THE WORLDPOST
07/15/2014 01:58 pm ET Updated Jul 25, 2014

Breathtaking Photos Of An Old Sri Lankan Martial Art

Angampora, an old martial art form created according to legends more than 30,000 years ago in Sri Lanka, combines the use of indigenous weapons, hand-to-hand combat and meditation. The practice nearly disappeared when Britain took over the country in 1815 and banned it. But a few families passed it down through generations and the practice survived until the country became independent more than 100 years later.

The photo series below, made by photographer Reza Akram, shows Angampora fighters with real weapons at an old fortress in Sri Lanka's Uva province. The images have been staged to replicate the style of true Angampora fighting.

  • Demonstrating the fighting style of Illangam (fighting with weapons) using traditional Angampora weapons. © Reza Akram 2013
  • A traditional Angampora seated meditation pose. © Reza Akram 2013
  • Fighters demonstrating Illangam, a fighting style using traditional Angampora weapons. © Reza Akram 2013
  • The fighting style of Illangam (fighting with weapons) using traditional Angampora weapons. © Reza Akram 2013
  • A meditation pose using balance, which is an essential element in Angampora. © Reza Akram 2013
  • Fighters were trained to jump extraordinarily high to attack and defend themselves against enemies on horseback or on elephants. © Reza Akram 2013
  • Fighters demonstrate the fighting style of Angam, a form of hand-to-hand combat. © Reza Akram 2013
  • A fighter uses Gataputtu, a series of locks and grips to exact the maximum amount of pain on the enemy. © Reza Akram 2013
  • Fighters demonstrate Illangam, a fighting style using traditional Angampora weapons. © Reza Akram 2013
  • A portrait of Angampora Guru Ajantha Mahantharachchi in his traditional fighting attire. © Reza Akram 2013
  • A portrait of Angampora Guru Ajantha Mahantharachchi as he holds a Kastane, a traditional ceremonial single-edged sword made in Sri Lanka. © Reza Akram 2013
  • Authentic Angampora fighting spears displayed at the Ratnapura National Museum in Sri Lanka. © Reza Akram 2013
  • Angampora fighters conducting a pre-fighting pooja (act of worship). © Reza Akram 2013
  • Angampora fighters demonstrating Kadu Pali Satan, a traditional fighting style using swords and shields. © Reza Akram 2013
  • Angampora fighters demonstrating Kadu Pali Satan, a traditional fighting style using swords and shields. © Reza Akram 2013
  • Ath Haramba, a choreographed pattern of movements practiced either solo or in pairs. © Reza Akram 2013
  • A traditional Angampora meditation pose. © Reza Akram 2013

Clarification: The headline and language of this article have been adjusted to emphasize that Angampura's age of 30,000 is according to local legend.

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