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by Yogra
Rated: E · Article · Arts · #2088040
This article is about the origination of most famous martial arts in the world


The period was mid-nineties and I am counting my age in teens, I was not aware, not even 95% of the Indian population would have known about it, the deadliest among the combat skills of the world is originated in India and extant. When it comes to martial arts either "Bruce Lee" or Jackie Chan flashes first in my mind and I believe this is the case with most of the people around the world because these legends epitomised Karate and Kung fu respectively. I being a Staunch Fan of Jackie Chan use to watch all his movies. Mater with Cracked Fingers, Armour of God, Snake in the Eagle Shadow, Police Story, Project A, Spanish Connection and the list goes on. I am fascinated to such an extent that one day along with my friends imitated some feats, luckily escaped broken bones whilst couple of my friends couldn't but couldn't escaped a broken cane, courtesy my Mother. Our gang use to think high about China and the Shaolin monks for their invention Until Kamal Hassan and Shankar's combo hit the screens with Bharateeyudu(Telugu)/Indian(Tamil)/Hindustani(Hindi). I got glued to the frame where 80 year old Kamal disables a baddie with crossed fingers in two strokes, witnessed something of that sort on the silver screen for the first time and was flabbergasted. As the plot slowly uncovers in the second half I came to know about Marma Kala (Sanskrit) (Marma Vidhya (Telugu), and Varma Kalai (Tamil)) an ancient combat skill of Bharat. Marm Kala is the most dangerous among any other combat skills in the world and is tout to be the mother of all martial arts, from then my perspective about martial arts got changed and respect towards my motherland grown four fold. Then I didn't tried to analyse which is the best among my favourite combat arts but formed an impression from what I had witnessed on screen. Today I'll walk you through the history & evolution of my favourite combat skills Marma Kala & Kung Fu and leave it to you to gauge the best among them.


According to folklore Lord Shiva taught Marma Kala to his younger son Lord Subrahmanya, in turn Lord Subrahmanya taught this skill to Sage Agasthiya and then he taught this to a handful of selected students who propagated the art form. Agasthiya lived in south-pothigai mountains (Kutraalam) which is in the southern part of Tamilnadu, he is also the Father of Siddha medicine. The speciality of Marma Kala is that it has two forms one is therapeutic and the other is combative and the outcome depends on the force with which you strike the Marma points.

Marma Kala means the art of vital points or the pressure points. There are around 108 vital points in the human body, when you gently massage them with certain force it becomes therapeutic else deadly. In case of defence the expert should balance the force with which he's striking because degree of force is directly proportional to the damage done to the enemy. With balanced striking enemies body parts can be disabled temporarily or permanently, you can just make the enemy to lose his senses temporarily and the deadliest strike can cause death in a fraction of seconds. The chances of revival of the victim purely depends on the degree of force the expert used to strike, the victim can be revived in an hour or a day or a month or cannot be revived at all which means the expert can send the enemy to a vegetative state for a life time. The beauty of this art form is that the victims can be revived only by those who are experts in it and they only can understand the impact of the strike by examining the victim, for this reason Marma Kala teachers are highly selective over their choice of students, only well learned and composed gets the priority. Besides the knowledge of this martial art form, they are required to have an understanding of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Yoga, military tactics, horsemanship, elephant riding, chariot riding and Hindu philosophy.

Techniques (Tamil):

Thodu Varmam: Thodu means touch in Tamil. This is not fatal, by touching the vital points one can cause temporary damage by disabling the victim's body and Organ functioning. Once affected we will come to know the symptoms only after a certain time limit. Within this time limit we should revive the victims. The time limit can be an hour, a day, a month or even years

Padu Varmam: it refers to 12 Vital points which is deadly, when triggered results death or severe damage.

Thattu Varmam: these are applied only on some vital points and the knowledge is highly confidential, masters keep it with them until they find a student who's deem fit to take the knowledge.

Nooku Varmam: Nooku in Tamil means look or Contact, this is the high stage in Marma kala, one can strike a person by just eye contact. This is similar to Vaseekaranam where you can control the brain of other person by looking into their eyes.

Meitheenda Kalai: this the highest stage of Marma Kala which is used to heal or to strike a person who's present in any part of the world without even touching them

Nooku & Meitheenda varmams are very difficult to learn and needs enormous amount of patience, concentration and practice.

