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Kalarippayattu is a Dravidian martial art practiced in Kerala and contiguous parts of neighboring Tamil Nadu of Southern India. It incorporates strikes, kicks, grappling, martial dance, and weaponry, as well as healing techniques.
Although its origin and growth are shrouded in mystery, the ancient ballads and-foreign accounts have left detailed notes on its practices and the physical culture it promoted. As an institution, the Kalari has greatly influenced the cultural life of Kerala society.
Kalaripayattu is the oldest existing martial art form, dating back more than 2000 years and said to be the forerunner of popularly known Chinese martial arts, as the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma took this knowledge from India to China.

The practice of Kalaripayattu is said to originate from the Dhanur Vedic texts encompassing all fighting arts and described by the Vishnu Purana as one of the eighteen traditional branches of knowledge. Kalaris are the schools where training in this martial art form is imparted by Gurukals or masters.
Kalaripayattu has strongly influenced the evolution of several of Kerala’s theatre and dance forms, most prominently Kathakali and Theyyam. Kathakali practitioners are required to train under Kalari masters to develop various attributes such as fitness, stamina, and martial movements enacted in their performances.


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