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Marma Adi is the ancient Indian martial art form that manipulates vital points in the body, can be used both for self-defence and healing. Marma adi is the science of manipulating marmas or vital points. These are nerve junctures usually close to the skin surface.

The human body contains 107 marma points which, when struck or massaged, produce the desired healing or injurious results. Marma adi is now a near-extinct science, existing only in a few remote corners of the place of its origin.

The earliest evidence of the concept of vital pressure points dates back to roughly between 1700–1100 BC.Numerous other scattered references to vital points in Vedic and epic sources, it is certain that India's early martial practitioners knew and practised attacking or defending vital points. Sushruta (c. 6th century BC) identified and defined 107 vital points of the human body in his book 'Sushruta Samhita' , the "father of Surgery".Of these 107 points, 64 were classified as being lethal if properly struck with a fist or stick.Sushruta's work formed the basis of the medical discipline Ayurveda, which was taught alongside various Indian martial arts that had an emphasis on vital points, such as Varma Kalari.Siddha Vaidya (southern style) recognizes 108 marmas, 12 Padu marmas (death marmas) and 96 Thodu marmas (touch marmas). There are also counter marmas to heal trauma to the marmas.

Six categories of Marma Points
Maasa Marma (on the skin/muscles)
Asthi Marma (at bones)
Snayu Marma (at the nerves)
Dhamani Marma (at arteries)
Sandhi Marma (at the joints)
Shira Marma (at the veins)

According to marma adi, our body is crisscrossed like irrigation channels with meridians, a closed interconnecting system through which prana flows in the body. While acupressure, or shiatsu, follows a 14-meridian theory (with 361 marma or tsubo points), marma shastra believes there are 26 meridians in all. Of these, 12 are located in pairs on the left and right sides.

Marma points, supposed to be located on these meridians, boost the prana each time it flows through, resulting in a stronger life force energy. Marma points are also divided on the basis of their pancha bhautic (five elements) constitution into sadya pranahara (fire), kalanthara pranahara (water), vishalaya ghunam (air), vaikalyakara (earth) and rujakara (space).

While six of the 12 pairs of meridians have negative polarity (Shakti, yin, ida), six are of the positive polarity (Shiva, yang, pingala). The negative meridians begin from the toes or the middle of the body and go upward to the head. The positive meridians begin at the head and go down. The intensity of prana flow varies according to the time of the day, peaking and diminishing in a 12-hour cycle. A marma point is most vulnerable when prana is flowing through it.

The prana leaves the lungs at dawn between 1.00 a.m. and 3.00 a.m. and returns after flowing through 13 other channels within 24 hours. When the flow of prana is disturbed, the corresponding organ is affected. A study of the exact location of prana is imperative for marma adi to be effective, for it works only if the blow is precisely on the marma point. The hit should also be vertical. This excessive stress on a precise hit and the years of practice it demands has stymied the popularity of this martial art form.

Two kinds of weapons can be used in marma adi: natural and artificial. The natural weapons include various hand and finger strikes including snake strike, dart strike, mantis strike and dragon fist strike. The metamorphosis of your hand from a wobbly five-fingered prong to a deadly weapon requires much practice, including jabbing your fingers on leather strips, wood, wall or even a bucketful of sand. But before doing any of these, make sure that you massage your palms, fingers and wrists with oil to regulate the blood circulation. Usually these exercises are recommended three days a week, with a gradual increase in the strain.




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