The training pattern of kalarippayat consists of various stages which happen in the following order: Meipayat, Kolthari, Ankathari, Verum kai. Each of the four stages includes various different subdivisions and practices.
Meipayat constitutes the initial training regime of Kalarippayat. It is also known as Mei Irakkam. The term mei means body and payattu means training or practice. Meipayat is considered to be the significant training part of the entire structure of the training. It combines unique body movements based on the integrity of the spine and the development of grip and postures of the body. The vigorous exercise regime helps the participant in developing higher consciousness about himself and leads him to achieve higher levels in the practice. This physical practice is very essential for the next stages of the training. Various stances and poses included in Meipayat bear some resemblance with the postures of the wild animals such as lion, cat, boar, snake, cock etc. Different moves practiced during this stage are derived from various combinations of body movements.
Ankathari is the major stage in the training sequence, as the heavy metal weapons are used for training. The term ankam means combat or war. The real military or warfare training is chiefly based on this stage. The metal weapons used in this stage is the same weapon used in the war field. This is considered as the longest and important training stage among four. This stage demands strength agility and precision in rendering the practice and delivering the combat. The principle weapons used in this are. Vaal (Sword), Paricha (Shield), Kuntham (Spear), Kattaram (Dagger), Urumi (Flexible sword).
Verum kai prayogam is the fourth stage of training, which demands bare hand fighting techiniques. In the tradition of kalarippayat, this technique is practiced along with the knowledge of Marma Saariram. Marma sareeram is the knowledge about the vital points of the body. It is considered as, there are 108/109 vital points in the body, where the life energy is concentrating. Injuring this vital area will defeat the opponent. This system of practice is the integral part of the fourth stage of Kalarippayat training.