Kalaripayattu originated in the southwest of India, in what is now the state of Kerala, as well as in parts of Tamil Nadu. It is often regarded as the world's oldest martial art, with profound roots in Indian mythology and thousands of years of history.
The term "Kalari" means "constrained by rules" or "bound by customs". It describes the limited set of techniques that can be used in battle. Kalari payattu is a rigorous sport and self-defense system that uses body movement, gravity, and physics to defeat an opponent. It has been described as gymnastics meets fencing matches dance parties with weapons involved.
Origins and evolution
There are many theories about the origin of kalari payattu. Some say it began when soldiers from the Kingdom of Travancore (now part of Kerala) played a game of tag using only their bodies as they moved through the jungle. Since there were no enemies around, they learned to fight off wild animals with nothing but their limbs. Others say it started when people trained to fight off predators who attacked them while they were praying at holy sites. Still others claim that it came from ancient China or Egypt. What is known for sure is that today's practitioners of Kalari Payattu practice using weapons that have been in use for hundreds of years.
Although Kalaripayattu is not as old as the other martial arts on this list, it is sometimes referred to as the oldest martial art discipline. Its origins may be traced back over 3000 years to the Vedas, a collection of wisdom writings from the ancient Indian subcontinent. The Vedas were composed by many authors over an extended period of time, so some scholars believe that some of the passages describing combat techniques may actually have come from later compilations or adaptations of the original texts.
In any case, they are certainly worth reading: the Vedas are full of interesting ideas on health, fitness, and life in general. Among other things, they include extensive discussions of yoga and meditation, which remain important parts of modern Kalaripayattu practice.
The term "Kalari" means "cadastral" or "taxing" in Tamil, and this art was originally developed by soldiers to defend themselves against enemy combatants and others who might seek to harm them. It was also used as a form of punishment - prisoners of war would be forced to participate in kalari competitions to save themselves from being executed.
Over time, Kalaripayattu has become more of a ceremonial art, but it still plays an important role in promoting harmony between villages even today.
The majority of historians think that martial arts began in India. During the 11th and 12th centuries AD, a popular type of martial arts known as Kalaripayattu was dominant in India's southern states. It was developed into what it is today by famous teachers who traveled around giving demonstrations of their skills.
Other historians believe that China is where martial arts originated. The first recorded evidence of Chinese martial arts dates back to 202 AD when Liu Songnian created a style of fighting called Xing Yi (or "Execute Invisible Skills"). In recent years, some have claimed that this technique was actually based on Indian martial arts, but there are still many unanswered questions about its origins.
Finally, some scholars believe that Japan may have played a role in the development of martial arts. The earliest written reference to martial arts in Japan comes from a 1429 document called "Manriki Gosho" or "Rules for Military Conduct." It described a set of techniques called Kenjutsu that were used by samurai warriors to fight on horseback.
In conclusion, martial arts seem to have originated in India.