When we accepted an invitation to watch a training session of Kalaripayattu, we had no idea what to expect. So when we first experience a live training right in front of our eyes, it was captivating.
Kalaripayattu is an ancient Indian martial art and said to be dated back more than 2000 years ago. It is originated from Kerala, India and we had our first taste of Kalaripayattu when we were in Wayanad.
We were told that basically there are two schools of teaching – the northern style and the southern style. Since we were in Wayanad, we had the priviledge of watching the nothern style of teaching of Kalaripayattu.
The word ‘kalari’ refers to the school or training hall and they have different variants and styles depending on their regions.
When we first stepped into the Kalaripayattu hall, it was so dim that our eyes needed sometime to adjust. We could see rows of lighted candles were neatly arranged around the square perimeter of their training ground, giving the hall a beautiful yet solemn feel.
The next thing that caught our attention was the floor of the training ground. It was lower than the ground level, about 3.5 feet deep and the floor was maintained natural earth. We were told that the depth of the floor was to protect the practitioners from winds that could hamper their body temperature.
It is fascinating to watch these individuals dedicate their life to practice Kalaripayattu, in fact we were told that once you decided to practice kalarpyattu, you can’t stop. This is because Kalaripayattu is a way of life – as how kung fu is to the shaolin monks – the same goes for Kalaripayattu.
In this modern fast paced world, it always gives us a warm feeling knowing that somewhere around the world there are those who dedicate their life to learn and preserve ancient martial arts such as this to prevent them from extinction.