This is one of the most ancient martial arts in the world. Its purpose is to help maintain an inner and outer harmony in man and in society

This training, open to both men and women, leads to a very precise and complete knowledge of the body. It demands concentration and mental alertness combined with strength and suppleness. It always begins with basic body exercises and proceeds on to intricate body movements evolved out of animals. It needs some time for the student to advance to the level of using weapons

Believed by many historians and scholars as one of the oldest and most scientific and comprehensive system of martial training existing in the world today, Kalaripayattu the ancient martial art of Kerala truly deserves the title of the forerunner of all martial arts

It was believed that the "Nayakanmar"(Leaders) were given the charge of Kalaris. These Nayakanmar gradually came to be called the "Nayars", in some regions, special titles like "Kurup", "Nambiar", "Panikar" etc. The "Nayar" who had charge of a particular Kalari or group of Kalaris for the training and upbringing of warriors was called the "Gurukkal" (meaning teacher or instructor) of the Kalari or Kalaris. Kalaris were established in all the ancestral homes of those Nayars to impart training in the methods of welfare. In Sanskrit language, the word "Khaloorika" denotes a place where weapon training is practiced. It is believed that it was from the Sanskrit term "Khaloorika", that the word "Kalari" came into use in Malayalam for similar institutions imparting training in martial arts. Such institutions were there throughout the country where similar training was imparted. In each region, they are known by different names according to the differences, in the regional languages as "Akhad", "Garadi" etc. All these terms are believed to have originated from the Sanskrit term "Khaloorika" as in the case of the "Kalari". The system of physical and weapon training imparted within the Kalari came to be called "Kalarippayattu".

There are two forms of Kalari, one Vatakkan "Northern" and another one Tekkan "Southern". In Vatakkan, three types viz Arappukkai, Pillattaanni and Vatteel tirippu were the most important and they had wide publicity. It is believed that Sage Agastya was the Guru of Tekkan form of Kalari. The Tekkan type was more important than Vadakkan. But the use of different kinds of weapons and the beauty of performance made the Vadakkan Kalari become famous. Kalaris were primarily of two types, the first being smaller known as "CheruKalari" (cheru means small) or KuzhiKalari (kuzhi means the portions formed by caving in the earth) and the second one known as "AnkaKalari" (Ankam means fight). It is called KuzhiKalari because the floor of the Kalari is built at a level lower than the surrounding land by removing soil to achieve the necessary depth. CheruKalari or KuzhiKalari was built for the purpose of impailing physical and weapon training. It was in this Kalari that systematic training in scientific exercises in Kalarippayattu was imparted. Remnants of such ancient "Kalaris" are seen at some places in Kerala even now and the similarity in size and shape they bear to each other is ample proof for the existence of this type of Kalaris throughout the region from very ancient days

AnkaKalari" was a Kalari constructed temporarily for the purpose of fighting duels to decide any quarrel between the local rulers or for a cause of revenge for some reason or other. This Kalari would be constructed in such a place as to enable all persons in the locality to arrive and witness the duel conveniently. "Ankathattu" meaning a platform for fighting duels also used to be constructed for the purpose and it belonged to the same class as "AnkaKalari". The platform would be constructed four to six feet above the ground level engaging famous carpenters for the work. Before the date fixed for the duel, the Ankakathattu would be handed over to the fighters after elaborate rituals.

Many of the traditional performing art forms of Kerala like Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Valakali etc. have drawn elements from Kalaripayattu during their stages of evolution. Kathakali has borrowed much from Kalaripayattu in its basic body preparatory training of the actor not only in terms of techniques in practice but also from the body massage for the trainee. Many of the body postures, choreography and footwork of the Kathakali characters are taken directly from Kalaripayattu

With the help of the available historical evidences, the present practicing traditions origin can be traced back to the 12th century A.D. The word 'Kalaripayattu' literally means 'combat training inside the gymnasium'. The word kalari has been derived from the sanskrit 'kholoorika' meaning a military training ground. The traditional training of Kalaripayattu is always done inside a 'Kalari' which is a specially constructed practicing area, where the presiding deities of the art and the entire line of gurus of the tradition is ritualistically represented. Not only is the Kalari a temple of learning, it is also a temple of religious worship with a cult and ritual of its own. The master who is addressed as the 'Gurukkal' is revered as the representative of the deity and is considered as the living embodiment of a long line of gurus

The training consists of self-disciplinary training an physical culture. The pupils are given regular physical exercises and training in the use of such weapons as Kuruvai (short stick), spear, dagger, sword shield etc. The most promising of the trainees are taught the Marmas, viz the vulnerable points in the human system. The Kalaripayattu training aims at the ultimate co-ordination of minds and body

The traditional training of the Kalari Gurukkal includes as can be seen in some other martial arts, specialization in indigenous medical preparations and techniques of treatment and healthcare. Based on the Ayurvedic system of medical practice the old masters of Kalaripayattu has indigenously developed methods of treatments for Kalari related injuries like bruises, fractures etc. known as kalarichikilsa. The training of the gurukkal also includes the special system of full body oil massage to develop flexibility and muscular texture and also the stimulate circulation to maintain general health and blood

Kalaripayattu declined after the 17th century but in recent times it has staged a revival


Capital :Thiruvananthapuram
Language : Malayalam, English
Area : 38863 Sq. Km.
Boundaries : West - Arabian Sea
South East : Tamilnadu
North East : Karnataka
Population : 30,500,000
Literacy : 99%
Sea Shore : 580 Km.
Districts : 14
Main Port : Cochin
Temperature : 34oC - 21oC (Summer)
Monsoon : June - October
Official Animal: Elephant
Official Bird: Nightingale
Official Tree : Coconut
Map Position: South West Corner of Indian Sub conti.
Religions: Hindu, Christian, Islam
Time Zone: +5.30 GMT
Currency : Indian Rupee
Climate : Tropical
Summer: February - May (Max. 33oC Min. 24oC)
Monsoon : June - September (Max. 28oC Min. 22oC)
Winter : October - January (Max. 32oC Min. 22oC