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Full Version: Martial Arts In India
History Forum > History Academia > SMQ Gallery and Museum
ninjathegreat
A pic of Kalaripayat training...

user posted image
holala
Oh.
My.
God.
blink.gif
tsafa
Interesting. Post a link with some more info or giveus a short story of how it developed and used. Is this mostly for civilian or military use? how old is it?
ninjathegreat
tsafa,

Kalari is the art that the buddhist monk bodhidhamma took to China around 500 AD. It was he who taught the monks martial arts to defend themselves. This, along with some traditional techniqies in china, became the Shaolin martial art.

It used to be used in the military, as well as an art form by the civilians.

Nowadays, it's mainly an art form.

http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/encyclopedia/aikido.htm#2

http://kalari-koeln.de/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalaripayattu

The wikipedia link has some cool pics...

Cheers
ninja
Dorian
Yes I took Martial Arts classes when I was younger. It was Karate, Japanese, and even they claim that the origin of eastern martial art is from India.
Ogodei
Shaolin temple always has admitted that da mo taught techniques to the monks who were fat and thus couldn meditate for too long,However over the years when the emperor and generals made yearly visits to the temple they combined these techniques with chinese martial arts existing,
Eliezer
QUOTE
Kalarippayattu (Malayalam: കളരിപയററ്) is a martial art practiced in Kerala, a state in South India and in parts of Tamil Nadu. It combines self-defense techniques, religion, and has elements of "martial dance" as in Capoeira.


Im curious. The Tamils in India had a martial art known as "Silambam" (using long sticks) is the this the proginator of "Silat" in Malaysia and Phillipines which involves stick fighting and likely related to Akido and Num-Chuckas

I suspect the Keralan "Kalarippayat" practiced by the warrior caste (Nayars) and Tamil "Silambam" would have given the Dravidian foot soldiers the military edge to survive the Aryan onslaught from the N/W India
Jagger
QUOTE
Im curious. The Tamils in India had a martial art known as "Silambam" (using long sticks) is the this the proginator of "Silat" in Malaysia and Phillipines which involves stick fighting and likely related to Akido and Num-Chuckas

I suspect the Keralan "Kalarippayat" practiced by the warrior caste (Nayars) and Tamil "Silambam" would have given the Dravidian foot soldiers the military edge to survive the Aryan onslaught from the N/W India

Kalari Payat wasn't the martial arts used by the Kshatriya warrior caste. The Kshatriya warriors used Vajra Mukti (or Vajra Mushti), which means Thunderbolt Fist, the earliest known system of hand-to-hand martial arts, which was developed around 3000 years ago in North India. This was the martial arts that was known to the Buddha but it's unknown whether he passed it on with Buddhism. Kalari Payat (or Kalari Payattu), which means Way of the Battlefield, was developed around 2000 years ago in Kerala, South India. This is the martial arts that was known to Bodhidharma, and was what he taught to the Shaolin monks.

As for the Tamils and Keralese, they were among the very few kingdoms that were able to resist the Mauryas, Khiljis and Mughals from the north, who had the largest Indian empires. The Tamil Chola Empire was also the only Indian empire to rule parts of South-East Asia. I think it's safe to say the Dravidians (South Indians) were better martial artists than the Indo-Aryans (North Indians), although the Indo-Aryans developed martial arts before them.

QUOTE
Shaolin temple always has admitted that da mo taught techniques to the monks who were fat and thus couldn meditate for too long,However over the years when the emperor and generals made yearly visits to the temple they combined these techniques with chinese martial arts existing

I agree. Shaolin martial arts was pretty much a fusion of Indian and Chinese martial arts, although not many people know about the Indian influence, not even Indians.
PericlesofAthens
Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalarippayattu

"Kalarippayattu (Malayalam: കളരിപ്പയറ്റ്) is a martial art practiced in Kerala, a state in South India and in parts of Tamil Nadu. It combines self-defense techniques, religion, and has elements of "martial dance". The word Kalarippayattu literally means 'martial training inside the gymnasium'. The term Kalari has been derived from the Sanskrit khalūrikā, meaning a military training ground. Kalari in common terms means school or training centre. It is a tatpurusha compound formed from the words kalari (Malayalam: കളരി) meaning "school, gymnasium " and payattu (Malayalam: പയറ്റ്) derived from "payttuka" meaning "to fight". Together these two words mean "Practice of arts of the battlefield"."

More pics of the fighting style...

IPB Image

IPB Image

IPB Image

IPB Image

IPB Image

Good stuff, smile.gif
Eric
ninjathegreat
REminds one of the flying martials arts in chinese movies, only for real, eh?
PericlesofAthens
QUOTE(ninjathegreat @ Jul 4 2006, 11:49 PM) *

REminds one of the flying martials arts in chinese movies, only for real, eh?


