Introduction: Making the Body All Eyes

These intensive workshops teach focus, concentration, discovery and use of energy, and bodymind integration through Asian martial/meditation arts including Chinese t'ai chi ch'uan (Wu style), and traditional South Indian hatha yoga and the closely related South Indian martial art, kalarippayattu. The workshop explores bodymind connections in movement work and through focus on the breath. Emphasis is on repetition of basic psychophysiological forms including

  • beginning tai chi ch'uan exercises (short-form Wu style)
  • basic hatha yoga
  • and kalarippayattu:
    • animal poses (vadivu)
    • leg kicks (kal etupp)
    • combined floor exercises (meippayattu)
    • the kalari vanakkam
    • weapons forms (for intermediate/advanced students only)
All are practices to access "stillness at the centre" and eventually to allow the body to "become all eyes."

Through these beautiful, fluid movement forms, the work is of equal use to those involved in dance, theatre, martial/meditation arts, or anyone interested in unlocking the body's natural flow and internal energy. Through a series of structured improvisations, practical bridges are created between work on forms and healing/integrated movement.

Intensive training is offered in residential workshops regularly scheduled at the permanent Tyn-y-parc C.V.N. Kalari/Studio in Llanarth, West Wales [Click on West Wales Kalari/Studio for specific information], at workshops or classes in London, and at other regional centres being developed throughout the U.K., Europe (Graz, Austria), and the U.S. (Madison, Wisconsin).

Phillip Zarrilli often teaches intensive workshops on invitation throughout the world including recent workshops at the London International Workshop Festival, the Centre for Performance Research (Wales), Passe Partout (Netherlands), Gardzienice Theatre (Poland), Theatre Asou (Austria), Trinity College (Ireland), National School of Drama (India), National School for the Performing Arts (Korea), Seoul International Theatre Festival (Korea), National Theatre of Greece Summer Academy and Esalen Institute (USA) among many others. [For information on how to organize an intensive workshop, contact Phillip Zarrilli directly:].

‘making the body all eyes’

Intensive training and workshops teach focus, concentration, discovery and use of inner energy (prana or prana-vayu, and sakti), and bodymind integration through Asian martial/meditation arts including Chinese t’ai chi ch’uan (Wu style), and traditional South Indian hatha yoga and the closely related South Indian martial art, kalarippayattu. Training as well as intensive workshops focus on the breath, and movement integrated with and through breath. Emphasis is on repetition of basic psychyophysiological forms at beginning, intermediate, as well as advanced levels in order to access "stillness at the centre" and eventually allow the body to "become all eyes"--an optimal level of intuitive awareness/consciousness. Through these beautiful, fluid movement forms, the work is of equal use to those involved in dance, theatre, martial/meditation arts, or anyone interested in unlocking the body’s natural flow and internal energy.

Zarrilli’s training and workshops usually empahsize and provide opportunities to apply the principles and training to performance. Application to performance circumstances takes places through a series of structured improvisations. The work is then further applied to work on texts such as plays by Samuel Beckett, Ota Shogo’s Station trilogy, etc., or in individual coaching sessions.

Intermediate and advanced training/workshops teach advanced sequences, and weapons work, beginning with staff, then progressing through short-stick (ceruvadi), otta, dagger, sword and shield, mace, etc.


Kalarippayattu is rooted in the ancient Indian "sciences" of war (Dhanur Veda), "life" (Ayurveda), and yoga. By the 12th century A.D. kalarippayattu emerged as the distinctive traditional martial/healing art of Kerala, South India. Kalarippayattu combines beautiful, yet dynamic and powerful forms of yoga-based bodymind training and solo-forms with intermediate and advanced weapons and empty-hand combat techniques, and a complete massage and healing system to make it a "complete" martial/healing/meditation system. In its own unique way, kalarippayattu joined elements of the most ancient martial systems of North and South India, as well as the spiritual traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islamic Sufism. The training begins and ends with the breath, and then moves through a variety of exercises in order to access "stillness at one’s centre," and eventually allows the body to "become all eyes." Long-term training promotes excellent fitness and health, awareness, concentration, and a "fighting spirit"--a unification of body, mind, and ‘heart’. Practice has the potential to activate the yogic subtle body, contributes to circulation of the internal energy, and can lead to healthful congruence of Ayurveda’s "body of humors and saps".

This beautiful, fluid form of bodymind training should be of equal interest to those involved in dance, theatre, martial/meditation arts, or anyone interested in unlocking the body’s natural flow and internal energy. Some courses emphasize application of psychophysical training to acting, dance, and performance work through structured improvisations and/or application to dramatic texts/action.

Northern Style emphasizes repetition of basic psychophysiological forms closely related to yoga, and including: animal poses (vadivu); leg kicks (kal etupp); combined bodymind exercises (meippayattu); the kalari vanakkam (salutation to the deities with the body); and (in intermediate/advanced courses) weapons practice (long-staff, short stick, otta, dagger, sword and shield, spear, mace).

Southern Style emphasizes empty hand forms and techniques for basic self defence training and bodymind coordination. It includes more upright stances, and students learning this style are immediately involved in attacking and/or defending in four basic directions. [For those interested in studying this style, they should contact John Cassie (see below) who teaches in the London area.]


Massage and Treatments

Kalarippayattu’s special full-body massage is also regularly offered, especially during residential courses in West Wales. Given with the feet while holding onto ropes suspended from the ceiling, this is a very intensive and deep form of massage which stimulates the interior subtle body (as defined by yoga), clears the interior "channels" (nadi), and helps unlock the "serpent energy" (kundalini sakti) within. The massage is given for at least three days, but more typically and beneficially for periods of five, seven, or fourteen days. Those who undergo the massage must be continuing students dedicated to ongoing study of the art, and be in excellent physical condition. A less strenuous ‘general health’ form of massage, or a hand-massage is also available.



