India is home to a variety of fighting styles.In Sanskrit they may be collectively referred to as śastravidyā or dhanurvidya. The former is a compound of the words śastra (weapon) and vidyā (knowledge), meaning "knowledge of weapon" or "knowledge of the bow". The latter term derives from the words for bow (dhanushya) and knowledge (veda), literally the "science of archery" in Puranic literature, later applied to martial arts in general.
In Tamil, they are known by the umbrella terms kaḷarik kalai (Tamil: ) "art of the battleground" or taṟkāppuk kalai ( ) "art of self-defence Legend has it that Lord Siva taught this art form to his son Lord Murugan and Lord Murugan taught this art to the sage Agastya, foremost of the Siddhars, during the times of Sangam Literature. He transferred the knowledge of this art to other Siddhars and he also wrote treatises on this art in Tamil.
Antiquity (pre-Gupta).Indian epics contain accounts of combat, both armed and bare- handed. The Mahabharata describes a prolonged battle between Arjuna and Karna using bows, swords, trees, rocks and fists. Another unarmed battle in the Mahabharata describes two combatants boxing with clenched fists and fighting with kicks, finger strikes, knee strikes and head butts. Krishna Maharaja, whose battlefield exploits are alluded to in the Mahabharata, is credited with developing the sixteen principles of śastravidyā.
Written evidence of martial arts in Southern India dates back to the Tamil Sangam literature of about the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD. The Akananuru and Purananuru describe the use of spears, swords, shields, bows and silambam in the Sangam era. The word kalari appears in the Puram (verses 225, 237, 245, 356) and Akam (verses 34, 231, 293) to describe both a battlefield and combat arena. The word kalari tatt denoted a martial feat, while kalari kozhai meant a coward in war. Each warrior in the Sangam era received regular military training in target practice and horse riding
They specialized in one or more of the important weapons of the period including the spear (vel), sword (val), shield (kedaham), and bow and arrow (vil ambu). The combat techniques of the Sangam period were the earliest precursors to kalaripayat. References to "Silappadikkaram" in Sangam literature date back to the 2nd century. This referred to the silambam staff which was in great demand with foreign visitors
The Sushruta Samhita (c. 4th century) identifies 107 vital points on the human body of which 64 were classified as being lethal if properly struck with a fist or stick.[ Sushrutas work formed the basis of the medical discipline ayurveda which was taught alongside various Indian martial arts, especially those that had an emphasis on vital points such as varma kalai. With numerous other scattered references to vital points in Vedic and epic sources, it is certain that Indias early fighters knew and practiced attacking or defending vital points.
Martial arts were not exclusive to the kshatriya caste, though the warrior class used them more extensively. The 8th century text Kuvalaymala by Udyotanasuri recorded fighting techniques being taught at ghatika and salad educational institutions, where non-Kshatriya students from throughout the subcontinent (particularly from South India, Rajasthan and Bengal) "were learning and practicing archery, fighting with sword and shield, with daggers, sticks, lances, and with fists, and in duels (niuddham)". Hindu priests of the Gurukullam institutions also taught armed and unarmed fighting techniques to their students as a way of increasing stamina and training the physical body.
Gujarat Pratihar Age (6–11 centuries) The Gurjara dynasty which belonged to Suryavansha and Chandravansh practised various fighting systems. Armed styles called shastravidya, archery called dhanurvidya, swordsmanship called khadgavidya, fighting on horseback called ashwarohana, and fighting on elephants called gajarohana were extensively perfected and widely practised. Unarmed combat arts were wrestling called mallayuddha, and its sporting form called mallakrida, whereas the striking art utilising mainly punching and kicking but also secondarly grappling was called mushtiyuddha. Vajramushti and its variant called lohmushti ( meaning iron fist) were only practiced by royalty and nobility. Because of their intense martial culture and adherence to Kshatriya Dharma as propounded in Bhagvada Gita and Vedic Dharmaśāstra only, they were able to defeat Arab invasions continuously especially in Battle of Rajasthan while Europe and Central Asia failed in defending themselves while also amass largest empire at that time in India.
Middle Ages (11th to 15th centuries) The earliest treatise discussing the techniques of malla-yuddha is the Malla Purana (ca. 13th century). Other old styles like varma kalai, and kalaripayat had developed into their present forms by the 11th century, during an extended period of warfare between the Chera and Chola dynastie
Paika Rebellion of Khurda (1817) Paika is the Oriya word for fighter or warrior (Padatika Bahini). Their style of fighting, known as paika akhada, can be traced back to ancient Kalinga and was at one time patronised by King Kharavela. In March 1817, under the leadership of Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, nearly 400 Khanda of Ghumusar in Ganjam marched towards Khurda in protest against British colonial rule. Many government buildings were burnt down and all the officials fled. The British commander of one detachment was killed during a battle at Gangpada. The paika managed to capture two bases at Puri and Pipli before spreading the rebellion further to Gop, Tiran, Kanika and Kujang. The revolt lasted a year and a half before being quelled by September 1818.With the rebellion put down, the colonists were more vigorous in their attempts to stamp out the martial practices of Orissa..
