Thing about being a South Asian historian is that I am so clueless about South Asia. Like about Kalarippayattu. Did I even have an inkling about this mother of Kung Fu? How could I have not known about this bucket-of-oily-goodness South Indian Martial Art? I knew about pehlwani and silambam but nothing about this? How uncooool.

An accidental discovery of a book at Powell’s has opened my eyes. I have been obssessed with the video clips -especially, that one. I want Spike Jonze to direct the Drunken Guru starring the Tony Jaa of Tamil Nadu.

Kalarippayattu literally means ‘place’ where ‘exercises’ are practiced. As a form of physical and martial training, it has been prevalent in Kerala since at least the 12th century. Zarrilli tells us that Brahmans of Kerala in the eleventh century had had enough of Chola aggression and took up arms to fight against them. Or conversely, it developed in the sudra caste of indigenous Nayars during the same time period. The Nayar caste provided retainers, soldiers, and administrators for the Nambudiri brahmins, and were the largest group with rights to bear arms. They could also do some mean triple lutzes in the air before hitting you with the sword. When the Portugese reached south India, they were surprised to see the Nayars walking around with open swords and giving them mean looks.

It was the 1920s and that pesky colonialism that really invented Kalarippayattu. Kottakkal Karnaran Gurukkal [1850-35] and, his student, C.V. Narayanan Nayar [1905-44] created a showcase of the techniques for public performance highlighting the heroic past of Kerala and its many heroes. Kalarippayattu connected with the native audiences with its evocations of “ancient” techniques and incorporation of the mythology of the Mahabharata. From there, it morphed into the 5,000 year old fighting technique and became the mother of all martial arts etc. Funny thing, that colonialism.

related: This and this.

unrelated: What is walking pneumonia? I am fine. really. Have a good weekend, gentle readers.

93 thoughts on “My Simhavadivu Technique is Unstoppable

  1. altaf allabakash shaikh

    May 14, 2014 — 4:50 am

    Hi myself Altaf and live in kolhapur state Maharashtra I am jeet kune do practitioners and I want learn varmakalai here r not any centre varmakalai send me complete varmakalai system books DVDs

  2. Parthasarathy-9962569269

    September 3, 2013 — 3:12 am

    To learn Varmakalai Self-defense, Healing and treatment in Chennai..Contact Kannan Aasan – 9787851275..

  3. I want to learn varmakali for treating patients. I am residing at New Delhi and run a charitable physiotherapy clinic from my home. Please guide me how to go about it.
    Regards,
    Tarun

  4. Sir,
    One of my relation is facing severe problem in below his hip, there is no blood circulation as said by doctor, that we consider over coimbatore. he is having pain on his below hip. we dont know what to do now, please provide some consult and treatment on this.

    Thanks
    Periyasamy

  5. sir

    iam from marthandam kaniykumari dist i lke to earn sudy in varma kalai send me details if any coaching centre in kaniyakumari dist

  6. i am residing in bangalore, i am interested in learning varmakalai.
    could anyone provide me the details abt varmakalai training schools in bangalore.

  7. sir,
    i am eager to learn where you going to start class in Chennai, could you tell me the address

  8. Dr.P.Aybin Raj

    May 21, 2012 — 4:02 am

    Dear all,
    We are happy to inform you that we are offering the following Varma courses,
    CVT-Certificate in Varma Therapy(Duration-10 days)
    DVT-Diploma in Varma Therapy(Duration-1 Month, Eligibility-10th Pass/Fail)
    BVT-Batchelor of Varma Therapy(Duration-1 Year, Eligibility-+2 Pass)
    MVT-Master of Varma Therapy(Duration-1 Year, Eligibility-Any Batchelor degree)

    For Doctors, we are offering the following Varma courses
    MDVT-Master Diploma in Varma Therapy(Duration-1 Month)
    MD-Doctor of Medicine in Varmam(Duration-1 Year, Eligibility-BSMS, BAMS, BUMS, BHMS, BNYS, MBBS)
    PhD-Doctor of Philosophy in Varmam(Duration-Minimum 1 Year, Eligibility-MD(Siddha,Ayurveda,Unani, Homeopathy,Allopathy)

    Our College Address
    UVM College of Varmam,
    (Managed by Global Varma Research Foundation and UVM Trust)
    28/49 First Floor,
    South Usman Road,
    T-Nagar,
    Chennai-17, Contact no-9282226094,044-42840095
    Email-aybinrajp@yahoo.co.in

  9. Hi,

    varmakalai is a art of killing and healing. i got good information in http://www.varmakalailive.com. Hope this will useful for all.

