Steel mace training at Warrior Flow Fitness
Hear from Zackary Yanyk, founder of Warrior Flow: the first Steel Mace studio in the world
Ask any martial art practitioner and they will tell you that martial arts, whether popular ones like Karate/Aikido or more esoteric ones like Krav Maga, are more than just sports. For passionate students, their chosen martial arts regime becomes a part of life and how they look at the world. Of course, few can deny the physical benefits of being active through training in some martial arts. Historically, however, the mental benefits are also a big part of the experience. Perhaps because, as a fellow martial arts student often remarks, there is a profoundly calming effect in knowing you can defend yourself against aggression and inflict serious damage on anyone looking to bully you.
With these benefits in mind, we wanted to find out a little about the opportunity for different martial arts and similar activities around Regina. This week, we spoke to Zackary Yanyk, founder of Warrior Flow, the first steel mace studio in the world which operates right here in Regina. The mace has been used in training for hundreds of years and variations of it have also been used in combat. At Warrior Flow, this medieval weapon is featured prominently in modern day training for health, fitness, and focus. We got in touch with Yanyk to find out more about this novel training regime. Yanyk is a lifelong athlete, having played football and rugby since grade 7. He has also had an ongoing battle with injuries, which led him to look for different, more fluid weight training options; a journey which culminated in his finding mace training. We also asked him about what an interested person can expect.
What got you interested in training with a mace?
“I first came across the mace purely by coincidence. I was invited on a training vacation to Los Angeles, where I was first introduced to the mace. As soon as I had one in my hands, I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. I felt a primal connection to the tool and every movement just felt, in some way, “right”. The really cool thing is that I’ve heard countless people say something similar now in our classes. The mace seems to connect with something deep inside people, something that brings out their inner warrior!”
I understand mace training is very common in South Asia. What can you tell us about when and how it was introduced to this part of the world?
“Yes, there are many different leverage-based tools used for training in Southeast Asia and other regions in the East. The mace, or gada, is primarily from India. There is a really neat story as to how it found its way here. In the mid 90s, an ex-professional wrestler by the name of Karl Gotch retired to Florida. Karl was a legendary figure in the wrestling world, having been an Olympian, a Catch Wrestler, and then finally a professional wrestler who was so respected in Japan he was given the nickname “The God of Professional Wrestling”. In the late 90s/early 2000s, a fellow catch wrestler/professional wrestler and author, Jake Shannon, reached out to Karl. After a few discussions over the phone, Karl invited Jake to come train. During this session, Karl introduced Jake to the gada. As soon as Jake used it, he realized this needed to be a staple in his grappling training. He then took the design of Karl’s gada, a 10kg wood mace, and had it produced in steel. He started selling these and teaching it all over the USA. His students soon had students of their own, and the mace took off as more and more people, both in the fight world and outside of it, started to find and fall in love with it.
A little note on Karl’s introduction to the mace: after he competed in the Olympics, he began traveling all over the world training with different wrestlers in different styles. He was introduced to the tool in India where it has been used as a training tool for wrestlers for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.”
Tell us a bit about the maces used. Are there different makes and materials? Do you have a personal collection of maces?
“My own collection is quite extensive! I have a few dozen maces, ranging in weight from 5lbs all the way up to 66lbs. Most of mine are fixed weight steel maces, but I also have a custom-made water fillable mace as well as several gadas. My favorite is one I made myself where the head is in the shape of a skull!”
Martial Arts is often highly recommended as not just a sport but a wellness/grounding activity. Where does training with a mace fit into that niche of people not looking to compete seriously, but wanting to be more active?
“The mace is the bridge between martial arts training and fitness training. It will not teach you self defense. It will not make you a fighter by itself. But it will strengthen you in the ways fighters need to be strong. The Steel Mace Flow style of mace was developed based off martial arts katas, so a lot of the movements are very similar to martial forms, but the practice itself is purely for mental and physical fitness.”
What sort of background, if any, should someone have or would benefit from having, before joining one of your classes?
“As long as a student can lift 5lbs they can mace train in some form or another! A background in martial arts, wrestling, or dance does make the learning curve a little easier but is absolutely not a requirement. Many of my best students have never had any sort of movement background and are now world class with the mace.”
Are there any special packages/offers for students?
“Our new student promotion gets people access to 10 mace classes plus weekly yoga classes for just $20 for the first month!”
Any words for someone who has little background and/or has not been very active for a while but is looking to get more active?
“Find a movement practice that you enjoy/find entertaining. If you’re bored, or you are not enjoying yourself, you won’t stick with it. If you find what you love, you will be consistent with it, and when you are consistent, magic happens!”
More information on joining classes at Warrior Flow, as well contact information, can be found on their website at warriorflowfitness.com.