History Video

India – Birthplace of Kung Fu!

Martial arts essentially evolved from Southern India. Agastya Muni was a very small-built man – short and diminutive – but he travelled endlessly. He evolved martial arts mainly to fight the wildlife. Tigers roamed this land in great abundance – now we can count them, we have eleven hundred tigers, but there was a time when thousands of them existed along with various other potentially dangerous wildlife.So, Agastya Muni evolved a system as to how to fight the wildlife – if a tiger comes, how to handle it. You will see, Kalari still retains that format. This is not just about fighting with men. Fighting with men came later. He taught martial arts to a few people just to manage the wildlife when they travelled, and it still lives. Some of the schools still look up to him and associate themselves with him.So when people went to China, once they crossed the Himalayas, they faced wild men who were always looking to attack the traveller. So what they had learned to handle the wildlife, they used it on wild men. Once they started using it on people, you will see a distinct transformation in the martial arts. From a very crouching kind of martial art to a “standing up” kind of martial art is what you will see from India to the Chinese and further into South-East Asia.

So, it evolved into a different format. And when you fight men, you have to kill, otherwise he won’t stop. With wildlife it’s not like that. They come because they think you are food. And once you make it very clear to him that you are a very difficult food, he will go away. He will look for some easy food. Because of this, the martial arts naturally transformed itself from a very fantastic form of avoiding becoming somebody’s dinner, to something that can kill.


You will see this transformation from Kalari to Karate. Later on, in India also they started fighting with men but they did not transform the art so much. Instead, they picked up weapons. If you look at it, Kalari may not be as good a fighting process with human beings as Karate would be because in Karate they are standing on two legs. In Kalari, you are trying to look at something lower down because we did not see it as a tool to fight other men, it was only seen as a defense from wildlife.

Parashuram was another great teacher of Kalari. He single-handedly slaughtered armies because of his phenomenal martial art capabilities. He taught one school which flowed from the North of Malabar, and Agastya Muni’s school came from the South. Parashuram’s method used all kinds of weapons – hand weapons, throwing weapons, various kinds of weapons – but Agastya Muni’s martial art grew without any weapons, it was all hand.




Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • This expose is exclusively based on myths and legends. There is absolutely no written records of Boddhidharma having learned Kalaripayat and having taught it to chinese monks. This is pure fantasy.
    In fact, Boddhidharma, being born in Kanchipuram (in present Tamil Nadu), would have rather learned the martial art from Tamil Nadu named Silambam, and taught it in China. This seems much more logical and plausible.
    Moreover, the stances and mouvements of Silambam resemble more those of Kung Fu, Karate and others East and South-East martial arts; the stances are also of “standing up” up, the attack and defence techniques present strong similarities, several weapons are found in these martial styles, and so on…
    When dealing with the past, we should exclusively take reference to historical, established and rational facts, instead of taking myths and legends as facts. Mythology is not History!

  • My comment has been misunderstood. I never denied that Boddhidharma went to China. He did indeed go to China and, for your information, he not only taught martial arts to the Shaolin monks, but also Mahayana Buddhism -which became Chan Buddhism (from the root word “Dhyanam”, because of the emphasis put on meditation techniques in this sect of Buddhism) in China and Zen Buddhism in Korea and Japan- and some Yogic practices which later gave birth to Chi Kung. All I meant in my comment is that it is probably erroneous to claim, without any evidence, that Boddhidharma learned Kalaripayat -which is practised in present Kerala- and taught it to the Shaolin monks. It is more likely that, as a Pallava prince from Kanchipuram, he was taught the martial art named Silambam, practised in Tamil Nadu. See reasons in the afore comment.
    Also for your information, the documentary (see the youtube link that you graciously posted) is Vietnamese made, not Chinese. It is to be noted that although all the East and South-East Asian countries readily and gratefully acknowledge the role of Boddhidharma -and in some places even worship him- in teaching and propagating the above mentioned disciplines, the official -and often unofficial- policy of the Chinese authorities and individuals is to deny and denigrate Boddhidharma’s role. This stance adopted by the Chinese is due to the ageless cultural rivalry between India and China, and has been made semi-official during the Cultural Revolution.
    As for your comment, may I say that although it is undeniable -and quite understandable- that there are, have been and will always be cultural rivalries between the different civilisations, I, as someone who have travelled to many parts of the world, do not have the feeling that “the world wants to destroy whatever little India has left as history”. There is no need to be paranoid.
    India is not little, contrary to what you wrote. And not only has She played an incommensurable part in the history of the world, but She is still making it !
    But in order to discover India’s glorious AND real past, and her infinitely rich AND real culture, and make them known to the world, we must EXCLUSIVELY stick to historical and proven/provable facts instead of presenting the myths and legends as historical facts, and understandably becoming the world’s laughing stock!
    There is such a rich Indian history which has still not been fully discovered and understood. Why do some persons/groups feel the need to make false claims and/or present mythology as history? Can you imagine what would happen if all the ancient civilisations -such as Greece, Egypt, Scandinavia, China, and many others- start claiming that their respective mythologies are in fact real history??