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What is Varmam?

There are different definitions for the Tamil word “Varmam”:

The action that causes loss or blockage of vital energy (Ki, Chi, Prana etc) at certain locations of pressure points, nerve junctions or bone joints is called Varma Adi or Varmam strike. The actual points, or nerve junctions etc themselves may be called Varmam.The systematic study, art or method of performing the actions in the application of martial arts/self defence is called Varmam or Varma Kalai.

To avoid confusion, I shall henceforth refer to the art as Varma Kalai, the points(locations) as spots or points as varmam or just as spot and the action as strike(inclusive of punches, open handed blows, finger thrusts or any other offensive method employed in hand to hand combat) or blow.

Marmam: Another word used to refer to the spots is “ Marmam”, which in either Tamil or Malayalam (remember Kalaripayat has these methods too) means mystery, which alludes to the mysterious effects of such a strike on the spots.

Kaalam: Kaalam is another word used to refer to the spots. It means Time. It may allude to either the limited time available to resuscitate the victim of a varma strike or the delayed death effect (just like Dim-Mak, if you have observed the similarity.) ‘Kaalan’ is also the name of the Hindu god of death Yama. It may also refer to Shiva’s “destroyer aspect “ (Kaal Bhairava). But let us not get into that now. Just to suffice, Kaalam is another name given to Varmam spots in the context of the Tamil language.

Types of Varmam classified according to the types of Actions used:

. although with some pressure exerted on the spots. So this is more of a touch. The effects of thodu varmam. Thodu Varmam: Thodu in Tamil means “to touch”. disease. prodding. causes the following reactions: -Unconsciousess. or -Death.Padu Varmam: Forceful blow on the spot. in accordance to the amount of force used in the blow. clapping or tapping. or pinching with the fingers performs this type of action. To put it simply . death Thrusting. Thattu Varmam: Thattu in Tamil means rapping . rapping with fingers or knuckles. -Permanent disability of organ or limb. inclusive of but not limited to: -unconsciousness -temporary disability of limb/organ -delayed antagonoistic body reactions. -Incapacitation.This type of action is performed by tapping with a certain amount of force like a simple slap with the palm or finger tap. it is a percussive or drumbeat type of action.

which would be inaccessible to a punch.) “ Paarappa padu varmam pannirendaam. although different schools of thoughts or lineages have their own interpretations. Meytheendaa kaalam athu. A person who has knowledge of this . can be hit by a finger thrust. goes. can cause instant unconsciousness with future health problems.sudden sharp pain leading to immobility if used in certain spots with excessive rapping force. the general classification is as padu varmam and thodu varmam. which is caused without any physical contact between the attacker and the attacked. padu varmam is 12 in Kaelappa thodu varmam Thonnootri aaraam…. organ failure and even death in extreme cases at certain spots. There is no hard and fast rule that governs what type of attacks are to be followed for attacks on the spots. number ) (Note my son. thodu varmam is 96 in number) “aamappa innoru kaalam solgiraen vilambak kaelu. that is the one not touched on/by the body) Mey Theendaa Kaalam(literally mey theendaa=body untouched) is the ultimate when it comes to Varmam. according to the ancient texts on Varmam. I will tell you another one . Anything that works. Thattu Varmam for the sole reason of being a snappy action rather than a prodding or pushing action. which the the blow is delivered. is generally included as Padu Varmam. (note: Italics is Tamil.sensory loss . the text in brackets is the meaning in English.” (Hear thee well. Also to be taken into account is the ‘Maathirai” or amount of force determined by the distance from. like in the case of the hollow below the Adam’s apple.disorientation . For example certain spots.Effects include: .” (yes. The following is a Siddhar aphorism on Varmam. But most generally. but there are certainly recommended methods. This is a varmam.

