Marma ( Varma Kalai )

Marma in Sanskrit means “hidden or secret.” In Malayalam literature, the term is used to indicate, “the most important or vital factor.” Marma points also known as the vital energy points are the junctions where two or more tissues overlap( different muscles,tendons, ligamants, veins etc.). These points on the body grant access to the body’s vital energy more directly than in other parts of the body. Healer’s and martial artists, use their knowledge of such points to heal or harm, respectively. This energy is also known as Prana in India and Chi ,KI or Qi, in China and Japan. In China and Japan, the marma system is closely related to the meridianal system of Accupressure(Shiatsu)/Accupuncture sytem, also used widely by healers and martial artists who have studied these concepts.
In India, Prana(vital life force) and Lord Shiva are considered to be one and the same. Shiva(Siva) is a member of the triumvirate of gods in the Hindu pantheon. The three main gods are known as Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. Shiva in this context refers to his immense power to destroy the impurities and transform the mind/body.Injuries, such as falls, strikes and cuts to these marma points were observed to result in physical problems or death. The ancients observed this and realizing the body’s energy(prana) could be affected not only to harm but to heal, and in India it became an integral part of Ayurvedic medical studies.

In our body, the prana passes through the 72,000 nerves known as nadis and 3000 marma and are connected to the chakras. There are said to be 114 chakras but most of us are familiar with 7. When the nadis meet at certain parts of the body, we refer to them as chakras(wheel)According to Yogic and Ayurvedic Science, there are two nerve currents in the spinal column, known as Ida(left side) and Pingala(right side) and a center hollow channel called the Sushumna. When the kundalini( the latent form of female Divine energy also known as Shakti, which is the balancing force to that of Shiva)which is located at the base of the spine(Earth) awakens, it begins to rise through this hollow column of Sushumna, on its way towards the crown chakra(Universe) allowing theone to become detached from mind and body and allowing the soul to be liberated.

Tamil medical science holds there are 108 marma points that are considered to be particularly important. That number in Ayurveda is 107. Marma points are also used in assessment of possible imbalances as a tool to decide which course of action may address and correct these imbalances. In Ayurveda, there are said to be 25 marman in the face and head, 12 in the neck, 9 in the chest, 3 in the abdominen, 14 in the pelvic region and buttocks and 44 in the arms and legs
The 108 points of Tamil are divided into two parts: Padu marmam and Thodu marman. The knowledge of these points is used most skillfully by the kalaripayattu Master for combat or for healing.

Padu marmam

Related to the cartilage and bones there are 12 marmas in this category. Injuries to these marmas are considered the most dangerous to the individual. The ancients being aware of this, began to develop armor to specifically protect these points.

Thodu Marmam

Related to the nerves(nadis) and joints there are 96 marmas in this category. If injury occurs to these marmas, the nervous system will be disrupted and may invoke a collapse of the body and even bring about death. The striking of these specific marmas is called Marma Adi. Comparable to the Chinese and Japanese Dim Mak, or death touch


Sadhyo Pranaharam
When striking these points death is instantaneous. There are 17 sadhyo pranaharam.
Kalanthara Pranaharam
When striking these points death is certain but may not occur sometime after the attack has occurred. There are 33 kalanthara pranaharam.
Visalya Pranaharam
If these points are penetrated by a weapon, upon removal, death is immediate. There are 3 visalya pranaharam
Vikalya Pranaharam
When striking these points the individual may become disabled/handicapped. there are 44 vikalya pranaharam
Rujakara Pranaharam
If these points are struck a steady intense pain will be produced.

Benefits of Marma Therapy (partial list)

Improves the range of motion of the joints by working directly on the soft tissues(muscle, tendon, connective tissues etc).

The lessening or disappearance of pain by relaxing the nervous system and releasing tension in soft tissues as well as removing waste by-products cause by injury.

Reduces physical and mental stress( known to be the precursor to most disease. Dis-ease means not being at ease) also effected through relaxation of the nervous system and soft tissues of the body.

Increases blood flow(blood circulation), which in turn promotes healing. For example: In areas that have been injured, the blood flow is diminished. Increased blood circulation can help to remove the waste by-products caused by the inflammation response of the body when injury occurs(white blood cells, lymphocytes, etc).

Improves muscle and nerve function. Just as blood circulation is improved, so are all fluids circulation(lypmh, cerbrospinal fluid) and other energies such as the bio electrical(Prana, Chi…) improved. When there is less or no obstruction to the chemical and electrical signals that the Nervous system uses to control every facet of the mind/body, then the overall function of all systems are also improved.

Improves immune system function. As mentioned, with increased circulation through the removing of obstructions (such as will occur through tension, injury or disease) than the functioning of the entire system will increase. The immune system is the body’s built in self-defense. When the Immune System is operating at a high level, one”s ability to fend off disease and to heal itself is dramatically raised.

Promotes a more healing, restful sleep. Each of the aforementioned benefits will all affect a person’s ability to relax, release tensions and increase the chances of deep sleep, which is when much of the body’s healing occurs.

Helps elimination of toxins through increased performance of the Circulatory and Immune Systems.

Strengthens the tissues and organ systems. Vigorous massage often returns organs and tissues back to their normal positions, which mat have moved due to injury or incorrect body positioning through out the day over a lifetime. It will also return the organs and tissues back to their more natural elastic and dynamic state.