Video : Indian Clubs | Training at Suria Akhara

Posted August 9, 2017 by admin in Sacred Weapons

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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