Tag: Pahlavandle

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In this post about Indian clubs, we are going to cover a bit of history, and touch on swinging styles and club design.
 
The term Indian clubs is actually a misnomer. Brits were stationed in India during the days of the East India company (1600-1874). During that time, they observed the locals swing wooden clubs as a form of exercise, and referred to those clubs as “Indian clubs”. Had they been stationed somewhere else, the clubs would be called something else!
 

Indian clubs design around the world

In India, depending on what region you are located, clubs have their own names and shapes, from Gada, Mugdal, Jori, Karelakattai etc…
In Iran, the typically conical shaped clubs are called Meel.  In Japan, the Chi Ishi is  used to strengthen forearms and striking power for Martial arts. Native American Indian  have war clubs, and so do most islander nations. In the West of course, the mace was used through history to smash through heavy armors. As you can guess, designs of these clubs vary greatly.
 
The origin of club swinging as strength training is heavily contested. The official story is that the clubs crossed over from Persia into India. Read our short history of clubs here.
 

The club as a symbol of power

Most Hindu deities, like Hanuman the god of strength, are depicted with a Gada in paintings and temple carvings. The Gada goes 4000 years back, but to our Western knowledge, no written documentation about training with clubs goes so far back.
In the west, scepters and the Polish bulavas were also used by authority figures.
 

The club as a training form

The traditional indigenous clubs were built to develop full body strength, and the ability to use strength in a multiple planes of motion, along with awareness, agility, coordination and mindfulness. Stuff that was useful to warriors.
 
The Brits mostly became interested in club swinging as a way of maintaining good health, and destroying Indian culture heritage in typical colonial fashion (Reference: Conor Heffernan). They wanted to implemented club swinging on a truly large scale, and this is where the design had to change. T keep things simple, in the West we ended up with 2 main designs: tear drop clubs and bottle shaped clubs.

The original fitness centers

In the Zurkaneh (Persian “House of Strength”) and the Akhara (Hindu wrestling gymnasium), a whole collection of clubs is at the disposition of the members, much like the dumbbell racks of a commercial fitness center today. Limited equipment works fine in that sort of set up.
 

The British influence

To be able to train large numbers of people at the same time, the Brits changed the Indian clubs design to the smaller version we know today, the British style Indian club.
For reference, in the 1850’s, the military issued
“regulation clubs” weighed 2kg a piece. The Indian club was now easy to mass produce, cheap, highly transportable and every person in a group of 100 or more people, could have his own set. In effect, the Brits appropriated the Indian clubs as their own.

New possibilities

This light Indian clubs design allowed the practitioner to do figures and patterns that were simply impossible to perform with the traditional and heavier clubs. Most of the heavy club swinging is often times very limited in exercise choice. Design plays a large role into what you can or cannot do with the club.
The only time one can talk of wrong design is if the weight distribution is off, resulting in a poor swing, or maybe if the knob is too bulky, getting in the way of the wrist for the type of swing your are doing.

Is there a correct style of club swinging?

Which brings us to the difference in club swinging styles that are commonly seen today, and the arguing that often ensues between traditionalists and adopters of modern techniques.
 

It’s all about context!

There is no real right or wrong way to swing Indian clubs. There is not a single right way to stand, there is not a single right way to hold the club, there is not a single proper name for each exercise.

The truth is, if you understand the key concepts of Indian clubs, you can freestyle much from there.
Traditions have rigid ideas about how to swing Indian clubs, from technique to stance to which exercise to perform and so on. British style club swinging in the military stance is a perfect example. The reason behind the military stance are societal and related to fighting on horseback. Maybe we’ll cover that in a future article.
 
Remember that somewhere along history, someone is bound to have made a mistake or two transmitting information to the next generation. 
That is why you should use your common sense, intuition, awareness and creativity, instead of blindly following a text book.
 

Indian clubs is an art, not a science  

Even science updates its former beliefs and discoveries over time.
We can learn from the context of traditional club swinging, yet it does not mean we have to follow it 100%.
 
For example, in the Zurkaneh, the athletes swing meel in a confined environment, and to a highly regulated schedule. If you check out videos, most often you will see back circles as the movement most usually trained.
The Indian wrestlers swing joris, which are very long clubs, and can mostly be swung behind the back.

Karlakattai

In contrast, the Tamil version of club swinging, Karla Kattai, seems to have a more flexible approach. They swing with 1 club, sometimes with both hand on the club, sometimes single handed, and of course they swing with 2 clubs as well. Our Pahlavandle™ XL is designed after one of the clubs they use in that system.
 
Not only that, but the variety of the swings is broader than other heavy club swinging, swinging in different planes of motion, and including quite a bit of footwork and combinations.
This is pretty much what we love doing at Heroic Sport and you will find in our tutorials!
 
