The art of fighting is known as martial art and has since long captured the imagination of many. A name that pops out as soon as the word martial art is spoken or read is the country of China. Many believe that martial art first originated in China and spread to other parts of the world. However they have got it figured out all wrong. Martial arts first began in the most unlikely of all places and will come as a surprise when the name of India comes up as the pioneers of martial art.
Yes, the country of India is the birth place of martial art. It was in this culturally diversified country that the roots of martial art first grew. It was then taken by the travelers and scholars to other parts of the world when they spent time here studying the art of fighting. In India martial art may seem to have died out but it remains very much alive in the southern parts where it first originated. The form of martial art that is practiced in this country goes by the name of Kalaripayattu and is the father of all forms of martial art. This form of fighting can very well be said to be the martial arts of Kerala as it originated here.
This form of martial art was primarily practiced by the Nair’s and Ezhavas. The teacher of this form of Kerala martial art belonged to a special caste known as the Kalari Panicker. The Kalaripayattu deals with strikes, grappling, weapon wielding techniques, kicks and healing techniques that will make you the ultimate fighting machine. As there are many styles of Kung-fu that differ from place to place and school to school same is the case with Kalaripayattu.
The Kerala martial arts differ from region to region and have their own styles. The Kalaripayattu is broadly divided into three styles and they are the northern style, southern style and the central style. The northern style is said to be of the Malayalis, the southern style of the Tamils and the central style of the inner parts of Kerala. The northern style is said to be primarily been practiced by the Nairs, Ezhavas, Mappilas and the St. Thomas Christians whereas the southern style was practiced by the Nadars.
To learn this form of martial art one must first go through an initiation ritual in which the student first enters the school with his right foot first into the threshold in the presence of a senior student. He then touches the ground with his right hand first and then his forehead symbolizing respect towards the art and center of learning. After that he is led into a room where lamps are kept burning in respect to all the masters of the art form known as the “Guruthara” where he lights a lights a lamp as a sign of respect. Then the novice presents the teacher with some money as a fee for teaching him this art followed by the teacher blessing him.
After the initiation is done with the novice is admitted to the school of martial art where he/she will repeat the act of lighting the lamp and bowing to the master everyday before training. The training can be divided into four major parts and they are Meithari which is the beginning stage where the body is made fit, Kolthari training with wooden weapons, Ankathari which is the stage where they spar with metal weapons and then Verumkai that deals with defending oneself freehand using a combination of grapples and blows to pressure points. After the completion of Verumkai the complete training of the martial art can be said to be completed.
A demonstration of this great form of martial art can be seen in the various Kalari centers that are in Kerala.