Kalarippayatt - The Fighting Arts of India
There are two main branches of Kalarippayattu: northern Kerala style called (Vadakkan Kalarippayattu) and southern Kerala style called (Thekken Kalarippayattu). Other names are given for the martial training, such as Adi Tada (block, strike fighting)
The northern style involves more elaborate graceful body movements and is associated with the Naboothiri, Nair and Ezhava communities of the Malabar region. The term Malabar came from the Portuguese word "malabaristas" meaning acrobats/jugglers. To them.
The southern style involves very rapid economical, yet powerful movements, is practiced mainly in the Travancore area, and is associated with the Maravar, Nadar and Vellala castes of the Tamil community as well as the Nair community of South Travancore. The southern style is usually practiced in a "thara kalari"," a piece of land next to the home of the teacher ("asan" or "guru"). In the past, learning Kalaripayattu was compulsory for all male members of the warrior Nair caste. The southern style is closely related to the Tamil martial arts practiced in Travancore and Kanyakumari. Compared to Kalarippayattu, these arts place more emphasis on empty-hand techniques and less on weapons. These arts claim descent from the rishi Agastya some 10,000 years ago and variously go by names such as adi tada (strike/block), ati murai (way of hitting), varma ati (Tamil)/marma ati (Malayalam) (literally, hitting the vital points). Other Tamil empty hand martial arts include Kuttu Varisai and Varma Kalai. Tamil weapon arts include Silambam (chilumbam) (staff fighting), Madhu (deer horn dagger), Surul Pattai (steel blade whip called Urumi in Kalarippayattu), and Val Vitchi (sword fight).