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  • Writer's pictureRanjit Mishra


In this posts, we will check the similarities and differences between Kalaripayattu and Krav Maga. This is one of the most talked about topics. People often wants to know about such things. So here we will try to simply put the facts/details about both the arts so that you can accordingly decide which art is better for you.

Kalaripayattu animal Posture Varah Vadivu, i.e, Wild Boar posture
Kalaripayattu animal posture Varah Vadivu

Krav Maga - Krav Maga is made up of two words. Krav means Combat and Maga means Contact. So Krav Maga means contact combat.

Kalaripayattu - It is made up of two words. Kalari and payattu. Kalari means place/ Akhara/ academy of practice. Payattu means martial arts. So martial arts practice in a confined space is called as Kalaripayattu.

Krav Maga - It is an Israeli fighting art developed around 1940 by Hungarian Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld who started training as a Boxer and wrestler.

Kalaripayattu - It is an ancient Indian art probably one of the most old art coming from Lord Shiva to Sage Agastya and Sage Parshurama and then further to mankind.

Krav Maga - It is not a martial arts system but instead is a mix combat art having single and multiple opponent fighting system with almost no spirituality.

Kalaripayattu - It is a complete martial arts system having single and multiple opponent fighting system, pranayam, meditation, spirituality as its base.

Krav Maga - Krav Maga practitioners needs to make strong and mobile body to learn the offensive concepts of martial arts.

Kalaripayattu - Kalari practitioners needs to make very strong, flexible, mobile, light and agile body to lean the defensive and offensive concepts of this martial arts system.

Krav Maga - In this art, no forms or Kata are taught. Instead student learns self defense moves right from the starting.

Kalaripayattu - In this art, student needs to learn lot of forms or Kata to develop very high mind body coordination and memory power. After that students are taught self defense in this art.

Krav Maga - This art is focused on offensive concepts of fighting.

Kalaripayattu - This art is focused on defensive and offensive concepts of martial arts. (Please go the link to know about Kalaripayattu vs Kung Fu)

Krav Maga - In this art, Boxing punches and Few open hands strikes are also taught.

Kalaripayattu - In this art, lot of open hand strikes and punches including the knuckle punch strike and finger attacks to strike the marmas can be seen.

Krav Maga - In this art, using weaponry likes sticks, knifes etc. are not taught. But Guns are taught at later stages. Also students are also taught how to defend themselves against such tweapons on street.

Kalaripayattu - In this art, lot of weapons like short sticks (Kuruvadi), Long sticks (Neruvadi), Knives, Kataar, Sword, Spear, Urumi (Long Flexible sword) are also taught. Student learns how to use those weapons as well as how to defend against those weapons. Students are free to learn Guns from outside and include in their course.

Krav Maga - Krav Maga is itself a mix combat art which is a mixture of different arts like

Strike taken from Boxing and Karate

Takedowns and Throws taken from Judo, Wrestling and Aikido.

Ground fighting taken from Judo and Wrestling.

Weapon defense from Aikido.

Kalaripayattu - Kalari is an ancient Indian art which also has striking, Takedowns, Slips, Throws, Locks.

Strikes same as Karate, Kung Fu, Silat and even Boxing (with different mechanics involved). It used to be known as Mushthi Yudha.

Locks, Takedowns, Slips and Throws same as Judo and wrestling. It used to be known as Malla Yudha)

Kalari ground fighting comes from wrestling with Marma strikes and weapon strikes on ground. Locks and chokes that are learnt in stand up fighting can also be applied on ground.

Kalari has its own weapon defense in which breaking opponent structure and hitting/ Locking/ Breaking/ Throwing him is done.

Krav Maga - As this art is based on learning offensive concepts of martial arts, so this whole art can be learnt in short time. Krav Maga organisations have put belt system (same as judo). Belts are Yellow (4 months), Orange (6 months), Green (9 months), Blue (12 months), Brown (12 months), Black (Upon invitation by Organisation). After these belts, student can go for higher ranks from 1st to 9th Dan/ Degree Black belt.

Kalaripayattu - As this art is based on learning defensive and offensive concepts of martial arts plus other things like forms, weapons, acrobatic skills like gymnastics as mentioned in above points, so this art takes time. As of date keeping Kalari as pure as it was before, no belt system has been introduced in this art. Students have to go under below stages of training to learn different different aspects of this martial arts system.

Meithari - Beginners to advance body flexibility, strength, Mobility, agility and various forms are taught. Depending on student learning and practicing ability. It may take around 6 months to 2 years or more at this level.

Kolthari - Wooden weapons training is given in this stage. Weapons include short stick (Kuruvadi), Long Stick (Neruvadi) and may be otta (curved type stick like elephant tusk). It is commonly seen that senior students start learning this stage soon after an year of Kalari training. They keep on continuing to learn/ practice Meithari and Kolthari stages to focus on both body fitness and weapon training. Time to expertise this stage is 6 months to 1 year or more per weapon.

Ankathari - Steel weapons training like Sword, Sword and shield, Spear, Long flexible sword known as Urumi are taught in this stage. One needs to have good command on wooden weapons to learn steel weapons. Time to expertise this stage is 6 months to 1 year or more per weapon.

Verumkai Prayogam - At this stage bare hand combat is taught. One learns how to fight bare handedly against weapons, other bare hand fighters and multiple opponents. Warrior Ranjit is the only one who teaches how to apply Kalari moves against other style skilled martial artist. Students are also taught how to use Marma strikes against skilled and many unskilled opponents. Time to expertise this stage is 1 year to 5 year or more depending on what all components of fighting student is able to learn and expertise.

Kalari Marma Chikitsa - At this stage, student is made to learn marma Therapy and even Ayurveda too. Student after expertising this level, becomes a Guru if his/her Guru permits. It has been found that sometimes students are taught this chikitsa at earlier stages of training. Time to learn this stage may take 1 year to years and years of practical training.


Depending on above points, what do you think which art suits you. Every art is designed for specific type of students. Some are interested in leaning traditional styles/ systems whereas some are interested in learning self defense fast and accordingly they should choose.

Don't forget to visit another post for knowing detailed version of Kalaripayattu.

Feel free to comment and ask anything related to this topic.

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