Northern kalaripayattu

Northern Kalaripayattu

Northern kalaripayattu

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The northern style of kalaripayat places comparatively more emphasis on weapons than on empty hands. Masters in this system are usually known as gurukkal (or occasionally as asan), and were often given honorific titles, especially Panikkar.

Northern kalaripayat is distinguished by its meippayattu, physical training and use of full-body oil massage. The system of treatment and massage, and the assumptions about practice are closely associated with ayurveda. The purpose of medicinal oil massage is to increase practitioners' flexibility or to treat muscle injuries incurred during practice. The term for such massages is thirumal and the massage specifically for physical flexibility katcha thirumal.

Lineages (sampradayam) in northern kalaripayat include the arappukai, pillatanni and vattantirippu styles.


By oral and written tradition, Parasurama (sixth Avatar of Vishnu) is believed to be the northern style's founder. This legend cannot be substanstiated but kalaripayat is generally believed to have originated in the north of Kerala. What eventually crystallized as northern...
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