anyways, the Instinct to fight or kill has been always there in every living being – fight to survive, fights to show one’s power & strength, fights to amuse people and so on.
Well, you must be wondering why I am bringing this topic of fighting/ combating and justifying both sides.
Actually these action movies/stories could have slowly changed my perception,
“What looked like unforgivable barbaric & heinous act , sometimes seems to be a more of self-defense mechanism” And pushed me further to pick up an interest towards this martial art – “Kalaripayattu”
Today morning I came back from my Kalaripayattu class with a big swelling in my ankle and a bump in my head. It does happen if I am not fast enough to protect myself in a duel, or if my mind and body didn’t sync up together.
Kalaripayattu is one of the ancient Indian martial art practiced in the south. Almost a decade of my fitness voyage finally led me to this, when I got bored with my repetitive schedules in my other routines. I am now totally in love with this art though I feel I should have started this when I was much younger and flexible or should have listened to the kids conversation earlier. 🙂
Kalaripayattu (Kalari – Battlefield & Payattu – fight or exercise) is a combination of Yogic perfection of postures & strength and is practiced in an enclosure called “Kalari”.
Kalari is a not just a warfare technique but a much disciplined lifestyle, it is still taught in many places in “Guru Kula style”.
The various postures in Kalari are based on animal movements, hence it is believed to have developed in the jungles when hunters observed the fighting techniques of various animals. It is known for its high-flying acrobatics, fluid water like movements, elements of yoga tradition, Finger movements as in dance, weaponry and the art of using it. It is training the reflexes to quickly act in defense after acquiring necessary skills.
Following are some form of practices,
Meipayattu – Muscle strengthening & body conditioning exercises which is choreographed to use maximum muscles and joints with different movements & postures.
Kolthari payattu – Use of wooden weapons (long canes, Short staffs etc.)
Ankathari payattu – This includes sharp and more dangerous weapons like sword, dagger, spear, shield, flexible sword etc.
Verumkai – Barehanded defense and attacks
The inherent beauty of this art form lies in the harmonious collaboration of art, science and medicine. It does not just teach to fight , but also focusses on the science behind the 108 vital body points (Marmam), massage techniques ( relaxation) , Ayurvedic healing to the injury caused during combat.
It is difficult to find detailed books or related articles about this and is only taught to promising and level-headed people to prevent any misuse of the techniques. These methods can irreversibly disable or kill the opponent just by a mere touch on the opponent’s Marmam point.
Well, Kalaripayattu declined during the Portugal and British invasion and was in fact banned for almost a century and after Indian Independence, the revival gave a new avatar to Kalaripayattu.
It is still not very popular like Kungfu, Judo or Karate in India, but as many ancient art resurrections in the modern days, it is slowly finding a place in fitness routines.
People ask me what is the point of learning such a tough art? Where do you see yourself in furture? I see you end up hurting yourselves & still you want to try this? Do you think you can win on a street fight? Can you defend yourself ? Have you ever tried your techniques on someone?
I don’t know if I can fight with someone on the road for sure, but what I do know is I have built up my stamina and balance pretty well, and my agility and flexibility has definitely improved, tremendous increase in my endurance & focus. And the dedication which I am learning everyday from my coach.
Well, sometimes when I miss a momentary focus in duel especially with wooden weapons, it is a painful attack. But it does prepare me for a quick reflex and thereby help me to be aware of my surrounding all the time.
It is a wholesome package of mind and body, well it started as a just a fitness regime, but now I am proud to learn this authentic art knowing the nuances and understanding the application techniques. I have a long way to go , as it is not just learning the postures, perfection is the key, but it also helps me to understand the limitations of my body and encourages me to push my limits.
I strongly recommend, to learn this forgotten art, which will help you improve your mind and body synergy, and also take care of your muscle strengthening and body flexibility.
Happy Combating !!