Monday, February 25, 2013

and the martial arts

In the south Indian state of Kerala (the homeland of kalaripayat), Bodhidharma is remembered as both a kalari master and as the "father of Han-Chinese Shaolin Fist"[50]. The Yi Jin Jing also credits Shaolin kungfu to Bodhidharma. Malays believe that Bodhidharma introduced preset forms into silat. All this would make him an important influence on Asian martial arts in general. However, both the attribution of Shaolin boxing to Bodhidharma and the authenticity of the Yi Jin Jing itself have been discredited by some historians including Tang Hao, Xu Zhen and Matsuda Ryuchi. This argument is summarized by modern historian Lin Boyuan in his Zhongguo wushu shi as follows:
As for the "Yi Jin Jing" (Muscle Change Classic), a spurious text attributed to Bodhidharma and included in the legend of his transmitting martial arts at the temple, it was written in the Ming dynasty, in 1624, by the Daoist priest Zining of Mt. Tiantai, and falsely attributed to Bodhidharma. Forged prefaces, attributed to the Tang general Li Jing and the Southern Song general Niu Gao were written. They say that, after Bodhidharma faced the wall for nine years at Shaolin temple, he left behind an iron chest; when the monks opened this chest they found the two books "Xi Sui Jing" (Marrow Washing Classic) and "Yi Jin Jing" within. The first book was taken by his disciple Huike, and disappeared; as for the second, "the monks selfishly coveted it, practicing the skills therein, falling into heterodox ways, and losing the correct purpose of cultivating the Real. The Shaolin monks have made some fame for themselves through their fighting skill; this is all due to having obtained this manuscript." Based on this, Bodhidharma was claimed to be the ancestor of Shaolin martial arts. This manuscript is full of errors, absurdities and fantastic claims; it cannot be taken as a legitimate source.
The oldest available copy was published in 1827 and the composition of the text itself has been dated to 1624. Even then, the association of Bodhidharma with martial arts only becomes widespread as a result of the 1904–1907 serialization of the novel The Travels of Lao Ts'an in Illustrated Fiction Magazine.
Huiguang and Sengchou were expert in the martial arts before they became two of the very first Shaolin monks—years before the arrival of Bodhidharma. The Taishō Tripi?aka documents Sengchou's skill with the tin staff.
Bodhidharma is associated with the idea that spiritual, intellectual and physical excellence are an indivisible whole necessary for enlightenment. Such an approach to enlightenment ultimately proved highly attractive to the samurai class in Japan, who made Zen their way of life, following their encounter with the martial-oriented Chán Lingji School introduced to Japan by Eisai in the 12th century.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What is Kalaripayattu?
Kalaripayattu is a martial art native to the state of Kerala in Southern India. It is believed to be one of the oldest Asian martial arts, and may in fact be the basis for many martial arts practices in Asia. Records of people practicing kalaripayattu date back to at least 1,000 BCE, illustrating how venerable this martial art is, and how remarkable it is that people continue to practice kalaripayattu today. Resemblances to kalaripayattu can also be seen in many traditional Asian martial arts disciplines, suggesting that they have a common root.

The term “kalaripayattu” translates as “practice in the arts of the battlefield.” Practitioners work in a structure known as a kalari which provides a great deal of space for instruction and practice, along with room for bouts in which two students work with each other in a mock duel. In addition to being a noted method of combat, kalaripayattu is also an art in itself, and it has heavily influenced the dance and performance traditions of Kerala.    


History of Kalaripayattu
Kalaripayattu is believed to have originated with the land itself. The history of Kalari dates back to the Vedic era. Dhanurveda, upaveda of Yajurveda, mentions about the practices used for warfare. Agnipurana has extracts from Dhanurveda which clearly depicts the weapons used and the training which was given during the Vedic period.

During the Sangom Age (BC200-AD600) is the time when many famous Tamil literary works were compiled. Many of these sets of poems like Puranaru and Akanaru mentions about Verakalu, the stone laid down for the valiant hero, and also of the martially inclined practices that were rampant among the people during that period. The Kalaripayattu has been used repeatedly in these anthologies. 

