Marcus Quijas and I caught up in Sheffield, UK 2015, for the Indian Clubs workshop organised by Mike Simpson who runs Sheffield Indian Club Swingers.
We first met in my home town of Perth, Western Australia. Perth was a stop over visit for Marcus Quijas, who was on his way from the Phillipines to visit the Akharas of Varanasi and his induction to the esteemed membership of the Varanasi Gada Club.
What is your professional background?
Marcus Quijas:- My first job was in the army, initially joining as a paratrooper. After deciding jumping out of planes and shooting people didn’t have much career longevity, I became a dog/trainer and handler and my work involved looking for I.E.D.s (Improvised Explosive Devices if you haven’t seen The Hurt Locker). It was during my time in the army I developed my passion for all types of fitness, researching all I could primarily to aid me in my job on deployment. Carrying a third of your body weight on your back in baking heat for days on end, under the constant stress of contact with the enemy, or an I.E.D. device takes it out of you. During this time I studied to be a personal trainer and attended many fitness courses, more for my own personal knowledge rather than a career in fitness at the time. After leaving the army, I picked up a job in private security in Afghanistan. It was during this time I constructed my first Gada, a wondrous time. Then I moved to live in the Philippines, training security dogs in a joint owned company before that failed spectacularly. Finally returning home to England this year to pursue a career in fitness. In many ways being in a war zone is easier.
What qualifications do you have?
Marcus Quijas:- With regards to fitness:
CYQ Level 2 Gym Instructor
Personal Trainer & Advanced Instructor Level 3-Future Fit
Nutrition and Weight Management Level 3-Future Fit
I.K.F.F. (International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation Certified Teacher Level 1
I.U.K.L. (International Union of Kettlebell Lifting) Level 2 National Girevoy Sport Instructor
C.S.T. (Circular Strength Training) Level 1 Instructor
I.B.B.C. (International Bulgarian Bag Confederation) Bulgarian Bag Specialist
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified
Yoga Training Centre Varanasi India, Integrated Yoga Instructor
Yoga Training Centre Varanasi India Reiki Level 1,2,3 and 4 (Grand Master)
Certified massage courses, Holistic, Yoga Shiatsu and Ayurvedic
Universal Tao course Thailand, Basic Inner Smile, 6 Healing Sounds and Microcosmic orbit Meditations
Student of Grandmaster Tu Jin Sheng, Taiwan, 99 power Iron Crotch Qi Gong
However I will say that having a piece of paper does not make you an immediate authority on the subject matter. Also numerous qualifications from the army from, battle tactics combat instructor to specialist dog trainer, many of which are not much use in the civilian sector but were fun at the time as they usually involved blowing stuff up.
When did you start swinging a Gada and Jori Clubs?
Marcus Quijas:- I first used a Gada around 2010 and would use it intermittently during that time but only really trained with it seriously beginning in May of 2014. I tried playing around with Jori Clubs, but only really started to train with them in May of 2015. I do not train with either Jori or Gada for the 3 months of winter.
What sparked your interest in swinging a Gada and Jori Clubs?
Marcus Quijas:- I was searching on YouTube and found a video of trainer Kevin Wikse. He was swinging a 20kg Mace. It looked like a powerful movement so I began to research everything I could about Gada swinging from modern Macebells to Indian Gada. At the time it was passing spark of curiosity that became fully ignited after watching some of your videos Paul.
Can you explain why you enjoy Gada and Jori Clubs exercise?
Marcus Quijas:- I enjoy the movements and learning curve. Each time I train I learn something new. For example the frustration of learning the Jori was coupled with a feeling of accomplishment once I developed a basic proficiency and everything clicked into place. During training the mind must be focused to be maximally efficient in many regards, it is like a combined mental and physical meditation.
Do you swing a Gada one or two handed?
