Video : Indian Clubs | Training at Suria Akhara

Training at Suria Akhara

This video is a collection of training footage recorded at Suria Akhara, Varanasi, India.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone Training at Suria Akhara for allowing me to record this video footage during your training. Most of the video was recorded early in the morning, the temperature on the day was between 28 and 30 degrees celsius, with very high humidity at around 80%, in other words, stinking hot.

Training at Suria Akhara 12
Suria Akhara
Suria Akhara – Varanasi – India

The visit to Suria Akhara started as a passenger on the back of a motorbike, weaving through the tiny streets and alleyways of Varanasi.  On arrival we had to squeeze past a cow tethered to a wall before walking through the gates, I have to say that I would have never have found this place without the local knowledge of my guide Prakash Sahani who had arranged for the members of Suria Akhara to put on a display of traditional exercises.


All the members of the akhara were dressed in the traditional cotton nagota, the colour predominately red in honour of the God of strength Hanuman.  It has to be said that some previous visitors have laughed on seeing the nagota,  which is to my mind very disrespectful considering that this is the customary and traditional dress code inside the confines of the akhara.  It goes without saying that it is also customary to remove your shoes on entry, luckily Prakash had warned me and I arrived wearing sandals that could be removed easily.  The beaten earth inside the akhara has a very nice feel to it.


The training was already in progress as we arrived, so on asking Prakash to take photographs I switched my video camera on and began filming.  The workouts consisted of gada, hand nal, head nal, dumbbells and jodi clubs.  Followed by a display of body weight exercises.  Finally I had a quick tour around the buildings a was shown the ceremonial jori clubs that are used during jori competitions and festivals.

Best Training Footage

The following videos contain some of the best training footage I recorded in Varanasi, and has inspired me to return next year for the Cobra festival, which features the swinging of the ceremonial jori clubs mentioned earlier.  Although I am not a wrestler I do train with clubs and gada mace, and found the events on this day awe inspiring.

This video is about my visit to Suria Akhara in Varanasi. It starts with a quick motorbike drive to the location, which would have been difficult to find without local knowledge. You will see gada-mace swinging, both one and two-handed. Dumbells, heavy Jori Clubs, hand and neck Nal and a selection of traditional body weight exercises.

Highlights from a Dumbell and Gada Competition held during the Gandhi Festival in Varanasi.
The Dumbells are swung in an alternate motion across the front of the body, the arm has to straighten on the downward path before the weight is pulled up.

Indian Jori Clubs at Suria Akhara are large, tall and bulky, the height often reaching mid chest, roughly the same length as a Gada.Have you ever wondered how the JORI Clubs are loaded onto the shoulders?

At  Kaali Baari Akhara
Demonstrations of three Jori Club swing styles, and two Gada swing styles by Gyanshankul Singh.

British Army

It would seem logical that the British Army were impressed on seeing the local Pahlevans training with clubs and gada. By all accounts all the athletes were very well developed, especially in the shoulders and back.

Maybe a creative army physical training instructor modified the Indian Jori Clubs by shortening them to roughly 22″ inches. In doing so they developed a new and very effective training system. The newly created clubs were then put to good use in drilling troops, building upper body strength with particular focus on carrying arms.

Inward Swings good

Many Pahlevans tried swinging Indian Clubs that I had brought with me from Australia, and many performed inward circles without much difficulty, which stands to reason as both Jori and gada are both inward movements. What was surprising was that none of them could swing in an outward movement, no doubt with time and instruction outward swings could have been mastered.

Barbell Press and Squat

Training at Suria Akhara 01



Dumbbell traditional exercise used in competitions


Indian Club try outs, using two pairs of my clubs.
Training at Suria Akhara 03



Gar Nal (stone neck ring)


Parallel Bars

Training at Suria Akhara 06



Rope Climbing







By Paul Taras Wolkowinski

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Weapon Worship in India

There is an interesting cultural element of worshipping weapons in India. It is called Shastra Puja or Ayudha Puja, which literally means weapon worship. It takes place during an Indian religious annual festival in September. The celebration is dedicated to the Goddess Durga. During this event, people decorate their weapons with flowers and some religious ornaments and pray to them. This is also some sort of an act of gratitude and appreciation of the weapons and the protection they provide.

Earlier, of course, people worshiped the bows, arrows, swords and other weapons of the time. Since the firearms were introduced, gained popularity and pretty much replaced the old types of weapons, they became a part of this ritual. Today this celebration has even widened its meaning and people start to worship any tool which they use to make a living: cars, hand tools, machinery etc.

