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Kalaripayattu is an ancient Indian martial art that originated in the southern state of Kerala. It is considered one of the oldest fighting systems in existence and is often considered the predecessor of many Asian wars.
The origins of Kalaripayattu can be traced back to ancient Indian archery warfare more than 3,000 years ago. The name "Kalaripayattu" comes from two Malayalam words: "Kalari" meaning battlefield and "Payattu" meaning battle or action.
Training at Kalaripayattu takes place in a specially constructed theater called "Kalari". A rectangular pit filled with soil a few feet deep is filled with a chemical mixture.
Kalaripayattu covers a wide range of techniques including striking, kicks, grappling, weapons and healing techniques. The methods are basically divided into two categories: "meithari" (works done in a straight line) and "kolthari" (free flow technique).
Kalaripayattu incorporates a variety of traditional weapons such as swords, shields, spears, daggers, urumi and other soft weapons.
There are different styles of Kalaripayattu, and the choice of style often depends on the region and the guru (teacher) imparting the training. Some prominent styles include the Northern style (Vadakkan), the Southern style (Thekkan), and the Central style (Madhya).
Kalaripayattu is traditionally passed down through the guru-shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition). Students undergo rigorous training and gradually progress through different levels or stages.
Practicing Kalaripayattu offers various physical and mental benefits, including increased strength, flexibility, agility, focus, and discipline.
Kalaripayattu is not only a martial art but also a cultural and traditional form of expression. It is often performed during festivals and cultural events in Kerala.
Kalaripayattu has gained international recognition, and its techniques have been showcased in Indian cinema, especially in the South Indian film industry.
Learning Kalaripayattu requires dedication and discipline. The advanced techniques, especially with weapons like the urumi, pose significant challenges and require meticulous training.
Kalaripayattu stands as a testament to India's rich martial heritage, and its influence can be seen in various martial arts around the world. It continues to be practiced as a form of self-defense, physical fitness, and cultural preservation.