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Kalaripayat: The Martial Arts Tradition of India Paperback – October 13, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In order to grasp the common essence of the martial arts, or the original unity of mankind for that matter, it is necessary to understand the truth of history. Patrick Denaud’s Kalaripayat reveals many important pieces of this enigmatic and fascinating puzzle. It is an important book for serious students of all martial arts.” (William Gleason, author of Aikido and Words of Power and The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido)

"Kalaripayat is a pick for any new age or martial arts library." (The Midwest Book Review, Jan 2010)

". . . the work [Kalaripayat] is a useful and detailed introduction to kalaripayat within its larger social, cultural, and religious context.  As the author rightfully states, kalaripayat deserves a place alongside the other, more well-known Asian martial arts traditions. . . [Kalaripayat] will bring kalaripayat to the attention of a wider audience and inspire further research and publication on this art." (Arthur Rosenfeld, Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Vol. 19, No.3, August 2010)

From the Back Cover

MARTIAL ARTS / INDIA

“In order to grasp the common essence of the martial arts, or the original unity of mankind for that matter, it is necessary to understand the truth of history. Patrick Denaud’s Kalaripayat reveals many important pieces of this enigmatic and fascinating puzzle. It is an important book for serious students of all martial arts.”
--William Gleason, author of Aikido and Words of Power and The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido

Originating in the southern Indian province of Kerala, kalaripayat is the most ancient of the Eastern martial arts. Yet today it has been practically forgotten. Former CBS war correspondent Patrick Denaud looks at this neglected tradition, whose history spans millennia, from the time it was transmitted by the god Vishnu to the sage Parasurama and his twenty-one disciples, the original Gurukkals, to its present-day practice.

More than an art of combat, kalaripayat is a way of life and a spiritual discipline. Its martial techniques are designed to create states propitious for deep meditation. Long the jealously guarded art of the Nair warriors of southern India, kalaripayat was banned by the British East India Company in 1793 and was long believed by outside observers to be extinct. Several Gurukkals continued a clandestine practice and secretly trained the students who would transmit the teachings to today’s keepers of the art, such as Gurukkal P. S. Balachandran.

Like other spiritual disciplines, kalaripayat draws from the science of breath. Focused, silent breathing creates highly concentrated trance states and helps control the inner circulation of vital energy. The practitioner learns not only how to be a capable fighter with or without weapons but also an accomplished healer. The emphasis of this practice on circulating energy throughout the body is not only of interest to martial arts practitioners but also to all those interested in the harmonious development of the self.

PATRICK DENAUD is a former war correspondent for CBS News and a documentary filmmaker. He lives in France.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Destiny Books; 2009 edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594773157
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594773150
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #843,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Well I feel that I must start off this review by emphatically stating that I have absolutely no experience whatsoever in the martial art of Kalaripayat, so this review is to be taken with a grain of salt and from the standpoint of an observer (at most) and not a practitioner of this unique martial art.

I recently picked up this book and merely intended to "skim through it" to see what it was all about. About an hour later, I realized that I was actually quite captured by the fascinating history of this Indian martial art as well as the depth of philosophy and concepts behind the art that were so expressly written about by the author.

One thing that I noted in particular was the similarity that the author compared with the Japanese martial art of Aikido. I also noticed that there were a great many similarities between a lot of the principles and concepts in Kalaripayat and most, if not all, of the other martial arts, although not all of the principles and concepts were universal to each individual art form. However, I seen a lot of similarities between ones such as; Aikido, Judo, Escrima, and Krav Maga, just to name a few.

This book in not, nor do I believe that it was ever intended to be a "technique driven" book, but more of a historical and philosophical look at this uniquely Indian martial art, and in that respect this book more than delivers what it promises.

