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KUTTU VARISAI (குத்துவரிசை)

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Kuttu Varisai is the unarmed component of Silambam, a Dravidian martial art from Tamil Nadu in south India but also practiced by the Tamils of northeastern Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

The term Kuttu Varisai means empty hand combat in Tamil and was first documented in Sangam literature of the 2nd-1st centuries BC.

It is used to improve footwork and athleticism through gymnastics, stretching, yoga and breathing exercises. Techniques incorporate striking, grappling, throws and locks. Strikes make use of almost every part of the body such as the fists, elbows, feet, knees, etc. Like many other Asian martial arts, patterns in kuttu varisai make use of animal-based sets including the tiger, snake, elephant, eagle and monkey forms. Advanced students are taught the art of pressure point fighting called Varma Kalai.

Kaaladi, or footwork patterns, are a fundamental aspect of both Kuttu Varisai and Silambam. There are sixteen of them among which four are very important. Traditionally, beginners practice only kaaladi for many months before learning any techniques but this is not often done today. Training in Kuttu Varisai allows the practitioner to get a feel of silambam stick movements using their bare hands, that is, fighters have a preliminary training with bare hands before going to the stick.

Gradually, fighters study footwork to move precisely in conjunction with the stick movements. The ultimate goal of the training is to defend against multiple armed opponents. In both Kuttu Varisai and Silambam, kaaladi is the key in deriving power for the blows. It teaches how to advance and retreat, to get in range of the opponent without lowering one's defence, aids in hitting and blocking, and it 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

The art of Kuttu Varisai is an advanced form of barehanded techniques, which is said to be developed by the Siddhars, who gave this art to the people to protect themselves from their enemies. This form of art is developed on the basis of foot and hand movements. The Kuttu Varisai teaches Nelaygal that is, standing positions or poses for several hours, this makes the practiser gain strength, it is a form of Yoga. The Nelaygal gives one a strong base and grip, it also helps the practitioner understand the body better.

Kuttu Varisai aims in understanding and implementing various animal movements and behaviours, for the use of self-defence and creation of fighting styles. Kuttu is commonly known as a ‘Punch’. Varisai is known as ‘sequence’ or ‘in order’. The words literally means, using Punches in sequential order.

Exercises in Kuttu Varisai

Thattu padom : This set of exercises is alone, or practiced with others

Adi-Varesai : The series of these exercises are to be practiced alone

Kuttu-Varisai : The series of these exercises are to be practiced in pairs, then with more people (from the simplest to the most complex, codified at the beginning, and progressing to more and more free movements, the counter-attacks linked together endlessly, in perpetual movement).

Pede-Varisai : Locking of bone joints, muscles and nerves.

Nelaygal: Standing position in one particular style for hours like an idol




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