Animal postures in kalari training

cat posture kalari
Maarjaara vadivu or the cat posture.

Animal postures are one of the characteristic elements of kalarippayattu training. There are 8 classical postures (ashta vadivu), but the number and exact performance of a posture often depends on the style and the particular school of kalarippayattu. For example, a cat is often combined with a turtle and a peacock with a fish. Then there is also the snake pose (sarpa vadivu).

Crouching lion, hidden boar

sara vadivu studio kalari
Sarpa vadivu or the snake posture.

The animal postures are based on the observation of vigilant animals and are aimed at concentrating power and achieving explosiveness, i.e. generating the greatest possible force in the shortest possible time. Just as an animal before attacking or defending itself is crouched and ready to make a sudden, energetic and precise movement, so the kalarippayattu adept is maximally focused and ready to react. These poses, like many other elements of kalari training, have various effects on the body: they strengthen muscles (often a given position is held for several dozen seconds), make joints more flexible, and develop balance and stability.

The animal postures presented in the film are:

  1. Gaja vadivu: elephant
  2. Simha vadivu: lion
  3. Varaaha vadivu: boar
  4. Kukkuda vadivu: rooster
  5. Mayura vadivu: peacock
  6. Matsya vadivu: fish
  7. Ashwa vadivu: horse
  8. Maarjaara vadivu: cat
  9. Kurma vadivu: turtle

The video below shows the animal postures in one of the ways we often do them in our classes – one at a time, one after the other, right and left. There are also many exercises where a posture is repeated many times to master it to perfection. Individual postures are also part of longer sequences of movements and combat, but then they are performed quickly, moving smoothly between different elements.

Some of the exercises using animal positions are shown on the blog in the article 10 typical kalari exercises.