According to one school of thought, the proponent of Kalaripayattu is Sage Agasthya and he passed down the knowledge to 18 disciples or sidhas. Eminent among them were sages like Kumbhamuni, Pulasthian, and Bogar from whom it was passed on to the next generation of sages like Parashurama and hence on.
Another belief popular in the Malabar area speaks about Lord Shiva as the one who developed the art during his wrath over dakshayaga, and he taught this to Parashurama, his disciple, who later passed it on to 21 Brahmins. 
With time, there developed shalas (centers of learning and healing) where the practitioners perfected martial techniques and used their healing skills in service to the community. When need arose they were called upon to protect king and country. These shalas came to be known as kalaris. The practitioners were mainly Nairs. 
The Portuguese traveler Durate Barbosa mentioned the practice of Kalaripayattu in his travel log in the 12th century A.D. 
Kalaripayattu, the divine art form of Kerala, is believed to be the oldest martial art in the world today and the progenitor of all existing martial arts, hence reverentially called, "Mother of all Martial Art". Da Mo Sardili, (also popularly known in Chinese scriptures as Bodhidharma) a Buddhist monk from South India, is credited with having introduced Kalaripayattu into China in the early part of 6th century A.D. His theories and practices molded on the tenets of Kalaripayattu form the basis of martial art Shao Lin Kung-Fu which in turn sired other forms like Karate.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

‍തെളിഞ്ഞൊരു മാനവും സുന്ദരമായ പ്രഭാതവൂം ശാന്തമായ അന്തരീക്ഷവും സമാധാനപൂര്‍ണ്ണമായൊരു ദിവസവും നേരുന്നു....എല്ലാ ഐശ്വര്യവും നിറഞ്ഞൊരു ദിവസം ആയിരിക്കട്ടെ.......ദയവായി പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥനയില്‍ ഓര്‍ക്കുക ? !!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kalaripayattu , Martial Art of Kerala

Kalaripayattu - the mother of martial arts

Kalaripayattu is an ancient form of martial art training and discipline of Kerala. It is regarded as the only form of the most ancient traditional systems of physical, culture, self-defence and martial art technique still existing in India. It is the forerunner of all martial arts and it is still practiced and taught in Kerala. Kalaripayattu has its root back to the 12th century AD when the conflicts between the feudal principalities in the region were very common.

The term Kalaripayattu means `combat training inside the gymnasium`. The word `kalarihas` is derived from the Sanskrit word `kholoorika`, which means `a military training ground`. The art is taught in a special ground called a `kalari`. The charge of the Kalari is taken by the `Nayakanmar`. The Nayakanmar then becomes `Nayar` in some regions, like `Kurup`, `Nambiar`, `Panikar` etc. The Nayar, who has the charge of a particular Kalari or group of Kalaris are called `Gurukkal`. The Kalari is partly a gymnasium, partly school and partly regarded as a temple. It is constructed by following the traditional ethics.

History of Kalaripayattu
The effort made by Kerala to mobilise itself against the Chola threat transformed the entire country into a military training camp. It had been often suggested that is was possibly during this time that the Kalari system evolved.

Training in Kalaripayattu
The kalari is designed in rectangular shape and is aligned in east west and Hindu deities are placed in each corner. The Kalaris are established in almost all the homes of the Nairs to teach the methods of welfare. The training of Kalaripayattu starts at a very young age. Both the boys and girls come to learn the art. The learning of the art of Kalaripayattu involves the ritual stretching and flexing exercises. It is supposed to help in achieving concentration and balance. To increase the agility of limbs, a full body massage is also done. Various new weapons are introduced as the trainee or the student develops to learn the new techniques. These weapons include the sword and shield of the medieval warrior.

During the training period of Kalaripayattu art, if a trainee gets injured then treatment is done based on the Ayurvedic principles. Thus, with the development of this art, a traditional system of medical treatment for bone and soft tissue injuries also evolved. At the time of the learning period, the trainees are offered regular physical exercises and trained with weapons like spear, dagger, sword and shield etc. The most brilliant students are taught the marmas like the vulnerable points in the human system. In some parts of Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, the art of Kalarippayattu can be seen and learnt. The training of Kalaripayattu is targeted to the ultimate coordination of mind and body.