Well, let's get one thing straight: although these guys are leaping through the air with obviously great precision to make a strike at their opponent, they still aren't levatating through the air like some Chinese flicks portray their characters to do (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a perfect example of this). However, I will not go as far as to discredit Chinese innovations to martial arts that went beyond their base of their teachings from the Indian Masters. Take, for example, the Song era General Yue Fei, who enhanced the Shaolin fighting style with such tactics as the Eagle Claw (seen in such popular cinema as the movie Kill Bill).

smile.gif
Eric
P.S. Does anyone have info on the early democracies of northern India? Roughly the time of Buddha's (Sidharta Guatama) life, and CERTAINLY before the time of Ashoka. If this is correct, then ancient Indian democracies were the equivalent of the old Greek city-states, like Athens for just a prime example.
Christian_K
The stance used in one of the photos by one of the particpants defending against a sword blow reminds me greatly of the basic Shotokan stance.
ninjathegreat
Eric:

I definitely will not discredit the indegenous martial arts of the chinese Japanese, why, the polynesians, the native americans... EVery culture has had it's version of martial arts. Hand to hand combat would have been impossible otherwise!

From 7-8th centuries BC, there have been a number of republics and democracies in India. The magadhan empire was a republican Confederation; formed by the combination of a number of republics, though later it took the form of an empire. The mallis (greek malloi) were a republican kingdom. The strongest republican confederation was the Licchavi; formed by a number of smaller republican states. Ajatashatru was able to defeat the Licchavis only by instilling dissention among the confederates. The writings of the time of Gautama Buddha gives us proof of this.

Most indian Kingdoms themselves were not complete monarchies; they were a form of mixed republican monarchies. The people had the power to bring down a monarch if they wanted to. An example is Chandragupta Maurya's ascention on to the Magadhan throne. This was the case until the muslim entry into India.

Cheers
Ninja
PericlesofAthens
QUOTE(ninjathegreat @ Jul 6 2006, 11:48 AM) *

Eric:

I definitely will not discredit the indegenous martial arts of the chinese Japanese, why, the polynesians, the native americans... EVery culture has had it's version of martial arts. Hand to hand combat would have been impossible otherwise!

From 7-8th centuries BC, there have been a number of republics and democracies in India. The magadhan empire was a republican Confederation; formed by the combination of a number of republics, though later it took the form of an empire. The mallis (greek malloi) were a republican kingdom. The strongest republican confederation was the Licchavi; formed by a number of smaller republican states. Ajatashatru was able to defeat the Licchavis only by instilling dissention among the confederates. The writings of the time of Gautama Buddha gives us proof of this.

Most indian Kingdoms themselves were not complete monarchies; they were a form of mixed republican monarchies. The people had the power to bring down a monarch if they wanted to. An example is Chandragupta Maurya's ascention on to the Magadhan throne. This was the case until the muslim entry into India.

Cheers
Ninja


Cool, thanks! smile.gif

Eric
Indran
There is no connection whatsoever between Kalaripayattu and Kung-Fu. Kalaripayatttu was formed around the 13th century and Daruma Bodhidarma was alive around the 6th century who traveled to China. There is a 700 year gap between him and the formation of Kalaripayattu. Also, Daruma Bodhidarma was born in the ancient Pallava kingdom of Kanchipuram which is situated in the state of present day Tamil Nadu where Kalaripayattu is not a native art of the state. As a matter of fact Tamil Nadu itself has several martial arts which predate Kalaripayattu thousands of years and are even mentioned in the Tamil literature such as the Silappadikaram during the Sangam Age of the 1st century A.D. Another piece of Tamil literature which mentions of these martial arts is called the Purunaruru (Four Hundreds songs on War and Wisdom) written around 500 B.C.E.

Another thing I would like to point out is that India was not in existence before the arrival of the British around the 1600s. It was the British who unified the states and other regions into India along with Burma and Pakistan. Before the British, the Indian sub-continent consisted of many countries and kingdoms. The latest parts of the sub-continent to be brought into the Indian Union were the 5 French territories of Pondicherry in 1956. Before that, it was Assam, Manipur, and the other Eastern states which came under the British rule and became part of their India during the late 1800s which can be found at Thang Ta: Martial Art of Manipur. At one time the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and even parts of Sri Lanka were originally called Tamil Akkam. It was one Tamil administration with three major dynasties being the Pandyan, Cholas, and the Cheras. The Pallavas were also part of Tamil Akkam at one time. However, their empire was divided by Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh. The land where the Cheras ruled later came to be known as Kerala where they formed their own language out of Tamil called Malayalam.

