These are the various stages in which a student trains in Silambam:
- Physical Exercises
- Stick and Staff Silambam
- Sword Silambam
- Fire Silambam
- Throw Silambam
- Rarified Weapons Silambam
- Empty Hand Fighting System (Kuthu Varisai – Silambam)
Physical Fitness Exercises are divided into 7 stages in Silambam Traditional Body Building Methods. They are:
- Exercises without Equipments
- Exercises with Equipments
- Yoga Exercises
- Kasarath Muraighal
- Punching Exercises
- Kicking Exercises
- Flexibility Exercises
EXERCISES WITHOUT EQUIPMENTS:
- Running and Jogging Exercises
- Squats, Side Squats, Abdomen Squats and Boat Shape Squats
- Hip Twisting
- Body Twisting
- Bending on different sides exercises
- Leg Stretching Exercises
- Jumping Exercises
EXERCISES WITH EQUIPMENTS:
- Running with Heavy Weight sand bags
- Squats with Heavy Weight sand bags
- Indian Club Bells (of different sizes and shapes) Rotation Exercises aka Karlakattai Sulatrudhal
- Heavy Stone Lifting Exercises (Ilavatta Kal) said to be the originator of Atlas Stone Lifting Methods
- Traditional Dumb-Bell Lifting and Rotating Exercises (Santhulak Kal)
- Slippery Tree Climbing Exercises (Urimaram Erudhal)
- Iyama – Niyamas
- Yoga Asanas
- Breathing Techniques and Exercises
- Rope Yoga (Mallan Kayiru)
- Pole Yoga (Mallan Kambu)
- Rope – Pole Yoga (Mallan Kambu and Mallan Kayiru combined)
- Mallan Kasarath
- Dhandal Kasarath
- Bhayilvaan Kasarath
- Chakkara Kasarath
- Mar-ree Kasarath
- Paaychal Kasarath
- Nilai Kasarath
- Chaatakh Kasarath
- Thendil Kasarath
- Thavalai Kasarath
- Anil Kasarath
- Paambu Kasarath
Punching Exercises in Kuthu Varisai are classified into two types. They are
- Basic Punches and
- Advanced Punches
- Front Punch
- Side Punch
- Turn around and back punch
- Upper Punch
- Middle Punch and
- Lower Punch
- Back Fist
- Eagle Claw
- Eagle Strike
- Elbow Strike
- Extended knuckle punch or one knuckle punch
- Finger pokes of scissors finger strike, eye strike
- Four Knuckle Strike
- Hammer Strike
- Hook Punch
- Jab Punch
- Knife Hand Strike
- Mouth to Hand Strike
- Palm or Palm Heel Strike
- Ridge Hand Strike
- Spear Hand Strike
- Spinning Back Fist
- Straight Punch or Cross Punch, Rear Hand Punch
- Thumb Strike
- Tiger Claw or Throat Strike
- Uppercut Punch
All these Punches in Kuthu Varisai, unlike other Martial Arts are done with Special Finger Positions called Varma Mudras to directly strike on the Vital Pressure Points or Varmam Points on the Human Body.
Each Mudra differs for each punch and in each angle.
