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    Exercise, techniques and more on Kalaripayattu

    From the land of gorgeous beach towns, swaying palm trees and placid backwaters, comes Kalaripayattu — an ancient martial art form that needs no introduction. Yet, the nuances of the art are largely unknown to the common man. That’s where the book, Kalarippayattu, comes handy. Written by the late Chirakkal T Sridharan Nair (a practitioner), in Malayalam and published in 1963, it has been translated into English partly by him and partly by his sons SRA Das and SRD Prasad. While the English version was first brought out in 2007, it is being republished this year. “Kalari was a form of warfare. Today, it is practised for fitness and defensive purposes,” begins Kannur-based Prasad, whose brother, Das is also no more.
    The book, written in an easy-to-follow style, is a thorough manual, with illustrations depicting various moves, from ‘Exercises with Wooden Weapons (Kolethaari-ppayattu)’ to ‘Techniques of Bare-Handed Defence and Attack (Verumkai)’. “Mumbai University plans to start a course called the Science of Movement, next year and Kalarippayattu will be one of its subjects,” shares Prasad, a recipient of numerous awards for his contribution to the art.
    The Vaaithaaris or commands, which were originally handed down through generations by word of mouth, were documented for the first time by Prasad’s father, for which he received a lot of flak. How-ever, as time went by, people would turn to his notes for reference. “The benefits of Kalaripayattu (which gave rise to other art forms of Kerala, such as Theyyam, and Kathakali) include improvement of posture, stamina, flexibility and more. So lots of theatre artistes and dancers have made it part of their daily routine,” says Prasad.
    The book (Rs 495) will be available at bookstores by the end of July.

    For those interested in learning the art, Attakalari — Centre for Movement Arts conducts a special Kalaripayattu class on a monthly basis (Rs 1,600 upwards). At Wilson Garden. Details: 22123684. Kalari Centre for Performing Arts also holds long and short term courses, for beginners and experts. Rs 1,000. At Brigade Road. Details: 9945155995.

    — Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo

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