Regional variations

Training

Marmashastram

It is claimed that learned warriors can disable or kill their opponents by merely touching the correct marmam (vital point). This is taught only to the most promising and level-headed persons, to discourage misuse of the technique. Marmashastram stresses on the knowledge of marmam and is also used for marma treatment (marmachikitsa). This system of marma treatment comes under sidha vaidhyam, attributed to the sage Agasthya and his disciples. Critics of kalari payat have pointed out that the application of marmam techniques against neutral outsiders has not always produced verifiable results

The earliest mention of marmam is found in the Rig Veda where Indra is said to have defeated Vritra by attacking his marman with a vajra.[7] References to marman also found in the Atharva Veda.[8] With numerous other scattered references to vital points in Vedic and epic sources, it is certain that India's early martial artists knew about and practised attacking or defending vital points.[9] Sushruta (c. 6th century BC) identified and defined 107 vital points of the human body in his Sushruta Samhita.[10] Of these 107 points, 64 were classified as being lethal if properly struck with a fist or stick.[11] Sushruta's work formed the basis of the medical discipline ayurveda, which was taught alongside various Indian martial arts that had an emphasis on vital points, such as Varma Kalai and marma adi.[11]

As a result of learning about the human body, Indian martial artists became knowledgeable in the field of traditional medicine and massage. Kalari payat teachers often provide massages (Malayalam: uzhichil) with medicinal oils to their students in order to increase their physical flexibility or to treat muscle injuries encountered during practice. Such massages are generally termed thirumal and the unique massage given to increase flexibility is known as katcha thirumal. It is said to be as sophisticated as the uzhichil treatment of ayurveda. Kalari payat has borrowed extensively from ayurveda and equally lends to it

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