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Kalaripayattu is a form of ancient martial art that originated in India especially south-west part i.e. Kerala and nearby areas. Kalaripayattu is a specialized fighting system which comprise of using one’s body as a weapon to hurt and kill the opponent, usage of ancient weapons and also practice of a related healing system to recover from injuries. Further Kalaripayattu is classified into three branches as per the areas or region in Kerala i.e. Northern Style of Kalaripayattu famous in Northern parts of Kerala, Central Style of Kalaripayattu famous in Central parts of Kerala and Southern Style of Kalaripayattu famous in Southern parts of Kerala and areas of Tamilnadu. It is said that this martial art Kalaripayattu was created around 11th AD during the wars between Chola and Chera dynasties. Kalari were the schools where this art was taught, in fact they served the purpose for socio-political forums for many decades including discussions upon research topics including maths, science, astronomy etc. Kalaripayattu apart from Hindu clans were equally adopted by Muslims and then Christian clans in the coming years. The Mappila Muslims not only learnt but further developed the art of Kalaripayattu to Parichamuttu in the northern parts of Kerala, though some of these Mappila Muslims were taught by Hindu Kalaripayattu teachers. Similarly the Christians followed Kalaripayattu and made an army of thousands of soldiers who were then utilized in the local wars, the most famous Kalaripayattu school of Christian clan was near the river Peringuzha. During colonial times as well this art was very famous among people of Kerala despite caste or religious beliefs.
The Kalaripayattu training is given in a specific sequence i.e. Footwork includes Vatta kaal chuvadu, Neetta kaal chuvadu, Kone kaal chuvadu, and Otta kaal chuvadu. Posture training includes Simhavadivu (Lion Style), Gaja vadivu (Elephant Style), Aswa vadivu (Horse Style), Sarpa vadivu (Snake Style), Marjara vadivu (Cat Style), Mastya vadivu (Fish Style), Varaha vadivu (Tortoise Style), and Kukkuda vadivu (Cock Style). Then there is Prayogams which is advance level footwork that include jumps, high level kicks, flexibility, stretching etc. Meytharis are the forms i.e. predefined movements of legs, hands, eyes, and head etc. just like ‘Katas’ in Karate. It is a sequential display of the Kalaripayattu as a martial art sometimes it is done in a rhythmic style upon certain specific music beats. It is also known as Meyppat. Once the student learns the above then he or she is shifted to the advance levels where there are more complex exercises or koltharis starting from Ketukari to Cheruvadi to Ottakol which is a wooden blade like thing and wooden Gadha etc. Then there is full-fledged weapon combat training known as Ankathari in which sometimes real metal weapons are used to give the right feel and balance to the students. This training is upon the series of weapons including sword, shield, bow and arrow, dagger, and spears etc. Then the last stage Verumkaithari that comprises of fighting barehanded that includes grips, punches, kicks, jumps and other very close combat techniques etc. The Kalaripayattu training is based upon 107 nerve points in the body better known as Prana upon hitting with a right technique on any of these can cause lethal pain or unconsciousness even up to death of the victim. In the latter part of the colonial rule when firearms were introduced on a large scale in wars almost all the martial arts in India went into the glooms of permanent extinction but somehow due to the utmost dedication of certain Kalaripayattu trainers or Gurus it managed to survive up to current years. These are the various styles of Kalari as mentioned in Vadakkan Pattukal i.e. Kadathanatan Kalari, Karuvancheri Kalari, Kodumala Kalari, Kolastri Nadu Kalari, Kurungot Kalari, Mathilur Kalari, Mayyazhi Kalari, Melur Kalari, Nadapuram Kalari, Panoor Madham Kalari, Payyampalli Kalari, Ponniyam Kalari, Puthusseri Kalari, Puthuram Kalari, Thacholi Kalari, Thotuvor Kalari and Tulunadan Kalari.
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