8/06/2006

Kalaripayattu: Ancient Martial Art from Kerala, India

Known to be one of the most ancient forms of martial arts in the world, Kalaripayittu was developed in Kerala no later than 1200 according to some historians. There are two styles for this art, the northern style practised in Malabar region and the southern style practised in Travancore. It should be noted that the term Malabar comes from the Portuguese malabaristas, meaning acrobats.

Though known very little outside Kerala, it is finally getting noticed in the international community thanks to the Jackie Chan movie "The Myth". There are also reasonable evidences that Kalaripayittu was taken to China by Bodidharma and that Shaolin Kung Fu and Japanese martial arts were derived from Kalaripayittu. These assertions are disputed though. Kalaripayittu shows up in lots of movies from Kerala, but outside Kerala, it has shown up in only one movie. Kamal Hassan's Indian.

Click here for a National Geographic documentary on Kalaripayittu and hope you enjoy it. Towards the end, there is a fight scene between two men with one of them blindfolded. Dont miss it.

Here are some relevant links on Kalaripayittu.

Kalaripayattu at Wikipedia
Disputed History of Kalaripayattu at Wikipedia
Jackie Chan and the art of Kalaripayattu

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