The Textbook of Club Swinging by Tom Burrows

Posted on Friday, August 17th, 2018 by John Wood
Whereas Arthur Saxon wrote The Textbook of Weight-Lifting, Tom Burrows wrote The Textbook of Club Swinging. Both men were certainly qualified to do so. There were several other “Textbooks” — on Swimming, Wrestling, Boxing, and various other athletic pursuits.

Unusual Wooden Indian Clubs

Posted on Saturday, January 6th, 2018 by John Wood
Here’s another interesting example of some unusual custom wooden Indian Clubs which were created by an enhusiast. Clubs of different shapes and dimensions offer different training experiences. It is quite understandable for someone who enjoys clubs swinging to have several different pairs, and likely the case with these.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Simple Indian Club Exercises Poster by Staff Sgt. Moss

Posted on Sunday, December 4th, 2016 by John Wood

“The Indian Club Workout That
Goes Right on Your Gym Wall”

One of the traditions of Oldtime strength training that we really like a lot are
wall charts and posters. Not only do they look really great while hanging in the
gym, they also allow for an easy way to follow along and get in a great workout.

So, in keeping this tradition alive, one of the projects that we have been working on
was to take a classic Indian Club training course
which was written back in the early 1900s and reprint it.
We didn’t just reprint it though, we created an
entirely different format… turning it
into something that not only looks great, but
should also help your club swinging as well, you guessed it: an instructional wall chart.

Staff Sgt. Moss
Your Author: Staff Sgt. Alfred Moss — Yes, he looks like he knows a thing or two about physical training.

Written in 1905 by the famous strongman, gymnast and physical culturist Staff Sgt. Alfred Moss, “Simple Indian Club Exercsies” will take you step-by-step through the 12 basic Indian Club movements and includes additional suggestions on performance: technique, style, form and cadence etc.

…All you have to do is follow along for a complete
Indian Clubs workout.

This poster is printed on high quality enamel
paper but, in order to keep that classic look,
we “aged” it digitally so that it looks like
something that would be hanging in Sandow’s
gym or Sig Klein’s place.

The poster is 23 inches by 35 inches in size, comes folded, and looks
great as you can see by the picture of it shown above.  Think of it as a complete training
course that you can hang on your wall instead of putting on your book shelf.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

CLUB SWINGING: An Ancient Restorative Art for the Modern Martial Artist by Dr. Ed Thomas

Posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2016 by John Wood
CLUB SWINGING:
An Ancient Restorative Art for
the Modern Martial Artist
by Dr. Ed Thomas
Combine today’s understanding of human motion with the wisdom of ancient martial artists,and you get a powerful force that stimulates both mind and body.
Wooden Indian Clubs
A typical set of early 20th-century
wooden Indian clubs

Martial artists past and present have stressed the importance of complementing external power with internal harmony. This balance between restorative and martial arts remains an essential thread running through the fabric of both Eastern and Western martial arts philosophy.

Martial arts are often defined as techniques that allow for appropriate responses to external aggression. Restorative arts bring the body toward its optimal state of harmony and compensate for the stresses of daily life. These two concepts are integrally related, and both have roots in Western as well as Eastern physical culture. The search for and celebration of these common roots and relationships allows the martial artist to better understand the universal principles that unite all fighting systems.

The rediscovery and growing popularity of Indian Clubs may well be the decade’s most interesting development concerning modern restorative and martial arts in American culture. The clubs originated in the East, but they came to America from Europe.

The story of their evolution, disappearance, and rediscovery in American society is intriguing, and the amazing effect of their practical application is relevant to any martial arts system.

