Where did Mace Training Come From?
Are you new to unconventional fitness or a seasoned trainee? Either way you should know the history of the steel mace, a very versatile and effective training tool.
Mace: the Ancient Weapon
The Gada or mace is an ancient weapon originating from India. The materials it is made of can vary, but it is always constructed of two main parts: a weighted head and the shaft it’s mounted upon.
Early on we can see the Gada wielded by a god named Hanuman. This god was worshipped by pehlwans or wrestlers because of his strength.
Another deity, Vishnu, a four-handed god, had a gada named Kaumodaki. It was referenced in the Mahabharata, an epic narrative of two princes in the Kurukshetra war. We are told of warriors who are highly skilled mace masters.
Gada-Yuddha is the actual name of the combat practice of wielding a gada. According to this martial art, it can be handled in twenty different ways. Either one or two maces at a time.
These ancient weapons were used all over the globe spanning thousands of years.
The stone heads evolved into metal. During the Middle Ages, with the advance in armor technology, composite maces gave way to all metal maces known as war hammers.
Moving into more recent history, we have the Great Gama, an undefeated Pakistani wrestler. He was considered one of the greatest pehlwans of all time. Gama was known to use the gada consistently in his training. Even more recently, during World War I, maces were known to be used in trench raids as a quiet and lethal means of turning the tide.
Modern Day Mace Training
Finally, it made its transition from eastern culture to western culture. A gentleman by the name of Jake Shannon popularized the mace in this country by exposing it to America’s physical culturists and fitness enthusiasts.
He created a documentary featuring Karl Gotch, a German pro wrestler and trainer. Gotch trained in Pehlwani. He implemented other traditional Indian exercises, but by and large emphasized using the mace or gada.
Through the interview process for the film, Gotch’s philosophy was ultimately passed on to Shannon. Currently Rik Brown, a student of Jake Shannon is the only mace master teaching this ancient art internationally.
Gada training is still hugely popular in akaras in India and all over the east.
Mixed martial arts and other combat sport practitioners in the west have adopted heavy mace training as a way to strengthen grip strength and the muscles involved with throwing opponents to the mat. Functional and unconventional fitness coaches and trainees have also taken to mace training because it provides such an amazing full-body workout.
Sometimes in this complicated world we chase after the bells and whistles. When the shine wears off of our new toys we get bored and search for the next big thing. That’s because the journey towards mastery is removed from the equation.
Working with even a light steel mace can be humbling at first. But with all the bumps in the road, it makes it so much sweeter when it all finally clicks. And you realize the ancients were really onto something and you have made that connection to the past.
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