Research, Revive, Rejuvenate, Restore and Retention

World Silambam Association Joins ICSSPE
08/04/2021 19:25

ICSSPE talked to Guruji Murugan Chillayah, Founder of the World Silambam Association, to find out about the values of Traditional Indian Martial Arts as well as the goals and visions of the organisation.


ICSSPE: Could you please introduce yourself and the World Silambam Association?


Chillayah: I am the Founder, Chairman and Principal Trainer of the World Silambam Association – teaching the Indian traditional arts of Silambam, Kuttu Varisai, Traditional Yoga, and Varma Kalai  which focuses on pressure points, for more than 30 years.


The World Silambam Association preformed on 22nd of November 1999 to become the official organisation name. In 2014, the primary name Silambam was legally registered and recognised as a more formalised organisation. It followed with the new formation of Silambam Asia that was recognised by the ECOSOC of the United Nations and fast-growing throughout the Asian continent following the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. In 2018, World Silambam Association was officially established under the Ministry of Home Affairs in Malaysia to preserve and rejuvenate the essential elements and contents worldwide to provide education, training, tournaments, seminars, and workshops of Indian Traditional Martial Arts and Sports for Education, Health, Fitness, Culture, Nature, Climate Change and Recreational.


ICSSPE: Could you tell us a bit about the aims and vision of the World Silambam Association?


Chillayah: The World Silambam Association also plays active roles as an international organisation for governance and sustainable development of the Indian Traditional Martial Arts and Sports for Education, Health, Fitness, Culture, Nature, Climate Change, Recreational, and the dissemination of all this related information. Further efforts have been taken for Silambam to help to group everyone collectively in similar activities. Thus, our vital role is to provide expertise for members by providing Training, Research, Revive, Rejuvenate, Retention, and Restore.


The sporting related mission of the World Silambam Association is to provide effective international governance by constant improvement in technical rules and regulating Silambam tournaments or participation in international events, exhibitions or sporting arena. We aim to promote sustainability for members’ visibility worldwide and to be recognised as an Olympic sport in the future.


ICSSPE: How would you describe your organisation’s values?


Chillayah: Our 10 Values – The Silambam Ways, are

  1. Trustworthiness (Satyam)
  2. Honesty
  3. Tradition
  4. Modesty
  5. Courtesy
  6. Respect
  7. Courage
  8. Honour
  9. Self-control
  10. Friendship

Silambam practitioners and Silambam players, we call them“Silambam Veerar”, should always remember all these 10 principal values. These values always work with them as a core part of our Indian traditional values – at the Silambam training ground (Silambakoodam), at the tournament, or even at home. Therefore, it is important for children, youth, and adults together to take part with gender equity, offering them an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, share the responsibility with other young players or practitioners from around the world, and everyone stays connected.


ICSSPE: What are the plans and goals?


Chillayah: Indian Traditional Arts revolve around 5 Rs: Research, Revive, Rejuvenate, Restore and Retention.

  • We want to plan and carry out activities related to Indian Traditional Arts such as Silambam, Kuttu Varisai, Traditional Yoga, and Varma Kalai (pressure points).
  • We aim to promote, encourage and develop training at all levels (organisations, districts, state, national, continents, and international).
  • We aim to support, promote and uphold the highest Indian Traditional Arts Service standards and professional ethics of training following the criteria set by governments, agencies, intergovernmental, and international.
  • We strive to provide information, management, training, development, and networking for Indian Traditional Martial Arts and Sports for Education, Health, Fitness, Culture, Nature, Climate Change and Recreational according to the industry compliance.
  • We try to foster and strengthen links with Silambam organisations worldwide to exchange knowledge, experience, and resources.
  • And we promote peace and prosperity among everyone.

ICSSPE: Can you tell us briefly about the ongoing projects of the organisation?


Chillayah: We are working on the international alignment between clubs and organisations, national, regional, continental and international members through best practice and good governance.


Current practices to achieve this goal are:

  • Decisive leadership, credibility, and relevance within our community
  • Coherent planning to achieve strategic outcomes
  • Best practice governance and management principles
  • Effective two-way communication and engagement between World Silambam Association, clubs and organisations, national, regional, continent, and international members.

To establish best practice governance, create contemporary best practice governance structures, good practices of policies and procedures implemented and reporting framework to support the ability of the Board to oversee the growth in the operation or business of the Silambam organisation, governance of the changes, and management of identified risks.


