Steel Mace Training

From Tradition to the Modern Era

The Steel Mace has been around for centuries. The Art of Manliness article describes the Steel Mace as such: “The gada, or heavy mace, was the weapon of choice of Hindu soldiers as well as the Hindu deity Hanuman, an anthropomorphic monkey who can lift mountains with a single hand. 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.” (1)

The Mace is still used in the North of India for training by Pehllwani Wrestlers. With exercise names like Grave Digger, Chopping Wood, and Spear Jabs, once can understand the functionality that the Steel Mace can provide to overall training. The traditional training methods were derived from the daily activities and movements of people. Many of the traditional movements like the 360 and the Barbarian Squat can help an athlete not only gain full body strength, but also stability, coordination and cardiovascular endurance.

The Mace was introduced into the western world by Jake Shannon who adopted the Pehllwani training philosophies of German wrestler, Karl Gotch (2). Today, Rik Brown, a former student of Jake Shannon, also known as Mr. Maceman, shares his passion for traditional Mace and Gada Training.

The training style has become quite popular among MMA fighters due to its ability to strengthen grip and enhance overall muscular strength and endurance. The direct application to back strength and throwing power is evident in moves like the 360 exercise.

ONNIT Academy, in Austin Texas, is currently a part of the evolution of Steel Mace innovation, led by Erik Esik Melland who is developing flow movements and transitions for shorter maces. Many of these movements are refined and developed through his martial arts background. The combinations and sequences provide a full body workout along with sequencing, challenging focus, concentration, mental fortitude and stamina.

The Steel Mace, although a very old tool, is new to most and is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Its uses and applications are continuously evolving and we are only scratching the surface of its potential. Despite the renaissance, it is important that new users begin by respecting and learning its origins and the traditional movements.

Most people do not have the shoulder mobility to properly execute the traditional movements. But when we consider the vast majority of ailments impacting society, it is crucial that our exercises and activities can provide an immediate impact and effect. It is for this reason that my very first workshop “Steel Mace Foundations & Flow” begins by teaching traditional movements before transitioning to non-traditional steps.

The offset load of the Mace can also be utilized in a safe way in groups to work anti-rotation and counter-rotation. I have been developing a progression-based approach to using the Steel Mace, which I use to help my clients develop greater core engagement and postural awareness. These methods are taught in my Steel Mace Coaching Progressions Workshop. It is here that we build on the basic understanding of movements by breaking them down into more manageable progressions.

The Steel Mace was used as a weapon. However, the vast majority of us are not looking to fight with maces, but to access the strength and conditioning that it can provide. Like the Kettlebell, this tool can be used for both sport and strength. The Steel Mace continues to revolutionize fitness and we should all be excited to be active witnesses in this movement.

Rich will be hosting an 8 hour Steel Mace workshop in NYC on October 8th, registration is now open. Please sign up today and get an early bird discount by going to


1. Art of Manliness: Train Like an Ancient Hindu Warrior: The Steel Mace Workout
2. An Illustrated Guide to Mace Training: Rik Brown