Indian Clubs are usually made of wood and resemble either club-like weapons or bowling pins. At one time, they lined the walls of our gymnasia, and countless Americans swung them in marvelous and complicated circular patterns that stimulated the brain and invigorated the body.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF INDIAN CLUBS

The clubs originated centuries ago in India. They were developed by soldiers, police, and others whose caste required strength, agility, balance, physical prowess, and martial arts skill. British officers involved in the annexation of India were surprised to find the natives marvelously expert in swinging clubs in various graceful and fantastic motions, and they noted that besides the great recommendation of simplicity the Indian club practice possesses “the essential property of expanding the chest and exercising every muscle of the body concurrently.” (Spalding, p.77)

The British brought the Indian Clubs to Europe where the Germans and Czechs eventually adopted club swinging into their physical training systems. German immigrants brought Indian clubs to the United States in the mid-1800s, and the clubs were soon introduced into both American school physical education programs and military physical readiness training.

The United States Army Manual of Physical Training (1914) notes:

“The effect of these exercises, when performed with light clubs, is chiefly a neural one, hence they are primary factors in the development of grace and coordination and rhythm. As they tend supple the muscles and articulation of the shoulders and to the upper and fore arms and wrist, they are indicated in cases where there is a tendency toward what is ordinarily known as “muscle bound.” (p.113)
Dio Lewis

Baron Nils Posse

In 1882, Dio Lewis, a pioneer in American physical culture, included Indian clubs in his system of physical education. He wrote of the clubs:

“They cultivate patience and endurance, and operate most happily upon the longitudinal muscles of the back and shoulders, thus tending to correct the habit of stooping.” (p.171)

In 1885, Baron Nils Posse, a Swedish soldier and physical educator, came to America and introduced the Swedish system of medical and military gymnastics. In 1884, his book was published explaining his system, and in it Posse details the difference between lifting dumbbells and swinging clubs.

Lifting dumbbells, he explained, adds weight to the lever (this is the commonly practiced linear lifting). Indian clubs, he continued, increase the momentum of the pendulum (this is the circular nature of club swinging). In other words, Indian clubs can be described as “circular weight training.” Posse also called the Indian club “the oldest known implement for military gymnastics and related it to the broadsword” (p.24).

Indian Clubs gradually disappeared from the American physical education landscape in the first two decades of the 20th century as sports and games replaced the European-based systems of restorative and military exercise.
In 1916, Joseph Cermak joined the futile chorus of Indian club defenders in noting:

“I have heard, and still hear among the professional men and women unfavorable comments about club exercises, but knowing that there is no other kind of hand apparatus that would admit such a great, almost inexhaustible variety of pleasing exercises as the clubs, believing that the clubs should have a prominent place in educational gymnastics, that by collaboration of mind and muscle in these exercises we can develop the highest degree of co-ordination.” (Preface)

In the hands of an expert, the powerful flowing motions of the clubs somewhat resemble the patterns of Filipino Kali. This resemblance is probably because the 5th century Indian Sri Vishaya warriors invaded the Philippines and eventually merged culturally with them. The Visayan people of the central Philippines can be traced to the Sri Vishaya culture. In terms of basic movement patterns, the relationship between Kali and Indian club training is best illustrated by comparing Danny Inosanto’s (1980) explanation of Kali attack angles (Inosanto) with Warman’s illustration of club swinging. Both systems stress flowing circular patterns and the figure-eight motion.

MODERN INDIAN CLUB APPLICATIONS

The shoulder girdle is probably the most movable area of the body, but it is also one of the most fragile. Strength of the shoulders should be complemented by flexibility, and the clubs can contribute to both. When the ball and socket joint of the shoulder works in harmony with the elbow and wrist joints, an almost infinite number of circular patterns is possible.

The basic club patterns are the foundation of all shoulder girdle movements, including those applicable to martial arts. The key to effective use of the clubs is concentration, precision, and practice.

Many if not most Americans do not fully develop their natural shoulder girdle mobility and muscular balance. Ill fitting furniture, poor posture, and our tragically inadequate system of physical education in our nation’s schools are among the many cultural factors that keep us from realizing our highest potential.

Basic club skills offer a safe and very effective means to regain essential shoulder girdle mobility. More advanced club movements include complicated arm and footwork that contribute to overall agility, timing, and dexterity.

