Kalaripayattu is the martial art originated and popularly practiced in Kerala. Mythology has it that the warrior sage Parasurama is the promulgator of Kalaripayattu. Kalari is the Malayalam word for a traditionally built gymnasium to teach the martial art known as Pavattu. The four stages of Payattu are:
Muppavaram: Body conditioning exercises
Kolthari: Use of wooden weapons
Angathari: Use of sharp metallic weapons
Yerumkai: Bare-handed defense and attack.
Women also underwent training in Kalaripayattu, and still do so to this day. Following are the major ethnic style of Kalaripayattu existing in the three regions of northern Kerala (Malabar).