Mughal era (1526 to 1857) The khanda, a native straight sword After a series of victories, the conqueror Babur established Mughal rule in North India during the 16th century. The Mughals, Persians of Mongol descent, practiced martial techniques such as wrestling and mounted archery. By combining indigenous malla-yuddha with Persian varzesh- e-bastani and Mongolian wrestling they created the grappling style pehlwani which has remained popular until today, particularly among Muslims. The Ausanasa Dhanurveda Sankalanam dates to the late 16th century, compiled under the patronage of Akbar. There is also a 17th-century Dhanurveda-samhita attributed to Vasistha.
Modern period (1857 to present) Indian martial arts underwent a period of decline after the full establishment of British colonial rule in the 19th century.More European modes of organizing police, armies and governmental institutions, and the increasing use of firearms, gradually eroded the need for traditional combat training associated with caste-specific duties. The British colonial government banned kalaripayat in 1804 in response to a series of revolts. Silambam was also banned and became more common in the Malay Peninsula than its native Tamil Nadu.
During this time, many fighting systems were confined to rural areas. A few became merely performance arts, such as karra samu (stick fighting) and kathi samu (sword fighting) from Andhra Pradesh. The resurgence of public interest in kalaripayat began in the 1920s in Tellicherry as part of a wave of rediscovery of the traditional arts throughout south India which characterized the growing reaction against British colonial rule. During the following three decades, other regional styles were subsequently revived such as silambam in Tamil Nadu, thang-ta in Manipur and Paika Akhada in Orissa[
Though Varma Kalai has its own form of katas known as guru salavarisai, salavarisai (various form) and tani- salavarisai (advance) with his procedures, it was closely assorted with Silambams component Kuttu varisai and Kalaripayattu. Salavarisai is also known as salam- varisai, means way of greetings or respects. Knowledge of Varma Kalai was considered vital in both arts to become a Grand Master. The teachers were called as Aasan (Tamil: ) and the grand masters were called as Periyaasan (Tamil: ) or Iyan (Tamil: ). Historically, Varma Kalai has been one of the arts taught to those of royal blood.However, even royalty were required to pass the stringent requirements for discipleship. The schools received nivandhanams (donation with high respect) from the Kings of Tamil Kingdom (Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallava. Aasan and Periyaasan of Varma Kalai were highly respected
Varma Kalai teachers are highly selective in their choice of students. Disciples must meet a number of criteria; beyond martial arts competence they are required to have an understanding of biology, mathematics, political science, astronomy, physics, chemistry, Saamuthr iga Lakshanam, Yoga, military tactics, horsmanship, elephant riding, charioteering and Hindu philosophy (Saiva, Vaisnava, Saktha, Koumara, Boutha, Sama na) etc. The Varma Kalai martial artist is not allowed to teach the art to others until he receives Deeksha from his Aasan or Periyaasan as in recognition of him as an Aasan.
Varma Kalai is classified into 4 types: Thodu Varmam 96 Vital Points triggered by a touch. Not deadly, but will affect the victim by disabling the body, organ movements and function. Padu Varmam 12 Vital Points that are fatal, causing immediate, severe effects upon the victim. Thattu Varmam Decisive Vital points that are used by the master. These are kept confidential until the master pass on the knowledge to the selected disciple . Nooku Varmam (also known as) Meitheenda Kalai Triggering vital points by focusing/ concentrating on the target. It takes several years of practice for one to become an expert in Nooku Varmam.
Uuthu Varmam Vital Points triggered by a blow of air from mouth. For example, by chewing Garlic and blow the air into ears to trigger the varmam point for recovery from heat. Not deadly, but will affect the victim (usually used for disabling / recovery / healing from varmam attacks). Nakku Varmam Vital Points triggered by licking at sensitive organ such as eyes. Not deadly, but will affect the victim (usually used for disabling / recovery / healing from varmam attacks).
Oral folklore ascribes the creation of kalari payat to the Hindu gods. It was first documented around the 11th or 12th century AD by the historian Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, who attributed its creation to an extended period of warfare that took place between the Chera and the Chola dynasties in the 11th century. Kalari payat became more developed during the 9th century and was practiced by a section of the Hindu community, warrior clan of Kerala, to defend the state and the king. In the 11th and 12th century, Kerala was divided into small principalities that fought one-to-one wars among themselves.
Kuttu varisai (Tamil: is the unarmed component of silambam (Tamil: and Varma Kalai (Tamil: a Dravidian martial art from Tamil Nadu in south India but also practiced by the Tamil people of Malaysia and northeast Sri Lanka. Techniques incorporate striking, grappling, throws and locks. Strikes make use of almost every part of the body such as the fists, elbows, feet, knees, etc. Like many other Asian martial arts, patterns in kuttu varisai make use of animal-based sets including the tiger, snake, elephant, eagle and monkey forms. Advanced students are taught the art of pressure point fighting called varma kalai.
The whole body is used to create power. In Kuttu Varisai, gymnastic, stretching (yoga), and breathing exercises are conducted before training.It is also said that Bodhidharma (the founder of ZEN buddhism) was very good at this art. He travelling way towards Nepal, Tibet and China he observed fights between monkeys, snakes and other animals. Than he implemented this to kuttu varisai and gave a start to the Chinese Martial Art which we now call as "Kung Fu". Kuttu Varisai is one of the ancient arts of India which is dying.
Vajra-musti (Sanskrit: thunder fist" or "diamond fist") refers to a knuckleduster- like weapon and also the name of ancient Indian martial art practiced by a class of wrestlers known as Jyeṣṭīmalla. The weapon is sometimes called bhukhandi or Indra-mukti which means Indras fist.