Kalarippayattu is practiced in Kerala, a state in South India and in parts of Tamil Nadu. It combines self-defense techniques, religion, and has elements of "martial dance" as in Capoeira. Kalarippayattu literally means "combat training inside the gymnasium." Traditionally Kalarippayattu training is always done inside the Kalari, a specially constructed practicing area. In the South-West corner of every Kalari is a Puttara, a seven tired platform where the guardian deity is located. Flowers, incense, and water is given to the deity everyday and, before training, each student prays to the deity.
Kalarippayattu uses intricate dance-like exercises, empty hand fighting techniques, and both wooden and metal weapons. Oil massage is an integral part of Kalarippayattu.
The earliest reference to Kalarippayattu appears in A Description of the Coasts of East Africa and Malabar in the Beginning of the Sixteenth Century CE by Duarte Barbosa, which indicates that Kalarippayattu had already developed by this time. Some theorize that Bodhidharma was a student of Kalarippayattu and thus that it was the basis for the development of Kung-fu, but others claims there is evidence that forms of martial arts existed in Buddhist temples in China prior to the purported arrival of Bodhidharma.
Practically all martial arts trace their beginnings to the Indian Buddhist priest, Bodhidharma, and Taekwondo is no exception. Since Bodhidharma's influence on the martial arts actually occurred in China, rather than in India, he is discussed in detail after the following section on China.