New dose of good ol' martial arts - Kalarippayattu classes to get out-of-shape cadets fighting fit

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  • Published 10.03.10

Want to be a cop? First learn to move like Shah Rukh Khan in Dil Se or Asoka — but without Preity or Kareena for company.

“Bend your body from the waist. Join your hands in front of your face. Keep the legs parallel. Your upper body should resemble a table top,” instructed Sariful Islam Mallick. His wards — a few of them huffing and puffing to strike the basic gaja vadibu pose at this special Kalarippayattu class — were half-a-dozen cadets at the Police Training Centre (PTC) in Barrackpore.

Kalarippayattu, a form of ancient martial arts from Kerala, is now the chosen technique to keep our cadets physically fit and mentally agile.

That, for some, is easier said than done. “Many of the cadets are overweight and physically inefficient. They are having some trouble coping with Kalarippayattu. A few though are showing an affinity for it,” said Mallick, the 27-year-old Calcuttan who has spent years picking up the art from masters in Kerala.

“This is the first time that an indigenous martial arts form has been included in the curriculum of the PTC in Bengal,” said Sanjay Singh, the special IG in charge of the centre. The decision to include Kalarippayattu in the syllabus is in keeping with the new methodology of cop training.

“All over the world training academies are adopting a new concept of workout which is called plyometrics. Our study showed that Kalarippayattu closely follows the tenets of plyometrics, which is why we decided to include it in the curriculum,” explained Singh.

“I was approached by the authorities last September and after giving a presentation at the academy in November, I started taking classes from January,” said Mallick.

Getting the cops in shape and improving their physical and mental strength is the focus of the Kalarippayattu course. “It helps stability and body balance, improves body-mind coordination, increases stamina and strength and also helps release stress,” said the tutor at the training centre.

Based on the tenets of plyometrics, Kalarippayattu is a movement-based aerobic exercise and burns fat by increasing body metabolism. “It involves a lot of jumps, leg kicks, punches and animal movements. I am not teaching them the use of weapons like swords,” Mallick said.

Classes are held at the centre for 90 minutes, Monday through Thursday. “It is a compulsory subject for the entire duration of the course,” said Singh. And at least the fitter among the force do not seem to mind the new grind.

“It’s a good self-defence technique. We don’t always have arms with us,” said Kuntal Banerjee, 28. Colleagues Dendup Sherpa and Mir Shakir Ali added that Kalarippayattu “improves fitness” and “helps release stress”.