Basic information

Kalarippayattu comes from the South Indian state of Kerala and is often considered the oldest martial art in the world. Historical sources testify to its existence from at least the 12th century AD. The name means a place (kalari) for training or fight (payattu). You can find out more about history and mythology related to his art here.

The three styles of kalarippayattu are commonly distinguished: northern (wadakkan), southern (tekkan) and central. What is important, is the fact that the directions refer only to Kerala and not the whole India, ie in the North of Kerala the most common style is the northern one.

In each of them ritual-rich practice includes the learning of movement sequences and locks overpowering the opponent, empty hand fight and training with the use of wooden and metal weapons (various types of clubs, knives, sabers, spears), as well as strength, stretching and breathing exercises. Styles differ primarily in the arrangement of movement sequences and fights with weapons, as well as some exercises.

Physical training is completed by the healing system – kalari chikitsa (or chikils) – closely related to Ayurveda, including, among others massages that heal and make body flexible, as well as the science of marmas – the vital points of the human body, which is used especially in the southern style.

Elements of kalarippayatts have been used for centuries in the training of Kerala actors and dancers, eg of kathakali, krishnattam, kudiyattam, mohiniyattam, porkali or velakali.