Ask John Brzenk
Page Three
final questions and answers

 Ask John Brzenk (page one) 
           
Ask John Brzenk (page two) 


John is considered by many to be the best armwrestler in the history of the sport.  He has been extremely generous and giving to answer hundreds of questions over the past 4 years.
With this current update John and the "Ask John Brzenk" pages will be retired but remain available for all to refer to in the years to come.

As usual his generosity is matched only by his unique talent as Greatest Armwrestler in the history of the sport.

From Ray in California

 JOHN I HAVE A SITUATION THAT YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP ME WITH. I HAVE A NEPHEW WHO IS 23 YEARS OLD. HE WANTS TO ARMWRESTLE SO BAD AGAINST SOMEONE WHO IS CONSIDERED TO BE A PRO. I HAVE SEEN HIM ARM WRESTLE MEN 2 TO 3 TIMES HIS WEIGHT, AND HE HAS BEATEN THEM. LIKE IT WAS NOTHING TO HIM. AND THESE GUYS WERE HUGE VERY STRONG. SOME SAID THEY COULD NOT BELIEVE THE WAY THIS KID JUST TOOK THEM DOWN WITH NO PROBLEM. HE WEIGHS 153 lbs. HE HAS NEVER BEEN ON PRO TABLES. I WANT SO MUCH FOR HIM TO HAVE A CHANCE TO MEET YOU BEFORE HE ARMWRESTLES IN ANY TOURNAMENT. I TOLD HIM ABOUT LAKE TAHOE. BUT WE CANNOT GO WITH HIM. AND HE HAS NEVER BEEN THERE. ARE YOU GOING AND COULD HE GET THE
CHANCE TO MEET YOU BEFORE THE TOURNAMENT. WE LIVE IN L.A. CALIFORNIA. E-MAIL OR CALL. THANK YOU SO MUCH CHAMP.
  Sorry Ray this response is a little late ...yes I was in Lake Tahoe and would have loved to meet your nephew. If he is beating larger men easily on something other than an armwrestling table he must be strong...He needs to either buy or construct a professional table. Without practicing on this he will be at a disadvantage against someone who has.
 
From Daniel

John, What is the difference between a top roll and a full hand top roll? Please explain how to properly perform a full hand top roll along with its fine points. Thanks - Daniel P.  
Sorry Daniel I am not familiar with the language of a full hand top roll.   I am guessing, but I think your referring to a top roll move that out powers your opponents hand with superior hand strength and side pressure. Hitting to the side rolling with the meaty part of your thumb. This type of top roll uses very little curling or biceps strength instead your pulling with your triceps and lat downward into the pad with a dragging motion while using superior hand strength ...this move is normally the favorite of someone with a larger than normal hand.  The mechanics of this style top roll greatly differs from a posting style...if that is what you are referring to as a normal top roll. Using weight lifting as an example it would be the difference between a rowing style machine verses doing a biceps curl. The rowing motion will still burn the biceps but its more back lat and triceps. It's very rare to find someone good at both because of physical build. But because you will eventually run into someone that is built better for your favorite full hand top roll its nice to be able to try and combat it with a posting style move.....even if your normally not any good at it.  A good posting style is one of the best offensive moves against someone that likes the full hand style...

From Mark in Canada

Hello John: my name is Marcel Lavigne and I am CANADIAN. Just thought I would send a message complimenting you on the questions and answers at Armsports USA. I have been training for about a year now to go into competition arm wrestling. I have not joined a club yet because I haven't felt ready. In reading some of your answers to your fans questions I have realized that I have to just get out there and do it ready or not. I have been training with cable and free weights especially wrestling simulation with the cables. I was relieved to see that you recommend this as a good exercise for armwrestling.  I Love the sport and look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Marcel  Marcel if you have the desire to armwrestle you are ready...right now.   The weights and springs are good but you need to get started right away with pulling against other armwrestlers don't let your fear of losing get in the way of reaching your full potential.  Your going to lose there is no question about that don't be a closet puller who trains and trains and only comes out once in a while when there is a tournament. You will never be as good as you can be by doing this. But like you said you already know this ...good luck and Thanks.

Ricky from Texas

Hi John, I just happened to surfing the web the other day. And to my surprise I see that you are still arm wrestling. Anyway to make a long story short. I saw you armwrestle in 1986 in the over the top competition in Houston, Texas. I was in amazement then as I am now that you are still at it. Anyhow my arm has long since given way to age. But I am so impressed to see that the sport of armwrestling is still alive and well in the United States. I caught an article in the Houston Post back in April and saw where Gary Ray of Houston was going to Russia to the world championships. I was stunned that he was still armwrestling.{as he had beaten me like a stepchild in his garage back in 1986} John to make a long story short. I see that allot of people want your advice and look up to you. You are a symbol of excellence in your field and keep up the good work. As you are a symbol of longevity. God it makes me want to just get back on the pads and do it again. Sincerely Ricky Ellisor / Bay City, TexasYes I am still around...and yes I am getting older, with the occasional thought of how long am I going to be able to continue.  I go through phases were I think I should quit while I am ahead, but I know its going to be real hard for me to walk away. Thank you very much for the compliment. Yes, you should start back up...its a great reason to stay in shape. And its fun!

From Kit

I'm 12 turning 13 now. I need to know all techniques to win. I have friends who pull to. I've beaten them all. But let me get right to the point. What is the age limit to enter and how did you get started here.
12 ...13 ? Wow that's when I first started.  But am going to need some help with your question from maybe Dave or some of the other promoters of the sport.  I competed in some of the smaller events at this age as long as my dad signed a release, but I am not sure if there is currently an age requirement for some of the larger tournaments.  But if there is don't let that stop you from constructing and practicing with each other on a table with the proper dimensions.  There are a few tournaments held out west here specifically for the younger armwrestler and they are broken down by age. ... Boy its great to hear there is some interest at your age....stick with it.  Its a lot of
fun you will be glad you did.....I am.

From SC in Florida

John- I would first like to say I had the privilege of pulling you in South Carolina (1999 after the Caracas Island tournament) and the power that you possess is truly amazing, you gave me all the position I wanted but countered so effortlessly, your lower finger/hand is amazing and has really effected the way I pull. I have four questions:

1) When you first started armwrestling which part of your game did you feel needed the most improvement, so you could be competitive against the worlds best (I know you need all fingers but which wrist/finger area was originally your weakness, from the finger all the way to the connection into the wrist) this question may seem kind of specific but I was just curious to see what you as a younger armwrestler had to work on and if that area is now your strength.

2) I have been armwrestling for about 3 and a half years, and I am pleased with
my progress and am addicted to the sport, but I have had two injuries to my inner elbow. While pulling hard sideways, I lost my hand and went into a flopped wrist press. While my opponent hit hard sideways on my fingertips and I heard a pop (both times my opponent thought my arm was broke it was really loud) right around my funny bone. Each time it happened I couldn't pull with that arm for around 9-12 weeks. After it healed it seemed like my hook lock and side pressure increased dramatically. Almost as if some tendons shifted into place, at least for armwrestling. Do you have any idea what happened in my arm or have you been around this type of injury.

3) I have only seen you pull a few times so I may be off but it seems like you get your shoulders turned extremely fast following the go using the middle and more of your whole hand not specifically the top and not totally focused on the bottom, this move seems to be very effective for you, I have been practicing this move and it puts a lot of stress on the arm but it works extremely well as a counter, especially from the GO, for almost all styles especially all types of top-rolling, it seems to allow you to use the entire hand better 4) Are you going to AAA Nationals? (Will you pull 198's). Thanks for your time-  When I first started armwrestling I had two things going for me, a better than average hand and the ability to move quickly.  My actual arm strength wasn't that great, especially in a hook.  In fact I never purposely hooked anyone, and if it happened I would almost always lose. This is the area I eventually had to work on to beat the likes of Johnny Walker and others. (always someone better than your best), but how are they in other areas? Second question...I don't know how loud of a pop your elbow was, but mine was like a 30-06 going off and after 3 days of my arm curling up to were I couldn't straighten it.  I went to the doctor to have it x-rayed and yes the bone had cracked....6 weeks in a cast....If it wasn't quite that load then its possible you are  injuring a tendon although I have never heard mine actually pop where someone could hear it.. But its great to hear your body is repairing these injuries with a stronger lock. Dropping your left shoulder back is the natural thing to do ...and if they would let you start with anything but shoulders square that's how I would start.  Itís natural to be at that 45-degree angle to be able to drop your weight to the side for the pin. As of right now I am not planning on pulling the AAA nationals. And 198 is currently about 15 lbs away for me.

From Stan

 John, after watching the '99 worlds I thought that I would get your take on the top two 110 kg. competitors in that class since you've pulled both of them. Their names? Vakhtang Javakhadze and Alan Karaev. Both look real strong. Vakhtang looks to have real good arm strength, but substantially less hand strength. Alan looks to be real strong in both areas. Thanks, John  I wrestled these very large men back in the 98 Gold Bear in Moscow.  And from some of the footage I have seen lately of Vakhtang it looks to me like he has gained a substantial amount of weight and strength.  It would be very difficult for me to judge what the outcome might currently based on my one time experience with them. I got a chance to pull Vakhtang while I was fairly fresh while my match with Alan was after I had developed quit a pump from an earlier battle.  As young as both of these armwrestlers are their strengths are probably changing as we speak. They have very similar builds and I would suspect there will be many good battles between them in the future.

Bryce in California

HELLO JOHN,  I NEED TO KNOW HOW YOU GET THAT STRENGTH?? WHAT WEIGHT LIFTER YOU USE?? FOR OVER 198 POUND. I REALLY MEAN THAT I WANT TO GAIN STRENGTH FOR ARM WRESTLER. THANK FOR YOUR TIME.  Hey Bryce, my secret for success is many many years spent armwrestling hundreds of people from almost every angle imaginable.  Construct a table and pull as many people as you can get a hold of.  The strength will come in time.

Hi John - congratulations on Tahoe I noticed on the pictures on the professional matches that most of you guys were in a hook position I think. On the amateur competition most of us were using a top roll is the hook more common and do you need to work on a curl and top roll do you do a hammer curl or just work the different techniques on the table if so how do you get the awesome power you have? Thanks for answering all of our questions.  I don't know if most of the pros use the hook.  I used it a lot in Reno because most of my competitors that day were equally as strong top rolling. So instead of fighting the hand battle outside, itís sometimes easier to control the match inside.  There are many armwrestlers that I wouldn't think of pulling inside.  It really does depend on who is across the table and what I personally think will be the easiest on my hand and arm.  And yes sometimes once youíre in a hook, and depending how your opponent is pulling, it maybe appropriate to attempt a top roll from a hooked position.  For example if someone has me in a hook dragging outside with good hand strength you may not have the opportunity to put effective pressure on his hand because you are doing everything possible to protect your arm from being pinned, but if he decides to push then it may be wise to put pressure on his hand.


John S. from California

First of all congrats on the new Harley. My question is, what training exercises can be done to increase speed at the start of a match. Thank you.  There was a time when I thought the key to successful armwrestling was being fast off the go.  My belief in that has changed.   Speed although good can sometimes hurt if itís attempted without control.  I don't know if there are any exercises that will increase actual hand and arm speed. My confidence and hard aggressive movement has been developed from experience knowing my own limitations and the vulnerability of my competition.


My friend Kit told me about this site. So I said to my self "why not" So I'm asking you a question. How much longer are you going to be armwrestling and do you have to be 16 to enter for being a pro. I just want to armwrestle you someday.  I am not sure how much longer I will be pulling at the level I have enjoyed these last 20 or so years. I have noticed lately my armwrestling cushion has been getting smaller and smaller.  And Iím hoping this is do to the fact that the competition is getting better, instead of me getting older.  But at this point I am taking it one year at a time and just hoping to stay injury free.  Itís really going to be hard to give it up completely.  I'm hoping to stick around a while longer especially in the lighter class.  Then again, in another 4 years I get to compete in the masters division.   I will try to wait for you.  Let me know when your ready. I am not aware of any age restriction for entering pro tournaments.

Did you say that short arms are actually an advantage? Why is that? I hope you are right (you probably are, considering your staggering success) because I have really short arms. My hands are a little over average thickness, particularly the meaty part under my thumb. Is this an advantage as well? In terms of strategy, given the above information, and the fact that I have very strong arms but an average grip, what is the best strategy for me. If it is a hook, what is the best way to do a hook against a tall guy with a strong grip? Hope you can answer all my questions. Thanks a lot champ.  Short arms would have a leverage advantage. There are many great armwrestlers with long forearms. Its one of the neat things about armwrestling. There doesn't seem to be one typical body type that excels.  Well, other than the fact that most have larger than normal forearms.

From Chet

 I am interested in the sport, but I have rather long arms and thin joints in my wrists. I am about 220 lbs. and not nearly as good an armwrestler as my appearance would indicate. Can you tell me about any tips or secrets I can use to beat a shorter, stockier opponent? Thanks. Just because you have long slender arms doesn't mean you can't become a great armwrestler. From my experience I would normally try to avoid an inside pull with someone stockier than I am. Having a longer arm normally provides you with an advantage for getting over the top of the shorter armwrestlers hand. Concentrate on achieving a leverage advantage by attacking their fingers and wrist.  Your wrist strength will improve dramatically with time. Keep on pulling even if they are currently taking your wrist. It will improve with time. Sorry the only secret I have is there are no secrets.

