I recently finished making a new video course about working with Indian clubs, because I want to share this activity with people. Mainly, I would like to be able to give my own students some resources that I think they would find useful – and since I have created these resources anyway, it only makes sense to share them more widely with the rest of the HEMA community!
I find myself using Indian clubs most days of the week. It doesn’t require much time. I find that swinging the clubs for even just a couple of minutes can be a great way to relieve stress and tension around my shoulders. I spend a lot of my time working at the computer and most days I need to do something in the afternoon to try to recover from it.
I’m not saying that Indian clubs are a miracle cure, but I find that doing a few minutes with the clubs every day (or every other day) makes my life significantly more comfortable and healthy.
What are Indian clubs?
Indian clubs are traditionally wooden clubs that you can swing in various different ways to help improve your body and health. The activity was developed in the middle and far east, and it gained some popularity in the west in the 19th century.
There are many different shapes and sizes of clubs. Some types are more suited to different kinds of activity and exercise, but mostly it is just a matter of aesthetics and personal preference, combined with choosing an appropriate weight for yourself.
What is a good weight for beginners?
The lighter the better, to be honest.
I spend most of my time using clubs that weigh around 250 or 500 grams apiece. It doesn’t need to be any heavier than that to have a useful and productive workout.
Heavier clubs will give a slightly different workout, and I use heavier clubs too, but these do make the learning process a bit more difficult. My advice is to start with lighter clubs while you learn the motions, and then progress to heavier clubs at a later date if you see an advantage in doing so.
How do we use Indian clubs?
This is one of the things I find so great about using Indian clubs: there is no “one true way” of doing it. The way you will use the clubs will depend greatly on what goal you want to achieve. If you want to gain strength then certain exercises will be more useful; if you want to loosen off and use clubs for the purpose of stretching and mobilisation, you will probably find other exercises a bit more useful.
There are some relatively standard motions and techniques. Swinging outward from the shoulders in big circles is quite common – but most instructors seem to teach even the similar techniques in slightly different ways, to suit their purposes and needs.
I just finished making an introductory video course for Indian clubs. This is how I teach it to my own students. If you sign up for the course then I’m also quite happy to answer any questions you might have about any of the exercises. Just drop me a message, let me know which of the exercises you are working on, and I’m happy to chat!
Where can we buy Indian clubs?
You could look for vintage Indian clubs in vintage shops or on eBay – that’s where I bought my first set!
Alternatively, you could search the internet for the websites of companies that make Indian clubs. Unfortunately, there are not very many such companies, and the clubs are often quite expensive, although expensive clubs are often very nice clubs to use!
There is a cheap and modular option: the Pahlavandles by Heroic Sport are available through the Academy of Historical Arts online shop. These are clever handles that can be attached to any standard soda bottle, giving you a very portable option that lets you change the weight as easily as attaching a different bottle filled with water.
What resources are there for Indian clubs?
There are plenty of other online video and blog articles about Indian clubs. If you ask your favourite search engine, I’m sure you will find a ton of information. The main issue here will be trying to make sense of all the different points of view and different instructions.
My approach was to watch and read widely, and to try and get a sense of what everyone was saying. What sort of messages and ideas kept appearing again and again? What sort of things were people regularly saying to avoid doing, that could be considered a mistake? By getting a general sense of the field and of the different approaches, I was able to gain quite a good and broad understanding.
I find working with Indian clubs to be one of the best things for recovering after a day sitting at the computer, or after travelling for a number of hours. Working with the clubs does not need to take much time during the day – two or three minutes is maybe all that is required for quite a reasonable stretching session to help you feel better.
I hope my video course will be a helpful video course for anyone looking either to start with clubs or to expand the repertoire of techniques and motions. If you have any questions about the course or its contents, please feel welcome to drop me a message and ask!
Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers. I teach regularly at Liverpool HEMA, and help behind the scenes with running HEMA in Glasgow at the Vanguard Centre.