Angam Martial Arts of Sri Lankan

Angam Martial Arts of Sri Lankan

There exists a small island which is little known in this world… but being situated in the center of a major trading route and complete with vast natural resources …. Idea climate for agriculture, cultivation of exotic …. It attracted the attention of the nations who were the superpowers at the time.. The tiny island nation was attempted to be conquered countless times… But None were able to subdue this land through the art of war. The reason being that this small insignificant looking country had an over 5000 years history and culture that evolved with the test of time… and with it a powerful martial art that runs through the very life blood of its countrymen. A fierce fighting style replete with ancient technique… tempered in the iron will of island patriots …fashioned in to an unstoppable martial art.

The age of King Ravana which was some 6000 years ago, is considered to be the time when the art of Angam was at its pinnacle. Ravana was said to be a specialist in pressure point healing. This is evident in the medical writings done by Ravana. The association between Ravana and Angam is so strong it is such that, even today, Angam gurus begin their training only after lighting a lamp in memory of this ancient Sri Lankan King. The art of Angam which was developed for so many thousands of years has done its best in protecting Sri Lanka from its enemies.

Ravana is said to have also been a specialist in all forms of Angam. History tells us that he has written several books about it as well. This master in Angam is said to have trained all his soldiers, cavalry and other types of mounted troops in the art of Angam.

Ravana is also said to have ruled over many states in southern and central India. To maintain such a large empire, it is obvious that the aid of something as formidable as Angampora was essential.

Even now, after all these ages, certain families still have deadly Angam fighting styles names after Ravana, which specifically use pressure points to disable and eliminate ones opponents.

The history of angam had never been recorded on an official treatise. However it is a privilege that the technical aspects of angam had been documented by angam warrior clans of Sri Lankan history.  All that we have are inconsistent records of instances in history where it has appeared but briefly, only disappear from the books of history leaving gaps as well as a lot of unanswered questions.

Angam is believed to have been a part of the ancient culture of Sri Lanka that dates back to over 10000 years. It had evolved from generation to generation, standing the formidable test of time, and once became an indispensable part of the Sri Lankan way of life.

For centuries the country went through most turbulent eras that required it’s rulers to muster defenses with the help of their fellow countrymen, to battle disturbances that came from foreign lands as well as dissention from within.

The monarchy maintained a reasonable army that consisted of full time soldiers, but the majority of countrymen were ready to answer the call to arms in the name of king and country. Hence Masters of Angam were scattered throughout the land under whom civilians who engaged in different trade such as farming, pottery, also trained in the martial arts for mental and physical discipline as much as to be able to protect their country in a time of need. Out of these schools several managed to be outstanding and make the books of history.

After years of insurgency, the foreign invaders managed to divide and conquer the island through trickery. This spelled fatal to the Sri Lankan martial art world, as its new foreign rulers, the appointed governor of Ceylon Robert Brownrigg banned and outlawed the practice of Agam. Extreme measures were taken that included imprisonment, persecution, and an order to shoot in the knees of any known practitioner of the art.

During the rule of Sri Lanka by the British, in the year 1818 it has been recorded on official documentation that the practice of the art was banned as part of their initiatives to dampen the efforts of the nation’s patriots to free the country from foreign dominance.

In the outset of such times, many (gurus) masters of the art, along with its avid practitioners went underground, and employed various methods of concealing the art in plain sight.

Due to the rich cultural heritage of its island nation Angam has an aesthetic value, in terms of rituals symbolism, and the mystique. Like all Martial Arts it had unarmed combat techniques, grips and locks as well as mastery in weaponry.

There are many varied views out there regarding this ancient art…. But what really is angam? According to the grand masters Angam has 2 different subject areas that can stand alone individually as vast bodies of study. Although some of these areas have been lost with the decay of time, but most of it has been preserved by true masters who exist to this day with their perseverance and true patronage of the art.

There are 2 aspects to this martial art that makes it fully integrated in to the cultural belief system of its people. These areas are namely

1.       “Angampora”unarmed combat
2.       “Illangampora” armed combat


Angampora (Unarmed Combat)

Unarmed Combat which is commonly known as “angam pora” has its distinct meaning. “Angam” refers to the body while “Pora” refers to combat. So while angampora means the martial use of the limbs without the use of weapons, it is also divided in to three main categories.

  1. Pora Harammba (offensive and defensive techniques)
  2. Gata Harammba (grips and locks)
  3. Maru Kala (vital point attacks)


  1. Pora Harammba (offensive and defensive techniques)

This are covers the techniques relate to the offensive execution of different strikes and the defensive uses of a vast variety of blocks.  In angam the artful execution of foot work is essential in mastering its powerful techniques.

In theory the master prompts his students to train their students to cultivate a strong metal and physical aptitude that requires them to train their proverbial eagle eye, for watch fullness, the Peacocks hearing, listen to the movements of the enemy, the leap of the monkey, to stay agile and supple, the walk of the tiger that refers to the readiness and alertness in ones movements, the grapple of a bear, , the gait of the  that refers to strength needed for ground fighting and executing neutralizing techniques.

These techniques are taught in the form of movement sets that includes different combinations of strikes and block with the relevant foot work. Students are taught these sets of movements, from basic to more advanced varieties.