From Jeff

Have you ever used strongman type exercises like farmers walk, deadlift holds, crucifix with dumbbells or forward holds for grip and stamina in armwrestling? You  opinion? I've recently started incorporating these in my training with success at the table.  Hey Jeff to answer your question,  I don't know what a farmers walk is, so I guess the answer would be no.  And I don't think my weak lower back would appreciate me deadlifting so I don't do that either.  Actually my weight lifting workouts, according to most would be classified as stretching sessions more than an actual strength builder.  I do most of my max lifts on the armwrestling table.

Mark from Canada


Have you ever pulled Tony Singer, or Ron Highet, and if so how well did they fair? I have another quick question, when just powering up, I do quite well, in practice and things like that, but when tournaments come I tend to lose off the start. I can't catch to save my life, and my hit is horrible, how can I improve on this? Thank you for your time.
 If I have wrestled Tony Singer it would have been a very long time ago, and I can't remember if I have. I do know who he is, and do remember watching  him compete.  I don't remember the name Ron Highet. As far as your pulling.  I know of a few people that have the same problem getting started.  They do really well, and feel extremely strong in practice, but just can't seem to get out of the blocks when tournament time comes around. Is this because their reaction time is just a little off?  Or are they being hypnotized from the excitement. My recommendation would be to get yourself accustomed to the hype by participating in as many tournaments as you can.  Have confidence.  Your confident posture may help slow down your opponents aggressiveness just enough to keep you in the  match.

From Kit

How long does it take bone or tendons to heal because they have been hurting me for over a week.
A week? You may have many many more weeks to come.  In fact it might take quite a bit longer than that.  This would depend on a lot of different factors. Age, health, and the amount of damage...I have had small injuries
off and on that have lasted for as long as a year or more, and currently continue to struggle with a reoccurring shoulder injury.  I have been able to work through or around most of the uncomfortable damage that I have
caused, but I think each situation is unique, and you have to know your own body well enough to know if you are moving forward or making things worse by aggravating it.  There is such a fine line between stimulating the muscle for growth and damaging it to the point were it takes weeks and sometimes months for your body to repair.


Bill from North Dakota

I am new to armwrestling I live in North Dakota so there is not much I can learn from anyone here.  I have taken 2, 3rd place state championships without any training I have been beaten easily by a man named Rhet Hodak. Do you have any thing to teach me some technique videos or books I could get thanks? Well Bill at least your getting beat by one of the better armwrestlers in the country...hang in there keep competing you are going to learn a lot even from non armwrestlers in North Dakota!  Experience is the key. Get a hold of as many different arm types and experiment. You will start to realize what you can do and what to avoid.  There are some books, and a video or two out there somewhere, but I think your time will be better spent by doing....

From Kit
(age 12)

When you where 12 or 13 (just starting) did you ever have challenges and if so who was it, or how big or intimidating was he? 
When I was 12 or 13 my main challenges on a daily basis were my grade school
classmates.  I was a little late in growing so most of them at that time were bigger than I was.  But I eventually caught up.  Also at that age my dad would let me pull on his arm with two hands.  Didn't start beating him until about 18. At about 15 or 16,  I can remember going with my dad to compete in a couple of WPAA tournaments finishing a second one year.

From Brazil

Mr. John, Sorry my English is very bad, my name is Paulo Sabioni "Periquito", I am Brazilian Armwrestler 70 Kg.. I want to Know, What training I have to make last month before championship.  With one month away you should be getting in your last two most strenuous armwrestling workouts.  I'll try to cycle my workouts and rest periods such that my last two pulling sessions will be with a lot of hard negative rip down type pulls. Verses working on technique with slow endurance type pulls.    I then may try to squeeze in a light workout with weights followed by doing nothing. After the big event I will then try and cycle a small or sometimes long rest cycle of doing not much of anything to give my arm a chance to fully recover before I start up again.  If you do this type of cycle with hard negative pulls three to four weeks before the big tournament be sure to give yourself at least a full 10 to 14 days of rest.  No strenuous negative workouts, and definitely no armwrestling even light stuff two weeks before the actual tournament.  The doing nothing part is sometimes the hardest thing to do, but it can make a huge difference between winning and losing.

From Turkey

Hi John, My name is Sinan Okay and I'm writing from Turkey. On one of your previous answers you said armwrestling hard is better than weight training. If that's the case how strong should my opponents be? Should I always armwrestle with stronger people? Also, should I take each training match as a tournament match and apply % 100 powers. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer this question. Regards, Sinan Okay
Pulling 100 percent is difficult to do all the time because unless your opponent is very evenly matched you may not get the full range of motion and burn by letting up slightly. But I would recommend spending some time experimenting with what you are capable of doing by going 100 percent with numerous different arms. There are some nights where I am in need of that negative rip to really shock my arm to hopefully a new level of strength, and yes it would be great to have someone much stronger to do this.  So a stronger armwrestler would be great for this, but then you will be missing the mental confidence, which comes from pulling someone you can control.  Each has its benefits.  Try to find a good mixture of armwrestlers to pull with, the more the better.

From Canada

Hi John, I have been watching you pull for the past 7 years or so on TV, actually probably longer because your dad was pulling when I first saw you pull and it was very impressive. But my question is I am a puller from British Columbia Canada and in 1993 I was pulling a heavy weight and his arm broke. When that happened something happened in my head and I have not been able to get my starts because of fear I believe. Is there any thing that I can do too get over this fear.... I have not pulled in any events till the bc's last month, and noticed I still won't hit, and would rather catch and as a result I tore both arms, I am wondering maybe I should retire......have any advice thanks for your time john Ellis.  My belief in how a arm gets broken would keep my from having the fear you have. You see, I believe the only one that can hurt me is me. There arenít enough arms put together at once to cause my arm to break or anyoneís arm to break. As long as I know my limits and stay within them.  (The hard part is adjusting those limits, as we get older.)  The heavyweight you pulled either had very little experience, didn't know what he was doing, or mentally was putting his body in a dangerous position because he didn't know his own limitations. Believe me it wasn't because you were so much stronger or faster or smarter than he was.  So I wouldn't worry that you have this ability to hurt people, because I will bet that you don't.  Now if youíre worried about hurting yourself by moving hard off the go.  I think most of us worry about this as we get older, and yes it does make winning that much harder.  Only you can know when its time to back off.  I wouldn't ever recommend actually giving it up completely...I personally have been thinking of lowering my goals.


From Jeff

Have you or do you ever use exercises such as FARMERS' WALK, DEADLIFT HOLD (with heavy barbell or dumbbells), FORWARD and LATERAL SHOULDER HOLDS like in WORLD'S STRONGEST MAN events or FINGER HANGS from a chin up bar for maximum time in your grip training? What do you say about such exercises? -JEFF
These things may strengthen your hand and fingers in areas that would exceed the strength achieved or needed from armwrestling.  My hand and finger strength as been developed from armwrestling, and may be only as strong as my arm has been able to move on the armwrestling table.  As my arm gets stronger so does my hand. Other than hand grippers I do very little to add to my hand and wrist strength. I wouldn't think these exercises can hurt you unless they are tearing you down enough that you are not able to work your hand and wrist in the specialized direction that armwrestling would provide
during your practices.

From Canada

At small tournaments in Canada I found great success toprolling, but noticed after a while that some guys seemed to know what I was doing before the match started and countered by hooking me, even though they pulled post against everyone else. Is it possible that I am telegraphing my move? Should I maybe not "load up" before the go? Any help would be greatly appreciated, especially from the Master of the Craft!    If these same guys keep getting beat by you because of your top roll I also would try something else, and from the sounds of it you have become a vulnerable target to the hook while trying to top roll.  Can you pull with these same guys in a hook? It sometimes is difficult to pull hard or protect yourself from a hook when your trying to pull back top rolling.  You may find your able to pull inside if you make up your mind to go that direction from the start.  The top roll is still a great move with someone trying to control a hook.  You may just need to change it up slightly. But yes you should try to get yourself well rounded to keep your competition guessing on the direction you maybe moving.

From Brian

First of all thank you for your great response to my last question. I can already feel an improvement in my strength. My question is I pull with a guy who competes on a national level and for the life of me I can't get in to a top roll he over powers me and pulls me into the hook every time. What could I do to get a slight advantage to get into the top roll? I have tried strait backpressure, a high grip and to even try to twist my wrist out to gain position. Nothing has worked. Do you have any suggestions or do I just need more table time? Thanks again for your dedication and time Brian    Keep working on your moves. There is such a fine line between feeling like youíre in a match and feeling helpless. You are more than likely improving but it can be very discouraging when someone can dominate making you feel like your doing something wrong...If you work out with several armwrestlers try to gauge what works and what doesn't by pulling him right after he has pulled a few hard matches with other armwrestlers, and then keep working on that move.  More than likely if he is a national level puller no mater what you do he will have the strength and ability to counter any direction or style you try.


John, I started pulling about ten years ago and became a pretty successful hooker. That is until I blew my elbow tendons out getting stopped on a hook. I thought I would never pull again. I saw you pulling a couple years ago in Petaluma. It boggled me how easily you pulled guys that must have been able to lift more, bench more, etc.... I have been trying to figure your primary technique out since then. I think I just might have my BRZENK imitation down. Your answers to questions on the web site reaffirmed what has taken me a couple years of watching you to figure out. My wife is sick of watching me frame by frame some of your matches on the VCR. Are you going to be in Petaluma in 2000? If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I'll be trying my best John BRZENK imitation, and maybe I'll actually win a couple of matches this time.   Good luck on the imitation and thanks for being a fan of the sport. As of right now I am not planning on attending Petaluma in 2000...I have a few minor injuries that I have decided to try and heal up completely before I start pulling again.

From Minsk


Hi John Brzenk! I am Dmitry Kirilenko from Belarus (Minsk). I am absolute champion in Belarus since 2000 year. I am very interested in all methods of training. What do you think about how long it is possible to training and of course win? Is it possible to e-mail with you? P.s.:sorry for my English.  Hi Dmitry your English is fine... I don't believe anyone can know what there true potential is without pulling hard for at least a minimum of three years. The gains will come quickly those first few years.  Then it takes a little longer to get those small improvements but they will come with persistence.


Hello John, I am 23 years old. Is it late to begin training for armwrestling to become a pro at this age? And does having a small bone structure (7 inches wrist) a disadvantage in armwrestling? Thank you in advance and good luck.  No, 23 isn't to late. It may not be as good as 16 but its never to late to participate.  And as far as your build goes if you enjoy the sport keep participating your strength will dramatically improve over the first few years. Armwrestlers come in all shapes and sizes. There are some really great armwrestlers that you would never suspect could do much of anything.  If nothing else wouldn't it be fun to dedicate enough time and energy to be
able to beat 99.9 percent of the non armwrestling public?

Dear John, I have a good understanding of the basic armwrestling techniques, Hook, toproll, post, etc. However, I pulled a guy in Quebec, Canada a few years ago who seemed to know something I didn't. His name was Denis Dubrueill and he didn't seem to use any of these techniques, in fact he seemed to use no technique. He somehow keeps his hand straight and pulls right through to the pin. I tried to toproll to the side and to the postposition, but I couldn't even slow him down! Have you ever pulled against him, or anyone similar? Is there any way to stop him? Any help would be appreciated, as I'm sure I'll have to pull him again.  No I don't think I have pulled Dennis because of our weight difference.  But yes, I have pulled someone that used a similar style...his name was Johnny Walker.  His hit to the side with wrist straight was also very difficult to stop.  I also think he must have purposely trained that way.  It does require an extremely strong, and confident puller to pull like this, but as you already know it can be very effective against armwrestlers who are not familiar to pulling or defending when there hand is kept in that middle flat position.  To get used to this style I would purposely pull against guys with my hand straight.  This may eventually help you to defend against his move. Keep working on your strength. As you get stronger he may not be able to attack you with such a helpless feeling direction.

From Steve

Dear john. Just wondering if u ever armwrestled these football players at the TV matches that are sometimes on cable? If so how well did u do? thanks Steve from Phila.  Yes I have. And I never once felt in danger of losing no matter the position.  Many of the professional football players are no doubt very strong and may possess tons of potential.  But unless you dedicate a lot of time and energy practicing the sport of armwrestling, it becomes very difficult to pull against someone who has. Most of the public can't understand this but most are easily defeated by an experienced armwrestler.

Jo„o from Portugal


 Hi John, I've started training a few months ago and I never went to a competition, my first one will be in October in Austria. 

1 - You said in one of your answers you had a rowing type motion machine, I was wondering how often do you use it? 

2 - Do you know what is the normal forearm size of a -65kg puller?

 3 - If your opponent doesn't allow you to grab his hand properly in the beginning of the match what do you do? 