Kicking Exercises are also divided into two types. They are:
- Kuthu Varisai Special Kicks
- Basic Kicks and
- Advanced Kicks and
- Variations of Both Basic and Advanced Kicks
Traditional Kuthu Varisai Kicks:
Traditional Kuthu Varisai Kicks are classified into 14 types. They are:
- Move Step Forward and Kick (Nadai Potu Ethu)
- From Static Standing Position (Ninna Idathil Ethu)
- Left Leg Kick (Idathu Kaal Ethu)
- Right Leg Kick (Valadhu Kaal Ethu)
- Front Kick (Mun Yethu / Ner Yethu)
- Back Kick (Pin Yethu)
- Side Kick (Pakka Yethu)
- Roundhouse Kick after Parrying (Vilagi Yethu)
- Roundhouse Kick to Head or Face (Muga Yethu or Thala Yethu)
- Roundhouse Kick to Ribs (Vilaa Yethu)
- Wave Kicks or Reversed Roundhouse Kicks (Alai Yethu)
- Jumping Kick or Flying Kick (Thulli Yethu or Thulludan Yethu)
- Roundhouse Kick at Ground Level (Tarai Yethu)
- Horse Back Kick – facing forward with hook and backward to groin level with back of heel (Kuthirai Yethu)
- Front Kick
- Roundhouse Kick
- Side Kick
- Traditional Back Kick
- Axe Kick
- Butterfly Kick
- Calf Kick
- Crescent Kick
- Hook Kick
- Reverse / Round Heel Kick
- Flying Kick
- Scissors Kick
- Vertical Kicks (Thrust Kick, Push Kick and Side Kicks)
- Multiple Kicks without putting the leg down
Variations of Basic and Advanced Kicks:
Variations of Kicks are based on the combination of Basic and Advanced Kicks. There are 34 Variations of Advanced Kicks that are used in Kuthu Varisai training. They are:
- Axe Kick
- Back Kick
- Butterfly Kick
- Butterfly Twist Kick – A more advanced version of butterfly kick
- Crescent Kick
- Cut Kick
- Foot Sweep Kick (known in Karate as Ashi Barai)
- Flying Back Kick
- Flying Front Kick
- Flying Side Kick
- Front Kick
- Hook Kick or Whip Kick
- Jumping Back Kick
- Jumping Front Kick or Flying Front Kick
- Jumping Spinning Crescent Kick
- Jumping Spinning Hook Kick or Jumping Reverse Hook Kick
- Knee Strike
- Round Knee Strike or Lateral Knee Strike
- Push Kick
- Roundhouse Kick or Round Kick
- Double Roundhouse Kick or Jumping Double Roundhouse Kick
- Downward Roundhouse Kick (also known as Brazillian Kick or Vale Tudo Kick)
- Scissor Kick
- Shin Kick (also known as Muay Thai Kick)
- Side Kick
- Hopping Side Kick or Step Behind and Side Kick or Skipping Side Kick
- Spinning Crescent Kick
- Spinning Hook Kick or Spinning Heel Kick, Spinning Whip Kick, Reverse Roundhouse Kick, Reverse Hook Kick
- Spinning Roundhouse Kick or Turning Roundhouse Kick
- Stomp Kick (Fumikomi in Karate)
- Tornado Kick or Jumping Spinning Roundhouse Kick or 360° Roundhouse Kick
- 540° Roundhouse Kick
- 540° Spinning Hook Kick
Flexibility Exercises are generally given while training in Marpor or Traditional Wrestling.
The body of the student will be massaged by the Guru with special Ointments of Siddha Medicine taken from “Agathiya Muni Grantha Yogam” work written by Agathiyar.
Exercises for Flexibility that are commonly practiced are:
- Rolls and Anti – Rolls
- Walking Upside down with Hands
- Flip – Flops and Back Flips
- Different Kinds of Somersaults
- Free Running and Parkour Movements
- Extreme Callisthenics
With these exercises your body receives Ultimate Flexibility. These techniques are then taught to the students to use in Close Quarter Combat to Escape and attack from any angle and from even the closest person. Now, due to this flexibility achieved, the student can easily perform some close quarter acrobatic movements that help them to move away from short range attacks.
Flexibility Exercises must never be overseen, but more importance must be given to them.
STICK AND STAFF SILAMBAM
Stick and Staff based Silambam is the area where training is given with different kinds of Sticks and Staffs.
The major divisions of Staffs used are Long Staff, Middle Staff and Short Staff.
The Weapons used in Stick Silambam can be classified and divided into the following:
- Long Staff (6’ or 5½’)
- Middle Staff (3’ or 3½’)
- Short Staff (1½’)
- Sun – Moon Kambu
- Lathi Kambu
- Lattu Kambu
- Vel Kambu and Eetei (Javelin and Spear)
- Trident or Trishool
Among which the long staff alone has 96 different forms called Varisai (Kata Forms, known as Thani Thiramai)
Here, as the name suggests, the primary weapon of focus is the Sword.