Shawn Kovacich
Creator of numerous books and DVD's.
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This book, "Kalaripayat" concerns Kalaripayat in all of its aspects -- which are all the aspects of a full "Health-Defense Art". Actually "Kalaripayat" presents an overview of the whole "Kalaripayat World" -- the common Tradition of the Kalaripayat Arts as well as their more localized variants -- such as the Northern and Southern spectrum as explained in summary on pages 46 and 47 -- and elsewhere as well. Presented is a FULL background to the Kalaripayat Arts -- ancient history, legend, Diety aspects, metaphysics, meditation and breathing, bioenergy topics and practices, healing methods based on those, massage -- and other health methods. Actual living Kalaripayat lineages have been consulted by the author, Patrick Denand, who uses great BIG full-color photos [such as page 81 and so on], good black-and-white photos and good drawings to illustrate his excellent prose [developed as a CBS war correspondent]. Kalaripayat self-defense is sampled via a FEW well-chosen methods to demonstrate the FULL variety of postures, shifts, kicks, trips, blows and grappling -- one could expect of an Ancestor of Asian Defense Arts -- therefore of modern self-defense Arts -- such as Kenpo Arts like mine. This surely includes Tibetan Lion's Roar Arts -- the Kalaripayat Long and Fold Arm methods are mirrored in such Tibetan Arts. The Northern Long Arm and Southern Fold Arm Arts of Kalaripayat seem mirrored as well in Northern and Southern "Kung-Fu". The whole chapter 7 "The Influence of India on Asia and of Kalaripayat on the Martial Arts" presents a great summary of such deep ancient mirror-influences -- reflected and recreated into present Living Arts +++
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Format: Paperback
There’s a dearth of books on Indian martial arts, in general, and Kalaripayattu, specifically. The few books that do exist, such as Ranjan Mullaratt’s “Kalari Margam” (a fine book which I’ve previously reviewed), focus heavily on the techniques of the martial art. Denaud builds a niche by writing perhaps the only English-language book yet that turns its focus on other aspects of the art, including the art’s history, philosophy, customs, psychology, and its influence on--and interaction with--other systems both in India and abroad (e.g. yoga, Kathakali, ayurvedic massage, and Tai Chi.)

After three forwards by luminaries and an introduction, the book consists of seven chapters. The chapters cover the history and mythology of the art, Kalaripayattu as a martial art (weapons and techniques in general terms), the psychological aspects of the art, the art’s relationship with Ayurvedic practices—particularly massage, its relationship to other elements of Keralan culture, the results of interviews with modern-day masters, and the influence of India and Kalaripayattu on foreign martial arts.

When I picked this book up, I was somewhat expecting that it would contain little in the way of intriguing and relevant information, and that it would be stuffed with generally known background information. I’ve come across far too many books on topics for which there’s little information, and have become well-acquainted with the many methods by which authors pad out a pamphlet’s worth of information into a book. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much information on Kalaripayattu this book contained, and how relevant the background seemed. While there’s a fair amount of background, the book doesn’t feel padded. Granted, I can’t be certain how much of this information is accurate.
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Format: Paperback
I am so happy while I am writing this because there is a sense of cracking the best deal on amazon and reading one of the finest content available on kalaripayyat/Indian Martial Art. I received the physical copy of the book within 2 days and the condition was excellent, the book was totally new and the fragrance of the new pages along with the subject (which happen to my favourite) prompted me to immediately get on with the book within no time.

The content and writing turned out to be the best or at least what I had expected. It’s a relatively ahort but a precise book with lots of references hence one of the best works on the great and the only surviving traditional martial Art of India along with Gatka of Sikhs.

Since reading Bruce lee, I had started thinking of Martial Art as the prominent alternative way to the divine on the lines of let’s say Yoga and when I started researching in this direction I came across lot of Martial Traditions like Aikido of Japan and Shaolin Kung-Fu of China with some stupendous classic literature which amalgamated the Martial way perfectly well with their meditative practices. Unfortunately, despite me belonging to a religion (Sikhism) where lot of emphasis has been made on Martial way of life by our masters (Gurus) I never found any single collection of text that could enlighten me towards exploring Spiritual dimensions of Martial Art in Gatka which is a Sikh Martial Art.
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