Thanks in advance. I use the rowing machine about twice a week.  It is part of my easy going weight lifting workouts and I only do one set with enough weight to achieve about 12 reps.  I have seen some 140 lb guys with some pretty good sized forearms but I can't tell you  what the average size would be. With all other things equal size is strength but size isn't everything. You can't compare your size with the size of other competitors its like comparing  apples to oranges.  As far as your question on getting a grip.  Try and get the best grip  you can without expending to much of your own energy.  Some times its better to give up something less than the ultimate grip to get the match started a little quicker.  But if you feel completely uncomfortable and your opponent is being overly aggressive giving you nothing to work with, I would  personally let him expend energy for awhile until the referees finally settle him down.  If necessary let it go to the point of getting a referees grip.  Most of the time I will try and avoid this...With experience you will begin to recognize when to adjust and expend a little energy and when to relax.  Try to avoid the intimidation type pulling while working for a grip. It will eventually wear on you for later matches.

 Tyson

  I am 17 years old, 185 pounds, and about 5'11. I lift weights twice per week in my garage with my partner pretty intensely. I also do roofing 4 days per week, which has made me stronger in different ways. I got my first armwrestling table this summer and I love it. Its so much better than using the picnic table, which me and my partners used to use. I started out pulling twice per week but that proved to be too taxing on my body including all the other stuff I do. So I cut it down to once per week. The soreness you get in your arms and shoulders is incredible. I have now started using ice, aspirin, and cartilage pills to keep the pain down. I have quite a few questions for you, so if you can bear with me I would appreciate it. 

  1. I am looking for an armwrestling tournament to compete in and I am having a hell of a time finding one. It seems impossible. Can you tell me how to find one? I live in Michigan, north of Detroit, and my area code is 48035. The city I live in is Clinton Township.

 

  1. Is it ok for me to try to get good at all of the techniques? Toproll, Hook, Tricep Push, etc. Or should I just concentrate on one? The technique that probably suits me best is the Toproll because I am the longer more slender type.  

 

  1. What type of technique should I use against a guy who is the same size/build
    as me? Bigger than me? By 30 pounds?

 

  1.  In Paul Levesques tape he shows how to do the scoop. I don't quite understand it however. Can you explain to me how you think its done?

 

  1.  Is it illegal to intentionally break your wrist back in competition?

 

  1. Is it a bad idea to concentrate on both arms? My right arm is stronger so should I just focus on that and do minimal work on the left?

 

    *Any of your answers to my questions are GREATLY APPRECIATED!
      Thanks and keep pulling hard! Tyson

I am glad to hear you have a  regulation table to work out on, and yes I can just imagine the aches your feeling from armwrestling then doing something as physical as roofing the next day. As far as  tournaments in the Detroit area I don't know if anyone is currently promoting the sport in the area. But if not, maybe you should think about holding some small tournaments to stir up some interest.  If your willing to travel a little you should ask this question to the Canadian armwrestling board or maybe get on the mailing list for some of the Illinois tournaments. Depending on who your pulling against you will probably fall into a comfortable technique that works well against this person. Work all areas even if it feels uncomfortable. At first it may not be the easiest style against the guys you pull with but it will help against other armwrestlers equally as strong as your best move.  Which technique is the best depends on the strengths of your opponent and there isn't any set rules based on size. Trial and error works the best.  I haven't seen the tape you mention. Nor am I familiar with the term scoop. Yes you can purposely break your own wrist back at the start, but it is a big disadvantage and will require and expend much more energy than your opponent is exerting. You may be able prolong a match making it more difficult for your opponent to win but I think you will be the worst for wear... But then again if It's your last match you could be a spoiler. It would be great if you can work both arms equally. I seldom did because most of the tournaments were right hand only, but if you believe in the fact that your body will only allow being lopsided to a point.  Building the left will eventually allow the right to become bigger and stronger.

Doug from Y-town, Ohio

John, Thanks for making yourself available to all of us who are fascinated with the awesome sport of arm wrestling. I'm very interested in the weight training that is involved in arm wrestling. I'm not so certain that I'm going to actually begin pulling at my age, 32; but nonetheless I am interested in an intense weight training workout. I'd love to hear what you have to suggest. Please be specific with reps, sets, rest and days per week.  If your looking for an intense workout program you need to talk to some of the guys involved in the sport of body building.  My workouts are not very involved they are simple movements on machines and  normally consist of one set with reps of  8 to 12. I currently haven't been lifting at all. My experience has shown me little difference between being out of shape in the weight room and my armwrestling ability.  I wish lifting twice as much in the weight room would make me twice as strong on the armwrestling table but it doesn't seem to work that way. 32 isn't to old to armwrestle.  Especially if your just getting started with a fresh arm.

Joe from Orlando

 John a quick question if you will. Are there any places to practice and compete in Orlando, FL for a beginning puller like myself. Thank you for your time. I am sorry Joe but I don't know if anyone is currently promoting the sport in the Orlando area.

Steve from Los Angeles

Hi John,  I have been training with Allen Fisher for a few months now, but not regularly, because I live In Los Angeles and he lives in San Diego. I will be in my first competition at Buena Park on October 22. What should I expect?? I have never lost an armwrestling match...when I armwrestle against people in my basement or at bars. I have beaten some of Allen Fishers pullers, and they compete in the professional divisions at the same weight I'm currently at. So is there going to be a big difference between them versus the amateurs I will go against on October 22...???.... Will the October competition be easier??? I know this is a late response to your question, and by now you already know the answer.  If your pulling with experienced armwrestlers on an official table you should be well prepared without to many surprises.  I think the level does increase a few notches from practice to an actual tournament.  My advise would be try to stay calm and don't let the added excitement cause you to do expend unnecessary energy.

From Dan Moss

JOHN, MY NAME IS DAN MOSS, I WAS JUST THINKING ABOUT GOING TO PETALUMA & DECIDED TO SEE IF THERE WAS ANY INFO ABOUT THE TOURNAMENT ON THE WEB & I CAME ACROSS THIS SITE. I HAVE TO TELL YOU I THINK IT'S GREAT THERE'S ENOUGH INTEREST IN THE SPORT TO HAVE IT ON THE NET, THUMBS UP! I DON'T KNOW IF YOU REMEMBER ME, I PULLED YOU AT THE BILTMORE IN TAHOE. I PULL THE FLYWEIGHT CLASS AND WON BACK IN 97. I GOT AN INVITE TO RUSSIA, BUT WAS UNABLE TO GO PULL IN PETALUMA TO GET THE OFFICIAL INVITE. ANYWAY, DOESN'T LOOK LIKE I'LL MAKE PETALUMA BUT HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO PREPARE FOR THE SANDS IN JANUARY. I HAVE TO TELL YOU I WAS REALLY IMPRESSED AT YOUR STRENGTH & CONTROL. I HONESTLY THOUGHT I HAD A SHOT AT GIVING YOU A RUN FOR THE MONEY WITH YOU PULLING SO MANY CLASSES. BOY DID I GET EDUCATED. SINCE I GET THIS OPPORTUNITY TO ASK, WHO'S THE TOP GUYS OUT THERE IN MY CLASS & DO YOU HAVE ANY INCITE TO THERE TECHNIQUES? I'VE BEEN OUT OF COMPETITION SINCE TAHOE BUT STILL PULL OCCASIONALLY, AND STILL FEEL PRETTY GOOD. BEEN RACING DIRT BIKES TO STAY IN SHAPE, & REALLY WANT TO GET BACK INTO PULLING WITH HOPE TO WIN
PETALUMA NEXT YEAR, & GET A CHANCE TO PULL THE BEST IN RUSSIA. LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR REPLY, & KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. IT'S GUYS LIKE YOU THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY GET ARMWRESTLING TAKEN SERIOUSLY & GET IT INTO THE OLYMPICS. THANKS AGAIN!  Dan, I also missed Petaluma this year, but will be in Reno in January.  So I will see you then.  As far as your question regarding the identity of the top guys currently in the flyweight class, I am the wrong guy to answer that.   I very seldom wrestle the guys in that class, so I don't have much experience with their strengths or use of styles.


From Ed

Hello John. I am just getting into armwrestling and have a tremendous amount to learn, but am anxious to get started. I have a few questions: 

1) What are the specs for an appropriate table if I were to have one built?

2) What is the advantage of placing your index finger over your thumb instead of under at set-up for a match?

3) I live in the SF Bay Area; are there any women who meet for "practice" that you know of?

Thank you so much for your input.


Table dimensions very slightly from organization to organization but the basic measurements are as follows:  The table top dimension is approximately 38 by 26 and the height is approximately 40 inches from the ground.  Pinning pads are approx. 2 inches wide and approx. 4 inches tall.  I have seen these positioned at different locations and angles depending on the builder of the table or the organization your competing in.  Most of the tables today have a raised square elbow pad that is 7 by 7 inches and are any where from 1 to 2 inches high. And are approximately 2 inches in from the edge of the table.... some tables have these pads straight across while others offset the pads.  My recommendation would be to have them straight across from each other so you can pull both left and right without too much trouble moving the pads around.... Here again these dimensions very slightly from table to table.

Where you place your index finger is personal preference. What feels more comfortable? If performing a posting style top roll it may be an advantage to get your index finger as high as you can so wrapping on top of the thumb would be appropriate.  A little lower grip on the hand, or even a little piece of the wrist provides more control to the side and may feel more comfortable controlling a top roller into a hook.  I personally don't feel
secure with an extremely high grip. It lets your competition know where you are planning on pulling.... I do wrap my thumb with an extreme high grip if I am in the straps.

I am sorry but I don't know of any clubs in the San Fran area.

John, You stated that your right arm is larger and stronger than your left due to armwrestling, but you seem to have the same success competing left-handed. Why? Does your "smaller" arm have equivalent power anyway, or are left-handed pullers less competitive?  I don't believe my left arm has ever reached or ever will reach the level my right has. And yes I don't think the level of competition is at the same level as the right hand competitions. Until recently the left arm was pretty much ignored and has been very difficult to train with the same intensity as the right.  My left has been receiving a little more attention lately because of the increased interest and tournaments.  My left doesn't have anywhere near the wear and tear that my right one has...Yes my right arm is much more developed than the left but lately it has been suffering from years of small aches and pains while the left one feels fresh, but definitely not as strong.


From Kit in  N.C.


1. I Armwrestle Kids much bigger than me. So I wonder if I'm in a tournament should I put them down fast as I can with all my strength or wear them down by holding them there.

2. Do you know anyway I can get armwrestling to become a school sport?

3. I am able to hold very strong people in 1 spot for a long time, and at school I only go against 1 or 2 people a day. So how can I get ready for a tournament where I have to go against them 1 after another?

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions I have asked you.
  In a tournament if you can pin your opponent in a second that's what you should do.  A long match will directly affect your performance against other armwrestlers.  The only time you should purposely hold anyone would be during practice to build strength. Or maybe to help a fellow armwrestler beat the armwrestler that youíre purposely holding.

Ask some of the physical Ed teacherís maybe they can organize a small school tournament...when I was in high school they held some small competitions, which lead to two winners.  These two winners pulled during a school assemble along with other intramural sports.  Yes, I did win.


First of all you need to construct a regulation table. Without it, your ability to flash your competition may be difficult because of elbow movement and body position.  Practice, practice, practice moving on this table using body movement.  Without seeing you pull I can't tell you if your comfortably using all the tools you currently have to beat someone quickly.  Holding someone for long periods of time is great for building strength but it kills your chances against someone who has a fresh arm.

I am new to armwrestling, I have trouble beating guys that are allot taller than myself
any suggestions?
  
Normally I will try to pull someone taller into a hooked position.  I also normally feel uncomfortable pulling a taller armwrestler hand to hand because of the worry of being top rolled.  Also someone taller would be at a leverage disadvantage once his or her arm is positioned into a hook.  Experiment with different set ups try positioning your hand a little lower on the wrist and attempt to force the match inside.   Keep pulling these types of armwrestlers you will eventually figure out what works best.  How does the strap feel with someone taller?

Student from Clarkson University

I am a student at Clarkson University where I am a Mechanical Engineering student. As a senior I am the team leader for a project which is to design and build a Mechanical Arm wrestling opponent. This opponent will not simply provide resistance but will be integrated into a computer system and the Internet so it can be networked with other Mechanical arm wrestling opponents. This will allow Arm Wrestlers to compete against one another from hundreds of miles apart. These Mechanical tables could be set up in Arcades and bars and even in private homes. Do you know any good sources of information on currently designed mechanical arm wrestling opponents?  Sounds very exciting, and very complicated.  I have seen and pulled against some of the very crude machines that are around at some of the old amusement parks.  But other than those I am not aware of any similar devises.  Yours would be the first.   Even if the experience wasn't exactly the same as a hand-to-hand match, which I am sure would be impossible to duplicate.  It might start a whole new sport, which may turn out to be a lot of fun.  Good luck on the project.

Ronny Homer from Texas

John, I saw you at (I guess your first championship) Memphis, Tenn. I think it was in 1985. You armwrestled Johnny Miller for the championship that day. Iíve since retired, but now at the age of 42 thinking about getting back into it again. My question is has the field gotten more competitive since then, and has the techniques changed much. By the way I pulled heavy weight div. a guy name Beatty beat me that day. I always look for you on TV when they show the tournaments. You are the greatest. Keep bending those arms. Good luck. It wasn't my first tournament but yes that was quite a long time ago.  And you almost got the name right. I think you mean Johnny Walker.  The competition may have gotten a little better tougher through out the years especially with the rest of the World getting involved. A lot of the names have changed, but the techniques used are still very much the same.  Hope you decide to start training its still a lot of fun.