Emphasizing work with the breath and focus, basic yoga asanas and yoga stretching provide a consistent and excellent warm-up prior to practicing kalarippayattu in cold climates.


Short form of the Chinese martial art, Wu style t’ai chi ch’uan, emphasizes coordination of breath with movement, centering, balance, and subtle use of energy. The full form is only taught during extended training in a long-term course of study. Workshops often make use of the beginning form as a part of preliminary training for awareness and use of breath. In longer-term training the full form can be taught. The total short-form lasts approximately 15-20 minutes.


"a wonderful opportunity to be taught by an individual whose knowledge and enthusiasm is an inspiration"
London, IWF 2000

"the emphasis on psychophysical training linked to the breath has given me a key to understanding my own process as a performer that will inform and enrich my further work"
London, IWF 2000

"fantastic, inspiring, and encouraging"
London, IWF 2000


1. Tyn-y-parc Kalari, Llanarth, Wales. A permanent, residential traditional kalari (place of training) inaugurated July, 2001, with a traditional pounded earth floor. [Click on The West Wales Kalari/Studio for more.]

2. London workshop/classes. Occasional workshops. Weekly classes soon to be restarted. Contact Phillip Zarrilli for more information.
When offered, weekly classes cost £8.50 sterling per class (£6.50 concession)

Also, contact John Cassie about his style of Northern kalarippayattu, or central and southern styles:, (0207-6033987).

3. Regional Courses/Centres in the UK. Regional centres and courses of study are either established or in planning for Huddersfield, Glasgow, and Exeter, among others.

4. Europe: Beginning in January, 2001 with a five day intensive beginners course, an ongoing group has been established in Graz, Austria under the leadership of Klaus Seewald. Phillip Zarrilli will return as often as possible to Graz to teach beginning and advanced classes. For information about Graz, contact Klaus Seewald as follows:

Office: A-8011 Graz, Postfach 932
Telephone: 43/(0)699/17 57 63 95


PHILLIP B. ZARRILLI is the first Westerner to have undergone full-time, long-term training in kalarippayattu. Since he began his training in 1976 at the C.V.N. Kalari, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, South India under Gurukkal Govindankutty Nayar, he lived in Kerala for seven years, and continues to return regularly. In 1988 he received the traditional pitham (stool representing past masters) from Govindankutty Nayar. He also trained at the Kerala Kalarippayattu Academy, Kannur, with C. Mohammed Sherif Gurukkal, and under Sreejayan Gurukkal and Raju Asan. He studied Yoga with Chandran Gurukkal in Kannur and Dhayaniddhi in Thiruvananthapuram. He specializes in northern style kalarippayattu, full-body massage (uliccil), and complimentary yoga. He trained in t'ai chi ch'uan (Wu-style) with noted theatre director and East Asian scholar, A.C.Scott. He has conducted workshops, "Making the body all eyes..." throughout the world, including Esalen Institute, Utrecht School of the Arts, Passe Partout, National School of Drama (New Delhi), Centre for Performance Research (Wales), (London) International Workshop Festival, Gardzienice Theatre (Poland), among others. For over twenty years he was Director of the Asian-Experimental Theatre Program in the U.S.A. where he taught classes daily. He now lives between Exeter in south-west England and Llanarth, West Wales. He regularly directs theatrical productions with actors he has trained including recent highly acclaimed productions of Samuel Beckett's plays with Theatre Asou (Graz, Austria, 1999), and at the Grove Theatre Centre, Los Angeles (2000, and forthcoming). He is the author of numerous essays and books on kalarippayattu and other traditional arts of Kerala, and his comprehensive study of the martial art, "When the Body Becomes All Eyes:" Paradigms, Practices, and Discourses of Power in Kalarippayattu was published by Oxford University Press (1998; paperback 2nd edition, 2000) is available through any bookstore. He has also written widely on acting and performance, including publication of Acting (Re)Considered: Theories and Practices (Routledge Press, 1995), and in writing a book on his own approach to actor training, Acting..."at the nerve ends:" A Psychophysical Approach. He is Professor of Theatre/Performance at Exeter University where he integrates his teaching of martial/meditation arts for performers into the curricula for the B.A., M.A. (Theatre Practice), and Ph.D. degrees. [For information about these courses of study at Exeter, and how they integrate martial arts into degree courses, please contact Phillip Zarrilli.]

[JOHN CASSIE teaches regularly in the London area, and will occasionally conduct workshops of his own in West Wales. He teaches a slightly different style of Northern kalarippayattu, as well as Central and Southern styles. He has studied kalarippayattu under C. Mohammed Sherif Gurukkal at the Kerala Kalarippayattu Academy since 1990. He is a certified instructor in Northern, Central, and Southern styles of Kalarippayattu, in Siddha Mura Yoga, and massage. John is also a licensed Practitioner of NLP and a registered Stress Management Consultant with the International Stress Management Association (ISMA).]


Phillip Zarrilli (

Wales: (44)-01545-580376
Exeter: (44)-01392-427688
Mobile: 07790864314

Permanent Kalari/Studio Address: Tyn-y-parc Llanarth, Ceredigion SA4 70PB Wales, U.K.
OR (except July/August): University of Exeter Department of Drama Thornlea New North Rd. Exeter EX4 4LA, UK (44-01392-724580)

John Cassie

London: (44) 0207-6033987
Ground Floor
2 Melrose Gardens
London W6 7RW

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