There are different types of Swords used in Silambam Martial Art. They are
- 6’ Long Sword (4’ sword, 2’ handle)
- 4’ Long Sword
- 2’ Long Sword
- Iron Knives
- Iron cutting knives
- Dagger (Kuthu Vaal)
- Small sized dagger
- Dagger with Tapering point
- Curved Knives (Reaping Knives)
- Double Edged Sword
- Sword and Shieds (Shield of Different Shapes and Sizes)
- Curved Sword or Sacrificial Sword
- Saber Sword
- Gauntlet Sword of Different Sizes
- Flexible Sword (with 1, 2 or 3 blades)
FIRE SILAMBAM OR SHOW SILAMBAM
Fire Silambam, though today it is considered as Show Game Silambam, Fire Silambam was used as a means of self-defence in Ancient days.
During the night time, when wild animals came to attack the local people, they took Silambam, kindled fire on both ends and started swinging the staff. Thus, it is said that the wild animals got scared seeing the fire and went away from them.
Today, training in Fire Silambam is done just for demonstrations.
Fire Silambam training include:
- Fire on both sides of one staff
- Fire on both sides of 2 staffs and double hand swing
- Fire Silambam on 6-edged star made of bamboo
- Fire on Circular Ring rotations
- Fire on Chains edge rotations
Areas where the Fire Silambam are played with the above mentioned weapons are:
- Around our whole body (above the head, left side, right side etc)
- On the Head and
- On the Chest and
Balancing the Fire Silambam includes:
- Balancing Fire on Head
- Balancing Fire on Mouth
- Balancing Fire on Chest
Other materials used in Show Silambam are:
- Rope and Ball
- Balancing water and egg tied on two sides of a rope
- Balancing Water and Glass tied on two sides of a rope
In Show Game Performance Silambam, there are 4 different sequences used to entertain the crowd or audience to showcase the student’s talent. They are:
- Poo Paanai Vettu
- Sangili Paanai Vettu
- Chakkara Paanai Vettu
- Thee Paanai Vettu
Throw Silambam teaches throwing weapons that are used in Silambam. Since throw silambam is much difficult than other weapons used in Silambam, this training is given only after the student learns all other weapons used in this Martial Art.
The Weapons used in Throw Silambam are:
- Javelin or Spear
- Boomerang or VaLari
- Chakra Ayudham or ThigiRi
Other than using the throwing weapons, Empty Hand Silambam also uses a concept called “Throwing method” or “Throwing Sequences”.
These throwing methods in Empty Hand Silambam are said to be the Fore runner of Judo, JuJitsu, AikiJuJitsu and Aiki-do.
Empty Hand Throwing methods will also be taught to the students in Throw Silambam Training.
RARIFIED WEAPONS USED IN SILAMBAM
Other Rare weapons that are used in Silambam Martial Art are:
- Deer Horn (Madu or Maan Kombu)
- Axes of different sizes and shapes
- Hooks with two curved rods
- Lance with blade rectangular in section
- Koombu Eetei
- Hollow tube handle of lance (kuli Kai eetei)
- Dagger with tapering point
- Reaping hook curved (Valai Kathigal)
- Lesam or Chanigili Kattai (similar to Nunchaks)
- Stone Cloth Weapon (Kal Thuni)
- Curious Iron Weapon
- Knuckle Duster
- Towel or Thundu
EMPTY HAND SILAMBAM – KUTHU VARISAI
Kuthu Varisai, the empty hand fighting style of Silambam, is the very direct Mother of most of the Chinese, Japanese, South – East Asian, Middle East and South American Martial Arts.
Kuthu Varisai Techniques include Striking, Grappling, Throwing, Locking and Counter Locking techniques.
Strikes in Kuthu Varisai makes use of almost every part of the body such as fists, elbows, knees, feet head-butts etc.
Kuthu Varisai makes used of animal poses and stances like Monkey, Snake, Eagle, Bear, Tiger and Elephant.
Kuthu Varisai training starts with Kaaladi Varisai or Chuvadu Murai (meaning footwork movements). The aim of a Kuthu Varisai practitioner is to fight against multiple armed or unarmed opponents.
In both, Kuthu Varisai and Silambam, Chuvadus or Kaaladi Varisai is the key factor in deriving power for the blows.
It teaches how to
- Advance and Retreat
- How to get in range of the opponent, without lowering one’s defence
- Aids in Hitting and Blocking and
- Strengthens the body immensely, enabling the person to receive non – lethal blows and still continue the battle.
