Category: Indian clubs

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We have been talking about karlakattai for at least 2 years. Our pahlavandle XL was the first club we produced inspired by this club swinging practice. So it was about time more people discovered the traditions of this ancient practice.

We were lucky to talk to Karthik Vilwanathan who is studying under Sir Jothi Senthil  Kannan, his “guru”, or “the one who helps remove ignorance”. Sir Jothi resides in Tamil Nadu, where he is keeping the traditions well alive with his school, workshops and book on the subject.

For those who still do not know what karlakattai is, and how different to Persian meels and British club swinging, here’s a quick breadown.

Karlakattai is a holistic health practice based on swinging wooden clubs. there are 5 types of clubs, plus one specifically for women.
The designs of clubs are based on their purpose, and shaped to the morphology of the practitioner.

Clubs are swung as single club with 1 or 2 hands, and also swung in pairs. 

Out of the 64 types of Karlakattai suttrus  (swings or rotations), only 4 are done with double clubs. 10 of those swings are done with both hand on a single club. The rest are done single handed, often time switching hands from side to side as 1 repetition.

And now, we leave it to Karthik to tell us more.

If you’d rather just listen to it than watch the whole thing, Click here to listen or save the mp3 file.

Our discussion with Karthik  covers many subjects:

  • 3:10 How common place are karklakattai in India
  • 5:20 Influence of western culture in Indian
  • 6:50 How did you re-discover karlakattai
  • 10:15 Your first set of Indian clubs
  • 12:00 Sir Jothi Senthil Kannan
  • 13:20 Cultural identity
  • 18:55 What did you notice since you started karlakattai practice
  • 23:05 Learning process & preparation
  • 25:20 Traditional Indian club exercises
  • 27:35 Daily practice
  • 29:00 How do other people react to karlakattai
  • 33:48 Six different types of karlakattai, starting weight & progressions
  • 47:50 Heavy clubs practice versus competition aspects
  • 50:00 The reasons behind barefoot training
  • 52:55 Favorite suttrus/ swings
  • 55:50 Training philosophy & guidelines
  • 58:48 Kusthi training versus karlakattai
  • 1:00:10 Breathing
  • 1:04:35 Workshops

Get in touch with Karthik:

https://www.facebook.com/karthik.vilwanathan https://www.instagram.com/karthik.vilwanathan/
https://karlakattai.com/

The 2 videos below show examples of karlakattai suttrus.

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We have been getting a few inquiries lately about how to combine club swinging with other strength training modalities, such as barbells and kettlebells.

Since we have different club swinging programs available (including the latest Hanuman workout volume 5), here is some practical advice.

Prioritize your training goals

What do you want to achieve? What is most important for you? A bigger deadlift? 100 reps unbroken meel swings with heavy clubs? Learning new complex exercises? Better cardio?

Have a good think about it all, and put your goals in a numeric order, with #1 being the most important one for now.
Once you have your list, time to plan for the goals you chose. For the next 8-12 weeks, focus on #1 and #2, including them in your program each time you train.
Add goals #3-5 here and there on occasion, when you feel you have time and energy.
Disregard anything over #5.
That’s it, keep at it for 8-12 weeks. After that, you may write a new list, or carry on.

Depending on how many days you can train, and how much time you have each session, you could structure your week in many ways. Here are 2 simple ways.

Option 1 | Training 3 times a week

Use the classical heavy, light, medium day approach mentionned in Bill Starr’s book ”The strong shall survive”.

Kettlebell/ barbell strength training x20-30 min. Pick 3-5 lifts.

Follow up with:
Club
swinging x10-15 minutes (Meels 101 on heavy day, light clubs on light day, Hanuman workout series on medium day)

Option 2 | Training 5 days a week

Day 1, 3: Hanuman program, using the variability table included in the program.

Day 2, 4: Strength training with barbell/ kettlebells x20-30 min followed by some of the exercises in Meels 101 for 5-10 min.

Day 5: Kettlebells/ bodyweight training x15-20 min, followed by light double club swinging x5-10 min

Is it the perfect solution or program?

Don’t overthink it too much. Get going first, and tweak the program along the way. Too many people want the perfect program, without having a perfect lifestyle to begin with. Take the first step!

How you pick exercises and rep scheme depends on your personal goals, and equipment available.
Heavy weights are lifted for a low reps (3-5), while lighter weights are lifted for higher reps (6-10 or 10-20)

One of the principles I follow most of the time is not to train to fatigue, as the old texts mention. If you have read some books by Pavel, you’ll be familiar with the concept too.

