20 August 2008

Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art originating in Kerala state, India.

Legend has it that in 350 A.D. Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art originating in Kerala state, India, was taken across the Himalayas by the Buddhist monk, Bodhi Dharma, from southern India, giving rise to Chinese Kung Fu. Kalaripayattu in its current form is 1,500 years old. The discipline involves schooling in physical agility, weapons handling, and then hand to hand combat. Seven levels must be achived to become a Gurukal, or master. At present, Kalari is practiced mainly in the state of Kerala, where several styles exist. Keralites living abroad are attempting to bring the art to the United States and to Canada, in hopes of seeing it grow the way Korean Tae-kwon-do or Brazilian Capoeira is growing.
The Trustees believe that teaching Kalaripayattu at the resort will be an excellent cultural opportunity, and that novice students will create momentum to bring the art form to their home countries. In addition, the women in the women's shelter will be able to benefit from both the exercise and the self-confidence that Kalaripayattu training creates. The proposed resort will include a traditional kalari or gym, which is a building dug 3 feet into the ground and 42 feet long from East to West and 21 feet wide. Tradional kalari design is based on the ancient Vaasthu Shasthra.
Kalaripayattu practitioners are more than martial artists. They are also reputed to be excellent masseurs and bone doctors. In fact, Kalaripayattu is a recognized branch of Ayurveda, or Indian naturopathy. Historically, there is no doubt that ancient rajahs relied not only on the Kalaripayattu practitioners martial skills, but also on their abilities as healers and setters of bones. Note for instance how a rope is skillfully used to direct and control the exact amount of pressure applied by a Kalaripayattu practitioner to a patient's body.

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