top of page
background.jpg
  • Writer's pictureJosh

The Purpose and Use of Indian Clubs


Indian club swinging

Necessary Strength


It's often a little known fact that modern barbell strength training is a relatively recent invention. Before this ancient cultures the world over trained for strength primarily in the ways in which the strength would be needed in real life. The primary strength need of concern was nearly always in war and combat, the most intense real world scenario any man or woman was likely to find themselves in.


For this reason the most common methods of building strength were activities like wrestling, rock throwing, shield wielding and club swinging. The club in particular seems to have been a favorite among many cultures due to the fact that the movements were so versatile.


Smaller clubs would build the strength, stamina, mobility and skill to wield lighter weapons such as swords, sticks and clubs while also preparing the body for the daily use of hand held tools. While larger clubs and maces would build larger, sturdy frames capable of manipulating heavy weapons of war with ease.


In fact, skilled use of heavy clubs and maces was often seen as the pinnacle of proof that someone had reached heroic levels of strength and might. Evidence for this is seen in the most popular cultural strength myths, where famously strong characters would brandish massive clubs with devastating consequences for their enemies. Character like the Greek Herakles (Hercules) and the Indian Hanuman are classic examples of this archetype.


Typs of Clubs and their Primary Uses


Types of Indian clubs, heavy clubs and maces

Below is a list of the primary types of clubs and what they are used for as well as some variations and sub-types of each.


Small Clubs (Indian Clubs)

What is primarily thought of as Indian clubs today are small, single handed clubs. Most popularly used today for their amazing ability to rehab shoulders and to quickly create functional shoulder mobility. These are commonly used as upper body and shoulder warm ups or for stand alone mobility routines. They also make great foundation training for later advancing into heavy club training.


These clubs are usually between 1 and 3 lbs and are shaped like bowling pins. There are many exercises one can perform with them but the main use is for a variety of swinging motions such as the side cast and mill. Although they are light enough that almost any stick fighting or small sword fighting movements can be used with them as well.


Beginners should start with only 1 or 2 pounds and spend time mindfully developing the skills associated before moving up in weight.


Types of Indian clubs


Varieties of Small Clubs

  1. Plastic clubs- Plastic clubs are made of impact resistant plastic making them very durable. This is great for beginners because they are less likely to get damaged if they slip from your grip during the learning phase. They also come in standard sizes and weights, making it easy to progress without issue. You can find these at Ultimate body Press or Amazon.

  2. Wooden clubs- These are the traditional form of clubs and have a smooth, sanded finish. I personally really enjoy the feel and look of these clubs but they are more expensive and the weight of each tends to be unique and not standardized at all. I wouldn't recommend them for a beginner but are a great idea for anyone looking to make this a life long practice. These can be found on amazon or online specialty shops such as etsy.com.

  3. Rubber coated- These clubs are usually made of plastic or steel and come with an outer coating of rubber in order to blunt impact. This is a little more expensive than plastic clubs but it's nice if you happen to accidentally club yourself during a swing, which in all honestly almost everyone does at least a few times in the beginning. These can be found on amazon.

Heavy Clubs

Heavy clubs often, but not always, are longer than small clubs and always come in higher weights. These clubs are great for strength training the upper body as well as teaching the entire body to move together in order to facilitate maximum upper body power and functionality.


These clubs range from 5lbs all the way up to 50lbs and more. They are often used as a stand alone upper body workout or shoulder workout as well as a great form of strength endurance training. Common exercises include some lifts and a number of swings such as the single handed shield cast or the two handed gamma cast.


Beginners should start with Indian clubs before trying heavy clubs. Once moving into heavy clubs it's best to start with 10-15lbs for men and 5-10lbs for women.


Types of Heavy clubs


Varieties of Heavy Clubs

  1. Steel clubs- This is the modern version of the heavy club. They are relatively cheap, sturdy, accessible and standardized to specific weights and sizes. This is what I would recommend for anyone first getting involved in heavy club swinging. It's hard to beat the convenience of the steel club. These can be found on amazon.com.

  2. Indian Mudgar- This is a large wooden club that is usually a little longer than steel clubs. Due to the fact its made of wood, it's circumference is large than that of steel clubs, giving it a very different feel during swinging. Overall is great, well rounded club but isn't as easy to find as steel clubs and is usually more expensive. These can be found on Shop Indian mudgar & joris - BODY MIND FITNESS – CLUBS & MEELS (bodymind-fit.com) and often on etsy.com.

  3. Indian Jori and Persian Meel- These are very long wooden clubs that are thicker at the ends. Both are usually quite heavy and are a favorite training tool of wrestlers due to the fact swinging them mimics throwing an opponent. These are not as versatile as steel clubs and are more expensive but I do love using these tools. They have a great feel and comfortable to use despite the size. These can be found on Shop Persian Meels - BODY MIND FITNESS – CLUBS & MEELS (bodymind-fit.com) and often on etsy.com.


Maces

Maces are usually very heavy like heavy clubs, but are shaped differently, more like a stick with a large weight on one end. Because of the top heavy design and thin handle they have a very different feel from clubs. The handle is usually much longer making control of the tool more difficult.


Maces are usually used for a heavier form of strength training and are known for building some seriously functional core strength. Because of their weight they noticeably work the entire body during swing though it's most notable in the core, shoulders and back. The first and primary exercises for maces are 10-2's and mace 360's.


Beginners should start with small clubs and heavy clubs before moving onto mace training. Once involved in mace training begin with 10-15lbs, though people who already have well developed strength will likely quickly move to 20lbs after getting the form down on the lighter weight. Be aware that the benefits of doing heavy mace work properly are amazing but the cost of performing these exercises poorly is devastating, don't jump ahead even if you think you have the strength to do so.


Types of maces

Varieties of Maces

  1. Steel mace- Just like the steel club these maces are easy to find, durable, and set to standard weights. They have a good feel and are great training implements for beginner and advanced alike. I would suggest most people use these and start with a set of two or three maces between 10 -25lbs. Though I wouldn't though the heavier mace until the skill is built on smaller maces. These can be found on amazon.com.

  2. Indian gada- Often all of wood or ornate metal, these maces are usually very long, even more so than standard steel maces. These can also be made in a DIY style by using a wooden handle with a cast concrete weight at the end. Due to their length and weight these are usually wielded with two hands, though some advanced practitioners will dual wield one in each hand. These can be found on GADA/MACE – Adjustable 6 to 9kg - BODY MIND FITNESS – CLUBS & MEELS (bodymind-fit.com) and often on etsy.com.

  3. Plate loaded maces- These are adjustable maces usually made of a long steel handle. On the far end of the handle, barbell plates can be added to increase weight as much as needed. These are great all in one options for progressing steadily. Though they are more expensive than standard steel maces the money is made up quickly from the fact you only need one mace instead of a set. This is a great option for anyone interested in mace training. These can be found at ADEX Clubs & Maces – Adex Clubs & Maces.


Club training is a great way to develop functional strength and mobility and keep your body moving freely well into old age. I find this type of training makes me feel a lot better than barbell or dumbell training ever did. Alongside kettlebell training and calisthenics it's by far my preferred method of strength development. I hope you found this content helpful and I wish you the best of luck on your fitness journey.


If you'd like to read more about similar types of training check these other blog articles


bottom of page