Examples of how I personally combine things

Since the lockdown, I stopped training for kettlebell marathon competition. Therefore my training does not have to be 100% focused as earlier. I want to feel good, and have energy to do the things I have to do , play with my kids and so on.

I aim to get as much movement variation as possible on a daily basis.
By that, I mean I push, pull in different directions, raise my center of gravity, rotate, move laterally and backwards, crawl on all four, make use of uneven terrain, i
nclude single leg exercises etc…

Here are 6 examples for inspiration.

Option #1

EMM circuit: Every minute on the minute. Perform the exercises, and rest the remainder of the minute. Set a time limit to the circuit, 20-30 minutes is usually plenty.

  • min 1: 20x jump rope cross over, 2x kettlebell jump squats, x1/1 one arm push up, x1 ring pull up
  • min 2: 20x full swing with thick grip club (left hand)
  • min 3: 20x jump rope cross over, 2x kettlebell jump squats, x1/1 one arm push up, x1 ring pull up
  • min 4: 20x full swing with thick grip club (left hand)
  • etc… until the time is up

Option #2

Strength circuit: use the correct weight to stay within the desired rep range.

  • Turkish get up x1/1
  • Sumo Deadlift x6
    1 arm row with thick grip x6-10/6-10
  • Single seated calf raise x12-15/12-15
  • Neurogrip push ups x6-10
  • Light clubs x1 min
  • Rest as needed, do 3-5 work sets.

Finish with ab roller, and static lunge holds

Option #3

AMRAP: As Many Rounds As Possible within a defined time limit, 20-30 minutes.

  • Push up complex
  • Meels complex
  • Kettlebell get up 

Repeat the sequence for time, resting as needed.

 

Option #4

Pavel’s ”Simple and sinister” (kettlebell swings and Turkish get ups), using a single heavy club for 5-15 min at the end

Option #5

Pavel’s ”The quick and the dead” (kettlebell swings/ snatch and explosive push ups), using 2 light clubs as active recovery between exercises.

Option #6

Contrast intervals: One hard interval followed by an easy one to provide active recovery, targeting different movement patterns.

  • Fast pace kettlebell snatch or 1 arm long cycle x4 minutes
  • Slow/ easy paced circuit with bodyweight and clubs x3 min
  • Repeat 4 times

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Let me introduce our Canadian ambassador, Mark Robson, who runs a fitness studio called MeFirstFitness in Toronto. At Mefirstfitness, the instructor crew specializes in group fitness with 45 classes a week, one on one personal training and weight loss challenges. 

Mark has a background in sports such as Hockey, Martial Arts,  Volleyball, and a host of certifications from Personal trainer, kettlebell, steel mace and Heroic Sport level 1 instructor.

Let’s hear about Indian clubs and group classes!

How, why and when did you get started with Indian clubs?

I started training with Indian Clubs about 3 years ago. The past 2 years much more seriously due to reoccurring rotator cuff tears.

What kind of clubs do you prefer to swing?

I swing all styles of clubs. I love to swing heavy for sheer power and strength. I like smaller clubs for injury prevention, warmup and rhythm/dance. I also like clubs in between for endurance and cardio.

What is it you specifically enjoy about club swinging?

It doesn’t feel like exercise to me. I love to put on my favourite music and swing for hours. No two workouts are ever the same.

What do you see as the main advantage of lifting odd unbalanced objects versus conventional weights?

I feel its more functional and practical to real life movements and situations. I also feel like I get a better full body workout.

What are the benefits of club swinging for your clients in your opinion?

I do a lot of club swinging with clients for warm ups and to help increase their range of motion (mostly at the shoulder girdle). Clients are also less familiar with them than dumbbells so they find it to be a little more fun when used for more traditional exercises.

How easy/ hard was it to get your clients sold on the idea of swinging clubs?

It depends on what and how you teach them. Most feel the benefits of the light clubs immediately and often ask me if we can start our workouts with them.

For someone wanting to improve athleticism and well being, is swinging clubs enough? What are some great complementary activities to club swinging?

I never like to limit myself or my clients to just one type of training. The obvious answer to this question would be body weight exercises but I also am adamant about adding cardio as well as some power lifting and kettlebell training to all my clients routines. This provides a good combination of endurance, strength and power to your workouts.

What do you like about the Pahlavandle and XL, compared to other types of clubs on the market?