As a Matter of fact, Tamil Akkam had such a powerful army and navy in Southern India and Sri Lanka, that not even the Mauryan Empire of Asoka could over power it. It is amazing how Emperor Asoka was able to conquer from North India to Pakistan, Afghanistan and much of central India, but could not conquer Tamil Akkam! This was probably due to their martial expertise as well. Much information can be found along with a map of the Mauryan Empire of Asoka in K.A. Nilakanta Sastri's Age of the Nandas and Mauryas. Another good book to read on this would be Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas by Romlia Thapar. Here is a link to the map of the extent of Asoka's Empire


Going back to Kalaripayattu, it resembles a lot like Ninjitsu. This art may have been modified over the years to its present state. As for the Martial Arts of Tamil Nadu and Northern Sri Lanka, they are called Kuttu Varisai (empty hand combat), Varma Kalai (pressure point study), and an array of weapons arts. Kuttu Varisai resembles a mix of both Karate and Kung Fu having its own animal forms too. There is one stance in Kuttu Varisai which resembles the horse stance which is found in Kung Fu and Karate. However, it is called the Bear stance.

There are many weapons arts and each weapon is a mastery of its own. One of the most famous one is called Silambam which is similar to the Bo staff fighting in Japan. There are a total of 96 Katas for this art. Another weapon is the Erathai or the double stick similar to the Filipino Kali or Sinawali. There are two unique weapons which are not found outside of Southern India which is the Surul Pattai (steel blade whip) and the Madhu (deer horns). Other weapons arts of the Tamil country are the Val Vitchi (single sword) and the Eretthai Val (double short sword).

Between the 2nd to 12th century AD the Pallavas and the Cholas have done intensive sea trade with Southeast Asian kingdoms like that of Angkor (Cambodia), Sri Vijaya (Indonesia) and even as far as China. It is possible that the Pallavas may have had contact with Japan during their seafaring naval expeditions. A good source on that would be in the book titled Traditional Cultural Link between India and Japan (During the 8th and 9th centuries) written by Dr. Kalpakam Sankarnaryan and Dr. Motohiro Yoritomi. There is a possibility the inhabitants of the islands of Japan may have adopted certain forms of Kuttu Varisai and Silambam by the Pallavas. Silambam which might be precursors to Kendo, Ken-Jutso, and Karate.

During the Chola Empires zenith between the 10th and 12th centuries they had conquered much of Southern India and Eastern parts going through Manipur, Assam, and Southern Burma. There empire stretched to as far south as Sri Lanka & Maldives, and to the East was Sumatra, Java, and Malaysia (Kadaram). Their martial arts must have been one of their exports along with various other arts like dance, architecture, and the Tamil version of the Ramayana. The Ramayana (or Ramayanan, Ramavataram) was re-written from Sanskrit to Tamil by the sage Kavicakravarti Kamban of the 9th century A.D. of the Chola kingdom of Tanjore, Tamil Nadu. There are certain moves which are in Muay Thai which are called the Hanuman or Lim Lom. Hanuman was a warrior in the Ramayana epic. Three sources on this can be found in Cholas by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, Mystery of the Maldives by Thor Heyerdahl, and Muay Thai: The Most Distinguished Art of Fighting written by Panya Kraithat and Pitisuk Kraitus.

As for the Shaolin, it may be possible that Daruma Bodhidarma did go there and introduced Dhyan [Zen (in Japanese), Chan (in Chinese)]. The absence of fighting forms in China before Daruma Bodhidarma is absolutely false. If there was no fighting form in China, then how did there armies fight which most definitely predates the arrival of Daruma Bodhidarma? There were fighting forms in China. It was Daruma Bodhidarma who introduced his concept of breathing exercises, the arts of the vital points and the 18 Lohan which can be seen in Kuttu Varisai of present day Tamil Nadu. His introduction of these Dravidian combat forms and exercises was adopted by the Chinese which later evolved into Kung - Fu. However, Bodhidarma was also not the only Sage who went to China.

There was another Tamil sage who travelled to China well before him around the 5th century B.C. by the name of Boghar Siddha. He was accompanied by Lao Tse the founder of Taosim and who was the first Chinese to propound the theory of duality of matter -- the male Yang and female Yin -- which conforms to the Siddha concept of Shiva - Shakti or positive-negative forces. In Tamil, Yin and Yang translates to Idai Nadi (female, moon) and Pingelai Nadi (male, sun). The unification of the two becomes Lingam which is a symbol of Siva. The Sanskrit adaptation of the Yin and Yang is Shiv and Shakt (or Siva and Shakti). The Sanskrit translation of the unification of Shiv and Shakt is called Prana. Prana is "breath" and is understood as the vital, life-sustaining force of living beings and the vital energy in all natural processes of the universe.

Acupuncture from Tamil Akkam was also introduced to parts of Asia. This was called Varma Cuttiram also known as Varma Kalai. Originally formed as a medicinal healing art, this can also be used to maim and even kill people. Arts in China which relate to the Varma arts are Tai Chi and Dim Mak.

