Kalarippayat is an ancient tradition of martial training and discipline. Still taught through out Kerala, some believe it is the forerunner of all martial arts. Its roots can be traced.
back to the 21th century , when skirmisher among the many feudal principalities in the region were common. Masters of Kalarippayat , called Gurukkal, teach their craft inside a special arena called a kalari. The kalari is part gymnasium , part school and part temple. Its construction follows traditional principles: its rectangular design is always aligned east-west and Hindu deities are represented in each corner.
Kalarippayat movements – the foundation of choreography that uses the actors’ bodies and gestures as the primary tools of expression – can be traced in Kerala’s performing arts, such as Kathakali and Koodittam and in ritual arts such as theyyam.