  10. hai . learing the secrt of marama is not esay. its a learing life . marma thoduvarma 108. padu varma 12.thatu varma 8.lot more unknow fact. all those who teach marama plz dont teach to those who are immature to handle the power. dont ever missuse it.if u miss use it a curse.i dont know anything about marma. regards sunil kunju on

  11. hi im thinesh from kanyakumari i want 2 learn varmakalai pls anyone give the adress where the class. Pls send me the adress to thinesht183@gmail.com

  12. Hi!I am Vijay from Madurai.I want to learn to varmakalai and varma sigitchai. Do anyone know any varmakalai teaching centre in Madurai?

  13. HI fri’s i planning to learn varma kalai friends pls refer me the training centers in south India.
    My mail ID is arunmurthyaeri@gmail.com
    Thank you

  14. suganya kindly give your contact details

  15. I’m interested in learning varmakalai art pls send me training center address in chennai near saidapet or t.nagar

  16. I interested in learning varmakalai, so send me the address of thr training centeres address in coimbatore or in pollachi

  17. I had been teaching Kalaripayat, stick, weapon training and Marma sastra (varma kalai). As my friend prassan has commented above, he should know that before India got its freedom, kerala and tamilnadu were one geographically and later it was divided in to two. So there is no need fighting over the point whether Kalari is the Mother martial art or silamam or varma adi or Adithada. To me all this are one and the same and one should not claim it is there’s alone. So if Siddha Agasthya is Tamilian, what about sushruta, vagbhata and charaka. I hope they are not tamilians. They too have written plenty on marma sastra in sanskrit language. So lets take all the goodness as being culturally and traditionally as one and be proud we are Indian.
    I have taught marma sastra in Srilanka and taken classes in Bahrain, done demos and treatments in Qatar. Those interested in learning weapons, Marmam(Varmam) can contact in my email. check my website too. A skillful Marma artist must be knowledeful in Marma chikitsa (the herbal remedy or treatments for the 108 points. Interested students can contact me. If you need to open branches else where, you need to arrange the space for teaching and provide food, accomodation and fees.
    Best of luck to all Martial art lovers.
    Mathew Gurukkal

  18. what happened why no reply for my request.

  19. guruji, i am swaminathan a siddha doctor from trichy-tamilnadu.i want to learn varmakalai kindly help me and provide me details where the varmakalai coaching and guru dakshina .my mobile no.09443591030

  20. Hi Friends,
    like this artical said kalari is not only from kerala, its formed in tamilnadu in ancient times. Southern kerala is known as cheranadu in ancient times.,ex, manimegalai, sivaga sinthamani,kalingathu parani. cheranadu adopted by kochi kings in the time of 13th century.When cholas and pandyas were weak. In kerala they called therkan kalari and vadakkan kalari,most of them feel ther kankalari is froud.Because its pidivarisai likes to varmas, they cant move and feel pain. vadakkan kalari thought by weapons and normal attacking technique only.Second there is very very rare people know about varma in kerala and Tamil nadu.Dont wast your time to learn varma. Even some people knows they will teach them blood lines only. You can learn kutthu varisai in trichy,thanjore, madurai and nagarcoil areas, there are very good old masters who thought you well, but you have to spend time atleast 3 years to become master to this art. Again kalari is not found or produced by kerala its the Tamilians martial art for the world. Thank you all.

  21. Hi All,
    Good to see all your posts here. Varmakalai is not easy to learn it has lot of things to follow up i.e. practice. i tried my young ages for that i could not found any one to teach me. Now i am doing treatment in varma (savatu method) this i had learn from my guru Sasithara Pitu who is from Kerala. i am providing most of the pain or nerve related problems after pulse check (like who ever met accident, strong hits or beats, paralyses etc.). if any one willing to take treatment contact me @ 91-9840504884. please do not contact for varma/marma adi or kalariphitu because i don’t know that. – thanks to all.

