The Indian School of Martial Arts (ISMA) was established in 1983 and is an ideal training centre for the 5000-year-old martial art, Kalarippayattu. ISMA or Kalariyil Dharmikam Ashram is also a place for healing and rejuvenation, thanks to its founder Mr. Balachandran Nair who hails from a family of warrior healers.
According to Balachandran, Kalari Chikitsa, an exclusive branch of medicine, has taken shape from Siddhavaidyam - a parallel science to Ayurveda, Dhanurveda - the mother of Ayurveda and a large collection of Olagranthas (manuscripts on dry palm leaves). This branch of medicine was developed for the students and practitioners of Kalarippayattu. Kalarichiktsa as well as Kalarippayattu are based on the 108 marmas (nerve pressure points) in the human body. Certain marmas are so sensitive that attacking them may cause death or put the victim in a state of coma.
Unlike in Ayurveda, modern medical parameters are not used in Kalarichikitsa. Instead intuitions developed from years of meditation help the healer to diagnose and treat the cause of the ailment. ISMA is housed in a three-storyed building and has a traditional Kalari - the arena for practising the art, built ten feet below ground level. The 600-year-old massage table here was carved out of a single tree and was handed down generations. There is also a meditation hall that exudes an air of tranquility and serenity. The roof garden is a treasure house of herbs used for the preparation of medicines. ISMA also offers simple accomodation and food for guests and visitors. But what attract students of history to this place are the ancient palm leaf manuscripts (Olagranthas).
Nearest railway station: Thiruvananthapuram Central about 30 km is the nearest railway station
Nearest airport: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 38 km