History Videos

When two doyens of Kalaripayattu agreed to fight till death

  • November 28, 2021
  • 1 min read

It was in the first half of the 20th century that Kalarippayattu, the ancient martial arts form of Kerala got revived, mainly as a result of the nationalistic spirit invoked by the Indian freedom movment. CV Narayanan Nair and Chirakkal T Sreedharan Nair from north Malabar were two stalwarts who learned and excelled in Kalarippayattu around that time. (CV Narayanan Nair’s disciples later established the CVN Kalari, while Chirakkal T Sreedharan Nair established Sre Bhrarat Kalari and wrote several seminal books about the martial art.)

Both Nairs had many disciples and both did much for the renaissance of the martial art. But eventually, there emerged ego clashes between them. The reason was the debate over who possessed superior skills.


A Poithu (a duel in which one wins generally by killing the other) was organised in Calicut. Newspapers wrote about it extensively. A judging committee was formed with members such as famous freedom fighter K Kelappan, the great circus exponent Keeleri Kunjikkannan, and writer Sanjayan.

Did the match take place? What happened after? Watch the video above to find out.

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