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Unni Gurukkal, One of India's Oldest Kalaripayattu Masters, Passes Away

Unni Gurukkal, Kalaripayattu Master

Sankara Narayana Menon Chundayil, better known as Unni Gurukkal, one of the oldest living teachers of the traditional Indian martial art of kalaripayattu, died in Chavakkad, India Tuesday at the age of 94. Kalaripayattu, which features empty hand techniques and traditional Indian weapons, is sometimes referred to as one of the world's most ancient martial arts. It's believed to have originated in the Kerala state in Southern India where it is still practiced.

Unni Gurukkal, Kalaripayattu master, descended from a family of kalaripayattu practitioners said to have lead the armies of a local principality during the middle ages. He started training with his father in the family art at the age of six. Instrumental in helping popularize the art at home and abroad, he had students teaching his version of kalaripayattu in France, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. He was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honor, in 2022.

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