Goraksa (or Gorakhnath. Lord Murugan then taught Siddha Agasthiyar. It is said that only those Varmam Masters who are at peak of knowledge and training can be true experts of this kind of Varmam. “Thaeravey Sivan Umaikku sonna bodham. The narrated history has been mentioned in the 41st prose of "Kai Mathirai Thiravukol " as describes the first worldly originator of the Guru Sishya Parampara or Lineage as the Sage Agastya who in turn taught it to others like Ramadeva. directly written by siddhas. Bhoga Muni. the patron guru of the Gurkhas. But the original texts (and their copies). Pulippaani etc. are not available now. who in turn taught their diciples and gradually knowledge of this art reached commoners in the same. Aaaramal naan arindhu in nool sonnaen” According to the above verse. Lord Siva taught varmam to his wife Parvathi. piety. originated from Lord Siva. and they impart this knowledge to only those disciples equipped with humility. presence of mind and good conduct and proven themselves in all the tests laid down by the Guru.technique can stop an attacker or multiple attackers at a distance. History of Varma Kalai It is said that varmakalai. strict Guru-Shishya tradition. which is used in modern day learning. . Theraya. Agasthiyar later gave a written form that reached the masses. So far. interesting parallel!!). around fifty thousand songs are available. Saints who have grasped the meaning of the siddhas sayings have given a poetic form. later Parvathi taught varmam to their son Lord Murugan.

. 6. physical body (sthula-sarira) had been identified and defined as an aid to surgical intervention: “the areas where muscles.. however." There are also techniques recorded in the Dhanur Veda chapters of Agni Purana... the earliest compilation of specific martial principles and techniques which suggests a great deal of similarity... "the traumatic type. Also included is the Malla Purana which is a complete treatise on the body and the martial applications of wrestling and puch/kick techniques which have been traditionally the domain of the Jyeshtimallas . one of the foremost researchers in the west. one of which was samghata-bala-pravrtta.. Knowledge of the vital spots shares the general Ayurvedic principles that health is a state of humoral equilibrium.. Bhishagratna trans. which by virture of their nature are specially the seats of life “ Susruta established a close connection between combat and medical intervention. ligaments. Surgery was called salya. The first action of the attending physician should thus aim to calm the 'enraged wind humor (vayu). a clan of martial Brahmins in Gujarat who are the custodians of the ancient Indian MMA called Vajramushti. it is certain that India's early martial practitioners knew and practiced attacking or defending vital spots.. we possess no martial texts from antiquity comparable to the Sanskrit medical texts in which a systematic knowledge of the vital spots is recorded.caused by an external blow or..The following is directly quoted from the works Philip Zarrili . “The earliest textual evidence of the concept of the vital spots dates from as early as the RgVeda (1200 BC) where the god Indra is recorded as defeating the demon Vritra by attacking his vital spots (marman) with his vajra From this and numerous other scattered references to the vital spots in Vedic and epic sources. external. Suthrasthana XXIV. All combat injuries fall into this class. vessels.D. Susruta identified seven kinds of diseases.specifically. which referred to "foreign bodies of every kind... and joints meet together …. which was the commonest and most dangerous foreign body causing wounds and requiring surgical treatment" (Kutumbiah 1974:144)..due to wrestling with an antagonist of superior strength" (Susruta. I quote him just to show.the arrow. Susruta related them to the primary humoral body by explaining that traumatic injuries enrage the wind humor in the area of injury.” By the time that Susruta's classic Sanskrit medical text had been revised in the 2nd century A. bones. . 1963:230). how far the poplarity of this rare art has traveled yet is largely being ignored in our own country.but. 107 vital spots of the gross.