  22. Hi,I am very eager to varmakalai, I m a teacher in Yoga,a little knowledge kalari, any Asan ready to teach this art please call me or mail me ….. jaleel

  23. my mother is suffering from a nerve problem named “Multiple Scelerosis” for about 10 yrs. Due to increaing symptoms of the disease, she could not walk or stand now. Can Varma treatment cure this?

  24. hi friends .. i am from coimbatore .. i want to learn Varma kalai… pls provide me wit details of the classes in coimbatore or anywhere nearby …

  25. Dear Sir, can you please provide me the centres situated in Coimbatore[Tamil Nadu]
    to learn varma kalai.

  26. Respected sir,
    I am Anirban Goswami living in Kolkata(west bengal). i am realy willing to learnVarmi Kalai but till now i didt got any master who will teach me.i want to come to kerala and meet you.
    thanking you.
    yours faithfully,
    Anirban Goswami
    contact no-07278082932
    email- ganirban_ece@yahoo.co.in

  27. Pichai Maidheen

    August 11, 2010 — 9:53 am

    Sir,

    I am very interest to learn varmakalai. My native is madurai. Kindly send me full details. Thank you.

  28. p.santhosh kumar

    June 15, 2010 — 4:58 am

    rep sir/mam,
    i’m from andhra pradesh,i want to learn marma adi (self defence,treatment motive) & panchakarma in kerala.is any suitable instituite for teaching above courses.plz intimate me.
    09849895442

  29. hello all,

    Im venkatprabu from Madurai, I learned Kung-fu (chinese monkey kung-fu) for more than 3 years. But learning varma kalai is my dream.After a long search I found a good varma kalai training place in Kollam(Kerala). browse this link http://www.avrdt.com/
    I hope this will be useful for you.

  30. hi all,

    I see lot of people very eager to learn Marmma Adi, Chavutti Thirummal and BoneSetting.
    I am the Master of varma adi from kerala also i learned Bone setting from Mysore. My great guru Jose Vattodil asaan is a great exponent of Marmma Adi. Kottakkal Kunjasaan is my Grand master.
    so if u need to learn Varma adi and Bone setting, please mail me Your details to abrahamthulu@gmail.com.

    Looking forward for your reply.

    Let us all join together and protect the great indian martial arts – Varma Adi from becoming extinct.

    Thanks
    kannan.R

  31. requested sir,

    I need to study varmakalai in nagercoil(kanyakumari district).please mail me if any one is ready to teach me.my e-mail id is cashmierleeth@yahoo.com.

  32. Hi. I had lumbar spondylitis and arthritis in both legs. Alopathy medicines could not cure
    me and so I went for acupuncture, Homeo, Reiki,pranic healing , reflexology and other alternate medicines and learned them also but not cured. Finally I got cured by Varmakalai treatment of Thangapandi swamigal of Madurai and in the process of learning varmakalai treament since 2009. Email: yovan36@gmail.com 9843504444

  33. this is my mail id sp.anbarasan@gmail.com

  34. Hello Sir, I am very eager to learn this Art(kalari payattu, varmakalai).Please guide me.

  35. Guys

    Kalari/kalaripayattu is still practices well in kerala. CVN Kalari is one of the famous one in kerala. A branch of CVN Kalari is in bangalore too. But remember one thing. No one will teach you marma(Not varma kalari) in one or two days. And the masters will teach you the nerve related techniques only after years of hard work and if they think that you deserves it. And this cannot be used for your evil needs as well. If some one needs to know more send mail to dipud_d@yahoo.com.

