In the modern world, we live in there are numerous systems, programs and tools we can use to enhance our fitness. Many people will tell you that one particular modality of training is the best or the most effective in the ongoing fight against obesity and weakness.

I, however believe that there is no one perfect way of training and that the more proficient you can become with multiple modalities and tools, is the real key to long-term health longevity. After all a hammer is great for hitting a nail but if you need to drill a hole it falls short of the mark. In essence each tool has its own unique uses and properties and should be best used in the way they were intended and originally invented.


Anthropology has determined that the modern design of the human hand owes more to use of gripping early Wooden club like weapons (a broken tree branch) and the use of rudimentary tools for survival, than it does to crawling around on our hands. Bodyweight training of this type is very effective, demanding and a lot of fun but we must not discount the benefit of primal training using a tool with a hilt that must be gripped and swung.

Most of the training methods developed with the Club and associated tools stem from the use of them in a battle or fight. Due to early human’s inherent tribal instinct and nature’s survival mechanism they would fight for food, shelter, land, a mate and protection.

So the use of a weighted Club to condition themselves for the arduous rigours of combat became the early training modality of choice. If they needed to fight with a weapon weighing 1kg for a prolonged period of time it would be wise to train with a heavier weight for the same or even longer period of time. The attitude of, be more prepared than the challenge faced, was adopted.


In recent history until modern times the use of the club still has its foundations in combat and Martial training modalities. Swordsmen and Martial arts masters have long since incorporated weighted training tools and ballistic tools into their movement patterns and training regimens to great effect. The swinging patterns of many of today’s ballistic tools are close to the Martial training styles from all over the world. For all the styles and systems may appear vastly different they all share the common thread of basic human functionality. This is: that we as humans essentially have 2 arms and 2 legs and a spine. We are designed to move in specific movement patterns and In this regard we are the same.

The Steel Club like its cousins the Mace, Gada, Indian Club, Bulgarian bag and to a degree the Kettlebell, are all tools with ballistic properties. This means they will be propelled either away from, or towards the body creating inertia and forces that we must brace against and absorb within our movements and training. We can see the parallels in specific tools to weapons training.

Indian clubs are primarily used now as a primer or to decompress and open the shoulders. The pattern of usage is akin to short bladed knife like weapons or lighter stick fighting.

Steel Clubs or Bulavas are primarily used as mid weight conditioning and loading with a larger degree of movement involved. The pattern usage is akin to a medium length sword or short battle Mace.

Gada or long steel Mace is much heavier and the main body of weight is further removed from the grip point and primarily used in a more static fashion to build strength and stability in rooting stances. The pattern usage is akin to a heavy longsword or battle Mace.



The more centrifugal and centripetal forces that are created during these movements the more Cognitive function, nervous system activation, stability and strength needed to control them. When the Club is used in a highly ballistic fashion the speed increases and the force is then multiplied many times that of the original weight.

A word of caution. If you are new to this type of training then it is advisable to be cautious as a relatively light club like a 10kg for example can become very unwieldy and feel 3 to 4 times heavier when used at ballistic speed. Reducing the speed of Clubs rotation is also advisable so the forces of it pulling away from you are within your control and safe.



All ballistic tools share the fact that they have a degree of leverage disadvantage for the user. We hold the handle at one end whilst the main body of weight is at the other away from your grip and your body. The longer the lever length, the harder it is to control the Club and the heavier the weight will feel.

A word of caution. At first you may need to choke up on the handle of the Club. This means moving your hands up the hilt or handle closer to the main body of weight. This will shorten the lever length allowing more control of the weight. Keeping the Club closer to your body is also advisable as the more you extend your arms the more load will be created.



One of the main benefits of ballistic Club training is that it pulls away from you and thus creates traction forces in the joints and soft tissue. This can be very beneficial for our health as it counter balances compressive training and lifestyle scenarios that are often pushing your joints and soft tissue. When doing a push up or chest bench press we have compressive forces acting upon us, therefore by swinging or moving a Club we can apply the functional opposite force, which is akin to stretching a muscle after contracting it.

A word of caution. The most common problem faced with beginning ballistic Club training is that most people are not prepared for the traction forces on the soft joint tissue. Often the muscles can take the weight or force but tendon strains or pulls can happen if you try to go to fast or heavy too soon. Take it slow and steady and work on the skill development first as weight can be added at a later date.



The basic training exercises can be spilt in 4 categories. These categories can be thought of as 4 progressive levels of complexity with 1 being the most basic and 4 being the most complex.

  • 1 – Static holding positions akin to Martial arts stances.
  • 2 – Moving the Club from one position to another whilst in a static stance.
  • 3 – Moving the Club at speed and linking these positions in a static stance.
  • 4 – Moving the Club through positions whilst moving your body from one stance position to another.

Start with mastering a solid foundation in the basic positions or stances, to develop the stability and grip strength needed to control the Club safely. Then progressively move through steps 1 to 4 as your confidence and skill level develops.

A word of encouragement. If you are going to heed the call to arms and reach for a Club, then you are joining one of the most passionate and skilful training communities in the world. I have found that this community is also one of the most giving and generous groups that I have had the honour to be involved in. They will embrace and support you in your quest for lifelong health.


Anyone and everyone can benefit and enjoy training with the Club. You do not need to be a practicing Martial artist to reap the rewards of physical prowess that it can provide. Before you start or even continue your journey with this unique and beautiful tool, please be sure to find an experienced and well-respected Coach to at least tutor you in the safe basic principles. A lot can be learned from online resources if you are adept at learning that way but be sure to choose a professional in this particular field for your online education or better still take the opportunity to train first hand with them if that is a viable option.

An old Martial Arts adage rings true here. It is better to spend ten years searching for the right teacher than to spend ten years training under the wrong one!

This is Coach Paul Firepower Gray signing off and I wish you all the success in your health and fitness journey. Stay safe, and enjoy the journey.

AUTHOR | Coach Paul Firepower Gray

AUTHOR | Coach Paul Firepower Gray

Paul is the creator of the world renowned Firepower Gym in the north east of England. He was an early forerunner for Unconventional training methods in the U.K. and has been in the health and fitness industry approximately 20 years. He has over 35 years in various Martial arts study under his belt also.

He is the creator of the i-Flows recovery training system and numerous standalone training programs and is co-founder of the Art of functional movement training system alongside his partner Pawel Widuto.

His skills were honed by learning from the top tier of Functional and unconventional training Coach’s in a variety of disciples and often collaborates with the world’s best trainers.

Amongst his peers he has earned the title of The Witchdoctor for his ability in finding fixes in movement patterns, injury prevention and rehabilitation.

He currently divides his time working with his Firepower family at his gym, tutoring his growing online clientele and travelling the world running workshops and certification.

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