SILAMBAM: Silam meaning "hill", and bam being a shortcut for "bamboo" (a marhat word), silambam therefore translates as "the bamboo from the hill", as the first sticks were made out of a kind of filled, yellow bamboo.
NILLAIKALAKKI: means "breaking the posture", is the name of that school, which distinguishes itself by its intricated, well structured organization of techniques. Seven years of daily committed practice are (officially) necessary just to learn the school, then you can start practicing, a bit like learning a music instrument. This makes this teaching outstanding, as compared to other silambam schools that may be learned in as little as a few months.
Silambam has to be clearly distinguished from Kalari Payattu, that is also to be found in south India.
Silambam is about stick fighting, or rather staff fighting, as a 1.68 meter long stick is being used. It is hold at one of its end, right hand close to the butt, left hand about 40 centimeters away. This precise position allows a wealth of possibilities of stick-and-body movements, enabling tricky hits or blockings. Movement is also very important, and beginners are taught so-called spinning techniques, and patterns, without stopping the motion of the stick. Later on, a lot of footwork is incorporated to have the practitioner also moving around, in a coherent conjunction with stick movement. The understatement is to be able to tackle with group fighting, and many techniques could be seen as a bit too luxuary for a single oponant duel.