Kalaripayattu :Mathew Gurukkal - Bali Kalari, East of Iron-bridge, Kollam, Kerala,S.India- Martial arts,self defence, Weapon training, VCDs,DVDs,Interactive, Marma-sastra & Marma-chikitsa DVDs, Yoga classes, Ayurvedic Body Massage, stage demos, etc.
Katcha thirummu is done to the newly admitted students who enroll for the kalari classes in the Vadakkan or Northern style schools. Since lot of flexibility is needed for free and fast movement of the basics of Mei-tari or body techniques, for the first 1 year, special massage is done to stretch the muscles and reduce the fats and obesity in students.
Now a days in vadakkan kalaris or Northern style schools, students normally apply sesame oil i.e, pacchenna or Nallena, on their body before starting their practice sessions.
During practice the students wear a loin cloth or langoti as it is known in Hindi, so that the body gets maximum free movement, and the oil does not get on the clothes they were. Applying oil increases the flexibility of the body and prevents the artist from tiring quickly by over perspiration.
On the contrary in Thekkan or Southern style kalaris, no body massage is done for flexibility. But the flexibility of body is attained by students through a rigorous form of exercises, trained by the Guru. In Thekkan kalaris Guru massage the students only if they request for a massage, normally if they have any uneasiness, pain, injuries, fracture etc, and it is done for a nominal fee.
Normally all students are massaged by the Gurukkal or Instructor using oils prepared from herbal extracts. The massaging tones-up the Muscles of body and increases blood-circulation and increases flexibility or free-movement of body. The time ideally suitable for massaging is the early hours of dawn between 7-9am or late in the evening from 4-7pm in moonsoon regions like kerala.
Also different varieties of oil are used depending on what problem the person has, like if a person is affected by paralysis he should be applied certain oil or if he is suffering from Jontis, he should be applied another variety and so on. Also certain oil create heat in the body and certain oil produce coolness. Special oils are used for cuts and fractures.
'Sukha Thirummu' or 'Rejuvation massage' - General body massage
There is another kind of massaging known as the Sukha Tirummu or 'Rejuvation massage'. This type of Massage can be done for any people without any specific ailments. This is done for relaxation of muscles and removing mental stress. It also creates peacefulness and happiness of mind and hence is good for longevity. There are two types of massage. One is massage done with 'Foot' known as 'Foot massage' - chavutti thirummu and the other is massage done with the bare hands.
Foot massage is done in Vadakkan kalaris using the right foot, and the Therapist knows how to use the required force on different areas of the body depending on the vulnerability of marma points. The Therapist holds on one or two dangling ropes, with his hands. The ropes are tied to the beam of the roof. The ropes are used for attaining a balance of body while Massaging, to control excess pressure from being exerted on the patient. The Masseur should be very expert in doing the massage since he must be careful in applying the right kind of pressure with the foot. In Thekkan kalaris, only hand massage is done, and no foot massage is used to treat a patient.
Also the Thekkan kalari Gurus know the Siddha style of massage which is quite different from the Ayurvedic style of massage. They used traditionally prepared very powerful oils which can reduce any ailments quickly in a short span of time. A well trained therapist rejuvinates the prana or life force in the cell, muscles or nervous system and removes the imbalances of energy, making it balanced on both sides of the body.
Certain climatic conditions are also suitable for massaging like rainy season in India, especially in Kerala where the climates are moderate ie, neither hot nor too cold. During this rainy season, Karkadaka thirummu is done in most of the Kalaris for students and Out-patients. Summer is not suitable for massaging.
In this type of massage importance is given to strokes of massaage depending on the ailments of a patient like backpain, knee pain, cervical spondylosis, injuries occuring through fall from heights, police beatings, etc. Depending on the type of problems in a patient the style of massage is altered and required internal medicines are also given along with the body massage routines.
Reksha thirummu is used to fix sprains or slipped joints, cervical spondylosis, back pain, slip-disc, fracture etc, which are done to bring a patient to normal condition. It may take from few days to a week or two to complete the massage course. Kalari has a store house of secret traditional treating methods to suit to various needs of the patient. These techniques are taught by word of mouth or transferred to disciples by practical training sessions with the grace of the expert Guru.
'Kizhis' or boluses are also used for major cases with pain or injuries. A 'Kizhi' is a cloth ball which contain herbal leaf mixtures dipped in hot oil applied to the body in certain methodical strokes according to the ailment. Massaging is normally done to the patient in empty stomach before food or after cleaning of bowels.
Other terms like 'Uzhichil'- hand/foot massage and 'pizhichil' - dripping of luke-warm oil on to the patients body from a oil drenched cloth, are also used in Ayurvedi panchakarma treatments. The head-to-toe massage is known as the 'Sarvangam thirumal' or Full body massage. It includes head massage, facial massage, chest and back massage and massage done to hand and legs etc. A Therapist or masseur must be very thorough with the bone anatomy,the veins and arteries, Muscle structure and the vital points of the body.
The difference between a Panchakarma therapist and the Kalari therapist is that, the Kalari therapist is well versed in the 108 vital spots of the body and he avoids excess pressure on those spots during a massage. An untrained Therapist lack the knowledge of vital spots or Marmas and unknowingly he can inflict injury to a vital spot, causing illness or disablility or even death if not carefully handled. Hence one must not go for a massage at any centre where the therapist lack the knowledge of vital spots, thinking it to be economical. You are putting your life at risk by surrendering your body to the untrained therapist who does not have the real experience attained through a Guru.