Help Children Build Arm Strength with Hanuman Gada (Age 6-7)
We wanted to help Sabi build arm strength. Our goal wasn’t to train her to become a bodybuilder, but to develop enough strength to provide a foundation for her overall well-being. After a year of training Sabi with the Hanuman Gada and Mudgars, we are writing this blog to share our experience.
Arm strength in children has many benefits:
- Strength: It’s not just about muscle. Building arm strength improves endurance and bone health. These enhancements help with daily tasks like lifting, pushing, and pulling. More than that, it can reduce the risk of injuries.
- Longevity: Think of it as living well, not just living long. Dr. Peter Attia talks about leading a healthy, active life. Maintaining arm strength plays a direct role in keeping us active, independent, and well as we grow older.
- Unlocking Activities: Strong arms opened doors for Sabi. She was able to try new activities such as push-ups, tree climbing, cartwheels, handstands, and monkey bar swings. All these brought a sense of achievement.
- Modern Job Relevance: White-collar jobs require constant typing. Many face issues like carpal tunnel syndrome due to repetitive actions. Wrist and arm strength can act as shields against such problems.
So, how did we incorporate this into our daily routine? We introduced her to Hanuman Gada training.
Choosing Hanuman Gada and Mudgars
In North India, we stumbled upon the “Hanuman Gada” and “Mudgar”. These are traditional Indic fitness equipment, very different from the usual gym stuff we’re used to, like dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells. Here’s the twist: with Hanuman Gada and Mudgar, most of the weight sits at the far end, not close to where you hold them. This setup makes swinging or lifting them challenging. We’re not just talking muscle work; you’ll need balance, a steady hand, and solid coordination.
Cultural References to Hanuman Gada and Mudgar. These tools aren’t just for show; they’re steeped in Indic culture and religions. Indic epics, like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, frequently talk about the Gada.
- In the Mahabharata, Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers, wields a mace, and his climactic duel with Duryodhana involves a Gada battle. Additionally, Krishna’s brother Balram also wields.
- In the Ramayan, Lord Hanuman, revered for his strength and devotion, is depicted with a Gada.
- Few forms of Durga Mata also wield the Gada.
- Lord Vishnu carries the iconic Kaumodaki Gada (कौमोदकी गदा), while Lord Shiva wields the Ekasha Gada.
Hanuman Gada and Mudgar in the History Books. Let’s time travel a bit.
- Marathas: The Marathas had a rich tradition of wrestling, known as “Malla-Yuddha”, and Akhadas (traditional wrestling grounds) were common across the territories they controlled. The Malla Purana provides an account of exercises and training for wrestlers underwent using Mudgars.
- Chola and Pallava era Temples: Dvarapalas, or temple guardians, are often seen wielding a mace, symbolizing protection and power.
Fitment with situation and Hinduism. Around the same time, we were finally introducing religion to Sabi. The key message that we wanted to imbibe in her was that the best way to pray to a God is to learn from them and implement their values in everyday life. This presented an interesting opportunity to learn from Lord Hanuman.
Simple. Get them started at month 3. Joking! That’s just a rattle. 😅
For the first many months, the goal was to get the flow and technique right instead of lifting heavy weights. Hence, we started with Lathis typically used in Kalaripattu.
Two weeks of focused training
In October 2022, we embarked on a 4000 km road trip across multiple states — Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh — to expose her to the essence of various Indic religions. Throughout the trip, we exercised with Hanuman Gada in the front of famous temples of India.
1 Kilo Hanuman Gada
Five months after she started training, Sabi had built enough arm strength to graduate from a Lathi to a 1 Kilo Hanuman Gada. Finding a 1 kilo Hanuman Gada was a challenge but we eventually found a boutique manufacturer in Pune who agreed to build one in Sabi’s size. Sabi started with simple exercises like sides, and eventually she was able to do single-hand 360-degree swings.
In February this year, Sabi suffered an elbow dislocation while playing. This impacted her training for many weeks.
For many weeks after her recovery, she returned back to training with a stick and slowly built up strength. Sabi was determined to get back and kept training herself.
2.5 Kilo Hanuman Gada
One year ago, Sabi began working out with Hanuman Gada and Mudgar, starting with a basic lathi. Fast forward, and she is now able to exercise with a 2.5 kilo Hanuman Gada!
Bloopers and Fun
Over time, Hanuman Gada has become an integral part of Sabi’s identity and training.
The resulting arm strength has helped her play on monkey bars, do push ups, graduate from cartwheel to handstands, and climb near vertical trees. We hope she continues her strength training next year, with or without the Hanuman Gada.