Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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Martial Arts of Kerala

The history and culture of Kerala is one of the richest in the whole of India. 
It runs down ages and manifests into various forms and kinds. It is an integral part of the social life of the people and forms the basis of their identity. The temples, the places, people and their rituals and customs, their belief and behaviour are fully soaked in their tradition. The culture of Kerala manifests in the form of festivals, celebrations, arts and crafts, songs and music, dances etc. People observe and perform them with great dedication and enthusiasm. Their dedication and commitment to their culture can be clearly seen in the way their celebrate their festivals. Not only that, it’s a spectacle to see the way their perform their dances and musical shows. Among the many forms of their culture the Martial arts of Kerala are unique, ancient and spectacular.

Some of the different forms of martial arts of Kerala are Kalaripayattu, Parisa Kali, Velakanni, Valeru, Kunderu and Njaninmel Kali. The training centres for these art forms were based on the ancient education system of Gurukul. 

Importance is given not only to the physical development of the pupil, but his/her all round development. A pupil is admitted at a very young age so that they can perfect mastery over the art. 

The training goes on for many years and the Guru or the teacher helps in the all round development of the child, including teaching them ayurveda, the science of eternal good health and yoga and meditation. Martial arts not only help an individual become strong, physically and mentally but also are a very useful means of self defence. It gives them confidence to face the challenges of the world and achieve their goals in life. It makes life much simpler and easier, and also meaningful.

Among the many forms of martial arts in Kerala, Kalaripayattu is considered as one of the oldest forms of martial arts, not only in Kerala, but the whole world. The origin of this art form can be traced back to the northern part of the state and in local language it means ‘the fighting art of Kalari’. 

Kalari was a place in ancient Kerala where different subjects like medicine, philosophy, architecture, astrology, geometry, yoga, ayurveda was taught. Literally the word Kalari means battlefield and payat means training in the art of combat.


Martial arts were the preferred form of training for all the military and army of the ancient kings and rulers of Kerala. This speaks volumes about the significance of this art, as the rulers trusted the security and thus the fate of their kingdom to it. This art involves the use of different kinds of arms like knife, bow and arrow, stick , sword etc. 
The pupils are taught to master over these weapons and use them strategically in the fight. Performing martial arts is also common during various festivals of the state, including festivals of the temple and other special occasions.
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