Kalaripayattu | Indian martial arts


Kalaripayattu is an ancient martial arts form from Kerala. The movements and exercises are based on the science of Yoga and the medical treatment is based on the science of Ayurveda.


"Kalaripayattu is a holistic approach integrating
body, mind and spirit."

Mythology credits Saint Parasurama as being the father of Kalaripayattu having learned it form God Shiva himself. Kalaripayattu means the fighting art of the Kalari. In ancient South India the Kalari (yard for practicing Kalaripayatttu) was a place of learning for subjects such as medecine, philosophy, astrology, architecture, and geometry, in addition to combat art and yoga.

Another definition is ‘Kalari’ (Battlefield) and ‘Payattu’ (Training in the art of combat). Kalaripayattu includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry and healing methods.

According to Indian history, the practice of martial arts was made compulsory in India during the 11th century, which was the period of Chera-Chola war. This is the period when Kalaripayattu become popular. In the 16th century, northern Kerala was a battle field where many wars were fought. Therefore Kalaripayattu became an inseperable part of the tradition and culture of Kerala.

There are three different Kalari yards: Nalpatheeradi Kalari, Anpatheeradi Kalari, and Pathineteeradi Kalari. This classification is based on the size of the Kalari yard. For Kalari practice there are two systems: Northern Kalari and Southern Kalari. Kadathanadan Kalari belongs to the Northern Kalari system and is popular for its unique Kalaripayattu practices, as it is based on the “Thanthra Sasthra” (Tactics Science), an Indian scientific ruling system. Students go through a 12-year schooling system to master all the different levels of Kalaripayattu, before they can learn the secrets of Kalari massage.

Kalaripayattu is not only a system for martial arts alone but also a medium for prayer, meditation, personality, mind control, concentration, tact building etc. Kalaripayattu has a different image than other martial arts forms in its warm-up system, practise and treatment system. Complete dedication of body and mind, strict discipline and devotion are very essential for practicing Kalaripayattu. There is also a strong focus on ”Gurushishya Bandam” (teacher student relationship) in the Kalaripayattu system.