Silambam or Silambattam is a weapon-based Indian martial art from Tamil Nadu, but also traditionally practised by the Tamil community of Sri Lanka and Malaysia. It is closely related to Keralan kalaripayat and Sri Lankan angampora. It derives from the Tamil word silam meaning "hill" and the word perambu from which the English "bamboo" originates. The term silambambu referred to a particular type of bamboo from the Kurinji hills in present-day Kerala. Thus silambam was named after its primary weapon, the bamboo staff. The related term silambattam often refers specifically to stick-fighting. There are numerous styles of silambam but the nillaikalakki discipline (from nillai meaning posture and kalakki meaning to disturb or shuffle) is the most widespread style outside India, and is most well known in Malaysia. The styles differ from one another in grip, posture, foot work, length of the stick, etc. Silambam may either be practiced for the purpose of combat (por silambam) or purely for demonstration (alangara silambam). Masters are called asaan while grandmasters are addressed as periyasaan, iyan, or annaavi.
The soldiers of Kings Puli Thevar, Veerapandiya Kattabomman and Maruthu Pandiyar (1760–1799) relied mainly on their silambam prowess in their warfare against the British Army. Indian martial arts suffered a decline after the British colonists banned silambam along with various other systems. They also introduced modern western military training which favoured fire-arms over traditional weaponry. During this time, silambam became more common in Southeast Asia than its native India where it was banned by the British rulers. The ban was lifted after India achieved independence. Today, silambam is the most well-known and widely practiced Indian martial art in Malaysia where demonstrations are held for cultural shows.
The references to Silappadikkaram in Tamil Sangam literature dating back to the 2nd century refer to the sale of silamabam staves, swords, pearls and armor to foreign traders. The ancient trading center at the city of Madurai was renowned globally and said to be thronged by Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians among others who had regular sea trade with the Tamil kingdoms. Thebamboo staff, one of the first weapons used in Indian martial arts, was in great demand with the visitors.
Silambam supposedly originated in the Kurinji hills, present day South Indian state Kerala almost 5000 years ago. The Narikuravar of the area are said to have used staves called chilambamboo in battle and to defend themselves against wild animals. They would also perform solo stick-fighting demonstrations during Hindu religious festivals. The art was patronized by the ancient Chola, Chera and Pandya kings of South India during the Sangam period. The Maravar pada of Travancore kings used silambam in their warfare against enemies. Ancient contact between Tamil Nadu and Southeast Asia brought silambam to the Malay Peninsula during which time the word silambam came to refer to the art as well as the weapon. Many Southeast Asian martial arts were influenced by silambam including silat and Krabi Krabong. The references to Silappadikkaram in Tamil Sangam literature dating back to the 2nd century refer to the sale of silamabam staves, swords, pearls and armor to foreign traders. The ancient trading centre at the city of Madurai was renowned globally and said to be thronged by Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians among others who had regular sea trade with the Tamil kingdoms. The bamboo staff, one of the first weapons used in Indian martial arts, was in great demand with the visitors. The soldiers of King Veerapandiya Kattabomman (1760–1799) relied mainly on their silambam prowess in their warfare against the British Army.Indian martial arts suffered a decline after the British colonists bannedsilambam along with various other systems. They also introduced modern western military training which favoured fire-arms over traditional weaponry. The stick lost much of its combat superiority and some of silambam's vast techniques and styles were lost.
Currently Silambam Growth
There are proven historical records which throw ample light on the fact that almost all the countries in the world practice Silambam (Stick Fencing) in some form or the other. Although it goes by different names in different states in India, Silambam Fencing justly qualifies to be called an Oriental Martial Sport. In an era of sedentary life style and desk bound work situations, Silambam, with its multitude applications, has rightly become an art of self-defence for both men and women alike. Endowed with eye catching swirls, swift movements and exciting maneuvers, it has developed into a highly skillful and technical sport fit enough for conducting competitions.
Now this game is practiced by school and college students in a big way. This will inculcate discipline, proper frame of mind and behavior among
To promote and propagate such a culturally rich art form, tournaments are being conducted in various levels (i.e. District, Divisional, Zonal, State, National, Asia Level, Inter-National) and also catering to special segments (i.e. Women's Meet, Children's Meet, Educational Meet etc). for U 14, U 17 and U 19 (Sub-Junior, Junior, Senior) age categories for both men and women by us.
References to silambam in Silappadikkaram and other works of Sangam literature show that the art has been practiced as far back as the 2nd century BC. The bamboo staff – along with swords, pearls and armor – was in great demand with foreign traders, particularly those from Southeast Asia where silambam greatly influenced many fighting systems. The Indian community of the Malay Peninsula is known to have practiced silambam during the period of Melaka’s founding in the 14th century.