Meet Meenakshi Raghavan 73-year-old grandmother From Kerala, India has become a social media star after appearing in a video in which she demonstrated her martial arts prowess.Now Meenakshi Amma is passing on her skills to a younger generation, including increasing numbers of girls who are learning how to defend themselves.
Meenakshi Raghavan is the oldest female practitioner of Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art form that originated in southwest Kerala and despite being 73, there is nothing that is going to stop her from pursuing her passion. She is respectfully addressed as Meenakshi Gurukkal or Meenakshi Amma by her students who are mastering this dance-like form of self-defense under her guidance.
How She started this
Meenakshi Amma was taken to the kalari (arena) by her father in order to make her dance moves more flexible. It was only after a certain time that she was trained in the Kalaripayattu by her Guru, Mr. VP Raghavan Gurukkal.
Meenakshi Amma studied till the 10th grade in a school in her hometown Vatakara, and went on to study a course on stitching, even as her legs kept dancing. She later married Raghavan Gurukkal, her guru and founder of the same Kalari, at the age of 17. She feels the need to clarify that it wasn’t a love marriage — as if to preserve the sanctity of the student-teacher relationship. Because of this union and because of her own father’s observation that she was naturally gifted, she was able to stay in touch with the art of Kalari, in spite of it being frowned upon as a recreational choice for girls, in the olden days.
She has around 150 students who are receiving training at her school Kadathanadan Kalari Sangam in Vatakara locality, falling under Kozhikode in the state of Kerala. She had no idea that the doors of the same institute will change her life forever when she entered through them as a seven-year-old with her father.