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Marma Chikitsa

Marma Chikitsa/treatment is an integral part of the kalari tradition. It is mainly used to treat sprains, fractures, cuts and similar injuries and was originally used as a form of treatment for the trainee’s injuries. Kalari medication, with its own brand of potent oils, unguents and different types of bandages, is also popular among the general public.

Marma Chikitsa has its roots in the traditional Sidha vaidyam systems and the Ayurveda practiced in South India. It is, however, recognized as a unique system, using indigenous medicinal preparations and methodologies particular only to it.


Prana (Energy)

Traditional Indian medicine teaches that the human body is composed not merely of physical matter, but also from subtle energy known as Prana. Within the physical body, fluids and nerve impulses travel via the circulatory and nervous systems, respectively. Within the subtle body, Prana travels via the Nadi channels and Chakras centres.

The human body is a manifestation of the five basic elements i.e. ether, air, fire, water and earth. These elements come together in certain patterns known as Doshas – literally, ‘quick to go out of balance.’ Whilst in a balanced state, Doshas are an energy force, which cannot be visibly detected. When imbalanced, they manifest visibly in the form of wind, bile and mucus.

Each Nadi Dosha has a primary function in the body

In order for a person to be in good health, these forces must be balanced within their bodies. This principle is seen in the scientific concept of homeostasis where a system regulates it internal environment so as to maintain a stable and constant condition.​


Air and Ether is the moving force within the body. Air moves within spaces inside both the body and the subtle channels – i.e. lungs/colon.


Fire and Water is the force of assimilation in the body. Fire in the body exists in the form of water – i.e. acidic fluids.


Water and Earth is the force of fluidity and stability in the body. Water in the body is contained by boundaries of earth – i.e. skin and tissues.

Marma (Vital Spots)

The final training of a student includes identification of the Marmas (deadly spots) in the human body.

Marma points illustration

Inside the human body, there are Marma points, also known as vital or pressure points. These points correspond with the nervous and circulatory systems, and also anatomically sensitive areas. Furthermore these points serve as junctions in the subtle energy system of the body. Any obstruction to the free flow of energy creates an imbalance which results in disease and discomfort.

Attacking the vital spots causes the opponent to be stunned, disarmed or even killed, and is essential to the highest stage of training given by Gurukals to their most accomplished students in the Kalari.

The earliest reference to vital points in combat is in the Rig Veda (1200 BC) where Lord Indra slays a demon by attacking his Marma with his divine weapon.

While a martial artist uses these points to kill his opponent, the kalari gurukkal uses these points for treating body and mind.

Kalari chikitsa, the body of knowledge with which Gurukals treat and heal combat injuries by stimulating these vital points, is based on Marma Chikitsa, with its roots in the oldest medical practice in the world known as Siddha medicine, which is embodied in ancient Dravidian texts attributed to the sage Agastya, who occupies the same position as Hippocrates, in modern western medicine.

Nithya Chaithanya Kalari Marma workshop conducted for Doctors: Hyderabad July 2018

Agastya identifies 108 vital points in the body and this knowledge is gained by the most exceptional students through dedicated study under their Masters. Only those students who can demonstrate great yogic ability and control of the mind are imparted this knowledge, to avoid the remotest possibility of any misuse of such great powers.

Sukha Thirummu (physical comfort)

This system of massage relieves the body from aches and muscular pains, and also provides physical relaxation and rejuavenation. Katcha Thirummu (physical endurance and flexibility) This is given to increase a person’s flexibility and physical endurance and is particularly efficacious for those who practice martial arts and dance forms. It gives flexibility and suppleness to the body. This form of massage is combined with different yoga postures.

Raksha Thirummu (healing)

This massage is for healing. Different ailments require specific massage techniques, which the masseur selects keeping the individual’s condition in mind. The speed, force, number of strokes, the type of herbal oil to be used, and the system of massage will vary depending on the patient’s physical strength, age, and ailment.

For treatment or to get maximum benefits out of the massages, it is usually given as course for 7, 9, 11, or 14 days.

Kalari Massage


Combat situation demands an extremely agile, strong, and supple body, which would instantly respond to the focused mind. The ancient martial artists (warriors) used Kalari massage to prime their bodies and sharpen reflexes. Massage helps the body attain a healthy constitution as well as flexibility, nimbleness, and suppleness.

Moreover, massage can improve mental alertness and attention span by reducing tension and calming the mind. Kalari massage can keep one disease-free, and in a state of positive health.

Marma Chikitsa, considered by many to be more effective than Ayurveda, employs medicinal oils and herbal preparations to treat a wide range of diseases through manipulation and massage techniques so sophisticated, that they are unmatched even in this modern age.