From Jason in Canada

John, I'm just starting to get into some serious matches and they are ending up in a strap!! I have no experience in a strap and I am getting turned right off the get go! I felt dominant and gained the advantage in the matches until the slip! I feel very uncomfortable when the strap is put on. I like top rolling but maybe I should go for a hook? I feel I could beat most of these guys in a hook but with the way they are pulling (all back pressure) I doubt if I can force the match in that direction? How should I set the strap up at the start and what direction should I pull?? I am 5'6" tall 195lbs and have a medium small hand. PS Thanks for your help youíre the best!  You need to spend time pulling in the strap to get your arm and mind conditioned to its different feel.  Posting is the style I feel most comfortable using the strap.  And most armwrestlers are probably using this same technique against you. With your stocky build with medium to small hands I would think going to the strap would be an advantage over controlling the match hand to hand.  Its quite a different type of pull and requires practice.  If you can't control the match in a hook without the strap I am not sure I would recommend trying to do so in the strap.  Keep working on those hammer curls.

I am interested in armwrestling, and I wanted to learn how to work the middle
of the pull, could you help me?  The middle of the pull? The time between go and winner?  If it takes longer than a second remember to breath.  Stay calm and don't be afraid to adjust and try pulling a different direction if things are a stale mate.  When changing directions move strong quick, and with confidence.

Denis from Brazil

I've been pulling for 4 years, and until in the last year that I became been a "good" puller, cause in the beginning of my training I used to use velocity and explosion in training with a partner, so after a lot of hurts, I watch a course of the Russian coach that came to Brazil and he said to give emphasis in the low, strength and isometric training, I did that training and I could see changes. Is it the "best" training or exist other better? You need come to Brazil to know our pullers, we've got great like, MŠrcio Barbosa (4 times world champion), Clůvis Cavalo (3 times WC), Glauco Prior, and give us a little of knowledge. 
Both are required. For strength while working out pull slow deliberate directions to build your strength and stamina. But I also think its good to mix in pulling explosively as this not only works the muscles for those hard hits but also is needed for the mental confidence factor.  Along with this try and mix the occasional someone stronger than you negative rip down in all directions.   This mixture with a variety of different arms and styles should with time make you the best you can be.  I know you have some good pullers down there. Wish it wasn't such a long drive! Maybe someday I will get a chance to come pull with your team.

Hi John, outstanding answers. Thank you for putting the time into this forum to help out all of us "wanna be John B's". My question involves your opinion on 'twitching.' By this I mean pumping, but concentrating it into an impulse while still maintaining a constant pulling pressure. Have you ever used this technique? If so, how did you find it? Another question; when hooking, is there a certain position of your hips in relation to the table? I find I feel most comfortable when my hips and table side make roughly a 25 degree angle, is this similar to yourself? Thank you again for your answers.  Hitting or twitching with confidence is very effective.  And yes I try not to get stuck at any one position for to long without adjusting and hitting in a different direction.  Unlike weight lifting I believe armwrestling comes down to who has the strongest lock or tensile tendon strength if you will.  And to test this you must be willing to hit hard with body motion, sitting still or trying to move your opponent with steady muscles movement would not in my opinion be testing this limit. Hip position varies, but yes if youíre in a winning position moving toward a pin a 25 to 45 degree angle seems natural. I have seen many twist to a full 90 degree angle.  This makes the referees a little nervous.  But most will let the match continue if it is experienced armwrestlers pulling.


Hello John, I hope this question finds you well. There is a term I hear used to describe a "ready go" stop or a post go repositioning move, the term is to "Brzenk it" Now I am sure this is some one else's name for it, so here's a brief description; It is a posting move where you body drops down a bit, your elbow moves forward, your hand drives up to the sky, you come around slightly behind your shoulder and your triceps ends up on the table. At least this is the way I see it as it is being shown it seems a bit slow for me so I was hoping to get some insight on this stop from it's name sake or the correct execution of this stop. Additionally I am curious about the hand position for such a move where should the back of your hand be facing? Thank you for time and take care.  Your description sounds like it should be called the PATTON not the Brzenk.   I very seldom pull this way but know the technique very well.  In fact its one of the most difficult moves for me to deal with. And Dave Patton has been the master at performing it.  It requires a tremendous amount of biceps/ hammer curling strength and uses quite a different set of muscles than the type of pressure I like to apply.  Your knuckles should be high towards the ceiling.  I call this type of top roll a posting style. Great to use when in the straps!


Hi John, I am a beginner at armwrestling. I have not entered a tournament yet. In my opinion I have a little ways to go before I get to tournament level. I have built a table and practice often. My question to you is have you ever heard of Rhett Hodack. He comes to our local tournaments every year and just demolishes everyone. I havenít seen anyone come close to beating him. If you do know him do you consider him a world-class armwrestler? Is he as good as he looks when he wips everyoneís butt here in North Dakota. Thank you very much for your time.  Yes, I know Rhett, and yes I would consider him World class. He is a very good armwrestler but he can be beat, don't get discouraged.


John,

I challenged my son (32) to an arm wrestling contest. I am 57 and still pretty stout. My son is a stonemason. I asked George Foreman what advice he could give me. My son was helping to build George's home at the time. George said, "Give up early." {:-) He did give me some pointers though. Do you know of any books written about arm wrestling and where I might get them? What exercises would you recommend for the sport?
I'm betting George wouldn't follow his own advice.  I would also bet if you did some armwrestling on the side on a regular basis you would be a much better match for your son that is if your not already able to beat him.  I know there are a few books on the subject, but the key is participation.  The strength and knowledge will come with time.  As far as exercises go I'll give you my standard answer.  Build a table, and Armwrestle.  I didn't know George armwrestled.  He might be pretty good if he pulled for a while.  Although I think he made the more lucrative choice concentrating on the sport of boxing.

From John in Maine

Hi Again John, A bunch of us guys up here in Maine have been getting back into the meets and the working out for the preparations for the meets. Weíre loving it just like we did in the old days (15 years ago). I do my easy hand grippers everyday and it's been working great for my hand strength. I was wondering how many days a week you do wrist curls? Thanks, John Ditchie from Westbrook, Maine  I only do a set of wrist curls when I do a session of weight lifting. Itís normally the last thing I will do before walking out the door. This can vary from twice a week to once a week.  I also try to do the hand crunches every day.

From Kevin in North Carolina

   JOHN BRZENK COULD YOU TELL ME THE SIZE OF YOUR BICEPS, FOREARM, AND CHEST, IF YOU KNOW? I WOULD TO MEET YOU ONE DAY. IF YOU R EVER IN MARSHVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA...HA HA....LOOK ME UP. MY BICEPS R 14in., FOREARM IS 14 1/2in., AND MY CHEST IS 40in. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. THANK YOU, KEVIN [THE BRAMA BULL]  It depends on how much I have been working out and how much I weigh.  I'd have to get the tape out for a current accurate measurement but the last time I was proud and checking. About 8 months ago at 220 lbs, my forearm was almost 16...with the right biceps at 18...Left was quite a bit less.  Chest? Depends how much hot air I have in there, but itís about 44 relaxed 48 expanded. I am currently a little smaller weighing in at 205.  

From Kevin in North Carolina

HELLO JOHN BRZENK. DO YOU THINK YOU CAN BEAT BIG POPPA PUMP IN ARMWRESTLING? WHAT ABOUT THE ROCK TOO? THE ROCK IS STRONG BUT BIG POPPA PUMP IS BIG! THANK YOU.  To be honest with you Kevin I had to look on the Internet to see who Poppa Pump was.  He definitely looks impressive but I have no reason to believe he is any good at the sport of armwrestling.  As far as the other big time wrestlers go, if your looking for a good wrestler/armwrestler, look at a wrestler named Scott Norton. He has armwrestled before and was very successful.  If he were to decide to start pulling hard again he may once again be the best heavyweight in the world. Period.

From Jim

Hello, and thanks for taking the time for these questions. I was wondering if you are going to this years Harley pull? They have changed the format some, and didn't know if you would still go. Also, if you are, what weight do you think you will come in at? Will you pull left handed as well? And if I go, how do you feel about being bothered with questions at an event? Of course, I wouldn't bother you when your weight class was up, just if we bumped into each other somewhere...thanks John, stay strong!!  Yes Jim, I plan on attending the Harley tournament.  I haven't decided yet how I am going to approach it.  I am currently a soft 200 lb., with little interest lately for training very hard.  So if I stay at this lazy weight I would probably be satisfied with a win in the 198lb class.  But if I can get myself motivated in the next couple of months I will then pull the 220 class with a higher goal of winning that class and the overall, and yes at that weight I would also try my luck pulling left handed.  As far as any questions at the tournament, itís OK to go ahead and bother away.


From Tim

I was recently watching an old tape of the 1996 Yukon Jack championship, and have a few questions for you. First, does Gary Goodridge have a big, powerful hand? He looks really powerful in the shoulders and upper-arms, but when I saw him pull Ron Bath, his hand looked smaller than Ron's. When you pull Gary, is your strategy then to attack his hand, or do you usually try to win with a hook? It would be my guess that Gary is virtually unbeatable in a hook, though!  Well first of all for comparison Ron does not have a small hand, but yes Gary does have a small hand compared to many successful armwrestlers.  He compensates for this by protecting it with an extremely strong hammer curl with knuckles high posting top roll.  I wouldn't say Gary is unbeatable in a hook but yes it would be very difficult and would put a lot of wear and tear on the person trying to perform this feat.  My strategy in the past pulling Gary was to attack his hand and wrist right off the start.  But with his latest style of posting it may require pulling him into a hook first then attacking his fingers once turned to a hooked position.  This would not be an easy task.

My second question concerns Andreas Rundstroum's pulling style. Could you describe it? It looked like just a plain old straight hit, but he sure dominated the lightweights! And, it looked like he always intentionally let go of his opponent so that he could pull in the straps. Have you ever pulled him? If so, what was your strategy against him?  I haven't pulled Andreas in a tournament mainly because of our weight difference.  But watching his set up and movement off the go he looks like he relies mainly on the strength of his hand and superior side pressure.  I don't think I have ever seen him purposely let go and wouldn't think it would be an advantage with his style.  His strength is similar to my own and I would hope my hand would be superior when hitting pressure to the side. But if not I would then attempt a little lower grip on the wrist and force him into a wrist-to-wrist hooked position.

Lastly, do you know if there are going to be any tournaments that will be covered on TV? I really miss watching the old Yukon Jack tournament because that was always on TV? Also, was your brother ever mad at you for deciding to pull against the middleweights? In the final match in 1996, he looked pretty intense and disappointed!  There isn't any tournament in the near future that I know of that will have any television coverage.  I don't think Bill was mad, but yes maybe a little disappointed.  He was pulling me so much closer at that time during practice.  I think he was hoping to put up a much better fight than he did.  I always seem to pull a little stronger with a ready go during a tournament.

Thanks,
Tim

From Australia

Hi JOHN, What do you think about armwrestlers from republic of Georgia? The
country does not have big population (about 6 mill.) but they seem to produce many world-class competitors, how do you think they are achieving this?  The Georgian armwrestlers I have met have been very intense and driven to excel.  They are in great physical shape with a good understanding of what it takes to be a good armwrestler.   What does it take to create such a strong team?   Getting the athletes with the most potential to get excited about the sport and to participate and dedicate a good part of their life to the sport.  Someone in Georgia is doing a great job promoting the sport and keeping their top athletes motivated.


Does a match in straps eliminate the difference in hand strength and the match becomes a duel in just arm strength?  A strap match will not completely eliminate the difference in hand strength or the ability to use your hand strength to maintain a desired position.  It does create new opportunities for armwrestlers who easily get put out of position because of their hand size.  If they train and pull correctly to use it to its full potential.

From Richard Lupkes

It's great to see your own question and answer page for armwrestling. It has been a long time since we hooked up and pulled and I am looking forward to coming out of retirement and pulling again. Your dedication, knowledge and sportsmanship over the years to armwrestling has undoubtedly made you the BEST of the BEST! I was very humbled when I read some of your answers to the many questions you received and you mentioned my name. All I can say is thank you. I always trained very hard and my ultimate goal was to beat you. My question is, if I do come out of retirement will I stand a chance against this new bunch of competitors?
Wishing you the Best,
Richard Lupkes

Hi Richard,

Yes it has been a while now.  As far a as your question about being able to compete once back into armwrestling shape.  Hell.  I think you already know the answer to that...Of all the armwrestlers I have ever wrestled through out the years.  Your explosive power was the most incredible and sometimes scary example of pure power I have ever felt. Your size and strength to say the least always made me a little nervous.  Looking forward to seeing you back in the sport.  Your presence will definitely shake up the heavyweight division. Hope to see you soon and thanks for being so polite...I can still remember like it was yesterday the first time we formally met.  It was at the table of the Over The Top tournament. With a huge amount of money on the line. You introduced yourself and paid me a compliment seconds before we gripped up to pull for the biggest prize to date. It sure did surprise me and I will never forget that. Thanks again.