Types of Kalaris
The Kalaris were of two types initially. The smaller one was known as `CheruKalari` (cheru means small) or Kuzhi Kalari (kuzhi means the portions formed by caving in the earth). The second type was `Anka Kalari.` The Kuzhi Kalari type is named so because the floor of this particular Kalari was built at a lower level than the surrounding land by taking out soil to attain the necessary depth. This type of Kalari was built to provide physical and weapon training. The systematic and scientific ways of exercise in Kalarippayattu was first imparted in the Kuzhi Kalari type of Kalari.

The purpose of building the `Anka Kalari` was to fight duels to decide any quarrel between the local rulers or for a cause of revenge or for some other reason. For this type, the Kalaris were made in a place, which can accommodate all the people of local region so that they can watch the duel properly.

Another type of platform named, `Ankathattu` was also used for fighting duels and it belongs to the same class as `AnkaKalari`. The platforms were constructed four to six feet above the ground level for which famous carpenters were engaged. The platforms were built before the date fixed for the duel. To start with this, first elaborate rituals are performed and then the `Ankathattu` would be handed over to the fighters.

Thus, to practice Kalaripayattu one has to develop acrobatic capabilities, when using swords or knives to attack their adversaries and even an unarmed exponent.

(article courcesy:

martial arts of India

Steve Richards 2002
The ethnic Indian martial art of Kalari Payat (Kalaripayattu) - meaning 'Battleground' or 'Gymnasium' - (Kalari), 'Method' or 'Art' - (Payatt), has a special significance for practitioners of the Tibetan and Chinese martial arts.

In tradition, the Shaolin Temple martial art of China was introduced by the Indian Buddhist Patriarch and founder of Ch'an' (Zen) Buddhism; Bodhidharma (450-523 AD). 
Bodhidharma known in Chinese as 'Dat-Mo' was the 28th Patriarch in the dhyana (Sanskrit for meditation and hence Ch'an and Zen) Buddhist tradition of India.

He had been invited to China by the Emperor Wu, an ardent Buddhist. Bodhidharma later retired to the Shaolin Temple, and according to legend instructed the Monks there in a series of exercises that went on to form the basis of Shaolin Temple 'boxing'.  Variously, these exercises are recorded as martial arts techniques and forms from India, or, simply calisthenics, as identified in the 'I Chin Ching' or "Muscle Changing Classic".  Extant wall paintings and murals at the Honan Shaolin Temple in North East China show etnic Indian Monks sparring and training in boxing skills with Chinese Monks, supporting the view that Bodhidharma's exercises were in fact martial arts - the martial arts of his homeland - India.
There are no records that chronicle the historical origins of Kalari Payat, only narrative accounts formatted as myth and legend. Most of these credit Kalari's origins to Lord Shiva, one of the three principle Gods of the Hindu pathenon.

Shiva has many aspects, he is depicted as moral and paternal, but also under one of his other names (mahakala) as the Great God of Time, the 'Destroyer' of all things. He is the Great Yogi who dwells on Mount Kailassa in the high Himalayas, deep in the dhyana meditation that maintains the worlds very existence.

Shiva was said to have taught the Brahmin (highest Hindu caste) Parasurama the art of Kalari Payat, the art itself arising out from Shiva's war with his Father-In-Law Daksha, one of the Prajapatis or 'Lords Of Creation'. Parasurama taught his 21 disciples (all Brahmins themselves) the art of Kalari Payat, and then opened 108 Kalari (school's/gymnasiums) around the Kerala region of Southern India.

The very sparse written historical details that exist today, about Kalari Payat, date back to between the 9th and 12th centuries AD. Obviously, this is much too late for the arts origins given the teachings of Bodhidharma, and the long martial heritage of India, known to the Persian Empire (circa 6th Century BC) and the Hellenistic Empire of Alexander the Great (4th Century BC). It is however, well within the time frame for a transmission (along with Tantric Buddhism) to Tibet, and for the period of Ah-Dat-Tor Lama, founder of the Tibetan Lion's Roar Lama martial art (Circa 1426 AD) - see below.

