Kalaripayat, or more formally Kalari Payattu, is a form of martial arts practiced in the south Indian provinces of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It is now also practiced in the northern part of Sri Lanka.
Kalarippayattu descend from perhaps one of the oldest fighting systems in the world today called Silambam
The style uses a variety of strikes, grappling locks, throws, weapons, and healing techniques with pressure points.
The Kalaripayat style varies according to the area of Kerala in which it is practiced
The Northern Style
Parasurama, the sixth reincarnation of Vishnu, is believed, according to the tradition, to be the style’s founder. The masters of the northern system are called “gurukkal”.
The northern style places emphasis first on learning weapons then afterward empty hands. In the northern style the training is divided into four main parts:
1. Meithari or Meippayattu involves hard physical training exercises with the body totally covered in coconut oil. This will discipline the body and will help to balance the mind.
2. Kolthari. In this stage, the training involves wooden weapons. The student will first learn the long staff, after that he will move on to short-range wooden weapons. The last weapon is the curved wooden ‘elephant nose’ or master stick used to strike vital points.
3. Ankathari. (war training) In this stage, the student will train with metal weapons. Training starts with the curved blade dagger, then moves on to the sword, the shield, the spear, and finally the most dangerous of all… the 3 meter flexible sword. After completing the Ankathari stage, the student specializes in the weapon of his choice.
4. Verumkai. The last stage of training in the northern style is the empty hand techniques. Strikes and grappling are the main skills.
The most advanced martial knowledge is of the pressure points and healing massage, closely related to ayurvedic medicine. The purpose of medicinal oil massage is to become more flexible and to prevent and repair body injuries resulting from training. The master will only teach this to very few trusted students.
The Central Style
The central style blends the best of the northern exercise patterns with the southern empty hand fighting concepts and footwork.
The Southern Style
The founder of the style is the saint or Maharishi Agasthya Muni. Masters in the southern tradition are known as “asaan”.
The southern style emphasizes teaching empty hand techniques first. The stages of training in this modality are chuvatu (solo forms), jodi (partner training/sparring), kurunthadi (short stick), neduvadi (long stick), katthi (knife), katara (dagger), valum parichayum (sword and shield), single or double chuttuval (flexible sword), grappling and marmma (pressure points).
The preliminary empty-handed techniques of varma ati are known as adithada (hit/defend) Marma ati refers specifically to the application of these techniques to vital points. Weapons include bamboo staff, wooden tamarind short sticks, and double deer horns. The medical treatment of the southern styles is related to the traditional Dravidian system of medicine called Siddha. The Siddha medical system, otherwise known as Siddha vaidyam, is also attributed to Agastya Muni. The southern Kalari Payat descends from the Tamil ancient martial art called Silambam.
Kru Pedro went to South India, specifically to the province of Kerala in the region of Tamil Nadu to study this ancient martial art. While he was there, he went to various kalaris (schools) learning as much as he could about ayurvedic nutrition, pressure points, and multi-opponent footwork. When he was learning the advanced footwork, the Kalari master saw that Kru Pedro knew already many of the movements. When he asked him, Kru told him that krabi-krabong (Thai weapons) have the same kind of footwork.
Few weeks after, Kru knew that even spending 5 years in India, will not be enough time to absorb the immense amount of quality material that was available such as oil massage, natural medicine, pressure points, many different weapons systems, empty hand systems, grappling, pranayama, astrology, magic etc. So he came back with what he could hold, nothing more…
When Kru came back to Thailand he said. “India is just magnificent”.