The northern style of kalaripayat places
comparatively more emphasis on weapons than on empty hands. Masters in
this system are usually known as gurukkal (or occasionally as asaan),
and were often given honorific titles, especially Panikkar.
Northern kalaripayat is distinguished by its meippayat, physical
training and use of full-body oil massage. The system of treatment and
massage, and the assumptions about practice are closely associated with
ayurveda. The purpose of medicinal oil massage is to increase
practitioners' flexibility or to treat muscle injuries incurred during
practice. The term for such massages is "thirumal". The massage
specifically for physical flexibility is called "katcha thirumal".
Lineages (sampradayam) in northern kalaripayat include the arappukai,
pillatanni and vattantirippu styles.