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Varma kalai (Tamil: வர்மக்கலை, Malayalam: വർമക്കല, Telugu: మర్మయుద్దకళ, Sanskrit: marma vidya, Sinhala: maru kala) is a south Indian word meaning "art of vital points". It is a component of traditional massage, medicine, and martial arts in which the body's pressure points (varma or marma) are manipulated to heal or cause harm. The healing application called vaidhiya murai is used to treat patients suffering from paralysis, nervous disorder, spondylitis and other conditions. Its combat application is known as varma adi or marma adi, meaning "pressure point striking". Usually taught as an advanced aspect of unarmed Indian fighting systems, strikes are targeted at the nerves, veins, tendons, organs and bone joints.
Folklore traces varma kalai to the god Shiva who is said to have taught to his son Murugan. While disguised as an old man, Murugan passed the knowledge of varmam to the sage Agastya who then recorded it and disseminated the skill among his students.
Altogether the human body is said to have 108 pressure points known as varmam or marma. Their number on each part of the body is as follows.
|Vital Points||Part of Human body|
|25||From head to neck|
|45||From neck to navel|
|9||From navel to arm|
Siddha medicine explains the varmam as:
South Asian martial arts categorise the varmam as:
Extant varma kalai manuals include the following.