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The martial arts of India are probably the only martial arts in the world that have had little or no influence from other martial arts, unlike kung fu, silat, karate, many of these systems had cross influence.
it contains all the essential needs to become a proficient fighter, from grappling, floor fighting, open hand skills and a vast array of weapons.
Used by the ksatriya meaning warrior class of person. If you are a warrior class who generally loves pain, fighting and uphold righteousness according to the ancient scriptures the Vedas, even if were you only learn a few things, you will have the ability to defend yourself quite easily.
The essence of kalari is in its scientific method, and if you have the combative will it will be revealed to you. There are many different forms of martial arts in India, Wrestling, Stick fighting, Thang Ta, and Kalarippayatt, not to mention others forms that exist in India that few know about It's a wonder that these arts have gone unnoticed for so long.
Unlike many other countries practising martial arts many would practise their training in the open in full view of the public. But in India, this is not allowed and only recently has demonstrations have taken place to allow the public to see the different martial arts.
Kalari came from the Sanskrit word 'koolrika' meaning battle training place or gym and ppayat meaning exercise. This is a broad term for martial arts in India. Many schools have different names referring to the dialect and local language. One name is Tekkan meaning south, another is vraja mukti, meaning to diamond body, meaning to make the body and fists as hard as diamonds.This also has referred to the knuckle dust fights that was banned under British rule in the 1800s
There are up to 20 or so names given for martial arts training in South of India , Kalari, Marma adi, Varma adi, Adi Tada, Kay Poru etc. Although Kalarippayatt is found in Kerala, west side of South India, its roots are found all over India especially in Tamil Nadu.
The Systems that Paul Whitrod practises have such roots found in Tamil Nadu spanning generations back.
The History of Tekkan kalari.
It is said that the Sage Agastya Munni is the founding father of the art, being the first exponent of the martial art kalari. According to archaeology, and recent texts depicting the Sage Agastya. It is said that he appeared 1,700,000 years ago. He is a divine Incarnation, for the purpose of healing, martial arts and upholding righteousness. He was expert in the famous pressure point skill called 'marman adi' According to the Vedic texts, he as born thumb size according to the demi gods, which is about 6ft in our calculations, but was quite small, for at time he was born 1,700,000 years ago, as people were much taller then. We all have a certain height but we are all 8 spans high, you can test this by measuring yourself with the span of your hand, thumb to index finger, you will find you are exactly 8 spans high.
Noted for his healing Agustya Munni travelled around curing people and teaching the martial arts skills all over India, which included latter day Iran, Indonesia as this area was part of the Vedic civilisation at that time, and when the seas rose they became islands. Eventually He settled in the mountains that border kerala and Tamil Nadu.
He was also said to have eternal life, and still resides at those mountains today. Also kalarippayatt have another founder and his name was Lord Parasurama, roughly came at the same time and his purpose was to chase out the warriors who were abusing their powers at that time through their martial skill.
The system of Tekkan Kalari.
The kalari systems that Paul Whitrod now teaches are from the southern school known as Tekkan found in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In these arts are found a set number of forms namely 8, 12, 16 or 18. But though these forms give ideas it should be understood that tekkan kalari is 70% is hands on namely in fighting forms, locks etc. it is a very scientific art and base itself on certain key principals. Some of these are as follows 8 body positions 10 directions of moving 18 hand strikes 5 punches 8 elbows 16 stepping methods 8 kicks 64 locks If we take a look at the body movement in 10 directions, these are forward, back, side right, side left (four), 45% back and forth left and right (four), and up and down (2) totalling ten, From these ten one can create a thousand ways of moving, but whatever way we move is still made from the ten simple directions in various combinations to form 1000s of ways Also take locking there are 64 separate locks, applied to the wrists, elbows, shoulder body, legs, and ankles. Each one of the locks can have 4 variations giving more than 250 locks, but there are only 64 locks to be studied. Once you have learnt these then you can vary, create according to your practise. This applies to the 18 hand strikes. Body movement and so on. Kalari takes complete body movement into great consideration such as ducking, diving, jumping, spinning, dodging, rolling, forwardly, backwardly, side to side.
Once you understood these 8 principals of movement, then you combine in your own time e.g. duck and spin at the same time. So you can see it's a science in itself, without any restrictions.
One of the most highly skills of Tekkan are the body language form, based on the 4 directions and 4 cardinals. It requires mastery to utmost sophistication. At each point there is a posture and for each posture there is a way to attack and defend. It has the north position, south position, east position, west position, northeast position and so on. This formation is highly important for facing your opponent in battle during a life or death confrontation and that according to the way you stand or position yourself can determine your attack or defence. This skill still exists within the kalari and dates back to the battlefield when facing your opponents (up to ten). How you can make your opponent to be drawn in, or know how to escape from him, etc. In tekkan kalari every strike that is made is meant to be knock out or damaging movement, there are no half play moves
Apart form open hands skills there are weapons form, namely the long stick, short stick which is the same as the arnis stick, knife, mace (club) sword and shield, flexible sword, spear. Are most common weapon taught, but there are also other more obscure weapons.
Tekkan also uses toe hooks that hook around the toes to use in tearing at the enemy, used during jungle warfare. This is one of the unpleasant weapon striking weapons.
This is just an outline of this tekkan kalari. And will try to shed more light on this system in coming months.
Kalari is a scientific method of combat and base itself on the ancient wisdom of the scriptures laid down thousands of years ago, its is both crude and sophisticated. Where its is crude is in its simplicity in attacking and defending and where its sophiscfcated is in its body language forms as found in some of Indian dance forms such as bharatanatyam, kota kali, Shiveratyam dance etc, which take years of mastery.
There are some 100 different dance forms that have depicted fights since ancient times. But why is that such an ancient martial art has never been really explored and yet as a deep tradition of both skill and history. Many of the methods that was outlawed during the British rule of India. Such as the ferocious tiger fights where two fighters though each other with metal spikes resembling a claw, many found the death this way. Other kalari practitioners became involved in jungle warfare and so kalari schools were to be seen as obstacle to the British rule and so went underground. It did survive through that turmoil period and one of the first showing of Indian martial arts was shown on BBC1 some 20 years ago.
Since then many older generation masters have begun to teach openly and there are some 200 kalari schools throughout Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But at least 80% of them are still keeping a low profile. Even now the Indian government has placed a new rule that has banned real weapons in the kalari class, due to many fights taken place outside and the kalari weapons used for the fights. So now imitation weapons have been brought in, but some of the seasoned kalari masters still use the live weapons, and said that it gives it that special edge when practising for realism.