Nevertheless, Bodhidharma, is remembered in the Kerala Region of Southern India - the Homeland of Kalari, as both a lineage Kalari Master, AND, as the Father of Han-Chinese Shaolin 'Kung-Fu'. 

Kalari Payat has many similarities with Chinese martial arts. There is a division into Northern and Southern styles. There is a separation of systems and techniques into 'external' and 'internal' categories. There is a medical tradition (in Kalari: Ayurveda), there is a vital point discipline (in Kalari: Marma-adi), there is a 'spiritual' aspect that covers both orthodox faiths such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, and also, as in Chinese Kung-Fu a demonology and the use of alters. There is a strong weapons training tradition in Kalari, indeed in some systems the empty hand arts are secondary - as in some South-East Asian martial disciplines.

Kalari has many distinct practices too, the use of massage to prepare the fighter for the rigors of training can last a period of several months. The 'Kalari' or Gymnasium - particularly in the Southern systems is constructed as a ritually dug pit of specific dimensions.

Kalari Payat today, is still practiced in the same manner as it was hundreds and probably thousands of years ago, the rural traditions of India keeping it's original practices very much alive and unaltered, in large contrast to much of Mainland Chinese Kung-Fu - which has undergone great change since the homogenization of the Cultural Revolution.

This author was astonished in 1982 to witness a British BBC television documentary entitled: "The Way Of The Warrior": 'Kalari, the Indian Way'. The opening film sequence was of a Southern Kalari Payat Guru (Master) performing a traditional 'Form' that was near identical to a Tibetan Lion's Roar Lama Kung-Fu form that he had learned! This was despite a separation between the arts of many hundreds of miles and several hundreds of years. The connection was real, present and obvious.

An intriguing suggestion has been made by several prominent martial arts historians, notably Tatsuo Suzuki, Hirokazu Kanazawa, and Masutasu Oyama, that the Greek Martial Art of Pankration (all Powers) introduced into India by the army of Alexander the Great in the 4th Century BC, influenced the development of Kalari, and thence, the martial arts of China, Tibet, Japan, Okinawa and South-East-Asia. The Greeks remained in India and Afghanistan for three hundred years, during which time Greek (Hellenistic) culture pervaded that of India, even influencing China and Japan.

Today, mainly for reasons of national pride, many Chinese reject out of hand the possibility of any effect on Kung-Fu from Greek Pankration. The Japanese and Okinawan's, who openly acknowledge the influence of Kung-Fu on their arts are less reticent.

Kalari and Tibetan Martial Arts:
The Tibetan Lion's Roar! Lama, Potala Palace Martial Art: the martial art of the Tibetan Nation and People; is a Tantric Yana in it's own right. The art becomes known to narrative history in the middle of the 15th century AD, when the Lama Ah-Dat-Tor, a Tantric Siddha (Crazy Wisdom Teacher), and student of Dharma Master Gong-Got Lama, at the Potala's famous: Namgyal or "Victorious" Monastery, 'created' the Lion's Roar! martial art through a Tantric meditative and Yiddam (Deity Meditation) process,making Lion's Roar Lama Potala Palace Kung-Fu, part of the Gelugpa or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, a part of the lineage sect of the Dalai Lama himself.

This is as far as the oral narrative histories, can take us. However, broader anthropological research can offer the potential for further insight.

The 'Potala':  Early legends concerning the Red Mountain at Lhasa, tell of a sacred cave, considered to be the dwelling place of the Bodhisattva Chenrezig that was used as a meditation retreat by Emperor Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century AD. In 637 King Songtsen Gampo built a palace on the 'Red Hill/Mountain' at Lhasa. From as early as the eleventh century the Palace was called Potala. The name probably derives from Mt. Potala (Sanskrit: Potalaka - derived from the Tamil for 'Brilliance' or 'To Light a Fire') the mythological mountain abode of the Bodhisattva Chenrezig (Indian - 'Avilokiteshvara', Han- 'Kuan Yin') in the Kerala region of Southern India.  The Potalaka is sacred to Hindu's, Jains and Buddhists. The Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo has been regarded as an incarnation of Chenrezig (as indeed were all the subsequent incarnations of the Dalai Lama). As he founded the Potala, it seems likely that the Mountain top Palace of Lhasa took on the name of the Indian sacred mountain.