Mr. BRZENK,

I have been pulling for a couple years now with little success. I thought I was dialed in and hoped to do well in Reno but again, things did not go well. I think I'm only a keystone away from better outings. I am attempting a posting top roll. I think I'm setting up ok but then I'm doing something wrong. I set up about waist level at the table with my legs about parallel.  I place my elbow in the front of the cup with my forearm posted and my knuckles up and high on the hand. I flex that side of my body and arm. On the go, I attempt to pull back with my whole body and arm as a unit. At the same time, I try to rotate my hand and go towards the pad. Unfortunately, I'm losing to a hook most times. Is there anything glaring that I am missing or doing wrong. Is there anything I should really concentrate on or flex just before the start? I am confused, because I am stronger than I have been pulling.  Any input you might have would be appreciated. Thanks.

The style you describe can be one of the most difficult to hook.  It requires a fare amount of biceps hammer curl strength.  The key is the start you have to be able to keep your arm straight up and down along with your movement to the side. Once, or if your arm gets pulled down to any kind of an angle you better change your style, quickly. Which is also very difficult to do if your opponent is moving fast to the pad. Sounds like your performing the move right.  Keep working on it to build greater strength.  But don't neglect the other styles.

Ben from Minneapolis

John, I had never arm-wrestled until last Friday. I beat my friend with both arms, but it took longer to beat him with my left hand. The next day, I started to feel an aching along my left arm, mainly along the outside of the humorous; as I think itís called. I had bad form while using my left arm, because I didn't keep my shoulder close to my fist. I didn't, however, hear or feel any snap while wrestling. My question is, do you think it could be a hairline fracture / spiral fracture? If not, are these symptoms common, and what time frame am I looking at before I can start weight training again? I'm actually pretty scared to try this sport again! Anyway, thanks for the advice.

Hey Ben this ache you describe on the side of your arm is very common.   I still get it if I pull hard and then try and pull again the next day.  Itís like a toothache that throbs and makes it impossible to even squeeze your hand.  Try some ice and let it rest. Depending how sore it is I would think within a week it should be gone.  Don't give up on the sport, but take it slow.  This pain period is what separates us from even the strongest weight lifters.  Armwrestling conditioning takes time.  Ice and Advil.  It will get better.

From Simon

Hello John
I was watching some tapes recently, Yukon Jack, a match with Cleave Dean in particular, where you forced a hook, after the go it appears as though you turned your hand slightly, thumb toward your right shoulder and drove your hand up a bit to get the hook. Can you please discuss the method you use to force a hook against a top roll and a posting top roll, as well as the set up, pad position, side/ back pressure. Thank you for your time

Well actually Simon the style I remember is different than the way it may have looked on tape.  I do not rotate my hand putting pressure on my biceps nor ever letting my palm turn upward.  In fact for guys like Cleve I would try to avoid any contact with the hand at all. And will always try to maintain my hand and wrist sideways. My elbow may slightly move forward to get a slight bow in my own wrist to provide better leverage for the pull to the back of the pad to bring his arm to a slight angle.  Then its all side pressure similar to the style Johnny Walker would use. Wrist almost straight with a ton of pressure to the side with a little added triceps chopping on the wrist for the finish.  Gripping low like this usually works well for larger armed opponents, its a little more dangerous to perform against someone with a shorter arm than your own. There is no one set of hard set rules that I try to follow or think about on the setup.  I try to relay on what feels most comfortable own my own hand and arm depending on who I am armwrestling and how they are setting up.  My arm and hand is kind of like electricity.  In that, it likes to follow the path of least resistance.


ERNIE FROM COLORADO

MY QUESTION TO YOU IS I HAVE BEEN COMPETING IN THE SPORT FOR A WHILE BUT HAVE NOT TURNED PRO. I RECENTLY TOOK 2ND PLACE IN THE NEW MEXICO STATE CHAMPIONSHIP IN SEPTEMBER, I HAD THE OTHER OPPONENT FROM THE GET GO ON A HOOK. THE MATCH LASTED A TOTAL OF 10 MIN, TOO LONG FOR MY TASTE. THE THING IS MY LOWER FOREARM GAVE OUT (POPPED) WITH ABOUT AN INCH LEFT TO BEAT THIS OPPONENT FOR 1ST. I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU IF THERE ARE ANY FINISHING MOVES,
AND EXERCISE THAT CAN PREVENT THAT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN? I AM GOING TO ATTEND 2 MORE TOURNEYS IN FEB. AND MARCH. SO IF YOU CAN GIVE SOME ADVISE ON THIS I WOULD APPRECIATE IT. THANKS AGAIN.

10 minutes is way to long for any armwrestlers taste.  Your 10 minute match was probably the greatest stress you have ever put on your arm for eventually strengthening it.  The popping tendon can take quite some time to heal, but it will, and will eventually make your arm more stable.  Keep pulling maybe lightly for a while to heal up.  After about a minute both of your arms are probably at a pretty weak state. This is when a good shoulder roll press comes in handy. If after this amount of time you still have an advantage. Get behind your arm and push with the triceps.  I try not to perform a shoulder roll move with a opponent with a fresh arm, but once wore down a little it is a separate set of muscles that usually will become very effective after a long stalemate.

Ditchie from Maine

Hi John, This is Ditchie Brown from Westbrook, Maine (again). I've got a meet coming up in a week or so and I was wondering at what point of time, before you enter a meet, do you stop using your hand grippers? Or do you stop using them at all? Thank you very much.

I will try not to do anything one week before a tournament this includes grippers.  Although some may argue that hand and wrist exercises can recover very quickly.  It would probably be all right to do some light hand crunches up to just a couple days before.   I don't like to risk being the least bit sore.  So I lean on the safe longer rest theory.
 

From Travis Bagent

I've been pulling in open classes for about 3 or 4 years now and have just recently became winning on an pretty consistent basis, my ? to you is: how do you feel about the level of the AAA National Champions verses say 10 or 12 years ago. Then: Jerry Janing, Patton, Rhodes, Robert Lear, Bert Whitfield, Walker, you and Bath, Dean etc. compared to today's Winners: Tullie, Mike Mcraw, Rhodes, Vale & Sinks, Remer, Redden & Abbott, Bucky, Caderatte, Randall & Worfeul. Do you think Armwrestling is improving or has it loss a step!

 P.S. I plan to come to the TOC, Harley Pull, and to Lake Tahoe, I am really looking forward to meeting you in person! 

The old house I used to live in as a kid seemed so much bigger than it truly was. So my judgment may be a little distorted, as I have gotten older.  I do feel there was more depth around the country in the past. Why in my opinion was there a stronger field? And why is it difficult for successful accomplished armwrestlers to continue to be motivated to participate? Looking back at the last 20 years both sponsorship and coverage for our sport have declined...in the past for instance, lots of T.V coverage.  World's Wristwrestling Championship, Inc., was televised by Wide World of Sports for 16 years.  WPAA, televised.  AWI, televised.  Yukon Jack, televised.  These along with many other occasional money events continued to create some highly motivated armwrestlers. Today's AAA nationals although still one of the better draws for the amount of participants.  In my opinion draws the armwrestler looking to improve his skills and prove something to his fellow armwrestlers.   Once they have achieved the title of national champion the accomplished armwrestlers begin to question the cost of returning year after year.  And although we all still enjoy competing most will work hard and continue to excel when there is a chance of being compensated and recognized for their continued effort. This is the reason I think armwrestling 15 to 20 years ago maintained a stronger field. The guys that you mention in your question could all still be very competitive in the current nationals, but because of the "been there done that" feeling we don't see them anymore. How do you think the old guard that you mentioned would fair against the new?  Even as we speak today I think most of the guys on your list would still fair pretty well.  Even today. I also look forward to meeting with you.....see ya soon.

From Dusty Miller

Royal New Zealand Navy


John I'm wondering if you'll be able to provide me with any info on the Tri-cep extension if this is your area of knowledge if not no worries. My name is Dusty Miller and I'm a Physical Training Instructor in the Royal New Zealand Navy (small country below Australia, no we're not part of Australia) 3 million people 2000 in the Navy we have 3 frigates. I maintain peopleís fitness and train personnel in the Navy on anything to do with
Physical Training. I am on a course at the moment and it is very intense with assignments and studies on Physiology. One of my assignments is a Kineseology assignment on the One Arm Tri-cep Extension behind head. I have to provide a quantitive analysis on the exercise. So far I have taken a video, photo's (correct and normal person carrying out exercise) would you be able to help me on some information on a few things as I'm quite stuck on it, as I don't fully understand Kineseology and Biomechanics in the space of 1 month that we've had to learn it. (Very hard for a Rugby Union player) In the assignment I have to do a checklist of:

a.       Individual Movements (phases of activity, movements and positions of activity)

b.      Observe performance (where my photo's and video comes into it)

c.       Identify Faults (how affected performance to desired performance.

d.      Evaluation of Faults (Put faults in correct order and explain why)

e.       How to improve faults

f.        Muscular Analysis (All major muscles involved, type of contraction for
each muscle and role of them eg., stabilizer, assisters)

g.       Biomechanical Principles (Newtonís Laws and how they relate to exercise eg
Law of Inertia. How they are imployed and relate to this exercise)

h.       So far I understand a wee bit I'm really stuck on the Muscular Analysis eg.
anconius, biceps seratus anterior, detoids what they all do and the Biomechanical Principles, also a few of the faults and an alternative exercise for less stress would be the Tri-cep push down I'm guessing. If you would be able to help me with the points mentioned above I'd appreciate it very much.

Cheers Dusty Miller
Physical Trainer
Royal New Zealand Navy

Physiology, Kineseology, Quantitive analysis?  These words are definitely not part of my vocabulary. Shoot I still don't understand why my muscles get sore when I work out.  I would also consider myself lucky just to be able to correctly perform the particular exercise your analyzing.  I am sorry, but it sounds like your on your own on this one Dusty.

      

John I have been pulling since I was 14, since 16 I have never lost I am 29 now and have been in the Marines since High School I hit every little tournament I can but they all seem to be weekend warriors. I won the armed forces championship in Hawaii in 1999; I have won about 10 tournaments. My passion matches yours, and from your responses I feel that you were born to pull, you can only perfect in from there. I live in Oregon now and just pulled with a guy in a tournament that said you beat him Vegas in either 94 or 96 his name was Jason Anderson he was an unknown from Oregon. He said he gave you a good match but he lasted less than a second with me, I know its strange but you do you have any recollection of him. Thanks for the inspiration.

I am sorry but I do not remember the name Jason Anderson.  It maybe possible he gave me a good match. Maybe after the tournament? (This has happened a few times before!) So don't underestimate me!  How have you gone your adult life without losing? If you are that good you may need to start thinking about testing yourself against other dedicated armwrestlers in some tougher events.  And a bit of advice, don't tell them that you have never lost.  Although this maybe true, this will only label you as a rookie who has never armwrestled against anyone.  Keep improving and hope to see you soon at some tougher events.



From Colorado


DO YOU REMEMBER MEETING A MATT GIRDNER FROM DENVER? I THINK THE TWO OF YOU MET FOR THE FIRST TIME BACK IN ' 96 AT THE YUKON JACK S.W REGIONAL QUALIFIER, AND AGAIN IN POCOTELLO ID. MATT HAS BEATEN SOME PRETTY GOOD ARMWRESTLERS IN THE PAST FEW YEARS, BUT HE DOESN'T KEEP DRIVING, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? I HAVE YET TO SEE MATT IN A TOUGH MATCH. HIS LAST "real challenge, and I mean this in a very light manner", WAS AGAINST A GUY BY THE NAME OF PAUL, FROM N.Y. HE TRAINS WITH JASON VALE, AND RUMOR HAD IT THAT HE WAS AREAL B.A. WELL, MATT TOY'D WITH HIM, AND BEAT HIM EASILY, TO WIN THE NATIONAL TITLE@ THE 221-242 CLASS. HE BEAT A BIG DAN VICTOR IN POCATELLO TO WIN THE INTERNATIONAL TITLE. JOHN, TO GET TO THE POINT, MATT HAS ALL THE MAKINGS TO BE ONE OF THE BEST IN THE WORLD. HE HARDLY TRAINS, THIS IS WHAT KILLS ME!!! IF HE REALLY TOOK IT SERIOUSLY .......WATCH OUT WORLD! Please e-mail him Tell him to stay focused and not to quit! THX, MILE HIGH ARMBENDERS!!!!!!!
P.S I THINK HEARING FROM YOU WOULD REALLY GET HIM PUMPED, HE RESPECTS AND LOOKS UP TO YOU!

Yes, I remember Matt.  In fact I think we pulled around a little bit after the tournament in Pocatello.  And from what I can remember he doesn't need too much encouragement.  He looked and performed very well. We all go through ups and downs about the amount of work and time we are willing to commit to the sport. Lets face it.  Itís not currently a profession that should consume all of our time and for the most of us itís the fun thing to do on the weekend. I also think sometimes that it would be great to have had the personality of lets say a Dave Patton.  But then again if I had to continue to work out like he did.  (The one time I went to the gym with Dave I was crippled for a week).  I probably would have quit the sport a long time ago.  And I believe the first requirement in being a good armwrestler is enjoying it. I am sure if he is thinking about the sport he is doing enough to slowly progress.  And although many hours in the gym will help a little.  The key I believe is the occasional massive tear down achieved by enjoying the sport itself. And as long as he is consistent and pulls hard at least once a week he will continue to get better. Most people think more is good and even more is better, but in my experience sometimes it's not!


