I went into Steel Mace Training with the wrong mindset. Completely wrong if i’m honest. With over 20 years in the field (strength and conditioning), my thought process was simple. Take what you have learned in other areas and apply it the steel mace. I would pick an exercise and do it for sets and reps. I would use leverage and muscle activation techniques used in traditional strength training. Sound reasoning, but my plan failed. I couldn’t hit the right positions or postures. I failed to hold positions and struggled in places where it didn’t seem logical for me to fail. I knew something was wrong, but couldn’t figure out why or what causing my challenges. I knew I had research the steel mace and find the right coach to help me grow. This process led me down this path. Researching, relearning, and now writing about steel mace training.
What is a Steel Mace?
The Steel Mace is a (often hollow) metal bar weighted on one end. Ninety five percent or more of the weight of the mace is on one end. The weight can range from 5 to 50+ pounds. However, the 10lb steel mace is the standard. The offset weight provides the opportunity to move the mace in unique ways which can’t be accomplished with dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or any other piece of weight equipment.
Where did the Steel Mace Come From?
The Mace was originally called a Gada and was made from bamboo stick and stones which were tied together. This ancient tool is at least 2,000 years old and has been used as a war weapon by numerous cultures. It was referenced in writings of Alexander The Great whose army fought the fierce hindu warriors who were known to train with this tool. He described them as fearless and having the strength of many men… perhaps from training with the mace. The gada, or heavy mace, was the weapon of choice of Hindu soldiers. According to the book Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture, warriors during the Puranic age would engage in mace training early in the morning along with wrestling, archery, and swordsmanship. In addition to dueling each another with gadas, warriors would swing heavier versions behind their backs in order to strengthen their backs, chests, shoulders, forearms, and fingers. Because of their rigorous physical and tactical training, Hindu warriors were some of the fiercest of the ancient world.
Are there different styles of steel mace training?
Yes, there are two primary styles. Steel Mace Flow and Steel Mace Training (for lack of a better term).
There is Steel Mace Flow (TM) created and popularized by Leo Savage which when mastered, seamlessly blends movement of the mace with body movement while flowing from one position and posture to another. Think Yoga Flow with a steel mace in your hand, but with far more explosive movements. In a longer flow (which can last 5 minutes or more) the goal isn’t to perform a certain number of sets and reps of any particular movement. Instead, it’s a free form of movement which has rules, but strongly encourages creativity, fluidity, and rule bending.
Traditional Steel Mace Training also blends movement of the mace with body movement, but there isn’t a flow. While there might be 2 movements in a “set” (squat to lunge with some mace movement), there isn’t a blending of a wide variety of movements and postures into one extended series of movements.
What is the “right” mindset to have when training with a steel mace?
You have to be completely in the moment. Your mind can’t wander. This is because you need to connect your mind with your body as there is a lot going on in terms of breathing and bracing. Now keep in mind you also need to connect your mind, body, and breathe to the mace. Finally, you need to develop a baseline proficiency in handling the mace before you can even dream of fluidly moving it fluidly in sync with your body. This is no joke. However, if you appreciate yoga, tai-chi, martial arts, or dance then you’ll likely love the steel mace. Learning to train with the steel mace is a process where you slowly develop basic skills/movements and then open pathways and transitions from one skill/movement to another. If you want some new and different that is unlike any other form of training this is it.
Align Fitness is a personal training and semi-private training company. Our personal training studios are located in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania and Downingtown, Pennsylvania. We offer a wide array of services including returning to exercise after injury (Post-Rehab), weight loss, golf fitness, sports performance, lessening the physical impact of neuromuscular disease, and pain reduction. We utilize a variety of equipment with our clients including kettlebells, TRX, steel mace, dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, and often incorporate bodyweight exercises into our programs. For more information or to schedule a free consultation please reach out! We also work along side Action Potential Physical Therapy in Glen Mills and physical therapist Dr. Arianne Missimer in Downingtown.