India is a land of various arts, most of them have been disappeared
over time. Varmakkalai the mother of all martial arts which
originated in Tamil Nadu is one among them which is slowly
disappearing. All the other martial arts are direct or indirect
descendants of varmakkalai. Tamil Sage Agasthiar is the founder of
varmakkalai who lived in the south-pothigai mountains (Kutralam)
which is in the southern part of Tamil Nadu ruled by Pandiya kings.
His period is said to be before "Sangam Literature".
art existed in the spoken-form and he formulated and gave a
written-form by writing in the palm leaves (manuscripts). Only after
him other sages (siddhar) like Theraiyar, Pogar, Pulipani etc have
written other manuscripts. Following song is one of the evidence
stating the origin.
"Then pothigai nathan thunaiyaal
padi vaithaen murai nanramae".
Some of the varmakkalai manuscripts written by Agasthiyar are
Agasthiyar varma thiravukol
Agasthiyar varma kandi
Agasthiyar oosi murai varmam
Agasthiyar vasi varmam
Varma odivu murivu
Agasthiyar varma kannadi
Agasthiyar mei theendakalai
Jatavarman Pandiyan (or) Sadaiyavarman who learnt varmakkalai was a
very brave and ambitious warrior king who has won several wars.
Though varmakkalai was founded in Pandiya kingdom and slowly
disappeared here, it was developed by Chola kings and then this art
went to Sri-Lanka, China and other foreign countries. Buddhist monk
named Bodhidharma (A.D 520) went to China from Kanchipuram (in Tamil
Nadu) to spread buddhism, he stayed at the Shaolin Monastry and
preached buddhist ideologies. Bodhidharma is the founder of Shaolin
Temple, who taught varmakkalai to the chinese monks. He trained them
in exercises designed to strengthen the body and thus their
endurance. Still we could find the stone carvings in the Shaolin
Temple portraying Bodhidharma as founder of the Shaolin Kung-fu.
On one of the Shaolin Temple walls, a fresco can
be seen, showing dark-skinned (Indian) monk, teaching
lighter-skinned (Chinese) monks the art of bare-handed fighting
skills.” Under this painting, the words
“Tenjiku Naranokaku” are inscribed in Chinese, which
translates in English to “The fighting techniques to train the
body from India”, supporting the view that Bodhidharma's
exercises were in fact the reflection of the ancient Indian martial
arts. Therefore, religious preaching of the Buddhist monks linked
the systematic art of Self defense to the world by crossing the
borders of the Indian sub-continent.
As a Chinese Ambassador to USA, Hu Shih once said
“India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries
without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.”.
Reason for the disappearance of
Varmakklai in India
Indian sub-continent, lacking
patronization, gradually began losing its such rich heritage of
Martial arts. Centuries of Colonial rule have paralyzed the growth
of Martial Art just like many other treasure-worthy Indian knowledge
systems and put them close to the level of dysfunctional. Again in
more recent history, in 1793 the British East India Company fearing
the inspirations of Youth revolutions, officially banned and the
practice of mother of the world’s martial arts and it actually came
to a point of almost extinction.
Practical form of
Varmakkalai is the complete form
As most of the varmakkalai masters (Asan or Guru) claim that they
have learnt only therapeutic form of varmakkalai
and only teach those methods. Those were learnt by reading some
books, manuscripts etc... One who can't simulate
the symptoms of varmam can't be good master, one should learn the
practical form of varmakkalai and then treat the
victim affected by varmam. Following song which was written by sage
Agasthiyar in one of his manuscripts clearly
says that we should learn the practical form and then the
therapeutic form to treat the victim.
"Appanae varmathil adi pidi vettu kuthu
katru pin varisayudan pin varma elakku seyyae"
varma elakku --- Remedying or curing method.
But most of them have reversed (vice versa) and say that they have
learnt the therapeutic form first. "Action speak
louder than words", master Rajendran who is the founder of this
"Manja Varmakkalai" trains the student through the
practical form which can only be learnt with the help of a guru or
asan or master.
Varmakkalai can be either used for self-defence and also can cure
various diseases. Whatever varmam's we have
mentioned in this site are practically proven ones, you wouldn't
have heard about most of them. Exercises for
varmakkalai are simple and any age group can practice this art, the
benefits can not be be measured. You wouldn't
have seen these exercises before and they are easy to do.
We will detail the various defensive varmakkalai techniques, the
mudras to use while striking and the impact it
would have on the human body. You should not think that by knowing
the locations you can use the technique, it is
mandatory that you should do the exercises regularly in order to get
the accuracy while using the same. As we can
re-emphasize the fact with the following idiom "A little learning
is a dangerous thing". By doing these exercises
you can make your nerves more stronger, as you know the root cause
of most of diseases are nerves, blood circulation
and prana shakthi or oxygen (vital life power).
What do you mean by "Manja"
It indicates a style whose meaning has been kept as a secret, one
who knows this style of Varmakkalai will be able to spare with any
style of martial art. Only who knows this style of art can compete
Who will be able to learn
this art ?
As per a stanza from a song written by Siddhar Agasthiyar which
indicates who will be able to learn this art.
"karma vinaigal avamirunthu vandhu koodi
vitta kurai thotta kurai ena vizhambalachae"
Types of varmam
Thodu Varmam (96)
Padu Varmam (12)
Thattu Varmam (8)
Nokku Varmam (or) Meitheenda Kalai
Brief description about each type of varmam are as follows,
Once affected We will come to know the symptoms of these varmams
only after a certain time limit. Within this time
limit we should retrieve the victims. The time limit can be an hour,
a day, a month or even years.
They are vital and fatal too, once affected it would generate the
symptoms immediately. There is a time limit to
retrieve the victim for these varmam, they are basically some hours.
Thattu Varmam (or) Asan Varmam:
These varmams are known only to the masters and are basically kept
as a high secret. It can only be retrieved by
the one who striked, basically the master. They are highly dangerous
and are taught to the person in a confidential
way. It is the sole discretion of the master to decide whether it
should be taught to the student or not.
Nokku Varmam (or) Meitheenda Kalai:
This method is used either to heal or to attack the person, this
requires more practice and can't be learnt in a
short span of time. Without even touching the opponent we can strike
or heal a person from a distant place.
Apart from all the above types of varmam, there are sub-categories
within these types. Some of the other types of
varmam are as follows.
Synonyms used in this
Varmam ----Pressure Point or Vital Point, name, category .
Synonyms of Varmakkalai
Varmakkalai is also called as Pressure Point Fighting,Dim-Mak,Aikido
in other countries.