Exploring Chennai, one might notice locals wielding bamboo sticks at one another that look much like fencing or samurai fighting. Do not be mistaken though. You are witnessing Silambattam, also known as Chilambam or Silambam, a traditional martial art that originated in Tamil Nadu. It is even said that the Olympic sport of fencing may have owed its origins to this less famous sport of Silambattam.
The Dravidian kings in Tamil Nadu promoted Silambattam during the Sangam period around third century BC to third century AD as a form of sport as well as self-defence. During the regular sea trade activities between the Dravidian kings and foreigners such as the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians, the silambam bamboo staffs were of great interest among the visitors. [Read more…]