Her opponent is half her age but Meenakshi Gurukkal doesn’t bat an eyelid.
In a video that has been viewed over a million times, the martial arts instructor fends off an attack from a young male fighter and pushes him to the edges of the ring.
Meenakshi proves age is no barrier to strength. She’s in her 70’s and is one of the oldest trainers of the ancient Indian martial art of Kalaripayattu.
The practice uses sticks, swords, maces, shields and daggers, and while most people fight in pants, Meenakshi prefers her sari.
She’s been learning the art for the past 66 years after her father enrolled her in class as a child. After marrying as a teenager, she and her husband set up a Kalaripayattu school where she has been an instructor ever since.
Daily practice is the secret behind her enduring energy she tells Deccan Chronicle, and adds, “With God’s grace, I am still active and train students at my school”.
When Meenakshi first started out, she was one of very few women in her class, now many of her students are girls and she muses that "it should be made mandatory for women to learn Kalari. It is good to learn some kind of martial art."
She charges no fee to her students and holds classes between June and September.
Dating back more than 2,000 years, Kalaripayattu is one of the oldest known forms of fighting. The co-ordination of mind and body is at its core and its teachings are intertwined with that of traditional medicine and massage.