Silambam

Starts September 5, 2019
Ends September 10, 2019

22:17 - 22:17

Pondicherry

Free of charge

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.

Silambam’s main focus is on the bamboo staff. The length of the staff depends on the height of the practitioner. Ideally, it should just touch the forehead about three fingers from the head, typically measuring around 1.68 metres (five and a half feet). Different lengths may be used depending on the situation. For instance, the sedikuchi or 3-foot stick can be easily concealed. Separate practice is needed for staffs of different lengths. Listed below are some of the weapons used in Silambam.

The first stages of Silambam practice are meant to provide a foundation for fighting and to condition the body for the training itself. This includes improving flexibility, agility, hand-eye coordination, kinesthetic awareness, balance, strength, speed, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular stamina.

Beginners are first taught footwork (kaaladi) which they must master before learning spinning techniques and patterns, and methods to change the spins without stopping the motion of the stick. There are sixteen of them among which four are very important. Footwork patterns are the key aspects of Silambam. Traditionally, the masters first teach kaaladi for a long time before proceeding to unarmed combat. Training empty-handed allows the practitioner to get a feel of Silambam stick movements using their bare hands, that is, fighters have a preliminary training with bare hands before going to the stick.

Gradually, fighters study footwork to move precisely in conjunction with the stick movements. In Silambam, kaaladi is the key to deriving power for attacks. It teaches how to advance and retreat, to get within range of the opponent without lowering one’s defence, aids in hitting and blocking, and it strengthens the body immensely enabling the fighter to receive non-lethal blows and still continue the battle. The whole body is used to create power.

In the main stance, the staff is held at one end, right hand close to the back, left hand about 40 centimetres (16 inches) away. This position allows a wide array of stick and body movements, including complex attacks and blocks. When the student reaches the final stage, the staff gets sharpened at one end. In real combat the tips may be poisoned. The ultimate goal of the training is to defend against multiple armed opponents.

Karlakattai

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