Indian Martial Arts — Will they survive?



Much is known about Indian philosophical disciplines, Indian Arts, Mathematics, and Sciences – but not much is known about a very important aspect of our Society – Martial Arts. While quite a lot of us know about the accomplishments of Baudhayana and Varahamihira, how many can claim to have even the remotest knowledge about the pioneers of “scientific” fighting?

Admittedly, most of these pioneers are unnamed, unsung heroes; but they shaped a lot more than just fighting and warfare as it was in Ancient India (and to a certain extent even in the modern day). The development of Traditional Indian Medical systems is possibly very closely tied with Indian Martial Arts. For example, The knowledge of “Pressure points” (Vital Points if we were to literally translate it) – “Marma Vidya” (11) – was a direct result of grueling experimentation in the Art and Science of Fighting. The knowledge thus acquired (of Marma Vidya) effectively led to the next level in Medicine – the more “enhanced aspects of Ayurveda” wherein the Masters of these systems could reputedly heal major ailments caused by energetic imbalances by merely manipulating the Marmas (distribution centers of the flow of “Prana” in the body). Remnants of this knowledge still exist in the Martial Arts of Kerala (in the Fighting-system called Kalari Payat). This essay will try to trace the history and many faces of Indian Martial Arts through it’s illustrious past into the future.

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