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When you travel, it is essential that you give your Children a taste of the place’s culture.

Learn the local Language. Try the local Cuisine. Listen to local Music and watch the local dance.

And here’s one more! Experience the local martial arts!

And if its Kerala…its Kalari!

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The quick reflexes and flexible body movements of the Kalari practitioners leaves the audience spell-bound. (Copyright Belraj Kalari)

Kalaripayattu is an ancient martial arts form which originated in Kerala.

I took my children to a Kalari (a teaching ring located in a low sand pit where the art form is taught) to watch a performance. It was truly spectacular and my children came away awed!

The term kalari refers to place, threshing floor or battlefield. The term payattu means to exercise in arms or practice.

Kalari is performed in a low sand pit after paying obeisance to the weapons and lighting the multi-layered lamps

Kalarippayattu traces its mythological origins to sages of yore like Parasuram and Agastya.

It is inspired by the raw strength and sinuous power of animals, the postures are named after animals like the tiger, snake, crocodile etc.

The practice combines fluidity and power and the routine includes exercises and movements for the upper and lower body by making use of various postures.

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Agility Flexibility Grace Speed…Kalari Masters have it all

The history of Kalari is also very interesting.

It was the militia of medieval times when all rulers and landlords had their own private militia.

In 1792, the British outlawed the practice and placed a ban on the practice of kalarippayattu and a prohibition placed on the carrying of arms. However, devoted teachers continued to practice and teach this art form in secret and the knowledge and techniques did not die out.

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Girls and Women also practice Kalaripayattu like this famous Kalari Master of Kerala.

‘In Kerala,’ says Belraj Soni, a Kalari Practioner and Teacher, ‘Kalarippayattu is a way of life in Kerala. Children as young as six and seven – both boys as well as girls, join the Kalari to obtain training. It has been so for centuries. It is an integral part of the culture,’ he explains.

The fascinating thing is Kalarippayattu is said to have influenced other indigenous art forms like Kathakali and Theyyam.

It is also said that Kung-Fu was inspired by Kalarippayattu!

The Malabar coast had close trade connections with China since early times. Daruma Bodhidarma, a Buddhist monk and master of Kalarippayattu is said to have taken this art form from Kerala to China, where it evolved into Kung-Fu.

As they say in Kerala, Kalaripayattu is the mother of all Martial Art Forms!

So when you are in Kerala, don’t miss giving your child a chance to experience this unique and ancient art form!

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  1. […] If you’re heading to Kerala, don’t miss the Kalari! […]

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