Given this, and given that The Lion's Roar (as part of the Lotus Sutra) was originally a Theravada Arhat teaching, it seems likely that very early Buddhist influence (Theravadian) may well have entered into Tibet, and settled near to the Potala Mountain.  The Lion's Roar! Tibetan martial art, is acknowledged to have been influenced by the Indian martial art of Kalari Pyatt. Some narrative histories make direct claim that Ah-Dat-Tor was trained in Kalari, and, some martial arts forms from the 'Southern' style of Kalari Pyatt, from the Kerala district, are very close indeed in technique and sequence to modern Lion's Roar forms, even without any evidence whatsoever of any recent historical contact between the systems.  This fact was recorded in a BBC Television film documentary in 1981: "Kalari, the Indian way" which shows a Southern Kalari Master performing a martial arts form near identical to one found in a branch lineage from the Chan-Tat-Fu line of Tibetan Hap-Gar Kung-Fu. Given that the Sacred Mountain of Potala is in Southern India, a potential link to Southern Kalari martial arts is obviously evident (see above).

Given also that Gong-Got Lama (Dharma Master) was also a teacher of martial arts at the Potala to Ah-Dat-Tor Lama, it may well be that Southern Indian Kalari Pyatt together with its sister art Simhanada Vajramukti, was already present at Lhasa, and taught on the Potala Red-Hill for many generations before 'Lion's Roar' as we know it (exclusively through Han Chinese lineages) was 'formulated' by Ah-Dat-Tor himself.

The transformation of the Arhat (Theravadian) tradition into the Mahayana Bodhisattva, may mirror the transformation of Iindian Kalari Pyatt into Tibetan Lion's Roar Lama 'Kung-Fu'. Named Arhat forms still exist in some extant Han 'Tibetan' Hop-Gar, Lama and White Crane Kung-Fu lineages, that all arise from the original Lion's Roar of Ah-Dat-Tor. Bodhisattva forms also exist, showing the mixture of traditions. Indeed some Tibetan lineages in Hop-Gar claim that their Tantra is from the Karmapa 'Black-Hat' tradition, which cannot be the case if Ah-Dat-Tor was a Monk at the Potala, unless, further influence occurred after Ah-Dat-Tor's time, which seems to be the case.

Nevertheless, Ah-Dat-Tor's art, as originated by him, or as 'ascribed to him', albeit arising from a Kalari root, has further diversified into many branches.  To be authentically 'Tibetan' however, the Lion's Roar! Lama 'Kung-Fu' MUST be Tantric in form and practice, this is the essential root, and must be 'living' even in the Han-diversified or Westernized branches of the art.

To be practiced as Tantra, TRUE Lion's Roar! Martial Arts will resemble Japanese 'Zen' martial systems, even more than they do Han Chinese, in respect of their integrated spiritual - Buddhist practices. Just as Karate-Do is the way of the 'Empty' (Zen) Hand, so too is Lion's Roar 'Tantra', in it's integrated body, mind, and spiritual form.

Buddhism has always changed to meet 'local' conditions, in host cultures: Tibet, Thailand, Japan, China, the West etc (e.g. 'Gnostic Buddhism').  Lion's Roar! as a Tantric martial art has also changed and evolved, but, as with Buddhism, and in particular, as with 'Tibetan' Buddhism, the art must have a Tantric core. Then, the Lion's Roar! will still Roar the Buddha's Dharma, and still be a vehicle for transformation and enlightenment, just as it was always intended to be.....

'Tibetan' Kung-Fu has been demonstrated to be related in religion to India thru Tantric Buddhism, and now thru actual research the physical connections in technique and form can be seen as still alive, and still flourishing in Kerala, Southern India, the 'homeland' of Kalari, which is perhaps the 'Mother Art' for both Tibetan and Han Chinese 'Kung-Fu'......

Monday, July 28, 2008

KUDASSANAD Ente Nadu (എന്‍റെ ഗ്രാമം)

Kudassanad is part of the Palamel Panchayat (village council), which comes under Alappuzha District. The natural world in its true spirits is seen in Kudassanad with evergreen nature and high hills with rubber plantations. Situated on the border between Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts, just 4-km to the north passes the Main Central (MC) Road and 4-km to the south the Kayamkulam-Punalur (KP) Road.

