Tag: India

How Indian Clubs Came to England

Indian_clubs

Originating in modern-day India, the practice of club swinging has a long and deeply embedded cultural Indian history. In the first instance, the Indian clubs featured heavily in the Mahabharata, a Hindu religious epic written during the Indian Vedic Age (1500 – 500 BCE). Highly allegorical, the epic focused on two warring sects, the Pandevas and Kauravas, with their fierce battle a metaphor for life itself (Dasgupta, 2004, 411-420). While several figures used gadas (Indian club precursors) throughout the religious epic, it was the final gadabattle between Bhima, the king and Duryodhan, the man vying for Bhima’s throne, which became synonymous with the Indian clubs’ importance (Roy, 2012, 21-23). That each man, famed for his power and force wielded gadas linked the clubs to overt images of strength, masculinity and military prowess. Similarly, that Bhima killed Duryodhan with his club demonstrated its very real destructive capabilities (Ibid.).

Indian Clubs in Victorian Britain

Indian_clubs

Fitness crazes are unsurprisingly not a new phenomenon and in light of that fact, today we will discuss the growth of the Indian Club craze in Victorian England. Indian Clubs are bottle-shaped wooden clubs that are swung in the hand using a range of movements for the purpose of gymnastic exercise. Whilst they have been used for centuries in India and the Middle East both in people’s homes and in private gymnasia to develop strength, speed and flexibility, this form of exercise entered into Western consciousness relatively recently with British soldiers ‘discovering’ the exercises in the early 19th century when based in colonial India. The spread of the Club’s popularity in Victorian Britain was as rapid as it was fascinating.