Warriors of Coconut land – Part 6

Kalaripayattu at Sree Rudra Kalari in Kochi, Kerala


Chuvadu – the first crucial drills

Chuvadu refers to the drills that prepare one for unarmed combat. These routines are aimed at the following:

  1. Balance
  2. Focus
  3. Stamina
  4. Speed
  5. Strength
  6. Flexibility

As mentioned earlier, Kalaripayattu is a rather spiritual martial art. Each drill is performed after a quick yet heartfelt salutation to one’s parents, the teacher or the Guru, and God.

Chuvadu’s in the Thekkan Sampradayam or the southern Kerala style of Kalaripayattu are divided into two categories – The Ottu Chuvadu and The Koottu Chuvadu. 

Ottu – means ‘single’. Hence Ottu Chuvadu refers to a drill wherein one foot remains stationary while the other moves in different directions.

Kottu – means ‘together’. Thus, the name Kottu Chuvadu refers a drill wherein both feet and hands are used effectively to defeat the opponent.

Each of these drills includes intense hand movements without which a combat drill is incomplete. Although they appear to be less tedious than many other forms of combat, it takes many months (even years) to perfect the Chuvadu. This aspect of the martial art prepares the body for tougher and trickier fights.

The Ottu Chuvadu

There are 12 drills that have been enlisted under this category.

Drill 1: This is said to be the simplest drill.

Stand sideways and say a small prayer. Shift the weight of your body to the right leg while keeping the left foot flat on the ground. Do not bend the left knee.

Raise the right foot and turn 180 degrees. While doing so, swing the hand from below to the front in the anti-clockwise direction.

Quickly shift the weight of the body to the left knee while keeping the right foot flat. Do not bend the right knee. Use the right hand to ‘slice’ the opponent and shift the weight of the body to the right.

Repeat the same with the left hand by shifting the weight of the body from the left to the right.

The drill has the be repeated in all four directions. Practice the routine in the opposite format as well i.e begin with the left-hand and the left-leg.

Do not worry about losing your balance. Only practice makes perfect. Over a period of time, this drill has to be performed at a faster pace.