Gada Mace


In days of old, a large stone, with a hole through the centre of it, big enough to push a metre length of bamboo pole securely into it, gave you a gada mace to lift and swing for exercise.

It was and is intended to be very clumsy and difficult to handle, featuring a long shaft and complete lack of counterbalance. The longer the shaft the more resistance, plus heavier weights on the end will also increase resistance.
Nowadays the gada mace is simply a weight on the end of a shaft or handle, a homemade cement ball on a bamboo pole, gym weights at one end of a barbell, or a manufactured mace that you can purchase.

Gada Mace


Kushti Wrestlers in India have used the gada mace to train, for generations. They were swung for 100’s of repetitions. At wrestling championship competitions, winners are awarded a gada mace made of silver, a statement honouring the contestants’ prowess.


Gada mace options are limited, but consider that a positive, there are two movements, the first is the 10-2 and second the 360, both offer an intense workout without much fuss.


Choosing the weight of a gada mace really depends on your build, height and strength. A lighter framed person should use at 5 to 8kgs, medium frame 7 to 10kgs and large frame 10 to 12kgs. The length of the handle should be around 1 metre, if you add the gada mace head the total the full length would be 1.2 metres, or 46″ inches.
There are many variations on offer, if you are serious about learning to swing the gada mace, choose carefully and don’t buy something that is too heavy. Remember that you will be swinging a ball on the end of a pole for multiple repetitions.


Swinging a Gada – Mace is a full body workout that will strengthen your back, chest, core, shoulders, forearms, and grip. In MMA it will prepare you for throwing opponents to the mat.

Gada Mace triceps extensionWARMUPS for the GADA MACE

Kettlebell halos, clockwise and anti-clockwise.
Clubbell head casts, close to the head.
Persian Meels, alternate Zurkhaneh style inward and outward back circles.
Attention must be paid to achieving a full triceps extension at the back. A guideline to check your form, both your hands should pass the back of your head as low as possible. Do not allow your hands to pass above the back of your head, this means you are holding the handle too tight and there is the possibility of tweaking your elbow joints, which is painful and stops you training whilst you recover.


Begin by holding the mace directly in front of you with your hands gripped close together at the end of the handle (not touching). Starting with the LEFT over RIGHT grip, push up and over your right shoulder dropping the head of the mace into a swing behind you, as you feel the mace reaching the bottom of its swing, start pulling up really hard until the mace head comes up and over your left shoulder, ending up directly in front of you again. The pull up is the hardest part of the swing for a beginner.
Repeat swinging in this direction several times.
With the same grip reverse the exercise and start by pushing up over the left shoulder several times.
Next reverse the grip to RIGHT over LEFT and swing left first, and then to the right.

Gada Mace

GRIP right over left


There are two different grips, LEFT over RIGHT and RIGHT over LEFT, this is an asymmetric or uneven grip. Focusing on your grip is very important, instinctively you will grip the handle with full force (death grip), for fear of dropping the mace, especially when it has just gone over your shoulder, this is fine to start with, but actually wrong in the long term, because your forearms will tire very quickly and you will stress your elbows.

Learning to relax your grip is the key, when you push up you can relax the grip pressure, to the point where the mace is starting to drop over your shoulder, the upward motion enabling you to straighten your fingers momentarily, and effectively taking a rest, just as the mace starts to free fall behind you re-grip softly, and the mace handle will pull your fingers into a tighter grip for the rest of the swing.

A relaxed grip will make your skin will tighten around the mace handle like the Chinese Finger Trap puzzle.

Gada Mace

GRIP left over right


The spotter has to stand to the side where the mace is going to be pulled up, just to the back and clear of the mace flight path, as the mace head rises the spotter can catch the mace head and help to push it up. This can be a great help to a beginner in understanding the movement and amount of upward pull they have to apply to swing the mace without assistance.


If you are just starting out or trying a heavier mace, you can choke the handle.
Take hold of the mace shaft at roughly half way between the head of the mace and the tip of the shaft. By doing this you shorten (choke) the mace, it means that the mace makes a smaller circle during the swing behind you. The smaller circle shortens the swing. There is simply less distance to travel, the mace head drops less behind you and there is less drag when you pull the mace up and over the opposite shoulder. You can choke the mace anywhere along the handle and find the sweet spot that suits you, (mark it with some tape), as you become stronger and more confident, start thinking about moving your grip further away from the mace head, training will become tougher but consider that a sign of improvement.


One swing every 5 seconds for a minute, pause and hold the mace, hands low on belly button (resting position). 1 min clockwise then 1 min counter clockwise. Change grip and repeat. Total set 4 mins. Really focus on achieving full triceps extensions by making sure your hands pass the back of your neck and not the back of your head.


Next progress to 30 seconds of stop-start (6 swings) followed by 30 seconds on non-stop (12 swings). Change grip and repeat.


The final aim is to go non-stop for 4 mins with one grip then change to the other (24/25 swings per minute, 4 minutes equals 100 swings). Try it, you will be amazed how quickly you will step up to the challenge.

With the stop-start method, you build stamina because you perform a swing followed by a static hold. The front draw down to the belly button forces you to learn the mechanics of straightening your arms, which in turn prepares you for the lift and push up. The arm straightening is vital for longer sets as it helps to pace the tempo of swing. If you don’t do it you will find that you start accelerating which basically exhausts you prematurely.


This is the classic swing practiced in Akhara‘s (wrestlers gym) in India for 100’s of repetitions. It has very rhythmic in tempo.
The starting position and the two grip techniques are exactly the same as the 360 swing. The main difference is that the mace head never completes a full circle, it stops and floats over each shoulder, which is simultaneously the end of one swing and the beginning of the next.
The 10-2 has two swing elements one clockwise and the other anti-clockwise.
For example starting with the hands gripping LEFT over RIGHT, push up and over your right shoulder dropping the head of the mace into a swing behind you, as you feel the mace reaching the bottom of it’s swing, start pulling up really hard until the mace comes up and over your left shoulder, the mace head should float over your shoulder momentarily, then you should feel the mace head begin to drop thus reversing the swing and travelling to the opposite shoulder, it’s like an upside down pendulum.


To stop the momentum of the mace head over each shoulder, give the shaft a sharp tug as it descends in the front to your belly button and straighten your arms as much as you can, it’s like pulling the handbrake on in a car, but downwards. Do not allow the shaft to completely straighten in front of you because you are about to reverse the swing. It helps if you turn your head slightly and eyeball the mace head at each side.


Don’t speed up, keep a steady tempo.
Focus on the mace head flight path.
Always be ready to correct the flight path, it will go wrong occasionally.
To re-adjust the flight path slow down.


Developing both LEFT over RIGHT and RIGHT over LEFT, grip techniques and mastering swinging both clockwise and anti-clockwise 360’s is vital if you want to succeed in performing 10-2’s correctly. Paying attention to these details will guarantee that you control the mace, and not the mace controlling you.

 Click here to read Korean translation

 My thanks to Jeong Heon Oh for translating.


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