    NB : I am also practicing kalari for some years. I can lead you to our master

  36. hi all,
    Seminar about varmakalai and their treatment, going to be held.
    Interested candidate can send your resume to my mail (thiyagutrack@gmail.com).
    Candidate should be either from martial arts background or physiotherapy and medicinal background.The seminar will be definitely beneficial to your career.
    you can send your queries to the above mentioned mail regarding seminar.
    Location : Chennai
    Phone Number:9894388423, 9787851275

  37. I don’t know where you and Philip Zarilli get these ideas. Essentially, this is another Western twist to the Eastern history. The mother of many martials arts, including Kalari, is a mixture Tamilian martial arts, starting from Varma Kalai, Silambam, Adithoda, Kuthuvarisai, Malyuttham etc. Almost all martial arts you see today, Kalari, Gong-fu, Muay Thai, Kali etc. are either an offshoot or local art heavily influenced by Tamilian martial arts. Cheras, Cholas were enemies but there were times of peace and alliances when all these martial arts were taught across borders. In all these forms, Kalari and Gong-Fu (what you know as Kung Fu) are the direct descendents of Tamilian martial arts. Gong Fu was created by Shaolin monks based on the martial arts taught by Bodhi Dharma, the founder of Zen and a Tamilian prince. Kalari is just a last surviving bit of Tamilian martial arts. Most of these martial arts declined because they were either outlawed, hidden and the knowledge held back, which only makes sense because in the wrong hands, this is a dangerous weapon. Imagine the intimate knowledge of human body! This was developed by Siddhas or Tamilian Alchemists/Medicos. In fact, the founder of the great Siddha Lineage, Saint Agasthya is the founder of all these martial arts. The intimate knowledge of human body is a speciality of Siddhas and the medical art became a martial art, thus giving us the various martial arts as we know it.

  38. hi, we are providing special treatment for all varma disorders,arthritis,neurological diseases and nerve injuries.also giving special varmakalari martial art training to faithful and dedicated persons.contact-dr.p.aybin raj,49/28,first floor,south usman road,t.nagar.chennai-17.ph-09282226094,email-aybinrajp@yahoo.co.in

  39. Dears….
    I am in chennai, I would like to learn varma kalai, I am bleck belt in New chinese Power Kungfu, prapably in north chennai will be nice.
    my conact Ln 25952750, 25950188, cell 9840470440

  40. DEAR ELANGO I WAS EAGERLY AWATING TO LEARN VARMA KALAI PLEASE CAN YOU TEACH ME I WILL BE SURE FAITHFUL TO YOU MOBILE 9626970208

  41. Hai friends,
    I am Learning varmakalai from renowned master “Kannan Asaan”, who is expert in teaching adi varisai, pedi varisai, ari varisai, vital points and treatment and he put up in chennai. If anyone interested to learn varmakalai,
    contact me at 9894388423 (or)
    master mobile number:9787851275

  42. HI I am from Nagercoil currently working Bahrain. If anyone want to learn Nadan Adi and varmam please contact me. h_nazar@hotmail.com

  43. dr p.aybin raj

    June 20, 2009 — 5:34 am

    hi we are providing special varma treatment for all arthritis and neurological diseases and offering special varmakalari martial art courses to dedicated faithful students at u v m siddha clinic,49/28 first floor, T.nagar,chennai-17

  44. J.Amala jeyakumar

    June 6, 2009 — 6:07 am

    I need the training centres of Varma kalai in Tamilnadu and kerala. Can you pls. provide it.

  45. ganesh prabhu

    May 2, 2009 — 7:08 am

    I want to learn varmakalai
    where

  46. I AM AN INDIAN I LIVE IN CHERNNAI AND I WANT TO LEARN VARMA KALAI

  47. sir,

    I am a resident of Kannur and like to learn varmakalai. Please furnish me full address and phone nos. of any person/institution rendering varmakali.

    Zakir Hussain

  48. hi i am interested varmakalai .pls give me a fundamentals of varmakalai , books and post training.

  49. Hi

    w e are conducting 1 day practical seminar ON VARMAKALAI at chennai and other parts. For details contact 9841160605

    BOTH ON THERAPY AND SELFDEFENSE ASPECT

  50. Respected sir,
    i am prasanth from chidambaram of cuddalore district in tamilnadu. i had severe problem il low back pain from last year still now for me no cure i had consulted with neurologist also. i need ur adress for me i will come there for treatment sir so please give me ur adress sir.
    thanking you,
    yours truly,
    prasanth
    phone no:09488323492
    mail id prasanth_dynamic@yahoo.co.in

  51. no one r giving the correct information about varmakalai training in chennai.please show the address of training centre.