The whole body is used to create power.
Kuthu Varisai teaches stretching, gymnastic and breathing exercises before training.
Kuthu Varisai Training is divided into 13 stages. They are:
- Salutation Sequences
- Punching Sequences
- Kicking Sequences
- Defensive Stances
- Basic Self Defence Patterns
- Punches and Blocks
- Basic Grappling and Locking Techniques
- Defensive and Evasive Sequences
- Advanced Self Defence Patterns
- Advanced Grappling and Locking Techniques
- Close Combat Locks
- Offensive and Attacking Sequences
- Full Contact Fight
Salutation includes the following trainings
- Salutation to the respective God the student worships
- Salutation to the Guru and Maha Guru
- Salutation to the Opponent in Sparring Competition
- Salutation to the audience or gathering
Punching sequences are those that are practiced in the Punching Exercises session
They are practiced as either single or a combination of the above mentioned punches.
Kicking sequences are those that are practiced in the Kicking Exercises session
They are practiced as either single or a combination of the above mentioned kicks.
Defensive Stances, also known as Nilai Kattu are basic stances that are used in Kuthu Varisai.
These are replicated and mimicked from Animal Fights.
BASIC SELF DEFENCE PATTERNS:
The basic self defence patterns are known as Sala Varisai in Tamil. There are about 13 Basic Sala Varisai used in Kuthu Varisai.
These are similar to the concept of Kata in Chinese, Japanese and Korean Martial Arts
The name of each of these Sala Varisai and the methods of executing these techniques differ from region to region in Tamil Nadu.
PUNCHES, BLOCKS AND LOCKING:
The punches, blocks and locking techniques are used in combination here. (kuthu – thadu – pootu)
There are 10 basic patterns of striking, blocking and locking techniques that are used in combination.
Once the student masters this, they then only have to use in different combination of attacks and angles.
BASIC GRAPPLING AND LOCKING TECHNIQUES:
The basic Grappling and Locking techniques are known as Pidi Varisai. There are about 10 basic Pidi Varisai used in Kuthu Varisai martial art.
The names of the Grappling techniques differ from region to region in Tamil Nadu.
DEFENSIVE AND EVASIVE SEQUENCES:
Defensive or Evasive Techniques are known as Odhungu Murai or Odhungal Varisai.
The evasive methods used in Kuthu Varisai are about 10 in number. Once the student learns and understands the concept and logic behind these Evasive techniques, they can escape from any number of attacks from any side without being hurt.
ADVANCED SELF DEFENCE PATTERNS:
Here, the students learn advanced Kata forms known as Thani Sala Varisaigal.
These are taught to the students, only after they master the Basic Sala Varisai.
In Advanced Sala Varisai, the students learn to incorporate different Rolls, Somersaults, Gymnastic exercises into the Basic Patterns.
Advanced Sala Varisai are 5 in number
ADVANCED GRAPPLING AND LOCKING TECHNIQUES:
Advanced Grappling Methods, known as Thani Pidi Varisai are 5 in number. Before learning these techniques, the student must have mastered and familiar with Basic Pidi Varisai.
CLOSE COMBAT LOCKS:
Close Combat Locking Techniques are known as Koruvai or Korvai in Tamil.
They help fight in a very closed range combat techniques.
Koruvai locks are 5 in number. Once the student learns and understands the concept and logic behind these techniques, they can then come up with n number of techniques with the basic Koruvai principles studied here.
OFFENSIVE AND ATTACKING SEQUENCES:
The Offensive or Attacking sequences are known as Adi Varisai.
Adi Varisai is a practiced as a combination of Kicks, Punches, Grappling and Locking techniques.
Basically, Adi Varisai are 5 in number. Once the student learns and understands the concept and logic behind these techniques, they can then come up with n number of techniques with the basic Adi Varisai principles studied here.
FULL CONTACT FIGHT:
Full Contact Kuthu Varisai fight uses almost all parts of the body is used (kinetic linking) to achieve maximum power from each strike, grapple and locks.
Further Kuthu Varisai is not only a Hand to Hand Combat. Kuthu Varisai practitioners are also trained to fight with bare hand against a single or multiple opponents handling weapons.
