These men are sparring, not with whips, but with swords -- flexible, sometimes multi-bladed, swords called urumi or chuttuval. According to Answers.com:

[The urumi is] a long sword made of flexible steel, sharp enough to cut into flesh, but flexible enough to be rolled into a tight coil. It was used and still can be found in Kerala, and is one of the weapons learned by practitioners of the martial art of Kalaripayattu. It was most popular in the North Malabar Coast of Kerala state, India, and is often mentioned in the ballads of the region.

The flexible sword is called Urumi in the Northern System of Kalaripayattu and Chuttuval in the Southern System. The word Chuttuval . . . is derived from the Tamil roots Chuttu . . . (coil/spin) and Vaal . . . (sword) and means Coiled Sword, a very apt description of the way the sword is maneuvered by the swordsman. Since the sword is flexible, and worn curled around the waist or bundled into the belt, it has to be straightened out, which is generated by turning it around the wielder's body mostly in a vertical plane. Urumi is still practiced in all kalaris.

An interesting side note: the word urumi comes from Malayalam, a Dravidic language with the distinction of being a palindrome.

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"it has to be straightened out"??? what crap?
It is rolled before the fight and is uncurled towards the opponent..it'll luk as if hes hurling it towards the opponent. Luks like answers.com has lot of carp about Indian stuff. I'm an Indian.. Lemme explain
In Malayalam, Kalari means "place, open space, threshing floor, battlefield."..payal means "to learn, speak;" payttuka, "to exercise in arms, practice," and finally payattu having the idiomatic meaning, "fencing exercise, a trick."
The training is mainly divided into four parts consisting of Meithari, Kolthari, Ankathari and Verumkai.
The above sword fight looks as if,only attacking is taught in Kalaripayattu. But infact, 90% of this martial art has defence. Totally different from Kung fu ,Karate and other stuff. The last one Verumkai is extremely dangerous,includes arm locks, grappling, and strikes to the Pressure Points (Marmam), the vital points of the body. The Gurukkal(Master) teaches knowledge of Marmam only to those students whom he trusts, restricting knowledge to the very few.
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