For some tribes like Kodava people, weapon worshipping is especially important. Weapons had a central role in their culture for centuries. These people are avid proponents of firearm ownership. They educate their children from the very young age to respect the gun and understand the responsibilities and benefits associated with owning a firearm. It is interesting to see an example of an old culture giving so much importance of responsible ownership of firearms and appreciating the role that weapons played during the history of mankind.

Below is a selection of images gathered all over the internet showing the weapon worship ritual in various parts of India.

The Fire Arm Blog


Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial: All you want to know about statue to be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi

Despite the political hullabaloo, there are many fascinating things about the statue, so here’s all you want to know about the memorial

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to lay the foundation for Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial in Arabian sea, which has got the worldwide fame even before the commencement of its construction. If sources are to be believed, the memorial is designed to be taller than the iconic ‘Statue of Liberty’. Though there is a political chaos over the statue but its establishment is inevitable. “I am honoured to be getting the opportunity to perform the Bhoomipujan of Shiv Smarak,” PM said.  Despite the political hullabaloo, there are many fascinating things about the statue, so here’s all you want to know about the memorial.

-The proposed height of the statue is 309-feet, as per PTI and the iconic ‘Statue of Liberty’ stands with total 305-feet, 6 inches

– The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

The total cost of the project is Rs 3,600 crore which would be completed in two phases, with Rs 2,500 crore of the total amount to be spent in the first phase. Completion of the monument is expected by 2019.

– A 15-hectare island at off Mumbai coast has been chosen to build the memorial, and of the total height 60 per cent would be the height of Shivaji’s statue.

Beyond this project, the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government had taken up the preservation of forts built by the legendary 17th Century king.

Though it is not less than a ‘dream project’ for both State and Centre government but it was once pointed out that it will violate the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, which does not allow construction up to 500 meters from High Tide Line or HTL along the banks of rivers, backwater and estuaries.

Financial Express


Video : Acing Silambam in a Saree

Most urban, young women today see the saree as a dress for special occasions. Compared to modern attire, the saree is rather restricting and limits one’s movements. Not to mention how difficult it is to get a perfect drape if you are a novice! But this video uploaded by Aishwarya Manivannan on National Handloom Day (August 7) might just change your mind about the versatility of the six-yard wonder and all that you can do wearing one. Silambam, for starters.

Watch Aishwarya rock the saree while performing this traditional martial art from Tamil Nadu:

‘Silambam’ or ‘Silambattam’ comes from the Tamil words ‘silam’ (hill) and ‘perambu’ (bamboo). The type of bamboo used to perform Silambam comes from the Kurinji hills in South India and the martial art is named after it.

Silambam is so ancient that it finds mention even in Sangam literature such as the ‘Silapathikaram’ and others, dating its origins to as far back as the 2nd century BC.

According to tradition, sage Agastya was on his way to Vellimalai, when he began a discussion on Hindu philosophy with a fellow traveller, an old man, who was really Lord Muruga in disguise. The old man taught the sage kundalini yoga and other techniques of controlling and channelizing energy in the body. Agastya practised these techniques and later compiled the learnings in three palm leaves. The basis for Silambam is said to have come from these compilations.

Other martial arts that are popular in South India, like Kalari payattu, Kuthu Varisai and Vaalveechu, are considered to be offshoots of Silambam.

The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu has recognized Silambam as a sport and has introduced it in school education.

There are many varieties of Silambam and the ones that are in vogue currently are ‘Por Silambam’ (warfare), ‘Silambattam’ (folk dance) and ‘Potti Silambam’ (sport). Apart from the traditional stick that is used to perform this martial art, practitioners also use weapons like deer horns, spears, swords and small knives.

Silambam is making a come-back these days in cities as a novel way for fitness freaks to get a solid work-out. It’s said to be a great calorie burner that improves blood circulation and heart function, while shaping the body and relieving the mind of stress and fatigue. Saree or yoga pants, traditional or modern, if you’re looking to shed some pounds, Silambam might just be your answer!

The News Minute


A brief talk on the history of Hampi by Sadhguru

During his travels, Sadhguru makes a stop in Hampi, the historic capitol of the Vijayanagar Empire. Surrounded by magnificent stones, cave carvings over 4000 years old, and exuding an aura of fascination, this city was once described as “far bigger and greater than Rome”.