From  Jeffrey Ames


I have noticed that most armwrestlers tend to use techniques that make the most of their strengths. For example, the success of Cobra's toproll and Dave Patton's posting toproll could be explained by their extremely strong biceps of which both have been well documented. I have noticed in many of your
responses that you attribute much of your success to strong side pressure, which would indicate you have strong chest muscles and you say your triceps seem to get quite a pump when you pull which would indicate that you have exceptionally strong triceps.

My question to you is, have you noticed in your workouts with weights that your triceps and chest are two of your stronger muscles and have more endurance as far as sets and reps than your other muscles and also could you give me an idea of what particular exercises that you find you are strongest at?

If I continue to armwrestle, but stop lifting weights my bench may drop 200lbs, but my armwrestling will not suffer.  Curling, tricep pushes, rowing etc.,... will all react the same way they will suffer if I stop lifting but the armwrestling will not. My deduction to this is that I must not be able to simulate the unnatural twisting forces I use armwrestling by conventional lifts in the gym.  Or the particular muscle or muscles that are causing me to loose are not being strengthened much more with weight lifting. If I am hurt the mental pain factor will cause my armwrestling to suffer.  And weight lifting helps me get over this pain caused by armwrestling. But no, I do not have one lift that stands out as being something I can do better or stronger than most. In fact there arenít any lifts that I can do better than most of the dedicated weight lifters. If I was a dedicated weight lifter maybe I could, but I don't. But currently the area I have been focusing on away from armwrestling is the rear shoulder/deltoid lifts.  Because it happens to be the area that I feel is knotting up, and quitting on me while I am in a long match on the table.

Ed Cosnyka

There seems to be an extraordinary amount of armwrestling talent in Utah  where there isn't a large population. How would you rank Utah pullers (to each other) considering Bongard, Goble, Asbury, Beller, Bobby Brown,
Merritt, etc?
We do have a few armwrestlers that are very dedicated to the sport, and because of that we will continue to perform well against other armwrestlers. You have mentioned only a short few of the actual numerous pullers here.  I wouldn't begin to try and rank them. But I think Team Utah would fair very well as a group against any of the larger states.

 
From Richard Harriman in the U.K.

John,
I have been interested in armsports and strength for 15 years or so. Being from U.K it is hard to find any information on the sport but having read your Q & A session on U.S armsports web page this has been useful to me. I have practiced armwrestling with anybody willing to but I am in need of some technical advice. Can you describe to me the 'bio-mechanics', if you like of the various moves used in the sport stating in which direction I should be pulling, etc? I think I understand the Toproll but I am a little confused with the Hook technique. I am entering into a competition in April at the NEC in Birmingham in which Cobra Rhodes is exhibiting, your advice would be important to me.
Thank you in anticipation,
Richard Harriman.
Richard good luck in your competition in April. And don't forget to pull and ask a lot of questions after the meet.  Instead of trying to explain the Bio mechanics of armwrestling in text form. I have talked to Dave, and in the near future I will attempt to illustrate some of the different techniques
with a brief explanation.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Look for it soon.  And again, good luck in your upcoming event.

Brian Griffin from North Carolina

John so far I'm undefeated. I think it's because of my strength mostly. Of these are only amateur matches. My biceps are 16in. and my forearms are 14in. What size are your arms now?
Currently Biceps 17 Ĺ forearm 15 Ĺ.


John I armwrestle amateur matches around my area and so far have won every match. But the competition is getting harder. I don't know much technique only a little. I have no idea what Dropped Wrist, Hook, Drag or any of the other names of techniques are, what they mean and how to perform them. Could you tell me in detail what they mean and how to perform them? The more the better.
Look for an addition to this site...Going to attempt to provide some pictures of different techniques, if I can get team Utah to pose for me.  Look for it soon.

From Brian Bylbie in Phoenix

I think I speak for all pullers when I say thank you for this forum. I have been back to pulling for approximately 8 months after a several years of off and on training and competing and now that I have been back at it weekly to biweekly I have just started to experience joint soreness in both elbows. It is kind of an ache feeling and after warm up it goes away but if I don't pull within a time of 5 to 10 minutes it will come back and I will be sore enough that I will not want to pull. I haven't tried to ice or use an anti-inflammatory as of yet but that will be the action I take next. Have you ever experienced this or know anyone who has? How do you recommend that I treat it without seeking medical care? Because I know they will say not to pull and that isn't going to happen!
Thank you in advance for your opinion, Brian Bylbie Phoenix, AZ
Everyone has some level of pain and soreness if they armwrestle. How much and how bad it is compared to others would be impossible for anyone to compare.  Until just recently I had soreness in the elbow that would come and go and always seemed to heel to an acceptable level. Lately my dull almost burning inflammation has been bad enough that I feel it is affecting my wrestling workouts.  I don't know of any secret cures other than the things you mentioned. Ice, massage, anti inflammatory drugs and just keeping yourself in good general health.  If that doesn't eventually solve it then you should seek professional help.  I have also tried the long period of doing nothing without to much success. So warm up well and keep those fingers crossed that it will eventually heel.

Casey from Florida

My question is about the straps. I am a short armed, small handed, top roller (posting style I think is how you put it). What I am trying to understand is why do I sometimes struggle with an opponent or can't beat him at all until we go to the straps. Then it is like night and day. After strapping up with my opponent, I seem to feel twice as effective. Do you have any ideas? Please say hello to your training partners, they are all great guys. I think I owe Bob a dinner and then some++. Strapped in Florida (C.S.)
Well Casey I think it's very difficult for anyone to move towards the pad when they don't feel they have hand control.  And if you look at the posting style move it is very difficult to maintain a solid hold on your opponentís hand. Youíre pulling back with your knuckles high with little to no pressure on your opponentís hand. And unless your opponent is attempting to control you with finger pressure this move will usually lead to finger positioning and then a slipped grip. But once in the straps your allowing the straps to pull on your opponents arm while protecting your hand and wrist into an offensive position.  This added support is allowing you to feel comfortable to use all your strength back then to the side without mental worry of slipping or maintaining better index finger position.  It just so happens the style you are most comfortable with is the perfect style for the straps. Sounds like you have discovered what works best for your strengths and physical build. I will tell the Utah crew you said Hi.

John, first, thanks for your answers. I am three years into the sport and am doing what I feel is well. When I started I was 275 and am now pulling at 230, at this weight I did well at the Unified Nat. and placed Sixth RT. in Finland. Anyway I have seen some answers in regards to two types of top rolling I do top roll but would like a more technical explanation of the two styles, for my improvement. I hope soon to be in the low 200's to 198. Thanks again. And I hope to meet you on the table soon.
Instead of trying to provide a detailed explanation. I plan on providing some photos with some explanations hoping this will help. Look for it soon sorry and thanks.

From Dallas in Shreveport, La.
 
I appreciate being able to ask questions from a man so well represented in the sport of Armwrestling. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist, Cert. Pers. Trainer who works with problem teens. I would like to use the sport of Armwrestling to help these kids develop their bodies and self esteem. I have not been able to find books, tips or techniques on armwrestling. I have found this forum and I would appreciate any information you may have on this matter. Do you have a book or do you now where I could find out this information. I would appreciate any other reader's reply too. Thank you.
There is an older book circulating somewhere out there on the sport. I havenít read it, and am not sure where you could find it maybe Dave can help?
(Dave) There is a quality book which has been written and set for publishing soon.

From Alabama Panther

I WAS WONDERING ABOUT YOU ARM WRESTLING SYLVESTER STALLONE IN THE MOVIE "OVER THE TOP" DID THE TWO OF YOU EVER GET TO ARM WRESTLE ON OR OFF THE SET AND IF YOU DID WHO WON THE MATCH? I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO ARM WRESTLE YOU TO SAY I HAD A MATCH WITH THE CHAMP......THANKS AGAIN.........
I did not get a chance to pull with Stallone other than setting up on the able for photographs.  I think he may have had potential, but it is very difficult for anyone to perform well against someone who has dedicated years to the sport!

From Landi2000

Hi, I also want to know what kind of exercises I should do, and how I should lift weights, and stuff like that. What kind of armwrestling is the best way to beat somebody? I always tern my wrist and pull down and towards me, and I always win. Also what should be the strongest part or parts of the upper body when armwrestling? The forearm, wrist, biceps, shoulders, or the back??? landi2000
Hear again I personally have not been much of a weight lifter.   My strength in armwrestling has been developed from many years of armwrestling.  When I do lift its basic lifts on a machine of some sort. I normally do one set for reps of 10 to 12.  I do these various lifts to stay in overall condition. So are you asking me what you can get by with?  Well there are numerous successful armwrestlers that do not lift at all.  If you don't feel good about that then you should do the lifts in the areas in which you feel weak when you armwrestle.  What technique is best depends on many factors. Your build and strengths along with your opponentís build and strengths.  Turning your wrist in, and pulling down is called a hook and drag. This can work great for some, but then it would be something I would avoid against others. (Big stocky guys with big short arms!) Forearm, wrist, shoulders, back....these things I try to reinforce with lifts.  Opponents biceps, though they may look good have never given me much trouble on the table.

From Jamie

Hi John , I am 15 and I love to arm pulling but I was wondering about my training , I train about 3 times a week and I do the following push ups
bench x2
over head press x2 (behind my back)
French press x2
barbell curls x2
hammer head curls
fore arm curls
wrist curls
Would you say this was in order and what other exercises are good to do
It looks like you have most of the pushing style exercises covered. You might want to work on some pulls for the back/lat, shoulders, and triceps. A rowing type machine works well.  Mix in some fly work coming across the front of your body with your arm in different positions this may also strengthen your side pressure once back on the armwrestling table.

Hi,  I'll just get straight to the point I have been working out my arms for about 2 years and I cant seem to put any muscle on my arm and I'm on the brink of giving up all together Thatís how agitated its made me. I have done about 20 different Bicep workouts and they donít work for me I never feel the pain or the burn.   Any suggestion I will listen to!!!!!!! 
 I also have a very difficult time feeling a burn doing biceps exercises.  I can't say that I have actually gone to the extent of 20 different styles...I didn't know there were that many! But anyway, the reason is that normally my triceps or the small muscles to the side of my arm burn causing me to quit before the biceps actually feel the burn...My only suggestion may be to try heavier weights, shorter reps, and longer rest.  If your asking this question because your an armwrestler. Youíre in luck, because I personally don't think big biceps are the key at becoming successful. Mine have also been the same size for quite some time now.

 
From Greg Gray
 
I was wondering what your opinion was of Scott Ciborowski. At the Tahoe tournament you faced him and were able to win the matches that you had against him. It seemed like he was able to beat everyone very quickly and that he had you in a bad situation but you had enough power to hold him and bring him over. How did you do that?
Scott has one of the best shoulder rolls in the country...if you don't know this mans name you should remember it  because he will most likely beat you to this inside move. But with that said, I and everyone else knows exactly where he is going. The first match I tried to keep him away from that press while attacking his hand...and similar to pulling against Jerry Caddorette it becomes very difficult once in this position to pull through their shoulder roll. The second time I gambled and hooked with him wrist to wrist.  This is very dangerous and if it wasn't the last match of the day along with having a lose to give I would have never thought about doing it.  I may not have the best hook in the country, but I can still hold my own with most...it was actually a little easier to pull through his arm without taking his wrist.


Carlos from Texas

My name is Carlos Depaz and I am 15 and live in Houston, Texas and I just need some help. What are the best techniques and some hints in arm wrestling? And what are the major muscles used so I know which muscles to work out. Do you use your biceps and your chest? We have arm wrestling matches everyday in school at lunch and I use to be able to beat everyone but I stopped playing for a while and now everyone is stronger than me! So I was wondering if I could get some helpful techniques or hints to master the game. I would really appreciate it if you wrote me back. Thank you for your time.
The answer lies in your own question...start playing the game!  Your friends have gotten stronger and better by competing against each other. There is absolutely no equal substitute for training then participation. Sounds like your going to have to get beat a bit playing catch up! Start pulling!  This is the quickest, easiest and by far the most enjoyable way of becoming a successful armwrestler.

Hi John, I have a problem when I am wrestling, I think that its my tendons and all round my wrist and elbow, I am new to the sport so is it because I am not used to it?  Thanks.
The aches and pains are normal. Armwrestling, whether its practice or competition, causes you to exert a tremendous amount of pressure in some unnatural directions.  Much more than weight lifting would ever do.  Hang in there, take it slow and those tendons will respond with time. Every armwrestler has gone through some painful building years!

Alejandro from Chile

I am weightlifter of 23 years 6'3, 260lbs with a long and big hand and forearm, what most be the style that I have to use for armwrestling, and whatever is the style I must only dedicate to do that? Or I must practice all? Thank you very much.
Someone with a taller build with a larger more dominant hand is normally more effective with a hand control to the side type top roll.   But there is no one set rule.  Yes, you should work all areas. You are going to eventually meet someone that will require a specific style to win. Your body can only take so much abuse training your favorite style.  After several minutes give it a rest. Then train some of those directions that currently don't feel comfortable.
 

