By Jaya Kumar
Puducherry, Mar 8 : An ancient martial art form of southern India is drawing scores of foreign visitors, eager to learn the art of stick fighting to picturesque Puducherry.
'Silambattam', one of the oldest traditional martial arts of Tamil Nadu, has become increasingly popular with tourists as they take up the art form, learning and mastering its intricate movements and techniques.
Jyothis Senthil Kannan, a master of Silambattam, who has been teaching the art for over 10-years and also runs a martial arts school in the scenic town of Puducherry, says that Silambattam is attracting more and more students over the years as people come to know about it.
"Silambattam is quite well known now. People come regularly. I'm teaching in my village where I started the International Silambattam and Kuttuwari (ISK) Federation Gurukulam. People stay here and learn this art as we learnt in ancient times," he said.
The Gurukulam, tucked away in thick foliage, has foreign students learning the art form by twirling sticks in the air as they practice various techniques in an open courtyard of the school.
Shane Paul, a European tourist, said he was drawn to learn Silambattam because of its holistic approach.
"Before I was researching some martial arts in the north but then when I came here I became interested in Silambattam; it looks quite interesting to me, like a base of all the martial arts I've seen before. You don't have to use much energy to get good results, you don't have to put much effort and it works," he said.
Silambattam, which is based on stick fighting, is mainly used for self-defence and developing physique.
Beginners are first taught footwork patterns and then go on to the spinning techniques of the stick.
Keynne, another foreign student, said: "I started to learn about the history of Silambattam and some of the different techniques but I've only been a student for a few years, which means I'm a very bad student because I don't practice and I don't get to practice in Singapore but when I come here I get to practice a little bit."
The art form, a traditional Dravidian martial art based on fighting with sticks dates back 5000 years when the stick was the primary tool to defend oneself.