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Kalari, traditionally known as Kalarippayattu is one of India's traditional martial and medical arts dating back at least to the 12th century AD. This ancient art form is a cultural practice which interweaves the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of life. At the root of Kalari is a psychophysiological system that demands that the practitioner goes through years of preparation and practice in order to achieve balance and strength in the body as a whole - inside and out. At the next level this is a highly and effective form of armed and unarmed combat that is based on attacking and defending the body's vital spots. This knowledge is then used for fighting and healing. In more general terms, Kalari is considered as a streetwise form of self defence comparible to the better known styles of martial arts, such as Kung Fu.

The role of Chavutti Thirumal within this practice was twofold: to maintain the inner fluidity of the body by balancing the three humours - wind/vata, phlegm/kapha and fire/pitta in accordance with Ayurvedic principles. Secondly, to add flexibility and strength to the muscles, joints and ligaments.


Picture courtesy of Rosie Walford
   

KATHAKALI

 

Kathakali dance-drama is a distinctive style of South Asian performance which developed during the 16th and 17th centuries in the malayalam speaking coastal region of south west India known as Kerala State. Like Japanese Noh and China's Jingju, Kathakali has become internationally known as troupes tour the world.

Like most traditional styles of story telling and performances in India, Kathakali plays enact one or more episodes from regional versions of Indian religious epics. Traditionally an all-male company of actor-dancers drawn from the ranks of martial (kalari) practitioners, the performers use a highly physical form of performance embodied through years of training to play its many and varied roles. The Kalari exercise practice and the Chavutti Thirumal massage provided the preliminary body preparation during the monsoon season in each of the four years of the actors' training.

 


Picture courtesy of Rosie Walford

EMMA FIELD/ PROFILE
In 2000 Emma Field created the Soma Institute offering the first post-graduate diploma course in Chavutti Thirumal. Emma's time in India and the East emphasised the importance of establishing a solid relationship between those receiving information and those imparting it. This further supports the concept of a mutual exchange between student and teacher, whereby one learns from the other. The foundation for the Institute was grounded in 10 years of experience as an established and successful practitioner in Eastern/Oriental therapies, as well as a psychotherapist. Through her practice of Chavutti Thirumal, Emma has attracted a wide press coverage focusing on the unique aspects of this ancient Indian massage system developed and refined through an internship at the Indian School of Martial Arts, Kerala and her ongoing study of the yoga and taiji disciplines. Her work has inevitably been moulded by life experiences and other training.