By Mayank Dixit

Don’t we all sometimes wish to suddenly convert into Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee and break whatever lies in front of us with our single punch or kick? Sometimes we really need to satisfy that martial art hungry soul within us, don’t we? And Kalaripayattu is our savior. It is thought to be one of the oldest forms of martial arts on the planet. There is a mention of this form in the Vedas too!

Now let me tell you why Kalaripayattu is the martial arts form you should be obsessing over.

The word Kalaripayattu is formed from two words, “kalari” and “payattu” which means training ground and fight respectively; it means practicing the art of battlefields. All children above the age of seven in Kerala were taught this fighting form in ancient times. While the British rule saw the degradation of the form but most of the techniques were preserved in the rural areas of Kerala or southern India. In recent time, the form has again gained popularity, almost becoming fashionable.


This fight form is not only about fighting through physical strength but also focuses on understanding the energy system of the body. This form originated as a means for farmers to protect themselves from wild animals. Therefore, a lot of movements and postures were inspired by animals and named after them- the lion, tiger, elephant, wild boar, snake, and crocodile.

Read More: Go On Eat All The Oreos, Self-Control Is Overrated Anyway

The two subtypes of this fighting form are the ones that were taught by either Sage Parasurama or Sage Agastya. Sage Parasurama’s style involved using all kinds of weapons while Sage Agastya’s style retained fighting with hands.

It is said that true scholars of this form can kill or disable a person with a mere touch at their vital points. The unique thing about this form is that on one hand, it draws inspiration from raw power and sinuous strength and on the other, it also involves subtle and smooth movements for self-expression.

There is a close relationship between this form, yoga, and dance. A lot of influence of Kalaripayattu can be seen in Kathakali. Similarly, Kalari Payattu lends heavily to yoga too. This fighting form is now being popularized in theatre, fitness techniques and movies too.

Kalaripayattu is an ancient fight form that has stood the test of time and exists after hundreds of years too. What started as a mere tactic to protect oneself from animals, over centuries became an art form that can be used for healing too. Kalaripayattu is a testimony of our culturally rich country. It is not just a fighting form, it is actually art that is an amalgamation of dance, fighting, and healing.

Image Credits: Google Images

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