Kudassanad is situated on the threshold of Pandalam, where Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala grew up in the palace of the King of Pandalam. Pilgrims to Sabarimala come to Pandalam for worship at the Valiya Koickal Temple before proceeding to Sabarimala. The annual ceremony of carrying the “Sacred Ornament” (Thiruvabharanam) to adore the deity in Sabarimala is a great religious event, in which hundreds of thousands of believers participate.

Kudassanad forms part of the Mavelikara Parliamentary and Pandalam Assembly Constituencies. The legendary M.N. Govindan Nair, Thoppil Bhasi and K.C. George - all veterans of the Communist movement - who stood in the forefront of the Vayalar-Punnapra struggle - have represented the constituencies in the 1950s and 1960s.

Though a small village, Kudassanad is self reliant in almost all fields. It has modern infrastructure and state-of-the-art services: Anganvadi, Government LP School, one English medium School run by the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, one LP School run by the Syro-Malankara Rite of the Catholic Church and one Higher Secondary School belonging to the Nair Service Society (NSS). The Panchayat Samskarika Nilayam (Cultural Centre) takes care of the intellectual needs of the people. The general health of the population is taken care of by Mar Baselios Mission Hospital and other private and homeopathy clinics as well as by other highly qualified medical practitioners. In addition to the Post Office, the locality has several STD/ISD Booths. There are a number of regular government and private buses plying at an interval of 10-15 minutes to different directions. Also numerous taxis, jeeps and three-wheelers facilitate the travel needs of the general public. Daily evening markets, in addition to the two weekly markets on Tuesday and Friday, attract people even from distant villages. Long before globalisation came to big towns, Kudassanad had the Cable TV facilities, which can receive hundreds of national and international TV Programmes!

The natives, irrespective of caste and creed, are proud of their famous centuries old (Thirumani Mangalam Mahadevan) temple. Kudassanad is also sanctified by the presence of the ancient St. Stephen’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral. Consecrated in 1873, this cathedral is fondly called the Valia Palli. St. Thomas Catholic Church, consecrated in 1944, is another Church, besides one Guru Mandiram.

The literacy rate of Kudassanad, having a population of over 5,000 is admirable. The population density is 1144 per sq. Km. 70 per cent of the population owns land. Kudassanad also jealously guards the distinction of being the granary of Palamel Panchayat. Under the Kallada Irrigation Project (KIP), tributaries were constructed to release water to the Karingaly Paddy Fields spreading over 1,500 acres in the upper Kuttanad region in times of drought; but as in every case, this noble attempt is scuttled by the lethargic, negligent and arrogant bureaucracy. Thus costly lives saving crops are damaged every year resulting in avoidable hardships to the farmers. Even on occasion the water is released, the heavy silting of the KIP canals due to lack of maintenance and clogging at different points have been affecting the free flow of water along various stretches of the canal leading to the Karingaly paddy fields extending to the geographical jurisdiction of Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta revenue divisions, comprising Kudassanad, Karimuckam Cherickal, Poozhickad, and Ulavuckad. It may be mentioned here that Basmati cultivation had successfully been initiated at the Karingaly paddy fields at the turn of the century.

In addition to rice, vegetables, tapioca, black pepper, cashew nuts, mangoes, ginger, pine apple, coconut trees, etc. are also cultivated. Milk collection and distribution centres are a great boon to the villagers. A few families practice ducks and poultry farming. Brick manufacture is done on a small scale. Rice and flourmills take care of the work formerly carried out by housewives. There is also a daily market; teashops, bakeries, grocery shops, and the like help the village to be self-sufficient.

The mostly educated people, working abroad (Gulf Region, European Union, the U.S.A. and Canada) have brought fame and prosperity to the village, which has completely changed its facet, thus fondly earning the nickname “mini-Gulf”.

Kudassanad has a fairly good system of commercial and cooperative banking network. In an area of vast potentiality, a team of industrious individuals working together brought in a new branch of The Catholic Syrian Bank Ltd. (CSB) to harness the vast financial resources of Kudassanad.