Kalaripayattu expert Belraj Soni, who has been practising this ancient martial art form since three decades, is in the city for a workshop. He speaks to the guide about its benefits and the discipline required to become a pro
Q. Tell us something about Kalaripayattu?
A. The art of Kalaripayattu dates back 3,000 years. It is also known as the mother of all martial arts as it is inspired by other indigenous arts such as Kathakali, Velakali, Teyyam, etc. With this heritage, comes its tradition of extreme discipline and gurukul-style training. A significant part of Kalaripayattu is weapon training, conducted with swords, shields, bamboo sticks and daggers. I have been practicing this art since I was 10 years old. It has been 31 years now; this is life for me.
Q. How does this benefit people?
A. This art form helps one increase stamina as well as flexibility. So, a lot of artistes as well as classical dancers come to learn this. There are people from different age groups who learn this; an increase in women participants has been witnessed in the last couple of years. The preferred age is 16 years to 30 years, but people above 30 years, who do regular exercise, can also join.
Belraj Soni teaching the ropes of Kalaripayattu to a student
Q. Do you feel that it is still being taught in its purest form?
A. The traditional way is the best way to learn it and that is what I teach.
Q. What will you focus on in this workshop and what will be the best part of the same?
A. Increase in stamina and flexibility are things that one can observe as the class goes on. Also, one can learn defensive and offensive tactics such as basic hand-assaults and footwork. Participants will realise that each step and arm action has a corresponding reaction and looks more like a slow-motion dance routine than an aggressive attack. It also makes the muscles stronger.
On: June 14, 6.30 am to 8.30 am, 4 pm to 6 pm, and 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm
At: Manohar Mangal Karyalaya, Mehendale Garage, near Abhishek Veg Hotel, Erandwane.