However, his journey with Silambam began 22 years ago when as a child he began taking lessons in Silambam to keep fit. He has three national medals in Silambam to his credit, he says, adding that his father, who had been a Silambam coach for almost three decades, first aroused interest in him. “I started teaching during my college days in 2014. Later, I moved to Sweden to work, but I could not let go of Silambam. And that was when I started teaching here as well, he says.
Through Dhakshana’s Martial Arts, started by his father, they teach three forms of Silambam – Kurinji Vanji, Thulukanam and Alangara Varisai. “The last one is popular because it is performed to show respect or celebrate. I use the style of my videos and add small dance variations to them. My videos created a lot of interest and attention on social media. I want to take this traditional martial art to people in one “Trendy way by adding a touch of contemporary to it. The more they like it, the easier it will be to find people who want to practice it.”
In Sweden, he has been taking courses since the summer of 2019. “Every year we hold workshops for five months because the climate here only benefits outdoor training for so long,” says Karikala Cholan. While the work keeps him busy five days a week, the weekends are devoted to Silambam training, he says. He also holds online courses. “But when it comes to online courses, the lack of physical guidance is the only downside. However, I am working on solutions to rectify it. We also receive many inquiries from Tamil Sangams in other countries. Foreigners and locals here like it too. I hope that they also help to take it to different countries, ”he explains.
Silambam not only increases one’s physical condition but also helps to build mental strength, says Karikala Cholan. “It helps to overcome stress, depression, improves concentration and also increases immunity,” he emphasizes.
He says, “During the period when the British ruled India, they banned many Indian martial arts, including Silambam. It was an obstacle for the martial arts to get global attention. It was one of the lowest periods for Silambam. It led to a decrease in the number of people who “Today we have a Stockholm Silambam Association with the support of the Swedish government. I hope that by taking Silambam to more countries, more such recognition will get in the way. And hopefully we will see that it will be an Olympic sport one day.”
How this martial art developed over time
‘Silam’ means hilly areas and ‘bam’ refers to bamboo sticks. Silambam was first practiced by people from tribal communities thousands of years ago to defend themselves from animals. Later it was taken up by kings as a war skill and it was developed. There are 16 ancient types of Silambam, of which only four to five major styles are now practiced.