Look: Students of Indian martial art Kalari in Dubai set Guinness World Record

270 participants stand in formation of falcon to achieve feat which was organised as part of the UAE National Day celebrations

Published: Tue 6 Dec 2022, 9:51 PM

Last updated: Tue 6 Dec 2022, 9:52 PM

A total of 270 students of the Indian martial art Kalarippayattu, ranging between the ages of 4 and 60, stood in the formation of a falcon to set a new Guinness World Record.

Kalari Club Dubai in association with Dubai Police attempted and achieved the record of the most people performing Kalarippayattu simultaneously, as part of the UAE National Day celebrations.

The participants and their families cheered and clapped as the adjudicator completed his inspection and announced the record before handing over the plaque. “We set a Guinness World Record,” squealed 6-year-old Ishaani, who has been a student of the club for over two years.

“I study Kalari with my whole family. My father, mother and brother are all studying. I enjoy it.”

Kalari, which is over 3,000 years old, is widely considered the oldest martial art, being , and is often referred to as the mother of all martial arts. It is thought to be the first time in Kalari’s history that a Guinness world record has been set.

Setting the record

Before the record attempt, there was a display of the art of Kalari on the grounds of the general department of protective security and emergency of Dubai Police in Satwa. The demonstration showed Kalari fights using swords, knives and sticks. Barehanded fighting and self-defence techniques were also shown.

The record attempt was the brainchild of Dr. Rahis Gurukkal, the founder and principal coach of the club. “The reason we chose to form a falcon is because we wanted to pay homage to the UAE as our home country,” he said. “It has been over two years since I set up the institute and we have gone from strength to strength. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach this martial art here, so I wanted to do something to honour the country.”

As the organisers began the attempt, all participating members filed into their respective, pre-marked positions from the tail to the outer wing. Once everyone was in place, Dr Rahis led the formation and commanded the students to perform their movements.

Health benefits

One of the students at the institute, 47-year-old Jayadeep said that he has seen a huge improvement in his flexibility and response times since he began learning the martial art. “I have always loved martial arts and I was learning karate earlier,” he said. “But after switching to Kalari two years ago, I have seen a marked improvement in my mobility, balance and reflexes. I am more alert in everything I do.”

For Jayadeep, the biggest competition is with his children. “I attend classes with my two girls who are 8 and 12,” he said. “Obviously, they are more flexible and can perform splits really easily. So, I can’t miss any classes because then they will advance faster than me. It is a healthy competition that keeps me on my toes.”

Kalari is divided into four stages, Meipayattu (training stances), Kolthari (practice with wooden weapons), Angathari (practice with metal weapons) and Verum kai prayogam (barehanded combat). Belts are awarded as the students make progress in their technical prowess.

Raseena Vayalil, who has never learnt any martial arts in her life, began attending classes earlier this year. “My children have been learning for two years,” she said. “I used to wait while they finished classes. So, this year I thought, why not join them. The first few weeks were very hard. But now, I am surprised at how much my health has improved. I don’t have any knee pain anymore. I used to have joint stiffness from a previous illness but that has cleared out completely. I can easily get up from the floor, something that I used to struggle with earlier. I am so thankful I decided to join for it.”


More news from UAE