Where should I start learning Kalaripayattu
What exactly is Kalaripayattu?
There are some details about Kalaripayattu that nobody mentioned here. I studied it for a short time, and so did some older generations of my family. If you want, there is a four-part documentation that talks about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dmt0WTZfKI0
That being said, there are a few important things you need to know about Kalaripayattu:
1. It is a very intense, physically demanding martial art. If you don't start at a young age you will struggle (you can take up kalaripayattu at an older age if exercise is your goal). The focus is on whole body development. Make your body like flexible steel. The katas (called "legs") include punches, punches, kicks, jumping from a low crouch to step very high and grab. So basically, you're working out almost every muscle in your body.
2. Kalaripayattu also uses yoga techniques and ayurvedic knowledge. Beginners are expected to learn how to do Mayurasana, handstands, etc. to develop strength in the wrists, hands, and your core body.
3.You can study kalaripayattu for twenty years and still not learn self-defense techniques . My Kalari Guru told me this today when I asked why he wasn't teaching self-defense. It all depends on whether the guru sees you as worthy / capable of learning. You see your character, your behavior, and your intentions in deciding this. The tradition is not to teach such techniques to people who might abuse them. So think carefully before joining. You could spend a lot of time and money learning less just because the guru deems you unworthy (this depends, of course, on the guru's understanding of the martial art). For this reason, I think that's particularly bad (click link). You may be better off learning Okinawan karate, BJJ, boxing, Hapkido, or Aikido where you can save with a partner and understand distance and timing early on.
4. Kalaripayattu follows the Gurukul system. Nowadays it is almost never a residential system, but the discipline and relationship between the guru and disciple is maintained as it was in ancient times. You start the lesson by touching the Guru's feet and he will bless you. You also bow to photos of the gods and before you start the katas offer a greeting to the "Bhoomi Devi" (goddess of the earth). If a disciple begins to question the guru or thinks he knows more than the guru, he is asked to leave. They don't teach for the money.
5. Kalaripayattu students participate in full contact sparring competitions. Also against students from other martial arts.
6. It will no safety equipment used. My seniors got injured while training with sticks and swords. His shield was not properly positioned over his head, and Master swung the sword straight at my senior's head. He had to get eight stitches. Another senior had pulled her arm out of tune when her partner grabbed her arm and did something like a judo throw. They do exercise due care, but accidents involving sticks, swords, daggers and the flexible sword are very common in Kalaripayattu. By today's standards, this could be considered irresponsible, but Kalaripayattu practitioners insist on sticking to tradition and giving students confidence to fight with real weapons without protection, because that is real life.
7. A well-trained Kalaripayattu practitioner (one who has the blessings of his guru and has imparted the necessary knowledge) has a thorough knowledge of the human body. They know where people have been injured, how to heal them and which pressure points have which effect.
8. As with any martial art, it is very, very difficult to find a guru who has the maturity and understanding of the true kalaripayattu.
9. Kalaripayattu emphasizes punching movements rather than just punches like karate or kung fu. You basically swing your arms and hit your opponent's head to stun them. They hit their ears (not during class, of course) to make the eardrum burst. They squat to protect important parts of the body. You cross your arms in front of your body, protect your ears with your palm and your solar plexus with your elbows. These techniques can seem very strange to someone with a boxing, karate, or kung fu background as the way you protect your body, posture, and attack techniques are very alien and seem unnatural.
10. Unlike other martial arts, bare-handed defense and attack are taught just a few years after you join (and this too is decided based on the guru's perception of your character and behavior). You will first get to know a number of very complicated katas, then you will be introduced to fighting with long sticks, fighting with short sticks and fighting with daggers and only much later introduced to locks, self-defense techniques and knowledge of healing and the marmas (pressure points). Again only if you are "worthy".
11. Traditionally, the first month of Kalari training is to give a new student full body oil massages to encourage the student's flexibility and adapt to the rigorous physical exercises. Very few modern Kalari schools do this today.
Kalaripayattu was developed for use on the (old) battlefield. This is what the word "Kalari" means. Since other martial arts (especially Kung Fu) supposedly originated in Kalaripayattu, they can't really be compared to that. Although it could be said that Kalaripayattu is so deeply rooted in the tradition and most practitioners relentlessly refuse to adapt it based on the knowledge of modern martial arts, the art may not be as superior to other fighting techniques (see documentary) where MMA fighter Kalaripayattu try), but Kalaripayattu is extremely effective for whole body development, (unsafe) weapon skills and health.
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