Former world silambam gold medallist Kaviarasi Sanggar chalked another milestone recently by gaining an entry into the Malaysia Book of Records for conducting a 14-hour non-stop virtual silambam class. Silambam is a South Indian weapon-based Indian martial art using mainly bamboo sticks.
Her virtual feat was held on Aug 15 (6am-8pm) from Kuala Lumpur and saw 160 silambam enthusiasts from across the country, Singapore and India joining the Kedah-born athlete.
"I've been studying silambam for 14 years and I have a great deal of respect and affection for it. Thus, after 14 years of effort, I successfully completed my 14-hour class and used every hour to remind me of my silambam days.
"The movement control order due to Covid-19 prompted me to pursue the concept of a virtual class. There are no previous Malaysian records set for silambam so I wanted to thrust this martial art into the limelight," said Kaviarasi, 27, in an email interview recently.
Kaviarasi – a physical education teacher at SJK(T) Kampung Pandan in Kuala Lumpur – trained for over three months to ensure she was mentally and physically fit to take on the challenge. It took hours of practice to build her stamina to continuously perform the many silambam moves, including blocking, parrying and rotary parrying.
"The difficulties were real and required a lot of practice. I've rehearsed in front of my personal computer, mirror and smartphone. In addition, I had to train my body to control my food and water consumption to withstand the challenge.
“Each hour of the challenge taught me about patience and the willpower to succeed. I am thrilled that I managed to complete the feat and include silambam in the Malaysia Book of Records," said the national silambam referee.
Kaviarasi, who is from Padang Serai, Kedah, competed in the Malaysian Games (Sukma) silambam tournaments from 2008 to 2017. She scooped six golds at the 2009 Malaysian Games.
Last year, she emerged the winner (female category) at the Selangor state government's Martial Art XTIV virtual competition.
Kaviarasi is among 20 female silambam coaches attached to Subang Jaya-based silambam association Persatuan Silambam Korvai. According to her, there are about 60 female silambam coaches in Malaysia.
"Silambam is an important component of Indian religion and culture. I like this martial art due to its novelty. Girls should try out this art form as it can help us relieve tension, increase our concentration, and teach us to move confidently without fear," explained Kaviarasi, whose two siblings, S. Rahmeswary and S. Jivarassan, are also national silambam athletes.
During the movement restriction period, she's been offering free virtual silambam lessons to those keen to learn about the ancient martial arts.
"One of my goals is to teach silambam to schoolchildren for free. It would also be a nice physical exercise for the students during this lockdown.
"Children are the future generation of martial artists, and they will be the ones to take our skills to the next level," explained Kaviarasi, who posts photos and videos of her agile silambam moves on her Instagram.