The project, sanctioned by the Public Education Department last year, allows a Kalarippayattu team to conduct demonstration in schools.

A simple Kalarippayattu demonstration held last year prompted some school students to take up the State’s own martial art, which has made warriors of men and women who made legends and folklores.

This year too, a similar demonstration conducted at Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Manacaud, by a 12-member team of Travancore School of Kalarippayattu on Wednesday held schools students in awe as swords swished and shields clashed, echoing the steely resolve and supple physique that Kalarippayattu promises its students.

The project, sanctioned by the Public Education Department last year, allows a Kalarippayattu team to conduct demonstration in schools. Through such demonstrations, the government wants to revive the traditional art form, practised earlier for self-defence and attack on enemies, by focussing on its potential to improve ‘Health and Confidence’.

As per this, such sessions were conducted in 10 schools last year. The first demonstration session of this year had the crowd who came to witness it in great cheer and frenzy when the Kalarippayattu team began their locks, holds and fights using weapons.

The half-an-hour session was thoroughly entertaining, and at least some, if not many, were prompted to take up training in the marital art, which is an option that the students can choose from other than classes in aerobics and karate.

For many, however, the whole thing looked scary. “This looks very difficult and look most of them are already frightened seeing the sword and kicks”, said IX standard student M.H Swathi pointing to her juniors, some of whom jerked as they saw swords clashing.

But G. Radhakrishnan, secretary and group leader of the martial art school, assures that the students will be taught only Meippayattu (body-flexible techniques) and Kuruvadippayyatu (short-staff fight) initially.

“The training in dangerous weapons is taught only after a few years into the training. There has been a good response from school students. Many approached us last year but are doubtful of finding enough time for daily practice,” he said.

Hence, this year, the team decided to allow the students to choose their own timings and suitable days to practise at their centre.

School’s physical trainer L.B. Mabel also agrees that such flexible timings will help the students and ease concern of parents, who do not want their wards to compromise on study time.

“Though many had joined the karate and aerobic classes, only a few were willing to dedicate time and effort to pursue it further. If the classes are being conducted with options for flexible timings, many more will be interested,” Ms. Mabel said.

Akhila L. Kumar, who has trained in karate for three years, feels learning martial arts is essential today. “We hear a lot of incidents now-a-days about assault on girls and it will be helpful in such situations if we are trained in some martial art form,” she says.