07 June 2019 00:00

Kerala’s Iron Lady

Kerala’s Iron Lady

At her late 70s, she easily manages a sword. More than 70 years Meenakshi Gurukkal (Amma) practices Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art that originated in Kerala State, India. The name of this martial art is translated as ‘a fight in a sacred place’. Therefore, Meenakshi Gurukkal is called only as Kerala’s Iron Lady.

In India, she is the oldest expert of Kalaripayattu and one of the best instructors of the martial art for adults and children. Meenakshi does Kalaripayattu since her childhood, being sure that it is the secret of her longevity and good physical condition. The woman is as strong and artful as her younger contestants.

As per Meenakshi, she was taken to Kalaripayattu School by her father, at the age of 7. She practiced the martial arts for 10 years, and then got married to … her Kalaripayattu instructor. Together they opened their own school, and since 1949, Indians of any caste can come to study there.
Today, the school is attended by children with parents, and working women. By the way, almost half of students in Meenakshi Gurukkal’s school are girls or young ladies.

The school has no age restrictions for students, and studying there is free. Meenakshi has 60 fight performances per year and every time she fights as the best fighter, even young men fail to defeat the Kerala’s Iron Lady in any of the exercises. By the way, Meenakshi Gurukkal always performs in sari. Totally, during 7 decades, she trained 10 thousand students, including her children and grandchildren.

Kalaripayattu is the oldest existing martial art originated in India about 2,000 years ago.

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