In Southeast Asia the arts of Krabi Krabong in Thailand and Silat in Indonesia bear a lot of resemblances of the Dravidian warfare arts of Southern India. The animalistic styles and even forms of animism found in Silat are also found in Kuttu Varisai where invokes a specific animal spirit or energy into ones body. Many Chola and Pallava Naval and Merchant ships landing in parts of Southeast Asia have not only brought with them the Hindu and Buddhist religions, but the martial arts as well which fused with the indigenous fighting styles of Southeast Asia. Source Tamil Merchant Guild in Sumatra written by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri.

In the Bible in the book of Solomon and Esther it mentions about trade and contact with India. The term India was used in the King James Version which was translated from Hebrew and Greek during the 1600s and the rise of the British Empire. The King James came about after the British took control over many kingdoms and countries forming it into one British Administration and giving the name India. India is actually a Latin word for Indo or Indus in Greek which is Hindu in the Persian language of Farsi near Iran and Pakistan. In the Tamil texts it mentions about King Solomonís trade and contact with the Chera, Pandya, and Chola kingdoms of Tamil Akkam. King Solomon was not the only one in contact with the Dravidian kingdoms but Rome, Greece, and Egypt. This information can be found in Foreign Notices of South India: from Megasthenes to Ma Huan written by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri. Other than spices, precious stones, silk, and exotic animals being exported to Rome, Greece and the Middle East, weapons and fighting styles were exported as well. The Romans and the Greeks who traveled to Tamil Akkam were known by the ancient Tamils as the Yavanas. Weapons like the trident amongst others were imported to Rome including certain fighting forms which were used in gladiatorial fights in Rome. More information can be found in Silambam fencing from India by Manuel J. Raj and The Commerce Between the Roman Empire and India by E.H. Warmington.

There are even older fighting styles found on the African continent which may have found its way to the Indian sub-continent and from Australia. These are known as Dambe of Nigeria which one hand is bound for punching, and kicking and head butting are allowed. Similar arts to Dambe are Adi Thada of the Tamils, and Muay Thai of Thailand. The Ringa wrestling of Madagascar is similar to the Tamil wrestling called Malyutham. Amongst the many fighting styles and sports of Africa is the Savika bull fight which can also seen in the Tamil Nadu and parts of Northeastern Sri Lanka bull fights known as Jalli Kattu. Ancient Tamil texts mention of an ancient land mass connecting India with Australia and Madagascar. It also mentions names of cities and rivers which lie beneath the Indian Ocean today. The Indian sub-continent and Australia both lay on the same tectonic plate called the Indo-Australian plate. The tsunami of December 2004 also proved the Lemurian theory when it washed back a couple of miles exposing temples and artifacts in the Bay of Bengal near Mammalapuram, Tamil Nadu. That was the fourth tsunami recorded in the history of South Asia. The third was during the early 1900s. In the Tamil Silappadikaram it also mentions of a great flood or tsunami which wiped out an ancient Pandyan city. An interesting book which goes into detail is called The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies by Sumathi Ramaswamy The resemblances between Tamils, Malayalees, Australian aborigines and East African are very close. There is an ancient weapon that was used in Tamil Akkam called the Valari which resembles the Boomerang of Australia. The Velari was shaped like the boomerang, but was tipped with a metal blade. Here is an article written by Dr. S. Jayabarathi Jaybee on the Valari Weapon

In conclusion, martial arts of India today were actually the martial art of Tamil Akkam thousands of years back and not ancient India. India or the Indian Union did not come into play until after the arrival of the British around the 1600s. Kalari Payat is a very dynamic martial art with an array of weaponry including pressure point attacks and massage. However, it does not go any further back than the 13th century as quoted from Phillip Zarilli's When the Body Becomes All Eyes: Paradigms, Discourses and Practices of Power in Kalarippayattu, a South Indian Martial Art . Daruma Bodhidarma was also well alive almost 700 hundred years before the formation of Kalaripayattu. There were also many other sages and monks who have travelled from present day Southern India to China well before Daruma Bodhidarma.
PericlesofAthens
Damn Indran, you really do your homework. Lol. Thanks for the torrent of information, I find it very useful, as I do the sources you provide. With India's ancient advantage of a central geographical position for land or maritime trade links, it is no wonder that they were able to (much like the Persians or Arabs) communicate with Europeans, Africans, Middle-Easterners, and East Asians, and along the way spread many ideas, not just religious ideologies, but martial arts as well.

Eric
Ogodei
Ancient Chinese Armies used Breath in their fighting techniques, many of these techniques were Daoist.Indian monks introduced Buddhism and indian Martial and breathing Techniques , there were Chinese Techniques but the Indian ones Gave a Combined Chinese Martial and Religous Knoledge Of Buddhist and Daoist Techniques
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