Kalaripayattu, a martial art, and the fighting system are one of the many precious gems from the Orient’s fortune trove- it is a blessing to the advanced world and the mother of every single military craftsmanship. The term is coined from the Tamil words ‘Kalari’ and ‘Payattu’, that means training and for the battlefield respectively.
According to legends, Sage Parasurama, the ace of all military art forms, is credited with the discovery of this 3000-year-old fine art. In some other books, Siddhar Agastya is revered as the founder of this truly majestic art form. Despite disputes to its origins, it is confirmed to have been crafted in South India, observing and drawing motivation and learning from the crude power of the residents of the nearby jungles- lions, tigers, elephants, wild boars, snakes, and crocodiles. Its roots can be traced to the Sangam era when learning combat was key to an all-round education.
A certain element of secrecy always surrounded the masters and students of this martial art form, for it is believed to have been taught in areas far away from human settlements and nosy intruders. With the passage of time, the fall of monarchy and combat and the advent of a democratic nation led to this art form disappearing into insignificance. However, in a mysterious revival, Kalaripayattu is today rising as another symbol – an old work of art that can be incorporated into today’s world as a symbol of self-expression and articulation.
But its sudden resurrection is bound to leave many confused- how can learning an ancient martial art form benefit us in today’s day and age? Well, listed below are a few benefits of learning Kalaripayattu-
a) To begin with, the most obvious benefit is that it helps improve your flexibility. It makes your body stronger and fitter, and prevents you from falling prey to those annoying bouts of laziness again. It makes you active, fast and agile.
b) It is rightly said, ‘A healthy mind resides in a healthy body’. With your body now in shape through intensive Kalaripayattu practice sessions, your mind too begins to respond positively. You are able to have better concentration and your patience levels increase substantially. In this fast-paced world, it is extremely important to be able to relieve ourselves of unwanted stress and this martial art form acts as a great de-stressor. With stress levels under your control, your presence of mind will be simultaneously sharpened.
c) It is no breaking news that self-defense is of utmost importance today for people of all age groups around the world. We lead highly vulnerable lives and we need to be able to defend ourselves and our loved ones if we are ever under a real attack. Kalaripayattu helps you ensure that you can at least take a stand when under attack and ensure your safety.
Thus, this ancient martial art form endured the winds of change and is present even today. Whether practiced in gurukuls or put on display for tourists and visitors, whether learnt in classrooms or on our own to improve physical and mental well-being, Kalaripayattu continues to remain true to its name- it trains you for the battlefield that you face, be it stress, lack of flexibility or any other facet of life.