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  is one of the oldest living traditions of martial training in the world, having its roots in the Dhanurveda, the ancient Indian science of warfare. Martial training and self-disciplining through a ritualistic and spiritual process of learning is synthesized in the Kalarippayat tradition that found its roots in Kerala, the southernmost state of India.  In Malayalam, the name kalarippayat means martial training inside a kalari or arena.
                         The word kalari signifying the training premises is derived from the Sanskrit term khaloorika that stands for ‘military training ground’.  Traditional palm leaf manuscripts available on Kalarippayat refer to the warrior sage Parasurama as the first guru of Kalarippayat.  It is said that Parasurama after retrieving the land of Kerala from the ocean, taught this martial art to his 21 disciples in order to protect the land and to maintain peace.

                         Though exact proofs of various stages of evolution of the Kalarippayat tradition are still being traced, available historical evidences show that the form as practiced today, evolved during the 9th through 12th centuries A.D in the Kerala society.  Travelogues of the 14th and 16th century travelers to Kerala like Duarte Barbosa and the popular ballads of northern Malabar describes Kalarippayat as an integral part of the medieval Kerala society as it played a vital role in the education of the youth and the training of the warriors.  During this period when Kerala consisted of several small feudal principalities in constant clashes, Kalarippayat as a highly developed martial training and physical culture system attained great prominence.  No village was without a kalari near the temple pond run by a known master who was respectfully addressed as the Gurukkal.

                         Being the forerunner of many performing traditions of Kerala, Kalarippayat has contributed greatly to the development of the well known classical and rural art forms like Kathakali, Theyyam and many other folk traditions.  The actor training process in Kathakali has drawn considerably from Kalarippayat in the methods of physical training and choreography in the methods of physical training and choreography where an actor uses his body as the basic medium of expression.  This concept of body training aimed at perfect psychophysical integration has attracted considerable interest from dance and acting circles in the western countries and the C.V.N.Kalari Sangham receives many students from these countries every year.

                         With the advent of the British rule in India, the law suppressed kalari’s and the practice of Kalarippayat was forbidden due to which Kalarippayat almost became extinct.  By the end of the last century, the life long and dedicated efforts of late Sri. Kottackal Kanaran Gurukkal, late Sri. C.V.Narayanan Nair and late Sri C.V.Balan Nair among other masters were instrumental in reviving this great heritage.  They gathered knowledge of the dying schools and popularized it by giving stage demonstrations of Kalarippayat and by establishing many salaries all over Kerala. The C.V.N. Kalari in Thiruvananthapuram was established in 1956 by Sri. C .V .Govindan Kutty Nair Gurukkal, following the line of his father Shri .C.V.Narayanan Nair has been engaged in preserving this great tradition in its true spirits and values the Sangham runs the traditional year round training centre at Thiruvananthapuram and organizes performances and workshops of Kalarippayat in many countries abroad and in India.  The teams from the C.V.N. Kalari Sangham has represented India in many prestigious international festivals like the festivals of India in the United Kingdom, France, USSR and China and also in many theatre and dance festivals in Japan, Germany, France and UK.  Sangham also organizes short performances or lecture demonstrations for interested groups inside the Kalari. 
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