The 14th Century French physician Tissot wrote, “movement as such may take the place of many remedies, but all the remedies together can never take the Place of the effect of movement.” Tissot was of course referring to rational and natural human motion. In this regard, a humble respect for the past will create a stronger and more productive present and carry us into a strong and secure future.

Club swinging was rediscovered several years ago at Northern Illinois University near Chicago. Last year it was introduced into the Cho Kwang Do martial arts system based in Atlanta and the U.S. Army off-duty education fitness leadership program at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Club swinging can undoubtedly improve shoulder girdle efficiency, and almost certainly help you become a better martial artist.

But maybe more importantly, it is one of those links to the timeless history that binds us to long forgotten martial artists who mastered themselves in order to better fulfill our common challenge to wisely rule this earth. Perhaps the 17th Century philosopher Pascal said it best: “Those we call the ancients were new in everything.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Richard J. Cox ~ Clubswinging Champion of The World

Posted on Friday, March 18th, 2016 by John Wood
Richard J. Cox developed lung problems when he was 12 years of age, and was labeled a “hopeless” case by his doctors. In a last ditch effort to regain his health, Cox took up Indian club swinging at the urging of his father. Within a few months of regular practice, the young master Cox had not only rid himself of his lung troubles but also gave his first club-swinging performance. Swinging the clubs became a lifelong pursuit for Cox and he won many medals and trophies for doing so. The above photo was taken in 1909, the day he won his first contest. (Looks like club swinging DOES build a little muscle, eh?) Cox eventually succeeded Gus Hill as “Club Swinging Champion of The World.”
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Sandow’s Clubs

Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2014 by John Wood
Interest in club swinging of various types is at an all time high, a few folks have even gone “deep catalog” and dug out some rare pictures of Sandow with clubs of all sorts. Did Sandow swing clubs to build his strength and physique? Doubtful. Like the one pictured here, clubs were used mostly as props to highlight his “Herculean” motif. Be that as it may, club swinging certainly can add many benefits into any training program.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Sim D. Kehoe

Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by John Wood

Sim D. Kehoe

Simon “Sim” D. Kehoe was a manufacturer of gymnastic equipment who was introduced to club swinging during his travels abroad. He observed clubs of various sized being swung by British soldiers who, in turn, had learned club swinging from their counterparts in India. …police, soldiers, wrestlers and “anyone else whose caste renders them liable to emergencies where great strength of muscle is desirable.”

Once Kehoe tried the clubs for himself he instantly understood their value. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1862, he set up shop to manufacture Indian clubs and introduce club swinging to the American public on a wider scale. His efforts certainly worked, swinging Indian clubs of various sizes became wildly popular in many circles. (no pun intended) More on Sim Kehoe and his clubs at a later date…

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Gus Hill and his Indian Clubs

Posted on Sunday, February 16th, 2014 by John Wood
Gus Hill, Club-Swinger
Another look at the great Indian Club swinger, Gus Hill and some of his fabulous clubs. I can’t say much for his outfit but the shoulder development and wiry physique from regular club work should be evident.

Club Swinging at the Royal Navy Training School

Posted on Thursday, September 26th, 2013 by John Wood

Indian clubs have a long history in the military, and with very good reason, regular club swing sessions will certainly keep one in fighting trim. This photo, dated November 4th, 1937, shows a club swinging workout at the Royal Navy Training School, Dartmouth, Devon, England. The Royal Navy smartly still includes club swinging in their training exercises today,
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Gus Hill, Champion Club Swinger of the World

Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011 by John Wood
As a means of physical culture, the Indian Clubs stand pre-eminent among the varied apparatus of gymnastics now in use. The revolutions which the clubs are made to perform, in the hands of one accustomed to their use, are exceedingly graceful.

Besides the great recommendation of simplicity, the Indian Club practice possesses the essential property of expanding the chest and exercising every muscle in the body concurrently.

Note in the crowded thoroughfare of Broadway now and then an occasional passer-by, with well-knit and shapely form, firm and elastic step, broad-chested and full blooded, and you may mark him down as an expert with the clubs.”

Gus Hill
Club Swinging Champion,

circa 1890