National Geographic Awards

 Best of February 2013


Kalaripayattu fighters seem to take flight as they engage in fierce swordplay during a show in Kerala, India. The South Indian martial art is thought to be among the oldest in the world, tracing its roots back 3,000 years.

Although no longer used in mortal combat, kalaripayattu is still practiced by devotees and serves as inspiration for modern dance and fitness choreographers. (Related: “Martial Artists’ Moves Revealed in ‘Fight Science’ Lab.”)

Comments from National Geographic: “Why We Love It”

“Obviously this is the kind of shot one can only wait but never plan for. The shadow on the ground adds more spice to the already fierce fight. The photographer captured the beauty and tension of a perfect moment, but left the rest of the story to our imagination.”—Echo Xie, photo intern

“The subdued color palette and low light makes these fighters appear effortless as they defy gravity and fly.”—Monica Corcoran, senior photo editor

Published March 1, 2012

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Daily Dozen for August 29, 2012



Somewhere in Uttar Pradesh early morning.

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Daily Dozen for July 19, 2011


After the show cowboys and cowgirls take some time off to chat about the event.


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