The Oldest Martial Art on Earth
In no other system of martial arts, can you find a similar combination of exercises as in Kalaripayattu. It is this series of scientifically arranged exercises used for achieving maximum physical agility that makes Kalaripayattu unique amongst all other martial arts.
Body Control Exercise
Body Control Exercise is the first step to be practiced in the training of Kalaripayattu. It is the basis upon which the student’s further progress is built. Every conceivable form of stretching, turning and twisting of the body is mastered through the practice of this form of martial art. The art of wielding weapons can be mastered only through perfect control over one’s body as well as extreme agility. A man, however strong he may be, cannot use his strength effectively if he has no control over his own body.
WEAPONS USED IN KALARIPAYATTU
Kettukari (Quarter Staff)
A Kettukari is a cane measuring over five feet long. The eye is trained to understand the movements of the opponent, while looking at his face. It teaches the student to use a long staff as a powerful weapon of offence and defense. This exercise is a preliminary in the art of fighting with a spear.
Cheruvad (Three Span Staff)
A Cheruvad is a short staff with 3 spans that must be manipulated with great care and precision when wielding. The movements are rapid and blows are delivered in quick succession. The practice of Cheruvad calls for great agility and rapidity of movement. When performed correctly, over one hundred blows can be given in only a minute.
Otta (Curved Staff)
An Otta is a short curved staff measuring about 18 to 20 inches in length. Attacks with the Otta are aimed at the vital spots of the body (Marmas). Practicing Otta to perfection calls for a lot of stamina and great physical endurance.
The Dagger is about one foot in length and is sharp on both sides with a pointed tip. The main uses are slashing, cutting and preventing attack. No shields are used; cuts and thrusts are made on all sides and the slightest loss of attention on the part if the combatant would find him with his opponent’s dagger planted deeply inside his body.
Students of gigantic structure and great muscular strength usually prefer the use of this weapon. Though body strength is considered to be very essential, agility and dexterity are also very important in the successful handling of the Gada.
The Spear is a deadly weapon and was generally used in ancient warfare. Cuts, thrusts and several kinds of locks are made with the spear and it is also used to dodge the opponent.
Sword and Shield
The use of the sword and shield in an efficient manner is considered to be the peak of perfection in armed combat. An extraordinary control over the body, agility, a quick eye and a keen presence of mind are necessary in mastering the sword fight. The warrior has to turn and twist his body in all possible ways and leap with surprising ease and agility.
Fighting Without a Weapon
Unarmed training is for self- defense against an armed or unarmed person. Secret defense techniques against attacks to the vital spots (Marmas ) are practiced here.