Member: Kerala Silambam Association
Recognised by : National Silambam Federation
World Silambam Federation
Olympic Council Of Asia
Silambam has been practiced as far back as the 2nd century BC. Oral folklore traces it back even further, claiming a history of 3000 years. The bamboo staff – along with swords, pearls and armor – was in great demand with foreign traders, particularly those from Southeast Asia where silambam greatly influenced many fighting systems. The Indian community of the Malay Peninsula is known to have practiced silambam during the period of Melaka’s founding in the 14th century.
The soldiers of Kings Puli Thevar, Veerapandiya Kattabomman and Maruthu Pandiyar(1760–1799) relied mainly on their silambam prowess in their warfare against the British Army. Indian martial arts suffered a decline after the British colonists banned silambam along with various other systems. They also introduced modern western military training which favoured fire-arms over traditional weaponry. During this time, silambam became more common in Southeast Asia than its native India where it was banned by the British rulers. The ban was lifted after India achieved independence. Today, silambam is the most well-known and widely practiced Indian martial art in Malaysia where demonstrations are held for cultural shows.
Silambam’s main focus is on the bamboo staff. The length of the staff depends on the height of the practitioner. Ideally it should just touch the forehead about three fingers from the head, typically measuring around 1.68 metres (five and a half feet). Different lengths may be used depending on the situation. For instance, the sedikuchi or 3-foot stick can be easily concealed. Separate practice is needed for staffs of different lengths. Listed below are some of the weapons used in silambam.
Silambam: staff, preferably made from bamboo, but sometimes also from teak or Indian rose chestnut wood. It is often tipped with metal rings to prevent the tips from being damaged.
Muchan / Sedikuchi: cudgel or short stick, often wielded as a pair.