So get inspired by other schools, get swinging, it’s all good!

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Image source: International Karlakattai Sports Federation

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Heavy Indian clubs have been used to build the powerful physiques of Kushti wrestlers. Until now, buying truly heavy Indian clubs has been a bit of a logistics challenge…

Wooden and metal clubs above 10kg are a problem to ship due to size and weight restrictions. Not only that, but the buyer ends up paying a large shipping bill, or the manufacturer restricts shipping only to the country of manufacture.

Adjustable heavy Indian club

This is where our Pahlavandle™ XL is the answer to many of those problems. We love thinking outside the box. Back in early 2018 I shared thoughts with Ron about a heavy club. Ron then thought of solutions for a while until he came up with a prototype. After that, it’s about testing and improving the designs until we are satisfied. That’s the beauty of Heroic Sport, we have the skills in the house! 

The construction

The XL consists of 2 wooden parts (the handle and end cap) and a tube. Empty, it weighs 2kg.
The whole thing is held in place with a threaded rod. Not only can you adjust the weight with different fillers up to 20kg, you can also customize the length by cutting the tube shorter or buying a longer one at your local hardware shop!

The best thing about the XL is the slender body and the feel of wood. Steel is practical, but the cold touch and weight distribution is not something we are fan of. Wood feels nicer, but a wooden club of 20kg is quite bulky. The Pahlavandle™ falls in between.

Still bigger and heavier…

And if this is still too light for you, we have made a couple of prototypes of an XXL model. After a bit of time, reworking the design of the shoulder and handle, we hit something we are truly happy about!

What kind of club is that Pahlavandle™XL anyway?

The design of the handle and shape of the club comes from the Tamil tradition of club swinging, Karlakattai.
The fact that you can swing the Pahlavandle™XL single handed or with both hands makes it very versatile, and opens up more movements that a traditional Persian meel. 

The handle has a reverse taper, and no end knob. This engages the grip like no other club on the market. If you’re worrying about the club flying out of your grip, no need. This would be more likely to happen with a very light club spinning fast, or if the handle was slippery. After all most traditional gadas, do not have an end knob. The knob is more relevant to British style clubs, rhythmic gymnastics and visual performances with light clubs, where the knob is essential to some of the figures. Apart from battlefield weapons, we are yet to find a hammer or other tools with a pommel as a way to provide better grip.

We do not use epoxy or any glossy finish on our wooden clubs, but a special type of wax and oils that provides good, non slippery and natural feel.

Do you want one?

Free shipping to your door, check it out in our shop!

 Questions about Indian clubs or this article?

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So you’re willing to try Indian clubs but you are not sure what type and weight is best suited for you. This guide is for you!

Indian clubs, steel clubs, clubbells, Persian meel, Indian Jori and Tamil Karlakattai. All these Most of these clubs have a set length and weight. There are many types of clubs out there, and nobody likes to fork some money out to find out they bought something not relevant to their needs… Clubs can be too short, too long or too heavy. Read on and become wise about choosing what you need.

Traditional clubs

In the West, what we call “Indian clubs” are made of wood and typically weigh from 500g to 2kg. These clubs were inspired from the large Indian Joris, and designed for British style club swinging.

British style Indian clubs

Indian clubs for ladies
Indian clubs exercises

Because of their light weight, a wide variety of figures can be executed. These clubs are a fine way to start with club swinging! 
The main purpose of these clubs is skill practice, coordination, mindfulness and mobility. Traditionally, ladies start with 500-750g, and men with 1kg.

A club creates a long lever arm which increases the forces generated with each swing. It always takes people back how such a light weight can be so difficult to handle…

Tommy Kono was a famous weightlifter in the 50s and 60s with multiple world records. His advice was to use light Indian clubs and concentrate on perfectly smooth swings. 

Unless you are really well trained and with a good body awareness, you won’t really need to go much heavier. Remember you are not lifting the clubs like a dumbbell!

Shape

Indian clubs can be bottle shaped or tear drop shaped.

For example, the Perrier bottle was designed after Indian clubs. Tear drop clubs look like mini war maces, with all the weight towards the end of the shaft. This design spins aggressively and fast due to the weight distribution. Bottle shaped clubs tend to be more forgiving. 

Length

Next is the length of the clubs. For the classical exercises, it is important that the clubs are neither too short or too long.

Short clubs have a poor weight distribution which makes then clumsy to handle. It is really hard for a beginner to feel the swing, and as a result, they end up moving the clubs around the body without any flow.
If the clubs are too long, they might end up hitting each other and get in the way in some of the exercises.

When swinging with 2 Indian clubs, the best length is roughly from your armpit to wrist. For most people, that is a club from 45-55cm length.

