Martial Art in Kerala

One of the greatest gifts of the martial arts is that they ultimately guide us to new levels of spirituality- Joseph Cardillo.

Martial art is a compact systemized and traditional practice. The art form is designed to perform for reasons like self-defense, physical training, spiritual and mental development, for entertainment purpose and to preserve nation’s intangible cultural heritage. Martial art has been associated with India and China. Talking about the martial art of India, Kalaripayattu is the most famous and traditional form, which was originated in India.

Martial Art in India

Indian martial art refers to the fighting system and a section in Vedas named Dhanurveda contains the references of Martial art. There are many types of India Martial arts namely:

  • Gatka
  • Huyen Langlon
  • Inbuan Wrestling
  • Kalaripayattu
  • Malla-yuddha
  • Mardani Khel
  • Musti-yuddha
  • Mukhna
  • Pehlwani
  • Silambam
  • Sqay
  • Varma Kalai
  • Vajra-musti
  • Lathi Khela


As mentioned, Kalaripayattu is an Indian martial art originated in Kerala. The meaning of Kalaripayattu means a battlefield and combat arena, according to the Tamil Sangam literature- the literature where the early written evidence of martial arts found.

The style is considered as the most scientific and oldest martial arts in the globe. The art is greatly respected and acknowledged all over. It is a combination of Chuvatu (steps) and Vadivu (postures).

Training of Kalaripayattu

The training of Kerala martial arts kalaripayattu begins with a full body oil massage and feats like ottam (running), chattom (jumping), and marichil (somersault), are also an important part of the training. There are many training centers where the Indian martial arts kalaripayattu Kerala has been taught, to master the art and to be a teacher.

The course of Kalaripayattu includes four stages:

  1. Meipayattu or Maithari-Involves the use of the body. In this, fighters with the help of their body parts perform martial arts or the technique of attack and defense.
  2. Kolthari– Involves the usage of sticks. Long sticks which are called Kettukari or Shareeravadi are used to perform.
  3. Angathari– Involves the use of metal weapons. About 10-12 particular kind of weapons are used in Kalaripayattu to fight.
  4. Verumkai– Fighting empty hands without any weapon. An unarmed combat, it seems similar to Meipayattu or Maithari, as the fighters perform without any weapon or equipment. But the techniques of the both are different.

The training also includes a lesson on using weapons like:

  • Cheruvadi or Muchhan- A Sturdy Wooden Staff
  • Otta- Curved Staff
  • Kettukari or Shareeravadi- Long Stick
  • Val Parija- Swords and Shield
  • Kuntham-Spears
  • Dhanush and Baan-Bows and arrows
  • Kattari-Daggers
  • Gadha- Mace
  • Urumi- A sword with a flexible whip-like blade
  • Verum Kai- Barehand

The Indian martial arts kalaripayattu Kerala has three variants- Arappa Kayy, Pilla Thangi, and Vatta Thiripp. These variants are distinguished by their attacking and defensive techniques and patterns. The art requires skills like gaze and concentration.

Benefits of Kerala Martial Arts Kalaripayattu

  • It provides a total body workout
  • Increases flexibility and strength
  • Boosts immune system
  • Improves concentration and receptivity
  • Improves self-discipline, patience, and self-awareness
  • Teaches you to deal with stress and pressure

Kerala martial art Kalaripayattu primarily aims at coordinating the body and mind.  The art is specialized in inherent medicinal practices and is an important center of spiritual growth and religious worship.

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