Human body is divided into five areas in which varmam (varma points) are discussed. They are:



Number of Points


From Top of the Head till Neck



From Neck till Naval Point



From Naval Point till Anus



Both Hands



Both Legs




In present day, Marma Kala is not practised extensively, tough some ancient schools are extant in Tamilnadu and Kerala but the expertise of the masters is questionable. This amazing art form couldn't reached pinnacle of popularity as it's not simple and only a few can survive the hardships of practice, another fact is that Masters are selective in handing over the knowledge to their descendants and chance of finding the right person who is well learned, composed and could survive till mastering the technique are rare. As the adage goes with great power comes great responsibility our Sages passed on the invaluable wealth of knowledge to only those who had used the skills for the betterment of the society and not for worldly pleasures.

When Marma Kala is not so popular in its birth place its descendent Kung Fu is the most popular in the martial arts circles around the world. I believe readers might be mulling over a question by now that "How come Kung Fu which is originated in China can become a descendent of Marma Kala?" to know the answers continue reading.

Marma Kala is orginated in Tamilnadu and all Tamil dynasties the Chola, Chera, Pandiya and Pallava institutionalised and practiced the art religiously. As per the legend "Bhodi Dharma" who lived from 470 to 543 AD laid the foundation to Kung FU, he is the third son of the Pallava King from Kanceepuram, he practiced Zen Buddhism under the guidance of Prajnatara. After his master's death he renounced everything and migrated to China and reached a Shaolin Temple, he started teaching meditation to the monks there. He noticed that the monks are too weak and often falling asleep during the meditation which is essential for enlightenment. Bhodhi Dharma formulated "Eighteen Lohan Hands" exercises by combining the techniques of Marma Kala and Hata Yoga to improve the muscle power and concentration, these exercises became the foundation for modern day Shaolin Kung Fu.

Note: China has its own set of ancient martial art forms which are striving forthousands of years even before Bhodi Dharma arrived and he didn't introduced martial arts to China.

The Shoalin Eighteen Lohan Hands are the fundamentals exercises of Chi Kung and could produce enormous benefits if they are practiced as Chi Kung. It is believed that Chi Kung has the capability to cure many dreaded and unknown diseases but now a days these are practiced as normal physical exercises. The main difference lies in maintaining the internal dimensions of energy & mind and who doesn't know what these internal dimensions are, it is unlikely that they get the benefits of Chi Kung even though they practice the art for years. Over the time these exercises got evolved into Kung Fu set called Shaolin Eighteen Lohan Fists

List of Eighteen Lohan Hands:

  • Lifting the Sky

  • Shooting Arrows

  • Plucking Stars

  • Turning Head

  • Thrust Punch

  • Merry-go-Round

  • Carrying the Moon

  • Nourishing Kidneys

  • Three Levels to Ground

  • Dancing Crane

  • Carrying Mountains

  • Drawing Knife

  • Presenting Claws

  • Pushing Mountains

  • Separating Water

  • Big Windmill

  • Deep Knee Bending

  • Rotating Knees

Unlike its parent, Kung Fu managed to gain tremendous popularity due to its reach, even a common man could practice it if he could manage to absorb the techniques of Chi Kung. Marma Kala is confined to a selected few and couldn't able to garb lime light even in its mother land, due to its sacred and Supernatural nature it couldn't reached common people. Though both the arts yields therapeutic benefits, Marma Kala has the upper hand as its still been practiced as a form of Siddha medicine in Bharat. Present day Kung Fu evolved as a self-defence skill and lost the charm of Chi Kung whereas Marma Kala is nearing extinction. Kung Fu is well known for agility and muscle power whereas Marma Kala is well known for wisdom. When it comes to naked arm combat skills I'll term Kung Fu as deadlier and Marma Kala the deadliest. A Chi Kung master could easily bring down a Tiger or any Wild creature in one stroke with naked Fist on the other hand Master of Marma Kala could make the Tiger to dance to his tunes by just eye contact.

Kung Fu had become favourite among the current generation kids, thanks to our beloved Panda who is the protagonist in all-time hit machine Kunfu Panda animation series, in contrast its parent Marma Kala is waiting in the gallows with a meek hope. Hundreds of Kung Fu styles evolved over the time, popular being the Animal styles. Five Animals Southern styles of Chinese martial arts i.e. crane, snake, monkey, mantis, and tiger came to life on silver screen with the animation series Kunfu Panda whereas age old Marma Kala techniques are lying as text on hard disks, dusted files and ruffled palm leaves.

Keeping aside the debate on which is the best I personally feel proud that the inventors of both these magnanimous art forms are Namma Aalu (Tamil), Namma Huduguru (Kannada), Mana Vallu(Telugu), Namalde Alugal (Malayam) means "Our People" in all 4 south Indian languages.

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