From the March-April 2008 issue of Desi Life:
Gitanjali Kolanad: A Force of Nature
Some scholars estimate that Kalari (also written as Kalari Payatte or Kalarippayattu) dates to 12th-century India. According to one legend, Kalari is the world’s first martial art.
Gita Kolanad is 54, but she looks, and moves as though she were at least a decade younger. Born in Kerala, she moved to Winnipeg at age 6. She used to do yoga, but says she found it boring and took up Kalari in her 30s to keep in shape for dance.
“Kalari is a real holistic system. It’s not just the martial art, but the healing aspect and the focus aspect,” Kolanad says. “When you get into the weapons, it’s a constant lesson in focus. When you lose your focus, you immediately get hit. I know that yoga has this aspect of meditation, but you don’t get any feedback on whether you’re doing your meditation right. Here you’re constantly getting feedback,” Kolanad says. “That’s why I love Kalari and I think it’s poised to be bigger than it is right now.”
At the highest stages of Kalari practice, it is said “the body becomes all eyes.” Masters become totally aware of everything around them. Kolanad doubts she will get to that point, but says that’s not a concern: “I enjoy every aspect of it.”