  1. Gata Harammba (grips and locks)

Grips and lock in angam is an area that clearly set the art part from many others in the world. Over the years this areas has proven to be one of the most deadly and practical techniques to be taught in the angam maduwa (dojo). It requires both strength and skill with the addition of extensive training in or to execute perfectly and effectively.

Different kinds of gripping and grappling techniques exists to counter different sorts of assaults. Those that are specifically used to neutralize an enemy who may strike with hand, foot, knife, sward… ect…

In reverse, the counters attack/releasing technique for a grip or a lock is also a separate area of study.

  1. Maru Kala (vital point attacks)

Attacking specific pressure points of the body of an opponent’s is a deadly technique in angam. This is known as “Maru kalawa”, can be called the “Art of Death”. But this at it not taught by the angam guru (master) to every student. Only the most trusted and experienced students are taught after extensive ceremonies offered to the god Rawana, and taking 7 oaths.

A knowledge of astrology is essential in order to use this art effectively. The art speaks of 107 major pressure point of the body, and 12 deadly ones.

There are many strikes that are executed with pressure points

  • Attacking while griping pressure points
  • Attacking points that cause  sudden death
  • Neutralizing a limb 
  • Attacking to induce blood vomiting
  • Attacking mathematically (according to astrology) to caise death time after a specific cause to death.
  • Striking to make enemy pass out·
  • Attacking to make ill for an extend period of time.
  • Striking to  induce the creation of bodily excrement

Likewise, this kind of technique is unique to angam.

Along with the art of striking pressure points, it also related to its medical application for curative results.

When training, master and students alike take care to be very cautious. And in the case of an injury during practice, the medical applications are used to treat the injury. Experts in the art can treat ailments by applying the right amount of pressure to the right pressure points.


Illangam pora Armed Combat


Ilnampora is another special part of Angam. This is known as the armed combat techniques of Angam. To be complete and competent Angam practitioner, the knowledge of Illngam is essential. Normally illangam is taught to a student after at least two years in to his training. Learning this requires a lot of discipline and dedication. Generally students are taught the techniques pertaining to all weapons; one can only “master” two or three weapons according to one’s physical prowess. Most of the weapons used for practicing are cleansed with specialized rituals. A student must be granted permission from the guru in order to learn particular weapon, and this is signified by performing a special ritual where the weapon is handed over to the student by the guru.

This art consists of 21 weapons. There are 4 main categories in this

  1. Curved weapons
  2. Circular weapons
  3. Long weapons
  4. Blunt weapons

Sword Techniques

The sword is the most superior and prominent weapon used in angam, and for centuries Angam practitioners have been famous all over the Asia for their sword play.

There are 110 varied techniques in terms of illangam sword play, and 28 types of swords. Here single sword, twin swords, and four sword sword play is prominent.  A well trained illangam swordsman has ability to battle with a large group of enemies.

The special relationship between a sword and it’s owner is signified by the age old ritual where the weapon is forged according to the horoscopic auspicious time of its owner, an also seasoned using oil and poisons  which are also made out of herbs that are selected according to the owners horoscope. A custom made sword of this kind is considered as guardian of its owner and will not let him/her be harmed by another weapon, nor can that sword it’s self be used  to harm it’s owner.

According to folk lore, expert sword fighters of medieval sri lanka were able to attack while somersaulting over enemy heads.

Belt Sword

A unique and most prominent weapon used in illangam is the welayudaya. It can be known as the belt swords. It is mainly used to attack a large number of surrounding enemies at once. It is called “wela yudhaya”, because it is used while swirling around one’s own body. It is made of steel blades that are about 1 inch in width and 6 feet in length.

It comes in single blade, tri blade, six blade variations. When it is played with both hands, with two weapons in each hand, no one can approach close enough to attack. But the user must be extremely careful as it will cause serious injury if not done correctly after careful practice. This has been used normally as a last resort, when a single fighter has to take on a large number of surrounding enemies at once.

Knuckle duster

 Knuckle duster is an important weapon. It is used single and twin movement techniques. This weapon is made using the horns of bulls. This mostly causes bone shattering, the strike may heal from the outside, but the venom of the bulls’ horn makes inflammation from the inside.

In illangam there are a lot of techniques For the Dagger, the Horn Dagger, the battle axe. Angam practitioners are honed in, any defensive techniques that are taught in order use when an enemy attacks using any of these weapons. The specialty of the battle axe is that once attacked and lodged in to an opponent’s flesh, it will be difficult to remove, and cause more damage if an attempted to remove.

Among the many style in Illangam, there are a vast variety of the double wielding of the heavy cudgel and the double wielded short cudgel styles.

In modern placement of Angampora

Sri Lankan Traditional Indigenous Martial Art Association (STIMA)  is born through the collaboration of gurus and student from various angam clans who’s singular goal is to sharing knowledge and the preservation of this art by researching, categorizing, organizing and storing knowledge in one place to be carried forward for future generations. Currently STIMA has reached international martial art arena with staring two international branches in Germany and Switzerland and STIMA also welcomes anyone who like to learn Angampora to start training with us. For more information regarding trainings and or demonstrations please contact us through our official web site

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