JOTHI SENTHIL KANNAN
Grand Master (Aasan), Performer, International Referee and Coach Born in 1976, Jothi Senthil Kannan originates from Pondicherry, South India, where he has practised Silambam and Kuthuvarisai since the age of five. Initiated into these ancient Tamil martial arts by his paternal grandfather, Jothi has established himself as one of the most accomplished disciples of Silambam in India, and indeed the world, by pursuing a rigorous training routine and disciplined lifestyle. Based in Pondicherry, he frequently visits East Asia and Europe, where Silambam has become more appreciated. In 2004 and 2005 he performed at the prestigious International Festival of Martial Arts, Bércy, Paris, the only Indian national to do so. Jothi is the President and Founder of the International Silambam and Kuthuvarisai Federation; a national coach and referee of Silambam for Pondicherry State, the Indian Silambam Federation, and the Pondicherry Pankration Athlima Association.
Silambam is a weapon-based martial art of India, more specifically from Tamilakam (now Tamil Nadu region) in the Indian subcontinent, where it originated around 1000 BCE. This ancient fighting style is mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature 400 BCE.
Oral folklore traces Silambam back several thousand years to the siddhar (enlightened sage) Agastya. While on his way to Vellimalai, Agastya discussed Hindu philosophy with an old man he met, said to be the god Murugan in disguise. The old man taught him of kundalini yoga and how to focus prana through the body’s nadi (channels). Agastya practiced this method of meditation and eventually compiled three texts on palm leaves based on the god’s teachings. One of these texts was the Kampu Sutra (Staff Classic) which was said to record advanced fighting theories in verse. These poems and the art they described were allegedly passed on to other Siddha of the Agastmuni akhara (Agastya school) and eventually formed the basis of Silambam, siddha medicine, and the southern style of kalaripayat.
References in the Silappadikkaram and other works of Sangam literature shows that silambam has been practiced as far back as the 4th century BC. The bamboo staff – along with swords, pearls and armor – was in great demand with foreign traders particularly those from Southeast Asia where silambam greatly influenced many fighting systems. The Indian community of the Malay Peninsula is known to have practiced silambam as far back as the period of Melaka’s founding in the 15th century, and likely much earlier.