To achieve our goal of growing and diversifying the World Silambam Association membership base, we currently organise and carry out events that provide opportunities for engagement and quality competition for participants across the continuum. We also provide clear and transparent pathways of Indian traditional, recreational, and sports for participants, students, athletes, coaches, trainers or instructors, teachers, referees, judges, and other Silambam officials.


To have an effective workforce (volunteer, staff, and contractor) who are engaged, educated, safe, and valued, within a supportive culture that reflects World Silambam Association values.


We have very robust organisational values and a code of conduct. We also developed pathways for our people supported by mentoring, skills development opportunities, seminars, and succession planning. Our workforce structure supports the delivery of the strategic plan.


We also communicate information and resources available through other industries, entity members, or partners e.g. any international organisations of Silambam related to the Indian Traditional Martial Arts and Sports for Education, Health, Fitness, Culture, Nature, Climate Change, Recreational. This also includes international children related organisations such as UNICEF, as well as WEP and UN-Women which are related to girls and women, and cultural-arts related organisations such as ICH-UNESCO, and many more.


The Silambam education framework includes courses for everybody on the Silambam stick fencing (kambu sandai), Silambam freestyle performance (Tani Tiramai), and Silambam demonstration or exhibitions (Alanggara Silambam).

With regard to high performance, our goal is to provide frameworks and programmes for students, athletes, coaches, trainers or instructors, teachers, referees, judges, and other Silambam officials to meet performance goals and achieve podium results.


ICSSPE: What affects did the corona virus pandemic have in your country?


Chillayah: In the year 2020, the corona virus pandemic has affected the Silambam activities, events and the training adversely. Most of the school programmes, education, training, tournaments, seminars, and workshops of Indian Traditional Martial Arts and Sports for Education, Health, Fitness, Culture, Nature, Climate Change, and Recreational have been either postponed to a later date or cancelled. Cross border programmes, education, training, tournaments, seminars, and workshops were also affected because of movement restrictions.


We also received updated reports from several country members about their new students and regular students, who withdrew their student membership in several training centres.


ICSSPE: What solutions and adaptations did you find?


Chillayah: Students and athletes are given home-based training, mostly by notes and theoretical studies, with added online interactive sessions with their coaches, trainers, or instructors for the given time. Monthly and annual meetings between committees, officials, and other stakeholders have been postponed for a certain duration and replaced similarly with online solutions.


After the pandemic decreased in certain areas or states, the movement restrictions relaxed by the government which allows a minimal number of students to attend the training (about 20% to 30% of students in the training space) with safety measures such as first aid, clean environment and temperature checks as an hourly and daily routine. Physical or close contact has been strictly prohibited in the training place.


Social distancing restrictions do not pose a problem for Silambam activities. Usually, Silambam training is conducted by using long rattan and bamboo, which requires training space at about more than 2 meters distance between each student. It is very common for coaches, trainers or instructors to coach their athletes from a certain distance.


ICSSPE: Will you be keeping some of the changes once the pandemic is over?


Chillayah: Several procedures on personal hygiene will be emphasized to everyone as a new routine. Online studies and online meetings will be used and we will do further technical development - in case if the similar situation of a pandemic or any other kind of disaster repeats (in the future).


ICSSPE: As a new ICSSPE member, what do you envision for future cooperation with ICSSPE?


Chillayah: This cooperation will also build greater trust within our organisation worldwide. As a new member, our organisation takes great pride and the opportunity to learn more from ICSSPE programmes in the future. Together we would like to reach ultimate goals that are equally beneficial for every community.


ICSSPE: What are you most excited about regarding the ICSSPE membership?


Chillayah: Several ICSSPE programmes and research conducted in the past, present, and future will be very useful to our organisation. The sharing of information and knowledge on the arts and sports is essential for our community, as we regularly disseminate the gathered essential information to the illiterate group, children, youth, and adults in villages, tribes, rural areas, semi and urban. We ensure everyone has been reached and stay informed with current updates on the programmes.


ICSSPE: What can the ICSSPE membership jointly do to help in this context?


Chillayah: The World Silambam Association has great confidence with ICSSPE's future cooperation to collaborate to develop several efficient programmes, education, training, tournaments, seminars, and workshops – which directly or indirectly promote and create expansion opportunities for Indian traditional arts and sports of Silambam. We also hope to facilitate our Silambam programmes as mentioned above with an invitation by ICSSPE for the European community, schools, institutions, colleges, and organisations in the future date.