From Jerome

I have been wrestling for 10 1/2 yrs. But I didn't start to really get good until Petaluma in 1998.  Then I started watching and reading everything you've ever said. Trying to pull identical to your style. Which I like, when and why to do what and how. You told me there (you probably don't remember me) "Quit fighting for the grip, just lay your fingers down and do the move. You might lose some tournaments until you get used to it, but eventually you'll be able to handle any grip anybody gives you and still win." Well it worked; I have won Petaluma 1999, and 2000 and quite a few other tournaments, thanks to you. You have been missed at Petaluma the last two years, are you going to be there this year?
I'm glad I could help.  I haven't decided yet whether I will make the trip to Petaluma this year.  It's always a great time, but I have lots going on this year, with so little vacation time to do it.  But there is a good chance I will be there.  Going to try and stay in shape all summer long...into October would be nice.   

Hey john, I saw you for the first time at the Harley pull 2001. I was a little misled in entering that tournament. I was in the 198 weight class and won 2 matches, one was a forfeit and the other I beat a 4 time national champion, who just beaten the 2000 National champion from Toledo. I normally armwrestle in bars and so forth. It has been awhile since I have competed. Do you think what I did at that tournament was a sign of good things to come? I am wondering to if you remember that match I won, he almost had me down 2 times and I pulled him back to win. I also need more knowledge in technique do you have any ideas? Thanks John.  Needless to say I suffered 3 weeks in arm pain, and I need more training so I donít have to go through that. Thank you.
Yes the competition at the Harley pull in Ohio is a little stiff.  Sounds like you were capable though especially If youíre beating nationally ranked guys and you are not pulling consistently hard once a week.  Yes, it would seem you have the potential to do great things.  The first step would be to construct a table...armwrestling across the bar can be hard on the elbow.  Get some others that may be interested in the sport, and then start pulling.  Consistent pulling will produce some very noticeable gains. Give yourself at least a year. This will also help dampen the suffering you went through.

 

 From Ann VanderKuyl

I just want to thank John Brzenk for appearing at the literacy fair in Hyrum, Utah last week. Although he deflated a lot of egos from the locals, John was such a perfect gentleman, giving kids, women and aspiring champs equal opportunity to be humiliated. Thanks again John for supporting a very great cause, reading.  You are welcome.  It was a great time.  I truly enjoyed pulling with all the hopefully future Utah armwrestlers along with their dads.  My arm is still a little sore, but recovering.  I will be stronger because of it!  Thanks for the invitation.
 
From Kit

I have learned ton's more sense the last time I have asked you a question. I have learned new techniques that I only used to know the name of like the Toproll although I have never seen a (I might have but not realize it) posting toproll. Anyway I have recently measured my right arm. I have built my forearm so it is actually as big as my Bicep. I want to know for a guy my age "13" if these measures are pretty good for a kid my age. Just to let you know I'm not totally ripped but the measurement is not with fat. Forearm 14 inch Bicep=13 to 14 inch. This is while flexing to my full extent. Another question I think you have answered before is, How much do you curl?
I know you don't really get your power from hitting the weights like others do but I was just curious. I have realized with my right arm being injured one time after another the pain after injury goes away quicker. Last time I asked you about the pain in my arm it took a couple of months to heal. That's added with the times I would not let it heal. Then when it got better I over did it again. This time it got better in about a month. Months turned to weeks. Now my arm is killing me just when I thought I healed completely. I armwrestled some giant (and won) but that's another story. That totally hurt my arm again. I am realizing that my arm is starting to feel better. It's only been a week and it felt like he put some serious hurting on my arm that day. Worse than ever. Could you explain what might be happening? I would (or will) enjoy pulling against you someday. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Have a nice day.  Size isn't as important as what is in it.  I have seen guys with 13 forearms beat men with much larger arms.  But all other things equal.  More size will equate to added strength.  I can't remember measuring my little sticks at that age, but 14" definitely sounds respectable. I do not curl with free weights and if I were to try I am afraid it wouldnít be very impressive. Sounds like your well on your way to conditioning that arm into an armwrestlers arm!  Consistency, time, along with your young age, will add up to very good things on the table.



Hi John. We have an armwrestler here in the east named Bill Sinks who looks awful strong. Have you seen him in action yet? If so, how would you rate him against Cobra Rhodes, Patton, Fisher, or other top pullers in his class?  I have seen Bill pull a couple of times now, and he is very impressive.  At the Harley pull I watched him pull some extremely long matches. Then come back from the losers bracket to beat Cobra. This definitely says something about not only his strength, but also his endurance.  That is a very tough bunch that you have mentioned and anyone of them could win if placed in the same class.  I would never bet against Bill he currently has earned in my mind the title of being the favorite to win under 175 lbs.
 
 
Louis from Florida 

 Hi John I have to tell you that your site is the best there is, I read everything I can find about armwrestling on the net and by far yours is the best out there. So I would like to say thanks, I really enjoy reading all your replies to everyone. I would like to know if you are going to the AAA nationals in Ga., this year? And if so what class are you pulling in if you are going, I will be pulling in the Super's class and the Master's & I hope you are not!!! Pulling in the Super's, but if so it will be a great privilege to pull you during or after the match. Hope to see you there????  No I do not plan on attending the AAA nationals this year.  Because of future events I elected to keep my weight up... currently 210, and will be attending the Unified National Championship (USA Nationals) tournament in Laughlin Nevada. Thanks for the compliment, Mr. Devoto has worked very hard and has spent many hours making this site what it is!

 From Brian

Who discovered armwrestling, when, and where? Are you married? Do you have kids?  Tough question!  I don't know if anyone could answer that. I am sure there has always been some form ...?  Yes, married with two girls Megan 11 and Kelli 6. 

 

From Brian

 Could you please answer the following questions:
*Where could I find an armwrestling team/league near Port Huron, Michigan?
*What is it like being famous?
*What is it like in Brazil?
*How long have you been working out?
*How long have you been a professional Armwrestler?
Thanks From a BIG Fan,  I will let Dave or Denise answer your first question because I don't know of any groups in the State of Michigan. As for your second question... now how would I know that?  I will let you know if I ever get there. I have never been to Brazil, but my brother Bill has. He enjoyed it. I started working out with weights at a very young age 8 or 9.  My father had a weight room when I was growing up. I started pulling when I was about 12 or 13 and broke my arm at age 14 pulling an armwrestler my dad knew.  I took 3 years off because of where I was living, but when I returned to Illinois I started pulling again, and with the help of my dad I won my first World title at age 18.

From JWI, JR

 THANK YOU FOR WRITING ME BACK EARLIER. HEY I HAVE ONLY A FEW QUESTIONS THIS TIME, I THE GRIP BEFORE THE START REFS NEED TO SEE THE THUMB KNUCKLE RIGHT? IS THAT THE KNUCKLE BELOW THE THUMB NAIL OR THE NEXT ONE DOWN? ALSO WHEN IM BEING CENTERED UP BEFORE THE START THE REFS MOVE MY ARM MORE TOWARDS THE CENTER CAUSING ME TO NOT HAVE MY ARM CLOSE TO ME. I LOST TWO MATCHES BECAUSE OF THIS. MATCHES I KNOW I CAN WIN. HOW OR WHAT CAN I DO TO COMPENSATE FOR THIS. DO I NEED TO MOVE MY BODY UP ON THE TABLE TO GET CLOSER TO MY ARM. THE OTHER GUYS ARE TUCKED IN TIGHT TO THEIRS? THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.  That would be the knuckle below the thumbnail.   Well yes, I would think your opponent would also want his arm in the center. And while some styles don't require staying tight if you feel more comfortable closer to your arm then yes move your body in as close as you can.  This may require elevated shoes or the use of a stand.  Getting close to your arm is normally the needed setup of a shoulder roller and unless your going to do the same it may be a good opportunity to try pulling back pulling them away from there tight triceps move.  Also if your looking for a tighter angle make sure your elbow is in the front of the elbow pad.
 

From Pat Valenti

I am writing a book under contract with Greenwood Press on Ernest Hemingway's _The Old Man and the Sea_.  This book will provide teachers with documents and resources to help them teach the novel to high school students.

In the novel, set in Cuba during the 1950s, the main character, Santiago, says that he engaged in an arm wrestling contest that lasted a day and a night. He says his opponents fingers seeped blood with the exertions and that the refs had to spell each other to sleep.  I would like to know if this is in any way possible. The Encyclopedia of Sports says that a pull generally lasts around a minute. Second, could you direct me to a written source that I might use in the book with permission from the copyright holder that would give stats of world championship pulls and indicate the length of the longest pull? I think the book on ďThe Old Man and the SeaĒ will give students interesting material to read and will increase interest in arm wrestling. I will be grateful for any help you can provide.  Well I guess anything is possible especially with two stubborn guys pulling across some stump somewhere, but the longest match I have ever witnessed on a professional armwrestling table would have been a match between to great World champions.  Dave Patton and Bert Whitfield.  It was about 20 years ago and was 11 minutes in length... I seem to remember lots of sweat, but no blood. And believe me if anyone could draw blood from the strength of their fingers it would have been theses two flyweights. I haven't read the Encyclopedia of sports, but a match that lasts a minute is very out of the ordinary. Most matches last less than a second.  I don't know of any books documenting the length of professional matches. Maybe Dave can help? (from Dave) The longest I have ever seen was estimated to last 15 minutes.  That was at the World's Wristwrestling Championship about 1971.  Needless to say both pullers lost their next matches because of exhaustion. 
   

From Steve Muller

Just wondering if you have ever pulled against Ed Baxter. He wrestles mainly at 176. He was a 3-time world champion and won the overall. But not many people seem to know who he is. I would love to see this match. How much do you know about him? Thanks a bunch. Yes I know Ed.  It's been a while and I don't know a whole lot about him, but if I remember correctly he is a little lighter than I am.  I don't think we have ever pulled in a tournament.  He is not well known because he doesn't travel much.  I would also like to see him against some of the lighter champions.  He would surprise many.


From Scott

Just read your Q&A pages on US Armsports web site. Very interesting. I'm not much of a competitor, but enjoy watching the sport. I have seen you compete several times in Petaluma (I live in Northern California) and on TV. Beyond your ability, I have always been impressed by your approachability, humility, and willingness to interact w/ others. Your Q&A pages demonstrate this quite eloquently. It is amazing to me that someone who is the best in the world at what they do would work so conscientiously to be a role model and solid citizen. Obviously, a far cry from many of the world's best at more well-known sports and endeavors. To me, that is a great part of the appeal of a sport such as
armwrestling. I have absolutely no issue with an individual earning millions for being the best at what they do. However, I personally am far more impressed by someone who has the dedication to become the world's best at an endeavor without profit being a motive. You should obviously take pride in your accomplishments in your sport. You and your family should take even greater pride in your accomplishments in life. 
Thank you for the compliment Scott.  I have always considered myself a little reserved when it comes to personal interaction.  This site has made it easier for me to talk about the sport and I thank Dave for that. I also think I will have to blame my dad for the dedication if it wasn't for his involvement at such a young age I'm sure I would have turned out differently.  I do take great pride, as anyone involved should.   It really
is a fantastic sport to be involved with.

From Tim

I was wondering I notice that the way you were pulling at Laughlin, Nevada
June 17th I was in your weight class but did not get a chance to pull you.
Your elbow was right up to the center of the pad it look like you would just
give your hand to the guy across the table and then you would just drag them
straight back to your side of the table and your side pressure looks
tremendous Do you do a lot of lat pulls? Or what would be some good weight
lifting and training exercises. Thanks. 
Yes, I do lat pulls on various machines.  I belong to a new gym here in Utah and they have quite an assortment of different machines.  I am going to try to get together some pictures of the machines and my small short work out procedure...  So the true weight lifters can laugh!

 
Hi John. I'm a newcomer to the arm wrestling sport. If you could prioritize
the importance of technique, strength and speed, and add percentages to
each, what would you say that they would be? Strength is the most important without strength technique is worthless.  The key is having the proper strength in the various techniques.  What is the best way to develop this strength?  Of course itís by conditioning the muscles and mind by repeating these motions (armwrestling).  For the most part I think you are born with speed.  Itís very difficult to turn a long distance runner into a sprinter, and this is an important forgotten factor that separates strong weight lifting from good armwrestlers.  When I talk about speed its not how fast someone can react to the go more than the ability of the athlete to twitch his muscles.  The more explosive one can be the more effective his strength will be on the table.   I'm not sure how I could arrive at a formula for percentages...strength and technique are something everyone can improve.  Speed on the other hand?  Can nerves be conditioned?   


Ditchie Brown from Maine

I haven't emailed you for a while and I wanted to let you know that all of
us armwrestlers (in my group) here in Maine are doing great at our meets and a lot of it has to do with you. You've been an inspiration to us and we
appreciate the advice and time that you put into the web site. My buddies
and I all have pro tables at our houses and we get together, at one house or another, once a week to do a lot of pulling. My question to you is. Do you think we should pull arms more than once a week? And how soon before a meet would you suggest that we stop the once a week pull?
Hi Ditchie...I have tried to pull more than once a week and felt my arm was deteriorating so I returned to the once a week program...although when I was younger I could pull more often.  I think it's going to depend on different factors... age, conditioning, nutrition or the lack of it! Try experimenting.  If your returning to the table twice a week always hurt then you may want to cut back.  My rest from armwrestling is normally two weeks but this also varies depending on how my tendons feel.  I am glad I could help.  Sounds like you are enjoying the sport... keep pullin you'll
get there!

