Thoughts on Gada and Odd Object Training
This post is meant to be a follow up to a conversation the ARMA Austin group had regarding the use of the Indian Mace (aka the Gada). The Art of Manliness recently posted about the use of the Gada in physical culture, which can be found here (http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/04/23/train-like-an-ancient-hindu-warrior-the-steel-mace-workout/). I figured that I’d expand a little on the topic for the sake of ARMA members who are interested in it.
I think a martial artist can get a great work out just using a Gada and a few odd objects. Exponents of Dinosaur Training know this already, though it is less understood by people who are prone to only using common gym devices like cable machines and what not. So for people interested in the Gada, there are two easy ways to get started on it. The first way is buy a sledgehammer. The second way is make your own Gada. Of course one may simply buy a Gada as well, but you may not want to drop over $100 on something that you may not be fully invested in training with. Here are both options in more detail.
Using the Sledgehammer
The main advantage of the sledgehammer is that it is robust and easily acquired. As it meant to be struck against other objects, you don’t have to worry about replacing it any time soon. This is true of specially made Gadas but the sledgehammer has the advantage of only costing you about $30 at a home improvement store. The robustness of the hammer means that you can use it hit sand bags, tree stumps, piles of rocks, and of course tires. A good bit of circuit training can be devised with just a tire and a hammer; you can swing the hammer above your head describing circles, hit the tire with both arms, and then flip the tire afterwards.
Swinging the sledgehammer as if it were a mace: http://youtu.be/_2sA3uyRVIU
Flipping the tire: http://youtu.be/CYDx3fVV0YM
The only downside to the hammer is that is generally shorter than a proper Gada. The Gada is often around five feet long, plus or minus a foot. The average sledgehammer is around 4 feet long at the most. This makes the swinging movement easier compared to a longer, properly sized mace. A 10lb mace that is 5 feet long is harder to control than a 15lb hammer that is 4 feet long. It’s also less neat looking than a big ass mace.
Using a Homemade Gada
The Gada may be constructed at home for a fraction of the cost of a professionally made Gada. All you’d need is a 5 foot hardwood dowel, some concrete, and a soccer ball. You fill the ball with concrete and then mount the dowel into it. One could also dig a globular hole in dirt and pour the concrete into the hole, and then mount a pole in that. This makes a more oddly shaped mace head but then you wouldn’t need to buy a soccer ball.
A homemade Gada made with a steel pipe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSf0BypXqcM
The downside to making a Gada in this fashion is that you can’t go around hitting things with it in your training program. At the least, you could make a Gada at home to see how much you like training with it and then use disposable income to invest in a professionally made Gada.
To wrap this all up, a very effective training program can be made using these simple odd objects. Cheaply acquired objects like a sledge hammer, sand bags or stones, homemade mace, and tire can strengthen the body much better than the equipment you’ll find in a mirror and machine club like Planet Fitness. Swords and other weapons will feel much lighter in the hands after training with these objects, and you’ll continue the fine tradition of physical culture used by strongmen and wrestlers of the golden age.