Sangam Period - 600 BC Era
Varmakalai is an effective combat method that was introduced in the Sangam period of time by 18 Great Tamil Siddhars, of whom Agathiyar is considered the chief of all Siddhars. Varmakalai consists of three components:
Varma Adimurai - Martial art,
Varma Vaithiyam - Healingart,
Vaasi Yoga - Art of well being.
These Varmakalai arts were further developed and patronized by the three Tamil Dynasties of the Chera, Chola and Pandiya Kings. It is the primary combat science along with Siramam, Ayutha Perukkam, Eithal, Erithal and Vasam that helped these dynasties expand all the way to the eastern Asia. Varma scripts of 'Suthra', 'Ponnoosi' and 'Thokanam' are the major documented evidence of Varmakalai.
Post Sangam Period - 1000 AD Era
The arrival of Pallavas and Moguls during the 10th Centuries made further improvement in the combat science of Varmakalai. Many different version of Ayutha varisai (Weaponry) along with the inclusion of animal combat patrol is introduced during the war. But still the righteous spirits defined by the Varma Suthra were followed in all forms of the martial arts and sports. Some of the martial arts were patronized into martial sports by the Kings. Adimurai, Silambam, Kusti, Mallu etc were practiced and performed to entertain the general public in addition to its usage in the battles.
British Period - 1600 AD Era
Invention of guns and gunpowder changed the entire scope of Indian martial arts. Most of the ancient martial arts become obsolete when guns and rifles were presented during combat. At the same time, martial arts were turned into martial sports to prove one's physical and mental fitness as well as entertaining a greater audience.
Modern Period - Current Era
As machines and industrialization replaced human capital throughout the 20th century, martial arts from various regions of the world became a solution to encourage physical activities. Yoga and meditation become an activity of mental health. Through Kalari Adimurai, we revive the science of Yoga, Meditation and Martial arts to empower the human potential and to learn the connection between body, mind and spirit.
Kalari Adimurai - Present day
Until last year, before the famous Tamil movie ‘Pattas’, almost all of the Indian people used to think Kalari Adimurai martial arts belonged to the Indian state of Kerala. Kerala did a wonderful job in 1958 forming Kerala Kalarippayat Association as one of seventeen members of the Kerala States Sports Council, just 2 years after the founding of a united, Malayalam-speaking Kerala State government under India. Before then there were many styles of Kalari martial arts practiced in the northern part of Travancore Kingdom (current state of Kerala) and in the southern part of Travancore kingdom (Kumari district of Tamil Nadu). Northern style of Kalari was called ‘Vadakan Kalari’ that became ‘Kalaripayattu’. Southern style of Kalari is called ‘Thekkan Kalari’ or ‘Kalari Adimurai’. Due to the lack of cooperation among the Kalari Adimurai Aasans (masters) in the southern styles, this martial art has not been brought into world attention.
The main difference between both the styles was the involvement of ‘Varmam’. Kalari Adimurai, the southern styles involve various forms of Varma attacks and it is famously called ‘Varma Adi’ or ‘Adimurai’. Varma is also used in healing therapy and it has been the vital part of Siddha Medicine.
The traditional martial arts of Kalari Adimurai is not only involved with one’s martial defense and physical fitness, but also involves health and wellness, harmony with body and mind. Kalari Adimurai connects the relationship drawn from India’s unique versions of yoga practices along with the South Asian medicine ‘Siddha’ practices.