Joris and Gadas
Joris and gadas are heavy clubs which wrestlers swing in order to strengthen their shoulders and arms. At Ragunath Maharaj Akhara, Akhara Morchal Bir and other gymnasia, jori swinging is both a competitive sport and a form of exercise.
Joris are always swung in pairs (see plate 3). Those used for exercise usually weigh between fifteen and twenty-five kilograms each. They are carved of heavy wood and are weighted with bands of metal. In order to make the joris more difficult to swing, blades and nails are sometimes hammered into them.
At the beginning of the exercise, the joris are held in an inverted position. Each jori is swung alternately behind the back in a long arch. At the end of the arch each jori is lifted or flipped back onto the shoulder as the opposite jori begins its pendulum swing. Timing is an important part of this exercise. The balanced weight of one jori must facilitate the movement of the other. Jori swinging exercises the arms, shoulders, chest, thighs, and lower back. Wrestlers tend to swing fairly lightweight joris because they say that the heavier clubs cause the upper body to become rigid.
In contrast to the intricately carved silver and gold symbolic gadas (macelike clubs) depicted in art and used as wrestling trophies, gadas used for everyday exercise are rather plain. An exercise gada is a heavy, round stone, weighing anywhere from ten to sixty kilograms, affixed to the end of a meter-long bamboo staff (see plate 4). The gada is swung in the same way as a jori except that only one gada is swung at a time. A gada may be swung with either hand or both hands at once.
The swing begins with the gada balanced on one shoulder. It is then lifted and shrugged off of the shoulder and swung in a long pendulum arch behind the back until it is flipped and lifted back onto the opposite shoulder. The gada is held erect for a split second before it is swung back in the opposite direction and onto the other shoulder.
Gada and jori exercises are counted in terms of the number of hath (hands) that one is able to do. One gada “hand” is counted as the movement from one shoulder to the other. One jori “hand” is counted as the combined swing of both right and left clubs. Unlike dands and bethaks, which number in the thousands, wrestlers tend to swing gadas and joris for sets of relatively few repetitions. Those who swing joris and gadas on a regular basis place a higher premium on the amount of weight lifted than on sheer number of hands swung.