Regional variations

Training

The kalari

A kalari is the school or training hall where martial arts are taught. They were originally constructed according to Vastu Shastra with the entrance facing east and the main door situated on the centre-right. Sciences like mantra saastra, tantra saastra and marma saastra are utilized to balance the space's energy level. The training area comprises a puttara (seven tiered platform) in the south-west corner. The guardian deity (usually an avatar of Bhagavathi, Kali Mata or Shiva) is located here, and is worshipped with flowers, incense and water before each training session which is preceded by a prayer. Northern styles are practiced in special roofed pits where the floor is 3.5 feet below the ground level and made of wet red clay meant to give a cushioning effect and prevent injury. The depth of the floor protects the practitioner from winds that could hamper body temperature.

Southern styles are usually practiced in the open air or in an unroofed enclosure of palm branches. Traditionally, when a kalari was closed down it would be made into a small shrine dedicated to the guardian deity.

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