Chuvadu pizhachaal ellam pizhachu

“When the step falters, everything fails” is a popular idiom in Kalaripayattu, underlining the importance of training.  Kalaripayattu classes are conducted every morning (6 am to 7 am) and evening (6 pm to 7 pm).

Online Kalari Classes

We have now launched our online classes.
WEEKDAYS6 am - 7 am6 pm - 7 pm
SATURDAY6 am - 7 amNo Class
SUNDAY7 am special class by Lakshmanan GurukkalNo Class

Frequently Asked Questions

Kalaripayattu is a martial art and therefore a fair degree of physical fitness and flexibility is assumed. However, we do have people of all ages from 8 to 60 come and train with us. It is important to stay within the constraints of your physical fitness and ability to avoid getting injured during training. Please consult your doctor if you have any restricting health conditions that will put you at risk.

Kalaripayattu training imparts a high degree of flexibility, balance, agility, stamina and strength. Apart from this, studies have shown the impact it has on personality development and in building mental strength. As you develop your skills in Kalaripayattu, you also learn to overcome your fears and prepare yourself to face any challenges. This quieting of the mind is significant, considering that we associate a martial art to an aggression.

Traditionally Kalaripayattu has four levels of competence which one acquires as part of the training process:

Meiabhyasam / Meipayattu (Basic Exercises)

The initial training involves exercises that build strength, agility, flexibility and balance in the student.  These exercises involve the vandanam (Salutation), Surya Namaskar (Salutation to the sun), Ashta Vadivu (the eight animal poses) and other movement exercises that strengthen the core muscles, enhance flexibility of the body, and help develop greater balance.
At this stage, the student also learn chuvadu (steps) and Adavu (sequence of steps).  These are sequences of movements which have a repetitive nature and help in building stamina, while also working on a core set of muscles for each type of exercise.  These exercises, apart from developing specific sets of muscles also enable students build a rhythmic movement and increase their memory and mind-body coordination.

Kolthaari (Wooden weapons)

When the student has progressed sufficiently under the watchful guidance of the teacher, they become eligible to learn to use the wooden weapons.  These include the long stick (Pantheeran – to indicate 12 spans), the short staff (mucchan), Otta (the curved stick).  
Each of these weapons are accompanied by a sequence of steps (vaithari).  The students learn these sequences of steps and their variations, and in time their movement becomes fluent, and the stick becomes an extension of their arms.  These movements apart from teaching the student to defend themselves, also builds on mind-body coordination, and higher degree of awareness, and an ability to bring their focus to a single point.

Angkathaari (Metal Weapons)

The metal weapons form the next set of lessons for the student and consist of weapons like the dagger (Kadaram), sword and shield (Vaal and Parichaya), spear (kuntham)  and the flexible sword (Urmi).  As with the wooden weapons, these weapons are also learned with a specific sequence of movements.   As the students become fluent with the weapons, they also learn the different variations and combinations in movements.  The metal weapons require a high level of focus and concentration in order to avoid physical injury.  The student subconsciously learns to become highly focused.

VerumKai (Bare-handed combat)

This is the final stage of learning where the student learns to defend himself without any weapons.  In this section, the student learns to defend himself from any attacker carrying weapons with his bare hands.  The sequence of steps involve learning to evade an attack by jumping, feinting, tumbles, blocking with arms and legs, disarm the opponent using holds and locks.  This training calls for a high degree of agility and flexibility, and also awareness of the surroundings.  A student at this level needs to be in a state where the body is all eyes, indicating the level of awareness of himself and the environment.

Kalaripayattu may have lost its relevance as an instrument of combat, and is viewed more as a form of physical fitness. The weapons training may seem irrelevant in the context of the modern social milieu, and of even less significance in modern warfare.  However, the weapons training in Kalaripayattu is of greater importance, not so much for its use of weapons, as for its ability as a tool to develop concentration and awareness.  More importantly it has been scientifically established that the training methods and the repetitive sequences greatly enhance body-mind coordination, and improve memory.  Today, it has a great deal of relevance in the following contexts:

  • As an exercise tool for building stamina (proven ability to increase lung power)
  • As an exercise regimen for building flexibility and balance (as can be seen from a lot of European theatre groups using Kalaripayattu exercises)
  • As a tool for physiotherapy
  • It is still used as the foundation for classical forms like Kathakali and Mohiniattam, and ritual dance forms like Theyyam
  • Acrobats and circus performers use this to improve their agility and flexibility
  • As a tool for improving memory and mind-body coordination, kalaripayattu has demonstrable benefits

For more answers to frequently asked questions, visit our FAQ sections:

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