Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let’s Go Clubbing

            And you thought I was going to tell you to hit the bars, go dancing and have a night on the town. Wrong again. Having fun can be one thing and there’s nothing wrong with going out and having a good time but for right now, health is the focus point here and I’m going to share with you some history, training, ideas and things to try on to get you up to a higher level of strength, flexibility and super power in the joints and muscles.

            The club wasn't originally known as a group of people or a fitness place to go to or even the name of some pampas ass rich people’s venue. This club or series of clubs was the training tool for wrestlers in the middle east for their sport called Kushti, similar in style to our Greco-Roman but still can use the legs for take-downs and such. Each morning a typical coach or Guru would have his athletes get up before dawn, run a couple miles, come back and do warm up drills, wrestle, eat/drink and get back to training until the day was over. In the middle of these sessions, the wrestlers would often swing what’s called the Jori or the Gada/Mace in various weights and proportions. These tools would help the wrestlers learn to move weight in various movements mostly circular.

            When the British colonized in various Middle Eastern countries such as India learned the skills of club swinging and other exercises and took them back to the English colonies in Europe and eventually to the Americas most notably in Northern America and trained with these very same tools for battle during the American Revolution and other wars soon after. It became a hit in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as you had Physical Culturists from one side of the earth to the next teaching the various movements of the Clubs. Unless you were an advanced athlete, you had to get a weight heavy enough to work but the majority of Clubs used were very light in weight no more than 10-20 pounds and even less than that. The less weighted clubs were used to aid and strengthen flexibility in the arms, shoulders and elbow joints of the upper body giving you that awkward but effective range of motion if you were an athlete or just an average guy looking to be in shape.

            The most famous Wrestler of that era in India was The Great Gama, if you ever read my articles you would know who he is by now. He is considered by many to be the most feared wrestler of his generation, not even the legendary grapplers Frank Gotch & George Hackenshmidt wanted to face this beast of a man. At 5’7 and no more than 270, Gama was at his peak the best conditioned athlete, although his numbers are exaggerated by any stretch he like many other students at that time wrestled, swam, did hundreds of calisthenics such as squats and push-ups and being on a diet that the majority was vegetarian. At times during his 5000 undefeated winning streak, Gama would receive a basket of tropical fruits and vegetables as a championship trophy in his honor as a vegetarian. One of the most famous pictures of the legendary grappler is of him standing with a massive club on his shoulders. This club wasn’t used for training but was considered a Trophy for a big time championship. The club is said to have weighed at 80 lb.

            Club swinging when done properly takes strength training to a whole new level. You can lift as many weights as you want but if you tried to swing a 30 or 40 lb. club you’d getting your ass kicked in the first minute. With lighter clubs however these can help strengthen the joints in your upper body to peak condition. Clubs have been used by top MMA athletes, Football players, baseball players, strongmen, gymnasts, wrestlers, war vets as far back as the Civil War. Some Clubs are made out of natural wood but you can also get them steel made or with very hard rubber. Two guys I can think of that have really cool versions of the Club are Ryan Pitts at Strongergrip.com and Scott Sonnon at Clubbells.tv. Each of them have their own style of swinging and one of them believe it or is used in Yoga to get that extra edge from doing free-handed postures.

            Like with everything else, it takes skill and practice different movements in precise dynamic fashion but they’re a lot of fun to do. I can’t wait to get my own set of clubs that I can play with but for now I’m settling with what is just as fun and even cooler than the clubs and that’s a couple Thor Hammers that I have. The Thor Hammer is just as effective as a regular club for swinging but the extra benefits of hitting it with a tire and the fact that the handle is much thicker than a regular hammer or club makes it that much more effective for grip strength, hand/eye coordination, tendon and joint building and the ability to just hold it for a period makes it a hell of an isometric exercise. Get your hands on your own sets of clubs or hammers and jack up your strength and conditioning faster than ever before. Keep it interesting and have fun, that what it’s all about.

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