  52. hemant suresh shiral

    January 20, 2009 — 3:06 am

    respected sir,
    i am hemant suresh shiral living in nashik district maharashtra. i am realy willing to learn kalari payattam but till now i didt got any master who will teach me.i want to come to kerala and meet you.
    thanking you.
    yours faithfully,
    hemant shiral
    my contact no 0091-9765536218
    email add hemant.shiral@rediffmail.com

  53. Hi
    I am rajasekar. I am really interested in learning dis art of Varmam. Sir please send in a good learning center in Chennai to this mail address rajasmacks2008@gmail.com

  54. i want to learn silambam and varmakkali in chennai.Please guide me.Please email to me.

    thanks.

  55. Is there anyone in Phoenix, AZ that can teach Varma Kalai?

    Thank you.

    Michele

  56. respected sir,

    i am sankar.i want to learn MARMASASHTRAM because any one know about marma accadamys&books please send details to my mail.special request to all please.

  57. Can you give me an address where they teach the art of Kalarippayattu in Chennai – preferably near Santhome

  58. hai, am in chennai. i want to learn kuthuvarisai. could u please tell the place where it is teaching.

  59. I have done my basic shaolin from henan province for 5 years and now i am looking for a asana of verma kalai. i will prove to be the best student ever just like eklavya i can give any guru dakshina any fees feel free to talk to me if any true guru help .

  60. Dear friends,
    currently im teaching varmakalai in Kanyakumari and Trivandrum(kerala). Lot of peoples are very interested to learn this art. But they cant spend more time to learn this art in there machine life. With their kind request im teaching this art through email. The practical classes are conducting in Chennai & Bangalore. So peoples realy interested to learn Varmakalai Can browse this link http://ayushtech.com/varmakalai/

  61. Hi,
    please can u provide the training center of martial art in karnataka at tumkur

  62. HI

    We are runnig a varmakalai training centre in chennai.
    PLease call 9444043473 for more details.
    We are also teaching secret martial arts

  63. hi i am leonardo ,in bangalore can any one teach me marmakala and kalariyapattu varma kalai…..please if any one teach me i am thankful to them.

  64. vanakkam
    i am from tamilnadu and i am interested in learning “varmakalai” if any one know about the guru ,plz inform me .

  65. hi can you give me the training centres in bangalore??

  66. HI
    i like to learn varmakalai IN CHENNAI PLEAS I WANT CONTACT (TEL OR ADDRESS

  67. Hi,

    For people in bangalore, you can visit the http://www.kalaripayattubangalore.com/

    Regards
    Nanda

  68. Dear Atmaram,

    I can guide you pls mail to elangose@gmail.com

  69. Hi, Im basically from Kanyakumari. Master in varmakkalai & silambam. I learned this art from my grand father. It is a very dangerous art. So we are hidding this art. Currently im in bangalore. Im looking for a good student for me. If peoples realy interested mail to me elangose@gmail.com

  70. Dear Sir,i have lot of nervous problem i want to lean about varmakkalai,this may leave i want to learn this varmakkalai please help me sir

    M SILAMBARASAN

    CELL: 9787455877

    MY NATIVE PLACE TIRUPPATTUR(VELLORE DISTRICT),TAMILNADU

  71. Dear Sir,

    Could you Please tell me varma school or Class in Chennai and Tamil Nadu,

  72. hi all

    if any one need a book on varma kalai , please mail me to leokannan@gmail.com, my master is currently teaching varma kalai in chennai. he has written a book named “yogam mudal varmam varai” which includes yoga, silambam, kuthu varisai techniques. It is more of a practical book for learnign varma kalai. I am currently working on the english translation of the same.
    thanks
    kannan

  73. can u send me details of your branch or your recogonized teaching centers only in tamilnadu.

