THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: ‘’Have you ever wondered how a mahout controls a mammoth elephant with a plain stick? The elephant is not afraid of the stick; the animal, in fact, is afraid of the mahout, who knows its every ‘marma’ and thrusts the stick at the right spot if it disobeys.’’
Vijayakumaran Asan was speaking to his newly gained students at Peroorkada GHSS. A batch of frail-looking, thin girls who were, however, adamant and excited about learning the traditional martial art form of Kalaripayattu.
The girls lined up in a row ten minutes after the school clock struck 3.30 pm. The youngest and the thinnest girl in the group, Abhilakshmi, had already changed to a leggings and top, casting away her uniform. But the others were still in the white and green combination. In a few minutes, the weary looking group charged into action, learning the first lessons of Kalaripayattu.
By narrating the elephant-mahout relationship, the Guru only wanted to highlight why kicking
at the right ‘marma’ was important in Kalaripayattu. ‘’Follow my hands and take yours to the same direction. Otherwise, it is a lost art if you can’t hit the ‘marma,’’ he could be heard saying.
For the last four years, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been giving training in martial arts under its Girls Education Programme.
However, the Peroorkada GHSS had largely stayed away. But this time, having decided to join, it opted for Kalaripayattu, one of the first schools in the city to go in for the traditional martial art. Many others had opted for Karate, swimming and aerobics.
‘’Nowadays, it is better if girls knew self-protection skills. And Kalaripayattu
is one of the best martial
art forms to be learned,’’ said headmistress Laila Moni.
The school comes under the North Urban Resource Centre. Block programme officer Suchitra, who monitors the programme, said the Attingal Girls High School had also opted for the martial art and the girls had hugely benefited out of it.
Physical trainer at Peroorkada GHSS Asha is the most excited of all. ‘’The girls are mostly from weak families, some of them don’t have either of the parents to take care of them. Though we tell them through words to be strong, it is different teaching them a martial art and equipping them to meet any difficult situation,’’ she said.
Abhilakshmi, a 10-year old, said she loves to learn the martial art and we ask why. ‘’I can use it on anybody who comes to fight with me,’’ she replied.
It is the team from VS Kalari Sangham, Kudavoor, which is teaching the girls Kalaripayattu.
The programme has been titled ‘kalarimuttam’ by the school and would include 40 hours of training lasting 20 days. Only a week into the training, the girls are only falling on track, but at the end of it all, they are confident of emerging strong, this time physically too.