William Calvani explains why the Gada, an Indian wrestler’s strength tool, is the perfect addition to any combat athlete’s regimen as part of our new series exploring unconventional strength and conditioning tools.
The Gada, or it’s modern counterpart the mace, is a minimalist tool, providing maximum benefit. The tool has begun to make its way out of its traditional context as an Indian wrestling exercise implement, and is beginning to appear as a supplementary exercise in gyms and as a training modality on its own.
The Gada is essentially a weight at the end of a lever. The traditional exercise is the swing that has been dubbed the “10 to 2” to by Jake Shannon, an early proponent and first manufacturer of steel maces.
When done with proper technique, it can benefit the grappler or combat athlete in the following ways:
1. Developing grip strength and grip intelligence by requiring one to handle a dynamic offset weight in various vectors over a given length of time and repetitions. By “grip intelligence”, I mean the ability to micro-adjust the amount of force in the grip through movement which applies directly to grabbing and holding an opponent.
2. Shoulder health through traction in full range of motion.
3. Hip drive and amplification which works towards…
4. Unifying the body to efficiently unfold complex movement
5. Rhythm and timing – repetitive, technical and orderly unfolding. A tonic to the central nervous system, a neurological routing for other techniques.
Although others have begun to expand the uses of the mace, I train exclusively the 10 to 2 swing. I believe that the ancestral developers and practitioners of the Gada assessed and deemed this swing to be the most “bang for the buck”.
Combined with other basics of the Akhara training system such as Dands and Bethaks, or the Hindu pushup and the Hindu squat, a well-rounded, minimalist, dynamic exercise regime or vyayam can be performed by combat athletes to great benefit.