In southern India, there still exists an ancient martial art which is believed to be the very thing which gave birth to Shaolin kung fu and jiu-jitsu. Despite a longstanding ban under British rule, the secrets of Kalaripayattu have been passed down by masters who are leading a revival of the form.
Kalaripayattu (pronounced Kalarippayatt) is a martial art and fighting system, which originated as a style in the southern part of India. The word Kalari first appears in the Tamil Sangam literature (c. 1000 BCE to 300 CE). This is considered to be one of the oldest surviving fighting systems still in existence in the world.
The resurgence of public interest in kalarippayattu began in the 1920s in Thalassery, as part of a wave of rediscovery of the traditional arts throughout south India and continued through the 1970s surge of general worldwide interest in martial arts. It has featured in international and Indian films.