This video is a documentary on an ancient Indian martial art called Kalarippayattu. Considered one of the world’s most formidable martial arts, this was banned by the British during their occupation of India because they were afraid of what it could do. Kalarippayattu is closely linked to Hinduism, and comes from the words “kalari,” which means battlefield or gym, and “puttara,” meaning platform or stage. This fighting style combines impressive acrobatics with weapon use, and is not widely known outside of India. Many have observed that this might be the precursor to modern Chinese kung fu.
Doug Anderson and Jimmy Smith, both Americans, made the journey to Kerala in the south of India to learn more about Kalarippayattu and train in the art. Anderson is an Iraqi war vet and now bodyguard in New Jersey, while Smith is an ex-teacher turned professional MMA fighter from Los Angeles. The pair has been exploring the world in search of the most dangerous martial arts.
They are introduced to Kalarippayattu and undergo an intensive 5-day training program in both traditional and urban Kalarippayattu forms and techniques, including the use of weapons and hand-to-hand battle. Anderson and Smith are taken to the training grounds, called a “kalari,”where they meet masters of this martial art. They begin by praying to the Hindu gods for purification and strength then outfitted in the traditional student garb.
Kalarippayattu is then taught, beginning stretching because the style is very acrobatic and requires flexibility. Jumping, the source of any Kalari technique is the basic thing to learn, followed by training with wooden weapons, particularly a sword and shield then “arnis” sticks. This martial art requires agility, discipline, focus, control and years of practice to master.
In ancient times, Kalarippayattu was only used by a special class of warriors to protect their rulers and masters, and those practicing it would fight to the death. Kalarippayattu warriors believe in using natural instincts and consider animals to be the best fighters because they act on their instincts. Those who still use this martial art train with only wooden weapons for 6 years before picking up metal ones.