Marcus Quijas:- I swing with both styles though two handed is generally my preference. One-handed work I find is of real benefit to improving Jori swinging and strengthening any imbalances. Two-handed Gada swinging is great for full body power and endurance and one of my favourite exercises.
If you were to be cast away alone on a desert island, which Gada or Jori Clubs would you choose to have with you?
Marcus Quijas:- Tough question. I was trying to think about this laterally like whether I could make a boat or some kind of shelter. I suppose if there is bamboo and some coconuts on this desert island I could make my own Gada, so I would choose some wooden conical iron banded Jori around 15kg in weight that way I get the best of both worlds.
What are the characteristics of your favourite Gada and Jori Clubs?
Marcus Quijas:- Having tried many kinds of Gadas, I like the traditional Home Made Gada with bamboo handles and stone or concrete heads. They feel better in motion, the metal ones feel like they cheat, because there is a lot of the weight is in the handle. The bamboo pole weighs barely anything, so all the weight is in the head and I believe this really makes you work for control and power, plus in comparison to metal they are cheap to make.
Another aspect of making your own equipment is that it gives you immense satisfaction once the task is complete. It is like you have imbued this tool of strength with part of your own being and that makes it special to you, you have pride in that work. This is just a personal opinion sometimes you have no choice in the matter and must make do with the best you have. In Afghanistan I fashioned very nice steel pole handle Gadas that served me well. With regards to Jori, I like the wooden conical tapered style coming up to the sternum height wise as they really cut the corner when you turn them past the shoulder. I tried concrete ones and that was not a good idea.
Why did you decide to become a Gada trainer?
Marcus Quijas:- Haha. I don’t think I am a Gada trainer per se. That seems too narrow a focus. I like to practice as many disciplines of Indian Physical Culture as possible. I train in yoga and meditation as well as the Jori, Gada and other traditional Indian implements. For example, I have a homemade Sumtola (Indian Barbell), Gar Nal (neck weight) and I swing Dumbbells in the style used in the Akharas of Varanasi. For me the Gada is but a small part of a larger more intricate tapestry.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of Gada and Jori Clubs swinging for the average person?
Marcus Quijas:- For every day fitness enthusiasts the Gada and Jori can be a useful addition in regard to increased flexibility, strengthen the upper body, they both develop strong grip and great conditioning. Being able to control the Gada and Jori also helps in developing balance and coordination which promotes numerous long term health benefits for both the body and brain. I don’t believe that Jori and Gada quantifies as strength training. If you want to get strong then using a heavy barbell for squats, deadlifts and presses is a must. If you want to run then run. The Gada and Jori are just tools for your toolbox don’t focus on the implement overly much.
How do you keep your Gada and Jori Clubs knowledge up to date?
Marcus Quijas:- I watch your Indian Clubs YouTube Channel, and always keep an eye on what other people are doing. I keep an open mind and am planning a return to India in the new year 2016 to see some old friends. I also practice a lot, every training session brings new lessons to light.
Having been to India already can you share your experience?
Marcus Quijas:- I loved India it was a real adventure for me. I spent 3 months in total training at numerous Akhara, training alongside Kushti wrestlers and Pahlavan. As each Akhara is a temple to Hanuman, the Indian monkey God of Strength and Devotion. Many people say their gym is their temple. In India the Temple is the gym. I learnt so much that couldn’t be read in books or seen in DVD’s, and for that I am eternally grateful. I am not grateful for the monkey that snatched my bag of almonds from my room though.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Marcus Quijas:- I would like to thank you Paul Taras Wolkowinski for being able to do this interview, it is a great honour. If it was not for you blazing a trail into the world of clubs I am not sure I would have ventured into the dark by myself. For that I will always regard you as my Guri Ji. I wish to extend my respect to all the other swingers out there, no matter the implement. We are part of a small but growing brother and sisterhood and this can only is for the better. I hope to see you out there swinging away soon.
The Quite Power website
Marcus lives in the town of Newquay, Cornwall U.K.
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