Kuthu Varisai Full Contact Combat Training includes:
- Empty Hand vs Empty Hand Combat
- Empty Hand vs Long Staff Combat
- Empty Hand vs Short Staff Combat
- Enpty hand vs Knife Combat and
- Empty Hand vs Sword Combat
After the student gains command over the Full Contact Free Style Kuthu Varisai Fighting Methods, the student is taught how to use a thundu or Towel in order to protect himself.
Kuthu Varisai and Adi Murai are the only Martial Arts that teaches how to defend yourself with a Towel, or in modern days, a girls duppatta could replace a towel. Hence, this method is very suitable for Ladies and Girls, as they could defend themselves with ease and minimal effort even against huge attackers.
The student is also trained to fight with the Towel against opponents with clubs, short sticks, knives and swords.
Advanced students of Kuthu Varisai would be familiar with Varma Kalai. They know how and where to strike a person with minimal effort to cause temporary or permanent disability and/or immediate or delayed death.
After learning Kuthu Varisai combined with Varma Kalai, the student is given a very rare weapon called “Idi Kattai” or “Knuckle Duster” which is made of Buffalo’s Horn. Striking on Varmam points with Idi Kattai causes devastating effects
TEN LEVELS OF SILAMBAM TRAINING FROM STUDENT TO GRAND MASTER
There are 10 levels of training that a Silambam practitioner has to go through. They are:
- Primary Silambam
- Middle Silambam
- Trained Silambam
- Assistant Team Leader
- Team Leader
- Assistant Master
- Master Seekhamani
- Master Seronmani
- Grand Master
The beginner Silambam student has to learn
- Basic Physical Exercises
- Basic Footwork Patterns (Chuvadu Murai)
- Basic Silambam moves in Stick Silambam (Nedunkambu, Nadunkambu, Kadikambu)
- Basic Techniques in Bare Hand Silambam
The student who has completed training in Primary Silambam has to learn
- Basic Silambam move in Double Stick
- Advanced Silambam Techniques (Bhaski, Kirukki, Sapthi)
- Direction Salutation in Stick Silambam and Bare Hand Silambam
- Adi Varisai in Stick Silambam (Long Staff Fighting Methods)
The student who has successfully completed training in Middle Silambam can take up and learn
- Lessons in Stick Silambam with weapons (Sun – Moon Kambu, Vel Kambu etc)
- Advanced Techniques in Adi Varisai (Advanced Long Stick Combat methods)
- More Lessons in Empty Hand Silambam
- Advanced Techniques in Surul Vaal
ASSISTANT TEAM LEADER:
A Trained Silamban has to complete the following Syllabus
- Lessons in Half Stick (Kurun Thadi)
- Attacking and Defending Methods in Adi Varisai (Long Stick Fight)
- Paavalaa’s with different kinds of weapons
- Advanced Techniques in Double Surul Vaal
- Basic Techniques in Throw Silambam
The Team Leader has to successfully complete the following syllabus
- Lessons in Sword Silambam
- Advanced Techniques in Fire Silambam
- Attacking and Defending Techniques with Weapons
- Advanced Techniques in Throw Silambam (Weapons and Empty Hand throwing methods)
- Has to train at least 1 Assistant Team Leader
After successfully completing the Syllabus for Team Leader, the student must complete the following Syllabus to become Assistant Master in Silambam
- Advanced Techniques in Hand Slambam
- Attacking and Defending Techniques with Deer Horn
- Attacking and Defending Techniques in Sword Silambam
- Has to train at least 1 Assistant Team Leader and 1 Team Leader
The Master has to learn the following Syllabus
- Teaching Techniques in Silambam
- Locking Techniques in Hand Silambam
- Locks and Counter Locks with All Weapons
- Has to train at least 1 Assistant Master, 2 Team Leaders and 2 Assistant Team Leaders
After successfully training at least two Masters, the student receives the title “Master Seekhamani”
After successfully training at least 2 Master Seekhamnai’s, the student receives the title “Master Seeronmani”
After successfully training at least 2 Master Seeronmani, the student receives the title “Grand Master” of Silambam Martial Art