  74. can u send me details of some good teaching centers in kerala and tamil nadu

  75. hi all,

    I see lot of people very eager to learn kuthu varisai.
    I am the student of varma asan kannan from chennai. My great guru Rajendran asan is a great exponent of kuthu varisai. These two persons were the one who helped in the Indian film , with the varma stuff.
    I am now in australia, so if u need to learn varma kalai especially kuthu varisai, please mail me ur details to leokannan@gmail.com.

    You can learn from chennai or madurai.
    Looking forward for your reply.

    Let us all join together and protect the great indian martial arts – varma kalai from becoming extinct.

    Thanks
    kannan.R

  76. Hi,

    Am shyam from bangalore. I would love to learn varmakalai. I am now in bangalore. Wish to know the learning institutions which could take the course as part time. Can you plz provide me?

  77. is there any training centre available in chennai to learn varmakkalai?

  78. Hi,
    My name is jayan

    I can talk about kalari and marma kalai, If you want!

  79. i am very much interest to know about the varma kalai and interest to learn this art would pl give a address at chennai

  80. hai, i need varmakalai centres in chennai please

  81. hai i like to learn varmakalai and silambattam
    any good coach in tamilnadu

    with regards,
    S. Rajendran

  82. Hi this is Rajesh from Chennai, I need the training centres of Varma kalai in Tamilnadu and kerala. Can you please help me out. I need to take some treatments for my back pain.

    Thanks
    Rajesh

  83. hi, i am a martial arts instructor in NY .from KERALA the birth pl,of kalari every year iam going with my fri&stude.the next trip 2007 any one intr;;pl e m; sajikannadan@yahoo.com

  84. Hi,

    I am portuguese and I am planning to go to India to learn martial arts.

    Does any one knows a good school of Kuthuvarisai and Varma Kalai?

    Does anyone have informations about Vajra-Mushti? Does it still exist in this days?

    with best regards,

    Atmaram

  85. dear sir,

    my cousin sister has a small problems in her knees nerves. it affects all bodies of back side and right hand now it is creat a pain in head nerves, some one had advised to her this problems will be setright only thro the varmam(treatment in varmakalai) Is it possible for curing such prob.pl tell us where can i get the informn and who are the persons to cantact. kindly help us to getrid of the prob pl.

    thanking you

    yours faithfully,

    manjulamani.D

  86. Hai,

    I need the training centres of Varma kalai in Tamilnadu and kerala. Can you pls. provide it.

  87. Hi,

    I need the training centres of Varma kalai in Tamilnadu and kerala. Can you pls. provide it.

    Regards,
    Subburaj

  88. Wow, pretty fascinating.

    Why is it not more recognized (I’ve read tons of martial arts books, and never heard of it)?

    It looks like good exercise, but I’m not sure about the practical fighting applications. There are really only two fighting styles that consistantly win inter-art competitions: Thai kickboxing (muy thai) and Japanese judo (or variations of it, such as ju-jitsu). All others, like karate, kung fu, etc. get taken down very quickly.

    Also–Vulcan death grips, or anything similar, just don’t exist. There are no disabling nerve centers. You can hit someone hard enough to knock them out, or you can strangle/choke them. Hurting people is not that easy.

    Great videos!

  89. The Zarrilli book has a little bit on the Varma Kalai. Absolutely brilliant, I say.

  90. Have you been doing any reading on “Varma Kalai” ? It’s the Kalari Payattu equivalent of the Vulcan nerve pinch. There are purpotedly masters of Kalari who can disable, even kill with precise hits to nerve centers, sometimes even from a few feet away without making any physical contact.

  91. sending (emailed:sepoy@chapatimystery.com) a picture of Bodhidharma (Father of Kalarippayattu). Enjoy.

  92. oh i saw an amazing display of kalaripayattu on the way from bangalore to mysore. it was some sort festival near tipu sultan’s summer palace. very cool. some years later, in the anuradhapura, sri lanka- i went to a museum where we saw small carvings of the chola kings practicing the martial art. these weren’t too laudatory, as the sinhala hated the invading cholas.

  93. If you’ve seen Peter Brook’s Mahabharata you will recognize some of the elaborate and elegant movements, especially in the preparation for one-on-one combat.

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