An Indian martial art with a focus on weapons called silambam martial art emerged in Tamil Nadu. The Tamil term Silambal, which signifies sound, is the root of the word Silambam. Since the bamboo staff creates noise when being swirled and when Silambam game players are engaged in combat, the art of the battlefield is known as Silambam. Read through this article to know more about what is silambam and its details. 


Silambam is a well-known martial art style that is practised with specialised weapons, typically bamboo sticks. It is frequently practised in Tamil Nadu, which is also where the game originated in India and where it first appeared about 1000 BCE. The earliest accounts of the Silambam game may be found in Tamil Sangam literature.

It's a martial art with a history of using weapons. The etymology of the name Silambam is "staff from the hills," with "Silam" meaning "hills" and "Kambu" meaning "staff or sticks." The game is often played on a level, hard surface with bamboo sticks that are the same length as the participants' heights. There are 18 different types of footwork in all in this martial art.

What is Silambam?

Silambam game concentrates mostly on the bamboo staff. The practitioner's height affects the length of the staff. Ideally, it should only touch the forehead at a distance of three fingers from the head, usually 1.68 metres (five and a half feet). Depending on the circumstance, several lengths may be employed. The sedikuchi, or three-foot staff, is one item that is simple to conceal. Different staff lengths require different training. Some of the weapons used at Silambam are listed here.

Staff known as a silambam is often constructed of bamboo, but it can also occasionally be fashioned of teak or Indian rose chestnut wood. The staff is submerged in water and fortified by being beaten on the water's surface, either motionless or moving. To protect the ends from harm, it is frequently topped with metal rings.

Silambam Styles

There are now roughly 18 distinct silambam martial arts practises in use. As follows:

  1. Nillai Kalakki 
  2. Karnatakan 
  3. Kuravanji 
  4. Kuthu Kuravanji
  5. Komberi Mookan
  6. Paniyeri Mallan
  7. Minnal Veeran
  8. Minnal Vettu
  9. Nagam-16
  10. Naga Pasanam
  11. Kalla-Pathu
  12. Thuluk Kanam
  13. Markanam
  14. Kida Muttu
  15. Kalyana Varisai
  16. Tomman Kuthu
  17. Paarvai Vilayaatu
  18. Kallagam

Silambam weapons

In Silambam, a bamboo stick is regarded as the main weapon, while other weapons are also utilised, including:

  1. Maduvu/Maan Kombu (deer horn)
  2. Vel Kambu (spear)
  3. Kathi (Knife)
  4. Kattari/Kuthuval (Dagger)
  5. Vaal & Kedayam (Sword & Shield)
  6. Kuthu Kattai (Knuckle Duster)
  7. Surul Vaal (Flexible Blades)
  8. Savukku (Whip)
  9. Eer Vaal (Saber Sword)
  10. Koppattan / Kai Urai Vaal (Haunlet-sword)
  11. Aruval (Sickle)
  12. Valari/Valai Thadi (Boomerang)
  13. Changili Kattai (Wood + Chain)
  14. Thuni (Towel)
  15. Kal Thuni (Towel with a stone tied at one end)
  16. Rope / Rope Ball
  17. Silambam game also has an unarmed component called Kuthu Varisai.

What is the History of Silambam?

Tamil Nadu is home to the historic martial art of silambam. Its beginnings were in the early Dravidian period. The art was transformed from 1760 to 1799, under the leadership of Pulidevan and Veera Pandiya Kattabomman, to combat the British.

After then, Silambam gained popularity across the nation and in its state. The British, however, outraged themselves and outlawed the sport. After India gained freedom, the prohibition was abolished. The All India Silambam Federation was properly registered with the Tamil Nadu government in 2004.

The executive meeting of Silambam was conducted on March 20, 2009, and it resulted in the creation of the Asian Silambam Federation. A second executive committee meeting was conducted later, on August 17, 2010, in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu, where the decision to establish the World Silambam Federation in India was made.

What are the types of Silambam Guru Vanakkam?

Participants in Silambam Guru Vanakkam can commemorate their gurus in a variety of ways while also showing respect for the audience.

Long Stick

The bamboo sticks being used by the practitioners are one inch wide and ear level in length. To defend themselves and to counterattack their adversary, they swing the stick in a variety of ways. With this lengthy staff, it would be simple to control a man brandishing a knife. The competition's primary musical instrument is the silambam.

Double Short Stick

You can use two short sticks, each measuring approximately three feet. A proficient practitioner may deflect numerous blows by using one hand to block and the other to counterattack or drive. Two short sticks are typically preferable to one. High-skilled competitors can strike or assault while simultaneously denying the opposition time to defend. Please be aware that moving the stick and shifting your body left and right will occasionally render your opponent helpless.

Chopper Knife

Only highly competent martial artists can protect themselves against a variety of weapons like a chopper, sword, dagger, or axe. When the exponent assaults, he should swiftly move or avoid them. He has the option of using locks, strikes, kicks, or thrusts. Locks, similar to those used in wrestling, can be used to immobilise a weapon-wielding assailant. Before employing it, one should acquire a more advanced variant of the technique since applying locks to an opponent requires swift and decisive action.

Sword & Shield

One can strike, hit, push, swing, and cover a variety of portions of the opponent's body using a sword and shield. To defend against different assaults, the defender must be skilled. In a typical battle, the attacker uses a long sword to strike, while the defender uses a shield to defend. The majority of nations, including Rome, India, China, and others, employed the sword and shield often in ancient warfare.

What is the Objective of Silambam?

The warriors' main goal is to beat their opponents by using the bamboo stick as a weapon. The combatants' height determines how long the weapon stick should be. The warrior grips the weapon by extending their arms out to three-quarters length during combat.

The warriors can start any strike from this stance by flicking their wrists. An attacker can play a bluff by masking one of their attacks with another.


Although Silambam has been recognised as a sport in Tamil Nadu, only a few private schools and universities teach it to students regularly. To learn this art, individuals enrol in private institutes themselves. It's great that people are interested in this historic art form and working to keep it alive. Shortly, perhaps, art will be more appreciated and helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the God of Silambam?

According to oral tradition, silambam dates back many thousand years to the enlightened sage Agastya, a siddha. Agastya spoke with an elderly man who he encountered on the road to Vellimalai and who he believed to be the Lord Murugan in disguise about Hindu philosophy.

What are the benefits of Silambam?

  • Silambam is a beneficial cardio exercise that enhances heart health and blood circulation.
  • Calorie burning aids in weight loss and body contouring.
  • Relieves weariness, lethargy, and mental stress.
  • Enhances reflexive joint and muscle mobility and body flexibility.

Is Silambam and Kalaripayattu same?

No, Kalaripayattu and Silambam are two different martial arts. Despite their tight connection, they are very different in terms of style and approach. Silambam has its roots in Kerela, whereas Kalaripayattu is from Tamil Nadu.

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