Trainings in Indian Martial Arts: Silambam
When a new student enters the world of Silambam, they are first introduced to the kaaladi – the foundational footwork involved in proper maneuvering. Even though the sport involves the swinging around the stick, there is nothing more important in the martial art style than how one moves their feet. With sixteen footwork motions to remember, students are expected to learn these before giving the privilege to hold a stick. Until then, trainees are taught to get a feel of the stick while bare-handed. One of the reasons why kaaladi serves as such an important part to the training is that it is integral to how a fighter conjured up power for an attack. It helps students how to effectively advance toward an opponent, as well as properly retreat.
Once the student gets better at his/her footwork training, they are then taught spinning techniques and patterns. During this period, they are taught how to use their body to smoothly spin around their opponents, setting them up for an open, opportune moment to strike. With just the right amount of grace and skill, a student can get closer to an opponent without lowering the defense. Like a dance, practitioners learn to use their whole body to create power.
Finally, if the student has progressed far enough to hold a stick, they implement their bare-handed training in the same way, except possessing a long range of attack. The staff is typically held at one end with the right hand, while the left grips from several inches away. Besides this, there are other ways on gripping the staff, all meant for different strikes at various body parts of the opponent’s body.
Outside of stick striking and defense, veteran students possess a wide array of knowledge in pressure points. Skilled fighters know just the right spots to hit on the human body to produce crippling effects using as little power as possible. An example of this can be seen from some adept fighters continuously hitting the same pressure point on the opponent’s wrist throughout battle. While the inconspicuous strike may not seem like much during the bout, over the course of a fight, the opponent will inevitably feel a creeping pain that prevents them from gripping properly or continuing.