Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sri Lanka and Angam Pora

 Sri Lankan Martial Arts

Sri Lanka is a country with a rich history that goes back over 5000 years. In Sri Lanka there is a great martial Art Known as Angam Pora that was enjoyed by kings who ruled this wonderful land. In the past ages, where survival of the fittest prevailed, this tiny nation had to hold its own, mostly against the mighty India’s south Chola Kingdom. The kings of India many times thought to have this “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” to decorate their crowns and invaded the island. But each time they were driven back. Such was the invincible might of the fighting techniques practiced by the people of Sri Lanka and they called it the “Angam Satan  Kalawa” a type of Martial Arts fighting.

Angam Pora 

Angam Pora is type of martial arts practiced in Sri Lanka for over 3000 years. “Anga” in the native language is body and “Pora” signified cambat. Body combat which was unarmed combat was called Angampora as only the human parts were used. Where various types of weapons were used such combat techniques were called” Illangam”.

The Sri Lankan art of angam pora was so feared by the British who ruled the country from 1815 to 1948 outlawed it.  Over the next 200 years it almost became extinct, but in the suburbs   of Colombo there was one group fighting to protect their heritage.
The main aims of Angam Pora were to protect the race, religion and the country. That was why they mastered it and it was not to fight enemies on the street. There are some movements that come from the tiger, the Lion, the Bear, the snake, the monkey, the mantis, the python, the elephant, the peacock, the butterfly and so many other animals.

The Angam Pora art is a way of life. As in any sport you need strength and the will to excel in the techniques you learn. However Angam Kalawa does not advocate exercises or practicing in any way that will harm you physically in the long run. You do not punch or kick concrete blocks or abuse your body in any manner that will have ill effects after a while. You learn of herbs and plants and other natural food that will improve your strength. You learn of medicinal herbs and methods of indigenous Sri Lankan medicine.

You are required to learn to defend yourself against harm others would inflict on you. You do not learn Angam kalawa art with the intention of inflicting harm to others. Your daily practicing should commence and end after meditating. In meditation you are required to focus on learning the art without injuring you or any others who will help you to learn the techniques.

Under the Colonial Rule

Sri Lanka formerly known as Ceylon was target for foreign raiders. It has endured many invasions from India, as well as colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch and eventually English. All of them were met with fierce resistance.
While the local kings kept a large number of full time soldiers, the farmers were also trained to answer the call of the drums if enemies arrive. Angam Pora made up a large part of the national defense and using their guerrilla tactics, with much ferocity and full expertise, turned many wars in favor of their motherland.

Portuguese Defeated by the use of Angam Pora

The Portuguese in particular learned the true power of Angam Pora in the most costly circumstances. Despite taking to the field with superior weapons, the armed forces were completely wiped out in the famous 1562 battle of Mulleriyawa. It was fought in marshland against locally trained forces backed by war elephants. In nearly 150 years of occupation the Portuguese failed to conquer any more one third of the island.

From 1656 to 1796 the Dutch enjoyed a little more success. In 1796 governance of the Island was passed to the British Empire, whose campaign against natives was severe and bloody. Having gained control of previously unconquered Kingdom of Kandy in the Up country, The Governor Sir Robert Brownrigg sensed the danger posed by Angam Pora activists, took extreme measures to suppress Angam Pora Martial Arts. The practice was outlawed via notice in the local newspapers, and many of the teaching gurus were arrested and their training centers were razed to the ground. From there on anyone involved with Angam Pora was shot in the knee. This stopped number of people teaching and learning the martial art. However it was not eradicated completely. Many people keen to keep the tradition alive began to practice in secret and several of the foot movements were disguised in traditional dance.
Now there are few families who kept the art of Angam Pora without being forgotten.

Tags; Martial arts, angam pora,Ancient fighting techniques, unarmed combat