Angampora Stima : In the Business of Tradition
Updated: Mar 26, 2022
Angampora is a part of the country's heritage. In our comeback interview we came across a remarkable personality Piumal Edirisnghe who despite being a professional software engineer has embarked on a another career fueled with passion to keep the indigenous martial art of Sri Lanka alive.
1. Tell us about the Journey. How did it start ?
The journey started with the blessings from my grandfather. He was referred to as “dosthora” not “dosthara” which is more commonly used for doctors now a days. Back in the day doctors were referred to as “dosthora” who helped cure various illnesses using local medical treatments. Of course, my grandfather was an ayurvedic doctor in fact one of the first few to take ayurvedic medication international, but he was also an expert in this indigenous martial art called angampora. I started learning from him however as years passed by, I was unable to learn everything from him due to the age gap, him being much elder to me. But this didn’t stop my journey I went to other mentors to learn this art. After a while I realized although they had so much of knowledge their thinking patterns were much outdated for this evolving world and therefore to keep this art alive and to match the modern world, I decided to branch out and start Angampora Stima.
2. Why Angampora Stima ? What's your mission ?
Angampora is the famous name to it. But the correct term to the art is Angam, under the Angam topic there are six main arts. Angampora - Elamgampora is drawn towards the fighting side, Angampora using hands and legs, Elamgampora using weapons and tools.
Our main mission is to show the world Angampora’s practical side, some Angampora schools still teach the art the old fashion way with various protocols but my clients are more trend driven and is interested in its practical aspects, I wanted to get away from the old fashion traditions and to implement and show newer generations the practical aspects to the art for which interests them.
3. Why was it practiced in secrecy ?
In 1818 all physical brawl driven sports were forbidden to practice. They would give three warnings if seen practicing these arts; 1st warning, 2nd they would shoot below your knees, 3rd they would kill you. “Angampora madu” were schools back then which taught this art, was later fired down and demolished and therefore Angampora which used to be an open art soon became a secret. Although in total secrecy the art will be taught from father to son.
The history behind it being, due to our native’s lack of man power a distant drum will be played alerting the villagers/ farmers to come and unite with the army to defend the motherland
4. Angampora; Where is it as a brand internationally ?
Its not a well registered brand of martial arts yet however my mission is to make it one. Angampora martial arts was used for war, either kill or do maximum damage to your opponent so making it a sport will be difficult but I am trying to get there. This is our heritage and my aim to keep this legacy going.
5. Where is it as a brand compared to other styles such as Karate / Taekwondo/ MMA (locally)
Honestly, I see no competition, it’s a niche market and its possible it has no competition what so ever due to the fact; a person learning karate will hardly learn Angampora and vice versa. Because they are two different arts. Angampora will also have no competition with MMA schools due to MMA being more driven to fighting and Angampora being more of a martial art.
An MMA fighter would with someone else as they are trained to do and a person doing martial arts will fight with himself its truly a big philosophy. Therefore, I see no competition between the two.
6. What are the next steps to integrate Angampora Stima further?
We have a strong Youtube channel, we have noticed that the young crowd is well invested in social media so we target them through social media platforms specially Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. So, we manage these platforms efficiently for they bring majority of our clients to us, even international clients.
7. What’s the business structure/ fees ?
Its free for the locals due to it being theirs' and I am hoping for them to take this art forward into generations to come. I do not charge money to teach any locals.
Foreigner’s however are charged hourly due to the sole reason that the Angampora martial art may lose its respect or value if given free. They do not mind this either since they get a very high value for the payments they make.
8. How will this help a stressful mind like an entrepreneur’s ?
Being a software engineer I know the stress of other professionals, however depending on the time I get to come home from the ongoing project’s I do some training and regardless the whole world being on fire my state of mind will be stress free after my training… it’s also like a meditation due to the training steps in my head, step by step, my mind will be refreshed. Most of my clients are professionals like engineers, doctors, accountants and briefly they don’t know what stress is due to them being in a stress-free mind set resulting from Angampora.
9. You are preserving something of national heritage. Do you think the government should provide you support in any form ?
I’ll be honest with you, I do not like to get support from the government because if I do get help from them I’ll fall under their agendas. Stima is a highly independent and do not work under other peoples agendas we do what we want when ever we want to do it. I believe Stima can go fully independent.
10. What are the requirements for an “ideal” student? ...religion, nationality perhaps?
It was required earlier however it’s hard to expect it now if we tend to move forwards, if we tend to brand Angampora as a Sri Lankan martial art which is a goal of Stima especially when taking it international.
I am facing lots of conflicts regarding Angampora due to me “opening up” Angampora. If Kungfu can be open why not Angampora. I say if these arts aren’t open how can we move forward.