The story of Kalaripayattu today -The Hindu

The story of Kalaripayattu today


The ‘mother of all martial arts’ is at risk of getting corrupted

Losing battle?:Kalari is being misrepresented in the popular media as a martial art form with dance moves in it, feels Krishna Prathap, an expert.BANGALORE: At a time when India is witnessing a revival of ancient forms of art like classical dance and yoga, there are others which are striving to stay alive. Kalaripayattu, originating from Kerala, is one such form ofmartial art.

If not anything else, Kalari, which is often referred to as the mother of all martial arts, runs the risk of getting corrupted due to contemporisation.

Krishna Prathap, a second-generation Kalari instructor who migrated from Kerala to Bangalore to teach the art, says the art is being misrepresented in the popular media as a martial art form with dance moves in it. “Kalari is 3,000 years old. Many martial art forms like Shaolin are influenced by Kalari,” he says, defending the art.

Learners of Kalari make a beginning with warm-up exercises, followed by intense body movements, after which they progress to movements with the wooden stick, the metal and finally unarmed combat. It is said that it takes nothing less than 15 years to reach the final stage.

When asked why people choose Kalari over the gym or yoga, the master says Kalari offers yoga, meditation and relaxation along with self-defence techniques, which explains why 75 per cent of his class consists of IT professionals.

One such learner is Mayank Rungta, a software engineer from Rajasthan. “I did not know about Kalari before I shifted to Bangalore. After taking these classes, I feel agile, flexible and rejuvenated,” says the young techie who has been learning the art for three years, as he gets ready to leave on his bicycle after a long Kalari session. Prathap also has an anecdote to share, and a bitter one at that.

“When we were performing in the T20 Champions League along with Chinese artists, the broadcasters decided to focus only on the Chinese. Was this because they were foreigners?” he asks, stressing on the need to spread awareness on traditional art forms rather than foreign ones.

Prathap currently holds classes in the National Games Village Rangamandira Hall and the Indian Heritage Academy in Koramangala, and in Doddakalasandra on Kanakapura Road.

Those interested in learning Kalaripayattu, and are between six and 55 years of age, can contact Krishna Prathap on 09448482643, send a mail to him on or visit