SILAMBAM   Indian Stick Fighting






Nilaikalakki Silambam Fighting Art

Neil Phillips


An introduction to Nilaikalakki Silambam

R. Anbananthan


Some basic facts about Silambam

Denis Brunet


Le Silambam, art du bāton indien

Denis Brunet


Le Silambam

Denis Brunet
Philippe Pratx




An introduction to Nilaikalakki Silambam

R. Anbananthan



Master Anba, picture taken in 2003.

The origin of Silambam

The art Nilaikalakki Silambam, which exists for more than five thousand years, is an authentic art which starts with the stick called Silambamboo (1.68 meters long). It originates from the Kurinji mountains of south India, and is as old as the Indian sub-continent itself.

The natives called Narikuravar were using a staff called Silambamboo as a weapon to defend themselves against wild animals, and also to display their skill during their religious festivals. The Hindu scholars and yogies who went to the Kurinji mountains to meditate got attracted by the display of this highly skilled spinning Silambamboo.

The art Nilaikalakki Silambam therefor became a part of the Hindu scholars and yogies training, as they were taught by the Narikuravar. They brought the art to the royal court during the reign of the Cheran, Cholan and Pandian emperors, once powerfull rulers of India.

Silambam is an exercise for physical and spiritual aspects in spreading Hinduism to the people. Competition was held to promote the art of Silambam during royal birthdays, handsome rewards were given to the champions of Silambam exhibiting their skills with physical strength to emerge winners. Magical powers, charms and spells were also used to help these experts winning. The Silambam environment became the dead ground in choosing the winners and honoured to become the kings guard.



The definition of Silambam

"Silam Bamboo" was found in the mountain of Kurinji where the Narikuravar named it. "Silam" is known in Tamil as mountain, whereas "Bamboo" as bamboo sticks. The combined two words "Silam bamboo" were later known as Silambam due to the changes of progress and development of the modern world.



Traditional training

Religious rite have to be performed to Goddess Sakthi (Goddess of strength, courage and guidance) before a student seeks permission from the master to learn the art. Lectures on art discipline, correct behaviour, discouragement from consuming liquor and smoking would also be conducted. When a student abides from the rules, permission would be granted and the student will be given a stick (1.68 meters staff) and follow up with their training.



Basic training

The basic training of Nillaikalakki Silambam which takes seven years to complete consists of ten different stages.

  1. Otthai vitchi: training for physical fitness (strenghten nerves and muscles) (See video 1, video 2)

  2. Yiretthai vitchi: spinning techniques (rotating the staff both side) (See video)

  3. 96 silatgu varusai / silat varusai: spinning techniques of 96 angles (rotating pattern sequence of the staff towards the 96 angles) (See video)

  4. Sandai marutham: striking spinning techniques (striking rotational pattern movements 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 96 angles) (see videos)

  5. Othukal murai: defensive techniques (to evade attacks with the rotating staff) (see video)

  6. 36 piruvugal, adi kambugal: 36 sets of striking movements, each set consisting of 12 strikes

  7. Kurivaithiu adipethu: technique of vital points (practising target attack)

  8. Kanthan: tricky techniques with rythmic movements (tactical)

  9. Narikuru: animated movements (various animals attacking manoeuvres)

  10. Utchekattha nillai: advanced stage (to test the performance and skills of the exponent)


Nilaikalakki Silambam in Penang

The art was brought by Gurukkal Mariapakiam from Madurai, South India in year 1936 to Penang, Malaysia. R. Anbananthan became the student under the guidance of Gurukkal Mariapakiam in the year 1964 to 1986. The Nillaikalakki Silambam Association of Penang was created in year 1974. As the chief instructor of Penang, he encourages youths to learn the art. He also recommands women to take up tha art to keep fit and to learn self protection.



Silambam objective

The exercice not only endures your physical fitness but it helps promoting friendship and teaches a person patience, self disciplin, politeness, and encourages love toward his own kind and not drowning in the flow of the modern world. The social problem should be activated by the young generation to up hold the prestige of Malaysia in moral an discipline towards the vision 2020.













©Denis Brunet and the article's author, if specified. Last modified: 6 December 2006


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