Regional variations


Southern style

Southern kalari payat was practised mainly in old Travancore including the present Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu primarily by Nadars and Ezhavas in Kerala. It emphasises empty hand techniques. The founder and patron saint is believed to be the rishi Agasthya rather than Parasurama. Masters are known as 'asaan. The stages of training are chuvatu (solo forms), jodi (partner training/sparring), kurunthadi (short stick), neduvadi (long stick), katthi (knife), Katara a (dagger), valum parichayum (sword and shield), chuttuval (flexible sword), double sword, kalari grappling and marma (pressure points).

Closely related to southern kalari payat is silambam, the art of stick fighting. It supposedly originated in the Kurinji hills of Kerala some 5000 years ago where natives were using bamboo staves to defend themselves against bandits and wild animals. "Salambal" is a common word used to denote the sound of fast flowing rivers/springs, the chirping noises of birds, the murmur of leaves, the noise created by a talking crowd, the whooshing, whirring and clanging sound of weapons etc. When long sticks, swords and chain flails are used they produce the "sala sala" sound which is called salambal. Thus silambam became the name of the martial art that uses long sticks, swords etc.

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