Swinging My Way Through India | Gada | Steel Mace

mace swinging

I was waiting at the Delhi airport for my big bag hoping that I would still find my mace in there. When I got my big bag I noticed it still had a pointy shape, which meant good news: there were going to be mace flows in India. This was my second trip to India. This year’s trip was supposed to be about training and my motorcycle, which was waiting for me in Rajasthan from my previous visit to India.

My vision was to document the traditional ways of training in India, and at the same time, record mace flows at beautiful sights. In this way, people would see a blend of traditional and modern mace training, which is my passion. I will share a few of the highlights from my trip to India.

Swinging a mace with Indian people in the background
          Swinging a mace with Indian people in the background

Varanasi – The Mekka of the Gada

When you travel to India and you have some connection with the mace, there is no way around Varanasi. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and one of the seven holy cities in India. Varanasi is also home of countless Akharas, which are traditional training spots for wrestlers. India’s wrestling history goes back at least 2500 years and it is still a major sport in India. The type of wrestling in India is usually called Pehlwani or Kushti.

The gada, a bamboo stick with a stone at the end, is a traditional wrestling training tool in India. The mace is based upon this gada. While most Akharas throughout India are specifically for wrestling, in Varanasi you’ll also find Akharas that are specialized in the gada and mugdar (Jori clubs/Indian clubs). Akharas are holy places connected to the Hindu God Hanuman. Hanuman is the God of strength and power and always carries a gada. 

I visited many Akharas during my stay in Varanasi, and it was such an amazing experience. People are always very kind and are eager to showcase their daily training routines. The video below is about an Akhara, which is close to my heart. I visited this Akhara on my previous stay in Varanasi, and I have a good connection with the trainer. You’ll also see the religious side of Akharas, which always seems to amaze me.

Police Connections in Kanpur

Having connections with the police is never a bad thing in India, as I discovered during my stay in Kanpur. I arrived in Kanpur on a Sunday after a full day of driving. In a hurry to visit an Akhara (they usually close at sunset), I asked a police officer if he knew an Akhara. He sent one of his policemen with me to find one. After a long search, we gave up; no Akharas were open on Sundays. He told me that he would meet me in the morning to find Akharas.

He met up with me at 7 am and we found several Akharas where he would help me translate and document. This police officer was also head of security for the JK temple in Kanpur. I met him in the afternoon and he gave me permission to film a mace flow in front of the temple, which would usually not be permitted.

With Rajeev Ji, the police officer
With Rajeev Ji, the police officer

Kushti Ke Deewane

I received a message five days before my departure on Instagram from the guy who is behind the channel Kushti Ke Deewane, a big youtube channel about Kushti wrestling. He saw one of my videos on Youtube and wanted to help me to create a documentary about wrestling in India. Luckily he was located in Delhi, and my flight home also left from Delhi. We met at 5 am in the morning after 3,5 hours of sleep. He brought his brother Sunny, who is a professional wrestler and trains at one of the best Akharas in India.

Picture yourself five really big guys in the smallest Hyundai that is available on the market. That is how we arrived at the Olympic wrestling training center in Delhi. I tried Kushti wrestling, did all the exercises they perform each day, and saw more than 100 wrestlers in one big training area. We finished that amazing morning by making a traditional post-workout drink, which was almond based and really delicious. In the video below you’ll find the documentary about this day. 

Thank you dearly for reading and showing interest. This blog was made in 2019 after my second trip to India. Do visit my youtube channel for more videos and information about India and my trips.

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