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Workshop on Kalariyapayattu - the hidden treasure of Indian Martial Arts.

Workshop on Kalariyapayattu - the hidden treasure of Indian Martial Arts

3rd January, 2016

Speaker : Ashan Suvrathan

Place : DPA, BTM Campus

Martial art forms like KungFu, Karate and Taekwondo have gained international importance over a couple of decades. Thanks to the likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan etc. who took this to an international audience. Seldom do people in the west know of the existence of an Indian Martial art that can be equal to, if not better than the other oriental martial art forms. To make the students of the Department of Performing Arts aware of this scientific technique of warfare and experience a small part of this discipline of performing arts, we had Ashan Suvrathan from Trissur to lead a workshop on Kalariyapayattu - the hidden treasure of Indian Martial Arts.

Ashan commenced the workshop with a 'Thozhuttu' or 'Bowing in Prayer' and explained the origin of the name and its history. He said that the word Kalari meant a holy space and this whole warfare technique was in protection of this holy space i.e. both the earth and the body. He said that this form originally was practiced and preached by the lord Parashurama himself thus, even today it is practiced in the Parashuramakshetra, the modern day Kerala. The 'Thozhuttu' is considered to be the initiation of the person into the discipline. It is to be noted that the Ashan instructs the Shishya in very ancient poetic Malayalam, which according to him is in practice in Kalariyapayattu only.

Second half of the workshop saw him teaching the students the 1st adavu of the 'Kaikuttippayatu'. These are performed by children between the age group 5 and 7. The adavu is made up of a group of 6 to 8 movements using the hand, legs, punching and kicking techniques. He explained the importance of placing the foot in an angle where the body is completely under control and aware of each move of the opponent. There is no part of the body that is loose or exposed. The hands and legs move in such sync that an attack from any of 360 degrees can be handled. Students were more than happy to repeat the steps and get their angles and postures corrected from his team.

Finally Ashan explained the structure for learning the art form in four levels Mayypayattu, Kolthari, Angathari and Verumkai which would approximately take 3 years’ time each to master. Due to lack of patience from the learners the 12 years of learning is now reduced. He says the Gurus teach a mix of various adavus these days and adviced not to resort to the weapons under Angathari without mastering the Mayypayattu or Kolthari. Like the Baanis in Dance, the practice of Kalariyapayattu also differs across different schools. Ashan also spoke about the death of this warfare technique and its transition into an Art form in today's times due to reduction in the need for fighting. It is essentially a survival technique used by our ancestors during the time of war or to fight the wild animals.

Towards the end of the talk Ashan emphasised on the need for better reflexes and that learning this art form will enhance and channelize the energy from the kundalini chakra. He said it is most important for a Kalari artiste to not stand in linear fashion (I.e both foot in a straight line) rather to stand in a position where the body centre is clearly established.

The evening concluded with a vote of thanks by the Head of the Department of Performing Arts, Dr. Vasanth Kiran and a group picture.

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