In the inner city an ancient Indian martial art is providing inner peace

In the inner city an ancient Indian martial art is providing inner peace

In the inner city an ancient Indian martial art is providing inner peace

Updated 27 June 2014, 18:10 AEST

The ancient martial art 'Kalari' which forms the basis of many combative sports is finding a regular following in a small gym in Adelaide, South Australia.

Kalaripayattu or 'Kalari' as it is commonly known, focuses on combative self defence as well as emotional and physical strength and traces back to 11th century India. 

One of the few teachers of kalari in Australia, Alana Gregory says she fell in love with it after years of devotion to yoga.  

“There was a woman who was from the school (where) I now study and she did a short demonstration on kalari and I saw it and I just knew straight away I had some affinity with the movement and the practice, so from Los Angeles I travelled to India (to study it)," she says.

“I planned to stay at the academy for maybe three weeks but I ended up staying four months."

Alana Gregory in kalari pose, ABC International: Daniel Hamilton

After being immersed in training, Alana returned to Adelaide and began teaching, and while class numbers have been small, the calming nature of the martial art seems to be gelling with urban lifestyles.

“The feedback from people varies, but after people practice kalari they always feel energized and also grounded, says Alana.

“Most people living in cities these days, there’s so much going on, [they are] constantly bombarded, and after kalari ... you feel relaxed and energized,” she says.

Student Ross McGachey practising movement in class,  ABC International: Daniel Hamilton

Students are finding the benefits of kalari include gaining a cultural connection to India.

“It certainly gives a picture of a certain aspect of Indian culture, obviously it’s far from the entirety of it - movement and philosophy is only a small part of what Indian culture is about, says Ross McGachey, "but I think it gives you an understanding of that aspect at least."

“It’s really great for flexibility so I’ve had a lot of benefits from that,” he says.

For Juju Haifawi, the mental and physical aspects are a winning combination.  “I love kalari because it’s really grounding, it makes you feel very strong, centered and you build strength quickly so it’s very effective,” she says.

The ancient physical art form could be the next big thing in modern fitness.