Silambam is a popular type of fencing in Tamil Nadu. Fencing was endorsed very well in the state during the reign of the Pandya kings. The Silamabam weapons were sold to foreign merchants during the 2nd century A.D. Four kinds of staves are made use of in Silambam. Participants dress up in their traditional colorful langots, sleeveless vests, turbans, canvas shoes, and a chest guard for protection. The first one creates a resonant, hissing sound; the second one has illuminated cloth balls placed at one of the ends. Not surprisingly, this staff has been named as called `torch Silambam`. Another staff that can be used in this game is shorter in length but is compensated with more power. Lastly, there is a non - elastic one that makes a smashing noise.
Silambam begins with salutations to God, the opponent, spectators and teachers of the players. Players have to try and touch each other`s body making use of the staff. The participant with more number of touches loses the contest. To differentiate the marks on a participant`s body, the ends of the staves are encrusted with a sticky powder, which makes a prominent mark when it comes in contact with a person`s body. In order to be successful in Silambam, players need to posses rapid foot movements and good control over your body actions. While it is permissible to use both hands to make maximum utilization of the staff, impetus is actually gained by proper use of the head, shoulder, hip and leg level. Development of an impulse defense action is of utmost importance.
While one mark normally symbolizes a point, a mark made above the waist accounts for two. Duration of the game is decided prior to the start (approx 6 to 10 minutes) but the game can end before this stipulated period in case any of the players lose their staff during the bout. Silambam is conducted on an even and hard playing area. However, slippery areas are always avoided. The play field is globular having a radius of 20-25 ft. The bout takes place in 4 rounds. One-minute break is granted at the end of rounds one and three first rounds and three minutes at the end of the second.