BANGALORE: The graceful performers are captivating as they sway onstage, showcasing perfect balance and control. The animal-like movements are in cadence with the music that is being played in the background. And the duel seems real as experienced swords and knives clash ruthlessly, until one admits defeat.
Kalaripayattu, the martial art of Kerala, is finding many takers in the city, not just through performances, but through weekly classes and practice sessions. In Kalari Gurukulam, Chikkagubbi Village, students flock to get acquainted with this ancient martial art of India.
Legend has it that Sage Parashurama learned the sacred art from Lord Shiva and passed it on to his disciples. That it has been passed down for centuries and used by kings in battles only adds to the fascination it holds.
Today, around 150 students attend the coveted classes of Ranjan Mullaratt, the instructor at Kalari Gurukulam, who also conducts classes at Kalari Academy of Performing Arts. To make learning easier, it is divided into levels. Contests and exams ensure focus and regular practice too. "Students come with various objectives," Ranjan says. "Some wish to improve their focus through the precision that Kalaripayattu requires. Others come to increase flexibility, body balance and to maintain fitness. Self-defence is a bonus too, but lots of practice is required for that. The versatility of the art explains why people from different professions — dancers, theatre artists and students— wish to learn it."
The classes cover the different aspects of Kalaripayattu — the intricate footwork, breathing techniques, the postures drawn from animals like the serpent, the horse and the lion, and even defence combat with weaponry at advanced levels.
Jacobo Gastelum Romero from Mexico, a resident student at Kalari Gurukulam, practises the art for three hours every day. "I have been learning for around two months now. It requires a lot of dedication to master, and I am at it for six days a week. But it helps develop strength, so I hope to be able to practice more as time passes. I like how it integrates the movements and exercises that all martial arts require," he says.
Chethana Pruthviraj, who has been attending classes from three years, thinks that it is a way of life. "I can feel the changes that practising Kalariayattu have brought in me. The breathing exercises help in relaxation. I am fit and peaceful," she feels.
To know more about Kalaripayattu, contact Ranjan at 9945155995