Embodied Martial and Medical Practices of South India


  • Gowtham P. S. Student




Kalaripayat, Silambam, Kutthu Varisai, Varma Adi, Siddha, Ayurveda, India


In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the martial arts practices appear under different names and emphasize different aspects according to geographical, political, and linguistic considerations. They find a place in contemporary society by addressing performative, fitness, and nationalistic and socio-political purposes. There are traditional medical systems, Siddha and Ayurveda, associated with these martial arts: many martial arts practitioners are medical practitioners as well. In my paper, I draw connections between the Siddha medical system and the above-mentioned martial systems.

The martial artist’s internalized understanding of the body as malleable, able to conform to stylistic conventions, and able to navigate and exploit space to harm the opponent, I contend, must in some way affect his perspective when he takes on the role of Siddha practitioner. My paper will analyse the forms and movements as they relate to the medical systems, and the role they play in the practitioner’s lived identity as well as in the collective regional identity. This paper explores the above-mentioned systems within the rationality of these systems of knowledge.





P. S., G. (2019). Embodied Martial and Medical Practices of South India. Journal of Martial Arts Research, 2(2), 9. https://doi.org/10.15495/ojs_25678221_22_97