inner peace and joy. The art flourished between the 13 and 16 centuries. including mind and spirit. where the Thekkan Kalari (Southern Style Kalari)system which devotes lesser time to weaponry and lays more emphasis on unarmed combat and Marma Adi techniques that the other two styles of Madhya Keralam(Central Style of Kalari – Palakkad-Cannanore. This was the ancient unarmed. But beyond feeling good physically an enlightened definition of health encompasses feelings of vitality. Cholas and Pandyas had a long tradition of Martial Chivalry just like the Kshatriyas of the northern regions. to vital spots on the body in historical descriptions and in quite a number of manuals on this art.The ancient Sangam age kingdoms of Cheras. Ki in Japanese) exists in many forms from the extremely gross to the infinitely subtle and life is interplay of these energies. Even in the art of Silambam. The Medical rationale behind Varmam Health in eastern philosophies is regarded as a state of balance between these energies. Warriors refused to attack an unarmed opponent. kickboxing like art using rapid percussive strikes to bring town an opponent. The foundation of Varmam is based on the concept of energy. where all the systems of the body. This energy called Prana in Sanskrit (Chi in Chinese. Within the human body these energies flow along a network of channels or lines (nadis or meridians). Each has a specific function and energy that it deals with. In the Yoga tradition there are said to be 72. And disease (dis-ease) is seen as imbalance or disharmony in this flow of energies.000 nadis. Tanjore “Kuthu Varisai” was the domain of the Cholas. Pneuma in Greek. The warring states refined the fighting skills and techniques prevalent in the area into a martial art form. strength. The Chera kingdom was closer to the borders of Middle and southern Kerala and had their own tradition of unarmed combat and affinity towards Pressure point systems.Malappuram areas) and Vadakkan Kalari ( Northern Style-.Malabar etc). function in harmony with each other. becoming a part of the education of youngsters of that age. instead meeting him on equal terms without weapons. In fact. metaphorically a cosmic dance of Shiva and Shakti. Yin and Yang. where opponents were defeated by blows or prodding attacks with the stick. which share borders with Southern Kerala. the stronghold of Tamilian Varmam art is the area around Kanyakumari and Nagercoil districts . The three main lines energetically are . (bamboo staff fencing) there are many instances in history.

Pittha and Kapha (Wind.Veins Snayu. it would be impossible for the current to travel very far without the loss of signal strength. The Ayurvedic and the Siddha systems of medicine both agree on this concept.Nerve The same 108 varmams are classified under different categories. There are 72. i.the Sushumna (rising straight up through the center of the spine) and the Ida and Pingala nadis.000 minor energy channels (Nadi) that link the body’s many trillions of cells. The energy that flows through these channels is focused in certain areas of the body. Varmam Type Number of Points . Given the normal resistance of the skin. The Prana force or vital current of electrical energy flowing through the individual Nadi is of very low voltage. leads to imbalance in the in the ratio of the three humours. namely Vatha. Air and Space(Ether) leading to affliction in the Human body which contain these elements. The actual function of the Varmam Points The rationale of Varmam is that Varmams are energy points in the body mainly located on the skin and adjacent tissue. Here the Varmams come into play by acting as signal-boosting routing stations or step up transformers!!!! Two types of classification: The Varmam points are of the following types. Disruption of energy flow in these Nadi and Varmams leads to illness. To be more specific. The affliction is made apparent in the change to the non-subtle. One such classification is based on 12 Maha Nadis (or a meridian channel) in the nervous system. which run on either side of the spine. There are 108 of these Varmams where energy is focused. gross body. Water. Each meridian channel consists of one Padu varmam and eight Thodu varmam.e the organs. Bile and Pleghm). imbalanance in the flow of energy in the Dasa Nadis. Fire. Thasai – Muscle Asthi – Bone Sandhi – Bone Joints Dhamani – Aterial Shira. which causes imbalance of the five elements Earth. Injury to these points is one of the causes of illness in the body according to Siddha sages.

Thodu Varmam 96 Padu Varmam 12 Total 108 According to Humoral classification Classification Number of Points Vata Varmam (Wind) 65 Pitta Varmam (Bile) 24 Kapha Varmam (Phlegm) 6 Concealed Varmam 12 Total 107 .