Tag: indian clubs history




Problems related to a sedentary lifestyle are nothing new. The following parable about what Indian clubs can do for you was first published in a  magazine from the heydays of Indian clubs in the Western world, the late 1800’s.


Let the tale unfold…

An Oriental king, by the luxurious life of a palace had lost appetite for food, and relish for occupation or pleasure. At length, dreadfully weary of doing nothing, yet too weak of will to rise up and find something to do, he called his wise men about him, to prescribe a remedy for his evil condition.
At this they were a good deal puzzled, for it did not require much wisdom to see that all the king needed was to stir himself, and shake off the slothfulness that had fastened upon him. So, one after another, evading the real difficulty, proposed a journey, a change of diet, a sleeping potion, or some light tonic; but, as the wise men expected, these remedies accomplished nothing, while the king grew daily more listless and languid. At last, an obscure man, who had heard of this strange malady, made bold one day to ask an audience of the king, professing to bear an important message. The king granted his request, and with an air of great languor, asked his message.

“To cure thee, 0 King,” he said.

The king was astonished and unbelieving. “How canst thou,” he said, “accomplish what the learning of my kingdom has failed to do?”

The stranger quietly replied, “I bring thee this club. Within its handle lie hidden potent drugs, which will impart their virtues only when thy hand, grasping the club, and brandishing it thus and thus, hath become heated, and imparted its heat to them. Then will their healing power be aroused, and the cure begin. Rise with tomorrow’s sun, eat sparingly of simple food, and when the sun is three hours high, withdraw into thy garden. There, for the space of half an hour, swing this club as I have instructed thee; and after that, go to thy bath and thy couch. Two hours after the midday meal, go forth again to thy garden; use the club as in the morning, and afterward bathe and rest. Continue thus till the cure is complete.”

The king was persuaded to try the remedy, though much doubting of any success. To his surprise and joy the first day gave relish for the simple food allowed him, and at night his sleep was sweet and unbroken. The rising sun called him to a second day of trial, which he spent like the first, with increase of good result. Thus passed a third day, and many more, till the keen delight of returning health reminded him of the debt of gratitude he owed his unknown benefactor. Summoning him to his presence, his eagerness to reward him knew no bounds, and he would have lavished upon him wealth and honors without stint. But the stranger modestly declined the royal bounty, saying, “Thou owest nothing to me. No drug could have worked so marvelous a change. Thou owest all to the exercise thou hast taken, and the temperate living thou hast practiced.”

It’s up to you to take charge!

There you have it, simple advice with a simple piece of equipment. You just have to swing it everyday…

To make it easy for you as well to swing every day, we have a special offer on our starter kit of 1 set of Pahlavandle and our club swinging 101 and 102 video pack

And if you are in doubt bout which size or type of Indian clubs is best for you, read our previous post.

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Sources: Article source: The Riverside Magazine For Young People | An Illustrated Monthly, Vol. 3, 1869 | Picture source: wirally.com


There are many different versions of the History of Indian clubs. We are not scholars, but we have gathered facts from different sources for this broad but short article.

Club swinging is one of the disciplines of varzesh-e pahlavāni (“Sport of heroes”), an ancient Persian physical training system to improve strength, mobility, coordination and not least, to increase mindfulness. Warriors needed to improve multiple physical abilities while developing their spirituality at the same time.

Disputed origins of Indian clubs

The beginning of Pahlavani tradition goes back to Parthian Dynasty (238 BC – 224 AD) and Mithraism, the religion of warriors. One hypothesis is that Club swinging spread from the Persian empire to the adjacent countries. However, people from India dispute this, maintaining that club swinging goes even further back. And as a weapon, this might be right. Clubs are ancient, and depicted on temple carvings, and other art form. However, swinging a mace or club for physical conditioning is something else… And without written records, anything goes.

In India, clubs are known as Karlakattai, Jori and Mugdar. Tamil warriors also used clubs to assist their martial art practice, Silambam, which teaches how to handle weapons before one learns empty hand combat. Silambam is supposed to be the world’s oldest martial art.

kushti wrestlers indian clubsIn Persia, the pahlavan (“hero”) was a warrior but also a leader for his community. They would gather at their local gym called the Zurkhaneh (“House of Strength”) to swing heavy clubs, lift odd shaped objects, wrestle, and perform calisthenics along to music, traditional stories and prayers.

Persian pahlavans were forced underground under the Muslim rule, and since they were not allowed to bear arms, they could at least do some physical training and maintain their conditioning and traditions. Skills developed during practice were transferable to weaponry and fighting techniques.

Even this name “pahlavan” or “pehlwan” is understood as “wrestler” today in India, Pakistan and  adjacent countries. The plot thickens…

Indian clubs in Europe

By contrast, club swinging came to Europe and USA during in the 19th century. Englishmen stationed in India during the East India Company (1600-1858) witnessed the graceful motions and good physiques of the wrestlers swinging heavy clubs. They mistakenly called them “Indian clubs“.

Indian clubs in schoolsThey redesigned the clubs into smaller versions, and the concept was taken to Europe, where club swinging became integrated into institutions and the system of physical education of that time. For reference, the regulation club of the British Army in 1850 weighted 2kg a piece. Lighter clubs opened the possibility of swinging in new patterns that could not be done with heavy clubs.

”British Manly Exercises” by Donald Walker is the earliest reference book on the subject of club swinging, and was published in 1834. It contains both exercises with light and with heavy clubs.

As people started to lead a more sedentary lifestyle, physical exercise became essential to achieving and preserving good health. Indian clubs become one of the tools of ”Restorative arts” (also known as ”orthopedic or remedial gymnastics”, or basically an early form of physiotherapy). The practice aimed to bring the body into an optimal state of balance and compensate the effect of modern life.

Indian clubs in institutions

Indian clubs were found in gymnasiums along boxing and fencing equipment. Cultural factors at that time ensured the popularity of organized exercise. Club swinging was introduced into school physical education classes and military training.

Sim. D. Kehoe, an American fitness enthusiast and businessman, began to manufacture and sell clubs to the American public in 1862, after his travels to England.

The body coordination benefits were a big reason why the U.S. Army had soldiers train with Indian clubs. According to the 1914 U.S. Army Manual of Physical Training: “The effect of these exercises, when performed with light clubs, is chiefly a neural one, hence they are primary factors in the development of grace, coordination and rhythm.”

Did you know that club swinging was even an Olympic sport in 1904 and 1932? However, like kettlebells, Indian clubs lost their popularity in the 1930s, as organized sports and games became more popular than physical culture.

Indian clubs today

At Heroic Sport we are trying to revive the once very popular discipline of club swinging, and make it once again available for the masses. Until now, the price of traditional equipment has been a barrier for many people who might want to try it, and instruction has been scarce or without structure.

With our Pahlavandle™ , and our online videos, it has never been easier or more affordable to learn how to swing. 

Image source:

  • Two men wrestling – Tashrih al-aqvam (1825), f.203v – BL Add. 27255.jpg 
  • Cleveland St Public School – Indian Club Drill

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