Persian Meel and Indian Jori

Indian jori Britishmuseum.org Museum number As.318
British Museum number As.318

The accepted history, is that clubs (“Meel”) were used as training form for warriors and wrestlers  in Persia, and that at some period they crossed over into India (“Jori” or “Mugdar”) and Pakistan (“Mungli”). These clubs are similar in shape, yet they have their own local flavor.

As the Brits were stationed in Indian and not Iran, they gave the name to the clubs. However, the Joris were large and heavy, from 4kg to more than 20kg per club. Typically, large clubs are only swung behind the shoulders in alternate fashion. The competition meel are around 1 meter in length, and Joris can be over 1m20! We are talking about very specific clubs with limited use for most people. 

Why did the Brits change the design?

One of the reason the Brits went away from the original club design is that they weren’t handy to transport and mass produce for the army and other institutions. 

If you’re going to swing Persian meel, ladies can start with 2kg per club and men with 3kg. Your first goal before adding weight should be to perform 100 unbroken reps of alternating back circles (also called shield casts).

Tamil Karlakattai

tamil karlakattai club
www.Karlakattai.com

In Southern India, the karlakattai has been used to train soldiers, bowmen and even farmers. In contrast to the meel and jori which are always swung in pairs, the karlakattai is also swung as a single club, sometimes with 2 hands on the club. Traditionally, there are 64 types of swings, including footwork, making this system of heavy club training a favorite of ours. 
Our Pahlavandle XL is the answer to the Karlakattai. You can adjust both length and weight.

Start light and build up progressively to a heavier club.

Steel clubs

steel clubs from 9T9fitness.com
steel clubs from 9T9fitness.com

Clubbells, or the original clubs made of steel, made their apparition in the the early 2000s. Copies followed soon after, some good, many bad. The problem some  steel club is poor weight distribution and swing mechanics, and a knob that can be so big, it gets in the way of your wrist.

Clubbells are mostly swung with 2 hands on the shaft, and the emphasis is on heavy club swinging, using the whole body.  

Steel clubs can be intimidating for beginners, as one can expect to knock knees or heads in the learning stages.
With weight ranging from 2kg to 20kg, expect a lot of variation in how well they swing due to the different sizes and weight distribution.

Why the Pahlavandle™ is best!

indian clubs shoulder mobility crossfit kettlebells weightlifting clubbellsWith one set of handles and a few plastic bottles, you get a whole range of clubs up to 3kg. The Pahlavandle allows you to adjust the weight accordingly to the exercises you are doing, and figure what is right for you!
Length and weight is easy to adjust by simply changing bottle size and filler.

Due to the shape and design, the Pahlavandle™ swings as beautifully as a perfectly balanced wooden club!

Being soft, you won’t injure yourself should you hit yourself. This is why we have kids and older people taking up Indian clubs training!

You can also extend the handle to create a short mace or a substitute for Persian meel.

And since you can take them in your carry on, and find soda/ sparkling water bottles around the world, you won’t have to stop swinging during your next escapade!

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Indian clubs are for everyone, from kids to office workers to elite athletes.

Training with Indian clubs is more like a form of skill practice, and therefore the intensity of training can be relatively low, unless you decide otherwise. Low intensity and focus on skills and movement is what make club swinging a sort of meditation in motion, and makes it very helpful for recovery from heavy strength training.

It’s easy to get started too.

Right from the start!

Our Pahlavandle™ is adjustable from 200 grams to 3kg, so you are sure to find your right starting weight, and also have a chance to increase the weight as you get more skilled and stronger.

Indian clubs, gymnastics, boxing, fencing equipment on British Navy shipFor reference, British soldiers in the 1800s swung 2kg regulation clubs. In competitions, clubs weighed 1,5kg. When starting off, men were advised to use 1kg and women 500 grams.

It’s also easy to get started with club swinging. Download our video tutorials, and swing along.

Weightlifters swing them!

Here’s what weightlifting legend Tommy Kono has to say about Indian clubs in his book “Championship Weightlifting”:

“Although the weight of the Indian Clubs may be only a pound or two, it isn’t so much the weight, but smoothness of the swing and the rhythm that increases the mobility of the shoulders, elbows and wrists. A few minutes spent in working with the Indian Clubs will more than pay off in great dividends as a recovery exercise. I bring your attention to this type of training because I have benefited from them and feel there is a need to promote flexibility in the shoulders without taxing them.”

For the record, Tamio “Tommy” Kono (born June 27, 1930) was a U.S. weightlifter in the 1950s and 1960s. Kono is the only Olympic weightlifter in history to have set world records in four different weight classes. He also won the  bodybuilding Mr Universe title 4 times.

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Picture source:

photobucket.com/gallery/user/GrantRCanada/media/bWVkaWFJZDozNTUyNDU2NQ