Indian CLUBS - No. 1

By Beatrice E. Bear

Fellow of the Gymnastic Teachers' Institute, Member of the British College of Physical Education

The Use of Club Swinging - Correct Length and Weight - The Way to Hold the Club - Position for Club Swinging - Swings and Twists, and How to Make Them - Circles, from A to D

The aim of this series of articles is to give simple directions as to the way clubs should be used, so as to enable anyone to swing them.

Valuable Benefits

Club swinging encourages an erect attitude, strengthens the wrists, gives flexibility to the shoulder-muscles, and counteracts prominent shoulder-blades. It also overcomes rigidity of the chest, broadening and deepening it, and so increases the capacity for deep breathing. The more advanced exercises, which necessitate different circles being made simultaneously with each hand, cultivate ambidexterity and control of movement.

Children from nine to twelve years of age should have clubs from 18 inches to 20 inches in length, weighing from 8 ounces to 10 ounces each. For girls of fifteen and upwards, the length should be 20 inches to 22 inches, and the weight 12 ounces to 14 ounces each club. Clubs over 1 pound in weight are not advised, as they are too tiring. The shape of the club is important - the neck should be slender, and the increase in size gradual.

Clubs are swung in circles, which are made either in front of or behind the body. Circles are divided into swings and twists. Swings are circles made from the shoulder, the arm and club being kept in a straight line. Twists are circles made from the wrist, sometimes with the assistance of the fingers. When swinging clubs, the body always must be kept quiet. Swaying, bending the knees, or ducking forward of the head must be avoided. There is no fear of the club hitting the head if the circle is made correctly. Rules for Swings. The club must be held loosely. If the hand is placed on it as described below in the " Carry," there is no danger of the club being dropped. The arm must be-straight, but not stiffened. The club should be swung round - i.e., the weight of the club should take the arm round and keep it straight, just as a weight tied to a piece of string will, if swung round, make a circle and keep the string straight. In starting swings, after straightening the arm, always turn the wrist so that the fingers face the direction in which the swing is to be made, and keep the knob of the club resting lightly against the wrist. In this way the club will remain in line with the arm.

Fig. I.   Carry.  Right hand, correct.

Fig. I. " Carry." Right hand, correct.

Left hand, incorrect

Photos, Martin facolette

Rules for Twists. Keep the hand in its place, and the wrist and fingers supple, so that the weight of the club can, in doing the circle, bend or turn the wrist, or cause the fingers slightly to relax their hold.

The chief difficulty in club swinging is to make the circles in the right direction. For instance, the tendency in making front swings (across the body in front) is to start the circle behind the shoulder, and finish it too far from the body in front. To overcome this, the learner should imagine herself standing with her back to a thin wall. All circles made in front of the body should be parallel to this imaginary wall, and about 18 inches to 20 inches from it. All circles made behind the body should also be parallel to the wall, and about 8 inches or 10 inches behind it. It will be shown later how the direction of the circles can be learnt by swinging the club against an actual wall.

Fig. 2. Outward front swing (A). Right hand. Showing position just after the start of circle. Left hand. Outward back twist (B) just after the start of circle

Fig. 2. Outward front swing (A). Right hand. Showing position just after the start of circle. Left hand. Outward back twist (B) just after the start of circle

Beginners are advised to master the first four circles, A, B, C, D, and to practise combinations of these with each hand separately, before attempting the other more advanced circles. Consecutive circles will be dealt with later.

Fig. 3. Right hand. Outward cross front twist (C), just before completion of 1st half of circle. Left hand. Outward back twist at full distance (B), just before completion of 1st half of circle

Fig. 3. Right hand. Outward cross front twist (C), just before completion of 1st half of circle. Left hand. Outward back twist at full distance (B), just before completion of 1st half of circle

The Carry (Fig.1). This is the preliminary position from which all the circles are started. The hands should hold just above the knob of the clubs, which should point vertically upwards. The fingers and thumb must be folded round the neck of the club, not grasping it tightly, the arms bent, the hands level with and opposite to the shoulders. The body is held erect, the chest forward, the chin in, the eyes looking to the front and fixed on a point slightly above their own level. The feet are a small space apart, the knees braced back and toes turned out at an angle of 450. (See Fig.1. Right hand correct, left hand incorrect, and showing a very common mistake - that of putting the first finger straight up the club.)

There are twelve circles which can be made with clubs. These will be described in order, afterwards simple exercises combining these circles, and also more advanced combinations, will be given. Each circle is denoted by a letter, which is placed after the name. This short notation should be learnt in order that the exercises may be read. Every circle should be practised an equal number of times with each hand. Outward Front Swing (A) (Fig. 2). Right hand. From the "Carry," straighten the arm upwards, and in a slightly forward direction, the fingers to the front and the knob of the club resting lightly against the wrist. Now turn the wrist so that the fingers are turned out, the thumb being in front, and immediately swing the club down to the right and round, so that it makes a circle about 9 inches in front of the body, returning to the starting position. Fig. 2 shows the right-hand club passing through the first quarter of the circle, and it will be noticed that the back of the hand is uppermost. This is the correct position of the hand in all swings when the arm is approaching the horizontal, and it depends on the important turn of the wrist at the beginning of the circle (see Rules on Swings). Repeat the circle eight times, until it goes smoothly and easily. The arm must not be allowed to bend. It should feel as if the club were pulling at the shoulder-joint ; and the wrist should be turned each time at the start of the circle without jerk or pause. The next thing is to get the right direction of the circle. To ensure this, stand facing a wall, about 9 inches away from it - less for a small child. Raise the club ready for the swing, the end of the club touching the wall, and make the circle, letting the club just graze the wall throughout. Repeat eight times, then practise the same thing eight times with the left hand. The learner should count each circle as she starts it - one, two, three, in rather slow waltz time; or a waltz may be played, each circle occupying one bar.