This crazy workout is known as ‘the mother of all martial arts’

Sanjeev Krishna Yoga is a studio that specialises in yoga, specifically yoga that vows to heal people with various ailments, but what caught our attention was Kalari


Kalaripayattu (Kalari in short) is one of the oldest forms of martial art, originating from Kerala, South India, and dates back to around 300 BC.

Its literal translation means battlefield or arena, which is exactly what our class was held in – a below ground-level training arena that resembles an archaic battlefield.

After all the kung fu and karate movies we watched growing up, we expect a class with strong and rigid moves designed to self-defend.

But before we get to that level, we are first taught the basic steps – and similar to yoga, it all begins with being able to flow.


We begin the practice barefoot, with a short salutation to a traditional wooden sculpture in the corner. “This brings more energy to your body,” explains our instructor Akhil, who has been practicing Kalari for eight years now.

After a short warm-up of cardio exercises and stretches, we begin.

Akhil shows us a quick preview of what we’re going to learn, and we stand and watch in disbelief as he takes the shape of animals, quickly transitioning from one to the other.

It’s basically an animal sequence, where he mimics multiple animals from a horse to an elephant to a snake to a bird. Watch the video below to see what we mean…

As it’s our first class, we only get through two of the many stages, repeating them over and over again until we get it right.

Akhil is a perfectionist when it comes to Kalari, and such a great teacher, correcting our posture and moves all throughout the class – even if it’s just a tiny adjustment.

Eventually, after we get the hang of it, he demonstrates how each move we have just learned works to defend ourselves, and then shows us examples of how we would use them to block various attacks.

At the end of the class, we are completely exhausted and dripping in sweat, but ready to book our next Kalari class to learn more and progress.

It’s a very intriguing self-defence technique, one that’s not very common in Dubai, and we recommend everyone give it a go – whether you’re truly interested, a little curious, or you just want to get a good workout out of it.

After all, “Kalari is the mother of all martial arts,” says Akhil.


Need to know:

What: Kalari

Where: Sanjeev Krishna Yoga. Villa 674, next to Hilal Bank, Al Wasl Road – Jumeirah 3

Cost: AED 700/10 classes

Contact: / 04 398 7595


Posted in Active, Featured | Comments Off on This crazy workout is known as ‘the mother of all martial arts’