What is the time and duration of a class? Also the role of meditation and relaxation. What are the steps for the same?
Our sessions are about 90 minutes duration. We engage all the students, beginners or advanced for this duration. The first hour is a structured practice, starting with a rigorous warm-up session, a series of leg lifts, meipayattu sequence, and bare-hand Silambam sequences. We do Kalaripayattu and Silambam weapon training for half an hour. The structure of the class is such that there is a gradual increase in movements and the student becomes highly energetic to do the movements and weapon training. After 90 minutes, the students can do self-practice or observe the seniors.
Five moves to build shoulder strength with Silambam stick
The weapon practice is an excellent weight training routine. Weapons are seen as an extension of the body. The movement of the weapons especially the basic moves in Silambam such as Vaaral, Vettu, Veechu, Aruppu which lead to the Veedu sequence are excellent upper body fitness routines for shoulder and forearm in particular.
Please elaborate a little on each training component you have talked about namely Meipayattu, wooden weapon (Kolthari), metal weapon (Ankathari), bare hand training (Verumkai)
- Meipayattu – It is a body sequence with a combination of punches, leaps, leg lifts, kicks, stretches, and jumps. There are 12 sequences in this. This develops speed, balance, and flexibility and improves stamina. This sequence also has self-defense moves incorporated into the various movements and is taught as a rhythmic sequence.
- The next step of training is Kolthari – wooden weapons. Sticks and staffs of various shapes and sizes are used to combat and incapacitate the opponent. These are learnt as combat sequences.
- Kettukari – a stick about 5 feet in length or based on the height of the person who wields it.
- The next level in wooden weapons is Muchaan, a short 3-span stick made from hardwood.
- Otta is a curved stick. This is a lethal weapon that aims to attack the vital points in the body
- The next stage in weapon training is Ankathari – the use of various metal weapons
- Sword and Shield – Both are used together
- Dagger – Short metal weapon that is used with a fist grip
- Spear – With the Sword and Shield
- Urumi- Long flexible sword
The purpose of weapon training is to remove fear. The training allows one to see and face a threat. All forms of fear can be reduced to 2 basic types – visual and aural. The weapon training helps one develop Drishti sthiratna – seeing clearly and with stability which prevents the mind from panicking, thus allowing one to calmly asses the situation and take appropriate action.
- The last stage of training is Verumaki or free-hand fighting. In this session, the student undergoes rigorous practice to use his hands and legs just like weapons. The student learns to fight bare-handed even if his opponent possesses a weapon. The student not only learns where and when to hit but also how to quickly block and defend, and move away from the opponent’s attack.