What are the differences between Persian meels and Indian clubs? What is a karlakattai, a mudgar, mugdar or jori? Aren’t Indian clubs just Indian clubs?
We get this question every so often that we decided to make a blog post to save time next we get a mail!
The Persian meel
Persian meel (or the anglicized spelling “meels”) are a type of exercise club with a distinct and pronounced conic shape. This places the weight of the club towards the end of it, creating high torque forces when swung.
Club swinging is one of the disciplines practiced in the Zurkhaneh, known as the “House of strength” which basically is the original gym going back centuries, where men came to lift weights and wrestle.
Persian meels are used in pairs, and since they are swung single handed, they have a short handle, ending with a small button pommel. Some practitioners use the so called “pinky grip” where the little finger is held under the pommel.
The main concept behind meel swinging is that of fighting with sword and shield. One hand represents the shield in front of the body and the other is the striking arm. Alternating back circles are done in sets of 100 repetitions at a time.
Typically, beginners will start with clubs weighing 3-4 kg each progressing to heavier and larger clubs. The weight of meels is always counted as the sum of both clubs. 16kg meel means each club weighs 8kg.
As the meels grow larger and heavier, the exercise repertoire become quite limited. We cover both light and heavy meel swings in our Persian meels 101 course.
The Indian Jori
Very related to Persian meels, the Indian joris are swung in the Akhadas of India.
In this case, the joris also have a very pronounced conic shape and are thinner but longer than meels. This type of club is even more specific being so long, and are also swung in pairs in the alternating back circle fashion.
The idea behind the jori swings is to mimic throwing an opponent over the shoulder. While to the untrained eye the swings look very similar to meel swings, they are done slightly differently to accommodate the length of the clubs.
Typically wrestlers will swing joris, gada (mace) and sometimes mudgars as well depending on the geographic location of the Akhada. India is after all a huge country with many regional flavours.
The handles of a jori have a huge pommel to prevent the club from slipping, and sometimes a sticky resin is also applied. Since the joris are not swung in the prolongation of the arms but swung behind the head in the typical “rumali” move, such a big pommel doesn’t get in the way of the hand.
Wrestlers tend to swing moderately heavy clubs for high repetitions, while some practitioners tend to focus on swinging very heavy clubs for festivals and folk weightlifting competitions.
The Indian mudgar
Next, we have the Indian mudgar. The design of this club is more cylindrical, like a log, with the weight distribution located towards the middle of the club. It is possible to find many types of mudgar designs.
The long handle makes it possible to swing this club with 2 hands or 1 hand, and by the same token, it is therefore possible to swing 1 or 2 clubs at a time.
This make the mudgar a very versatile club that can be swung in many different ways, like we show you in the Indian club challenge and the Hanuman workout series.
Both our adjustable Pahlavandle XL and Pahlavandle TG swing like mudgars, even though the inspiration was actually taken from the Tamil karlakattai.
The Tamil karlakattai
Karlakattai is the Tamil word for Indian club. There are 5 main traditional designs, each serving their purpose and recommended for specific populations like farmers, archers, swordmen or wrestlers…
Our karlakattai is based on the warrior’s kai karla design, which is the most versatile of the lot. Like the mudgar, the handle can accommodate one or 2 hands, and you can swing it as a single club or double clubs, like you would Persian meels.
This club has a slightly conical shape, so it swings like a cross between a mudgar and a meel.
You should swing karlakattai in the controlled manner, with constant speed, as if swinging through water, and not solely relying on torque.
The handle is 50mm thick, designed to build forearm strength. If this sounds daunting, we have ladies enjoying training with it. Your body adapts and get stronger!
The karlakattai schools have preserved 64 types of swings with 5 variations for each, with very broad applications.
With that said, some of the swings are the same as you would do with meels and other types of clubs. At the end of the day, circles are circles 🙂
More details about karlakattai
The thing to observe with karlakattai (we put mudgars in the same basket, which might annoy purists no doubt!) is that most of the swings are done with a single club, alternating from side to side. This provides different challenges and opens more patterns possibilities, compared to as if you were wielding 2 heavy clubs.
Traditionally, the kai karla’s length is supposed to be your arm length from fingers to shoulder joint. Anatomy of course has a say, but there should be some leeway. Nothing is perfect in nature…
The recommended starting weight for men is the weight of a divided by 8 and divided by 2 for men, 3 for ladies.
This weight should be used for the first 6 month of training, unless you have some previous club swinging experience.
Swings are typically done in sets of 108 repetitions per hand, and combine elements of natural medicine as to the nature of the wood and type of swing performed.
Our own take our traditional clubs
This is why we developed the Pahlavandle TG. It has the same dimensions as our karlakattai, but you can adjust the weight, and also its length if you wanted a shorter club, by cutting down the tube.
Our Indian club handles are made of mahogany, one of the 4 wood types recommended for thick grip clubs.
This makes the TG an ideal club for beginners, and also more. Like the XL, it is a club that can grow with your strength and skills, as you can fill it up to 15kg by using metal scrap and lead shot.
There you go, we hope this blog post brings some new information and clarification to the club designs on the market, allowing you to make the right decisions!