Kalaripayattu – Indian martial art documentary

In this documentary, we look at one of the world’s oldest and most dangerous martial arts: kalaripayattu. Closely linked to Hinduism, Kalari means: battlefield/gym and Puttara means: platform/stage. This may translate loosely into something like “Fight Club”!

Americans, Doug Anderson, Iraqi war vet and bodyguard from New Jersey and Jimmy Smith, a professional MMA fighter and former maths teacher from Los Angeles, journey to the southern state of Kerala, India.

Here, they are introduced to and undergo an intensive 5-day program in traditional and urban Kalarippayattu forms and techniques to prepare them for a weapon demonstration and full-contact hand-to-hand battle.

As you see the manoeuvres: jumps, acrobatics and weapons use, it progressively gets more and more interesting, and entertaining…modern Western fighters meet ancient Eastern warriors -enjoy!

Here are some interesting notes:

This fighting art was only used by a special class of warriors in ancient times of war to protect their king and masters – they would fight to the death.

Practitioners of this art believe that animals are the best fighters because they’re natural and don’t have to think about what they’re doing. They simply…act – instinctively!

The British outlawed this art out of fear while they occupied India.

Martial artists of this style don’t normally train with metal weapons until they’ve practiced for six years with the standard wooden ones.

Jimmy Smith, the professional MMA fighter has a large Ganesh (“Remover of Obstacles” elephant god) tattoo on his back!

Interestingly, on observation and analysis of the movements involved, many say that Kalarippayattu is the source of modern Chinese kung-fu.

Raj Khedun

Raj, a wing chun student, enjoys spending time studying various aspects of the martial arts, from theory to practically applied skills. He enjoys interviewing prominent and dedicated martial artists from all over the world, who have something inspiring and stimulating to share. He also manages projects in terms of filming, reviews of movies/books and other quality features.

1 Comment
  1. I remember the first time I saw this episode of “Fight Quest”. It marked the first time I really had a chance to see Kalaripayattu in action, and being the art that Bodhidharma passed on to the Shaolin Monks, and thus spawning all succeeding martial arts over the centuries, it deserves all the respect in the world!

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