The biggest benefit for most people getting started is the price. The pahlavandles are the most affordable clubs on the market today. In addition you can take them anywhere you go and they are adjustable in weight based on the size of the bottle you use and the filler. Same could be said for the XL. In addition the shipping costs from Heroic Sport are incredible. You won’t pay cheaper shipping anywhere in the world!

Do you use the Pahlavandle in your classes or workshops? How do people react the first time you show them a plastic handle?

Yes, totally! They react no differently than they would to a regular set of wooden clubs. Most wouldn’t know the difference, plus the Pahlavandle swings virtually the exact same way as a wooden club, so even experienced users wouldn’t notice a difference.

What advice can you give to people just starting up?

Find a coach, take a course or get yourself some online videos to study. You need to start with the very basic circles and moves. Practicing is the only way to get better.

Do you have a favorite template to structure a training session?

I’m not a fan of structure personally as I get bored rather easy. But when teaching clubs I like to start with one move before adding another and building to more complex sequences as we go.

1 thing people wouldn’t know about you?

I’m also a musician, comic book lover and avid gamer.

Anything you wish to add?

I’m very happy Thierry asked to interview me for this Blog and I am a proud Ambassador for Heroic Sport. Reach out to me if you want, as I would love to share my passion for everything Club related with you! Cheers and keep swinging!

You can get in touch with Mark through his facebook and instagram pages, or head to his site.

 

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Heavy Indian club exercises. What do you picture in your mind as you read this? Probably a scene from the Persian Zurkhaneh, or the Indian Akhara, where swinging 2 large meels or joris are performed. 

Is swinging with both hands on a single Indian club traditional?

In the club swinging community, swinging a single club is mainly thought as not traditional, often associated with clubbells and other steel clubs.  I have even read comments on social medias saying that swinging with 2 hands on a club is wrong. Yet, those same people swing gadas and other type of maces with 2 hands… But I digress.

Swinging a heavy single club, with 1 hand or 2 hands, is even found in the English literature of the 19th century, when Indian clubs made their way to Europe. This style of club swinging is as legitimate and ancient as any!

In India, swinging a single club appears to be more common place the more one travels South. The design of the clubs also change from a conic shape reminiscent of the Persian meel to a straighter log shape. The handle on these clubs is typically 8-9 inches, providing room for double handed grips without having to interlock fingers.

In Tamil culture, there are 6 different types of Indian clubs known as Karlakattai, each with their specific functions.

Why you should incorporate single heavy Indian club exercises in your current training

Swinging a pair of heavy, bulky and long clubs severely limits the range of exercises you can do with them. While back circles are great, they can rapidly become tedious…
By contrast, swinging a single heavy club offers a myriad of possibilities, and also way more options of integrate footwork and lower body exercises.

Reason 1

heavy indian club exercises by warmanYou should start by swinging a single Indian club because it is simpler to coordinate, and therefore faster to learn. By switching grips and avoiding fatigue, you can also maintain your heart rate elevated to get the benefits of cardiovascular fitness.

That’s the main reason why our level 1 online certification covers only single club swinging. It really is the foundation necessary to perform complex double club swings in the long run.

Reason 2

heavy indian club exercises -dick'sYou can swing heavier clubs from the start. While the European systems of double club swinging often recommended 1,2kg clubs as the first weight for men, the typical starting weight for mugdars and karlakattais would be 3-5kg.

You can guess that the physical adaptations and physiques resulting form training with light clubs would be different from the heavy clubs.
As long as you slowly build up volume in a progressive way, there is no reason to think you’d be more likely to injure yourself with a single heavier club.

Proponents of heavy Indian club exercises such as Sam D.Kehoe and Professor Harrison, were rather opinionated on the matter, thinking light clubs a good form of exercises for children and geriatrics. At Heroic Sport, we however think there are many benefits to also swing light clubs!

Reason 3

As many of the heavy single Indian club exercises are based on fighting techniques, many of the swings also make use the diagonal and horizontal cutting lines, which are often times neglected by club swingers.

As we know, variability is essential to human development and health, and movement variability ensures you do not neglect movement patterns.

Heavy Indian club exercises inspiration

To that purpose, we have created a series of heavy single Indian club exercises, which progressively become more complex and challenging in each volume. It’s been planned for the beginner in mind, but anyone will be able to train at their own abilities and enjoy a great workout.

If you haven’t checked out our Hanuman workouts yet, you’re in a for a treat, as we designed a whole 4-6 week training cycle template, including one for instructors running classes or bootcamps. The whole work is cut out for you, just warm up and hit play!

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