The other day, we stumbled across a viral video on Facebook with the title “Elderly Chinese are Throwing Massive Stone Locks in the Air and at Each Other to Stay in Shape”. The video highlights Chinese seniors swinging and throwing stones with handles similar to kettlebells.
The video points out that the practice of swinging these stones with handles comes from ancient times, and the stones are referred to as stone locks.
Naturally being intrigued by the sight of stones and strength, we did a little more digging.
A Brief History Lesson of Stone Locks
Stone locks are often referred to as the world’s first kettlebell. Their initial popularity and awareness grew due to martial artists using them to improve their strength and conditioning. On top of the strength aspect, some stone lock movements were used due to their close resemblance of martial art moves. For the general population and the elderly, stone lock training can be an effective way to improve both strength and conditioning, important attributes for athletes and for those navigating old age.
Stone locks have been used by martial artists in China since times of the Mongol conquests. In fact, the earliest documentation of stone locks being used in practice by martial artists is said to be from the Northern Song Dynasty. For context, the Song Dynasty lasted from 960 – 1270 A.D.
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Now, if you’re wondering about the traditional kettlebell and its first use and rise to fame — the first documentation of the kettlebell in a Russian dictionary was from 1704. They were originally used as counterweights with handles.
[Read more about it in our complete history of the kettlebell!]
Note that it’s been documented that objects that closely resemble kettlebells (like stone locks, cough cough) can be dated back to Ancient Greek times. So there’s an argument to be made that stone locks are truly the OG kettlebell.
Are Stone Locks Still a Thing?
Yes, to a degree. Stone Locks come in various weights for workout and training purposes, similar to kettlebells. In addition, there are Stone Lock competitions and exhibitions held in China — you can check out some cool photos of a stone lock competition in Nanjing here.
While American athletes may be more familiar with the kettlebell, it’s interesting to note that in places like China, the more old fashioned stone lock still has a place for improving strength and conditioning.
Featured image via Vocativ on Facebook.