This form of therapy is used to give flexibility, agility, and suppleness to Kalari students, to correct and cure orthopedic deformities and injuries and rheumatoid disorders.

Marma Chikitsa is also a complete naturalistic healing system to rejuvenate the body by eliminating toxic imbalances and to restore resistance and good health in the highly stressful environment of modern times.


A Tradition of Strength and Discipline

Advantages of a Massage

Patients suffering from problems such as rheumatism, paralysis, back pain, slip disk, blood pressure, muscular problems, headaches, nervous weakness, stomach trouble, asthma, anxiety, weakness, irritability or agitation, can get relief through massages.

It is useful to promote sleep, for calming psychotic individuals, gives rest and relief to depressed patients or individuals with withdrawal symptoms. Massages improve immunity, self-confidence, and will power.

After a massage, bones, muscles, and the nervous system works more efficiently. Hence a massage is particularly good for the elderly. A massage can improve blood circulation, which helps clean the impurities collected at different points in the body through outlets like breath, sweat, stools, and urine. Massage increases body flexibility. A massage is especially good when the skin has lost its vitality due to exposure to sun and pollution or due to chronic diseases. Organs like kidney, rectum, lungs, liver, and small intestine are strengthened and can work more efficiently as a result of a good massage. Fatty deposits can be eliminated by breaking them down.


Kalarichikitsa Treatments


Abhyanga is a full-body oil massage designed to stimulate the circulatory, nervous and lymphatic systems. Inflammatory blocks on Marma points are located and corrected, thus restoring the natural equilibrium of the body. Abhyanga also has a healing, cleansing, and revitalizing effect on the body which improves flexibility and realigns both the joints and the spine.

Anga Dhara

Anga Dhara, also known as an oil bath is a rejuvenating experience. Liters of warm oil is poured over the body, while a gentle massage is performed. The body becomes fully relaxed and all tension and stiffness are simply washed away. The effect of the warm oil is the opening of the pores of the skin and the relaxation of the muscular tissues. This facilitates the body’s release of accumulated toxins, which are simultaneously removed by the flow of oil.

Shiro Dhara

Shiro Dhara, also known as a head bath, is a gentle and powerful treatment. Warm oil is poured from a hanging pot onto the forehead and scalp, which are massaged gently. Many toxins are released from the scalp and are carried away by the flow of the oil. This treatment is so relaxing it can often send people into a deep sleep. They awake feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.


A Kizhi is a bundle of medicinal herbs which is heated in oil and applied to the body. It is often combined with Anga Dhara's body massage for maximum effect. The hot oil activates the medicine within the Kizhi, and the heat stimulates and relaxes the body. Kizhis are used to remove inflammatory blocks and improve circulation and flexibility in joints and muscles.

Cheriya Avi

Cheriya Avi is a localized steam treatment used in combination with the Abhyanga body massage. The action of the steam on the skin helps to relieve stiffness, thus reducing pain and swelling. Medicinal herbs are added to the water to maximize the benefit to the patient.

Valiya Avi

Valiya Avi is a full body steam treatment that is performed in a closed room. A great variety of medicinal herbs are added to a large clay pot of water, which is then boiled over a natural wood fire. The steam is carried through pipes into the room in which the patient sits. The effect of the steam causes the body to sweat profusely, thus removing large amounts of toxins. Besides, the medicine in the steam is inhaled by the patient. This is a powerful detoxifying treatment.

Poochu Chikitsa

Poochu Chikitsa is a powerful detoxifying treatment. The body of a patient is covered in a medicinal paste that is both stimulating and invigorating. They are then wrapped in banana leaves and placed in the sun. The combination of the medicinal paste, the banana leaves, and the warmth of the sun causes the pores of the skin to open. This allows the body to release toxins through the skin and also to absorb the medicine. This is an extremely purifying healing treatment.


Virechanam is best performed at a specific stage during a treatment package to remove toxins that have been released by the stimulation of the deep tissue of the body. This medicine is a specific combination of Ayurvedic medicines designed to purge the digestive system. The effect of this medicine is to clear from the body all accumulated toxins in the form of Mala (the residue of undigested food). This treatment is a very effective detoxifying and healing process for the body. This is especially true for people who have water retention problems in the body.

Chavutti Thirummal

Chavutti Thirummal is a full body oil massage performed using the feet. The practitioner supports himself by a rope suspended from the ceiling. This type of treatment allows for long powerful movements that cover the whole body. This is a specialty of Kalari Chikitsa.

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