From Jason 

Thanks for taking time to answer questions. I have heard you say that your triceps gets sore after hard tournaments. I was just wondering in what part of your pull are you using your triceps and how it is executed. Thanks. The side motion along with the locking of your arm toward your torso requires tons of triceps.  Hooking and dragging down on your opponents wrist involves quite a bit more. If your pulling across the table biceps to biceps your not pulling as effective as you can on your opponents arm/ biceps.  Of course it's not the only muscle used, but it is one of the most important ones, which can be easily be overstressed and get extremely sore without proper rest.  Shoulder rolling goes without saying, but to be honest pulling outside with a drag uses just as much as keeping your arm crunched up using this pushing style technique.

 
From Jason Latona


John, I saw that you said that most injuries occur within the first years of being in the sport. My question is do you recommend practicing first, and not try to compete until you have great "pullin" strength. I'm new to the sport, but I really want to get involved, and get some table time. Thank you.  What separates the guys that get hurt from the ones who don't is their ability to understand and feel their body and it's limitations.  I am not sure there is any full proof defense in preventing serious injuries.   But I do think pulling without the added pressure of a tournament would help reinvent some. No matter how hard I think I am pulling in practice. I will not get as sore s I do after a good tournament. I think it would be a good idea if you had this concern to spend more time strengthening and understanding the sport without this added pressure to perform.  When you do finally decide to enter some tournaments stay composed and in control mentally. While maintaining a very alert state. Don't try to do something you wouldn't feel comfortable doing in practice. But YES get involved as soon as you can.
 
 
Louis from Florida

I want to thank you for your reply to my last question.  I would like to know what it is like to be the top gunfighter in the world and have everybody gunning for you? I'm sure it keeps you on your toes. I was talking to some armwrestlers the other day and I told them that (From what I can see is that you are the most loved & hated armwrestler of all time, because everybody wants to be like John. But everybody wants to be the one who can beat you) I hope your top gun for a lot longer! I would like to know if you will be at Petaluma this year? Because, I, like everybody else would like to try that arm of yours too! I'm 44 years old and I have been pulling for a long time and I have never had the opportunity to pull that powerful arm! Maybe some time soon? Let me humble myself; I'm not saying that I'm going to beat you, but I'd like to give it a go! Thanks.  Top gunfighter?  I still like to think of myself as the underdog...I always justify it in my head somehow... it relieves the pressure.  I have always had fun with the sport and I try not to let my record or others expectations get to me.  It's sometimes difficult to tell yourself   " Go... compete and do the best that you can and don't worry how things turn out"... especially when your not feeling your best. I had a very respected armwrestle tell me when I first started beating some good pullers to enjoy the crowd, because with time I would turn into the guy that everyone would cheer against. So I knew at an early age that it would happen.  The sport is more enjoyable when there is a goal to gun for. Much more than keeping the new up and coming guys at bay. Yes, I will be in Petaluma this year, but don't look for me to pull to many classes.  I think I may only pull one this year...will see how the arm feels as I get closer to it.

Jason from Orlando

 John I just started ''pulling'' on a regular basis. However it seems that Iím getting weaker, is this due to the fact I may be pulling too much? I really enjoy the sport, and love the challenge of a tough match, but how do you know that you're overdoing it, and when to stop and start up again. Thanks again.  Good question.  I am still experimenting to find the answer.  Itís very easy to love the sport enough where you over do it especially during practice. Each person is different and over training will depend on different factors. Age, health, nutrition, etc...If your very sore I think that would be considered normal.  If youíre in pain when you start up again then you are over doing it.  You may get some good gains by walking away for a month then starting up again...if you feel your not moving forward you may receive some of your best gains by doing nothing.
 

Rod from Ohio
 
My name is Rod Kandel from Millersburg, Ohio!! I've been looking to get into Arm Wrestling and see how I do!! I've been looking around Ohio for some events, but there doesn't seem to be much action in Ohio!! I was wondering if there might be more Arm Wrestling Events in Ohio then I can find on the Internet!! I am 6' 3" tall, and weigh 285 lbs.!! And have never been beat in Arm Wrestling!!! All my friends say I could be a pro!! But it's hard if you can't find a place to start!! Well, Any advice would be helpful!! Well, Thank for your time!!  Ohio? That's where the Harley pull is!  The competition might be a little stiff for someone that hasn't been involved much, but it would be a great place to come visit, pull, and talk with some of the local guys. It's in Montpelier and its scheduled for April 20th.  Look on this site under events and give Mike Bowling a call. He lives in the area.


Jason from Jax

 Thanks for taking time to answer every one questions. My problem has been
how to deal with someone with a lot of backpressure with out loading up my
self? Also can you describe how to use more tricep strength in a match? Thanks.
I have the same problem.  The way I see it you have two choices build your backpressure to match theirs. (which is a whole different set of muscles). Or build you hand strength to the point where you can overpower their backpressure with hand strength.  You will find most people that post back with fingers high don't normally maintain good side pressure protection once their arm is positioned to a slight angle they are vulnerable to the side (unless they quickly change their direction). Another note...the posting puller feels impossible to top roll during the start but once their hand is turned down into a hook you may find their wrist easier to attack and top roll.  Just because the initial move maybe to
hook it doesn't mean it has to end that way.


John, although you mention several techniques what about private money matches? I once had the pleasure of taking some coin from Strong arm John from Decater Il playing pool and any other crazy scams John could come with. After this first meeting I ended up partnering up with John to take off some local guys arm wrestling. He said you and him were cousins is this true or just partners when needed or enough gamble like big Johns is needed.  Out of all the years that I have armwrestled I can count on one hand the private, one on one matches, that I have had. I don't believe we are related, but I do know him, and was part of a bet match that he set up in Ohio. It was by far one of the most exciting and memorable moments in my life.  There is no sure thing when it comes to gambling and no matter how good you think you are there may be someone lurking that is a little better. It definitely got the heart rate up there!   


Hi, I am 13 years old and I am good at arm wrestling but what part of your arm has to be strong to be better at armwrestling? Also what exercises should you do? 
Mike most good armwrestlers share one common strength.  Strong hands with defined forearms. Start building your strength and confidence by pulling with your friends. If you want to cross train. Work on all the areas paying particular attention to your back,  shoulders, lats, triceps, and biceps along with different styles of hand strengthening exercises. 


I live in Draper, Utah and I was writing to see if it would ever be possible to meet with you and discuss armwrestling, or even attend one of your armwrestling workout sessions. I am new to the sport and would love to start competing in armwrestling tournaments. I have a background in competitive power lifting. I know this will not automatically make me a good armwrestler though. I'd just really love to develop strength and learn technique so that I can compete, hopefully successfully in armwrestling. I also workout at Lifestyles 2000 in Sandy or West Jordan. Maybe we could hit the weights sometime? It would be really great to hear from you. Thank you for your time.  Sure, stop in or give me a call any time.  My address is in the book along with my phone number. I live on the extreme south end of Sandy so you are probably only a few minutes away. Our group pulls normally on Thursday night and we are pulling at my house...so stop on by.

Tim from Florida

I was wondering how much merit you give to the theory of  no sex 2 weeks before a tour. Do you think it really affects strength & concentration?  My normal weight is 150 lb. aprox 10% fat I can make 132 reactively easily. I feel strong but to you think I you'd be better of at a higher weight.  Absolutely none.  Never even seriously considered it tapping any strength. Only you can answer the weight you feel best at.  I would work on your strength and maintain as much muscle size as you can without the fat.  150 is a much more common and more competitive class. I think you will have a much more enjoyable time with more competitors to pull against then the 132's.


From John Rinck

I am just a casual arm-wrestler who was blessed with an unusual strength
for the sport, and would consider it a great honor to arm wrestle a
great individual such as yourself, just for the experience.  However, I
know that isn't very feasible, but just so that I can get an idea of
where I might stand against you, or any professional arm wrestler, could
you perhaps humor me by trying an exercise that I think I am exceptional
in, and letting me know how easy it is for you?  Then I might be able to
get an idea of how good (or bad) I might be in real competition.  I do
wrist curls with dumb bells, one hand at a time.  I use 75-pound dumb
bells, and go full extension all the way down and up.  I can do about
twelve of them in a row like this.  Maybe others out there could use
your answer as a gauge, also.  It's as close as we'll probably ever get
to the top of the sport! Sure John I could do this, but I might hurt myself.  I currently do wrist curls with 55 pounds and go until I can't which is normally about twenty five to thirty times, and this is not full extension, (because I drop the weight to often). But there are a few more things to consider than wrist curling strength when it comes to gauging your ability hand to hand armwrestling. One of those factors would be hand size.  Lets say for instance same curling strength between someone with a very small hand and someone with the palm size of a Cleve Dean...I may be able to still gain hand position on the smaller hand, but it would become near impossible with the larger. I have been around some incredible weight lifters and weight lifters / armwrestlers that could do crazy things wrist curling, but because of their build they were unable to gain an advantage on the table. Another thing to consider even if your curling is that strong. Are you conditioned to pull in a hook once youíre able to get your wrist into that position?  If youíre actively pulling on a constructed table... you may be ready.

From Ed in Utah 

John, I have some background with the dumbbells that might help answer one of the last questions to you. I can curl my 75-pound dumbbell like John Rinck described 30-40 times, but I still can't armwrestle. I can curl almost 200 pounds and do sets of 100 dips when I weigh 175, and I still can't armwrestle. With all that my grip is still weak, and I have no hand strength for pulling. I can see that it takes several years of pulling to develop that, and there aren't any short cuts. The straps help a lot; they compensate a lot for my weakness. Thanks.
Well I wouldn't exactly say you can't armwrestler...I know better than that. I also know your hand isn't that weak, but like I said palm size, width and thickness, plays an important roll in control. But youíre right. Through the years I have been around some armwrestlers and non-armwrestlers that could do some incredible things with weights, but couldn't perform as well on the table.  I donít know what the formula is, but armwrestling consistently for many years is a good start.

From Rob

Hey can you tell me about the arm wrestling match you had with Scott Norton. I followed him when he was in WCW and I heard he is very strong. Also do you know any other websites where I can find information on how much Scott Norton could bench press and curl and so on?? And do you know the names of the people who have beaten him? Thanks for your time.  I can remember pulling Scott twice when it counted (that is during a tournament). He beat me both times. The first time we pulled was during a Super Heavyweight class only match in Minnesota.  I am guessing it was around 1983 or 1984 he was my first match of the day, and he beat me very quickly.  Funny thing though the way the draw turned out I took third and he took forth... no justice I guess. By the way, Cleve Dean took first and Johnny Walker took second that day. Yes they both beat Scott. The second time I wrestled him was about a year later in Reno I pulled three classes and weighed about 185 at the time. I gave him a much better match I held on for a while trying to top roll. We then slipped grips I decided I would try and surprise him by hooking ...he then planted my arm into the table! I have pulled with Scott on occasion after that just pulling around and YES he was extremely powerful. Lots of triceps power.  So I could imagine he could bench a tremendous amount of weight. I don't know much about his quest for the record in the bench press nor do I know much about his armwrestling record.  He was around for a couple short years in the mid 80's then retired to pursue WWF wrestling.

 From Sharon Remez

Hi John itís Sharon Remez ( Man ) here.
What do you do for a living?
 
Hi Sharon, it's nice to hear from you! I hear you are pulling a lot more lately.  I look forward to seeing you compete in the near future.  I work for Delta Airlines as a Lineservice Technician.  I work the active line on dayshift here in Salt Lake City working on Deltaís jets.

  
I wrote you a few months ago, told you I was in the Marines and had won the armed forces championship, but had never really competed against really good armwrestlers, hence I had never lost. I have recently competed in the Oregon state championships in the 199+ division I currently weigh 205, I soon realized that I only had one technique which is the hook and everyone else used all sorts of stuff, I had only seen in the movies. I won my division with little work, all less than a second, but in the all around at the end I met my match with a guy named Jarrod Luvellet who I believe was the super heavyweight. Do you know who this is, and if so what can you tell me about him, he now is the wall paper on my computer and he didn't beat me fast so it is my goal to someday beat him, any advise would be nice. Thanks so much for inspiring all of us. Semper Fi  Yes, I know Jarrod. He is a very good accomplished armwrestler. And with this said you may have tons of potential if you gave him a run for his money with very little experience. Keep with it, and keep pulling in tournaments like this. You will build new strength and knowledge only possible by armwrestling.  The real key would be to pull with Jarrod or someone of his caliber every week.  This will make you both better for competitions outside of your state.  Talk to him or some of the other guys after a tournament. Can you spend a small amount of time each week pulling with a group?  This will be your quickest route to success in beating Jarrod and a few of the other great
pullers in the Northwest area. 


From Jordan

 My name is Jordan and I'm 15 just getting into arm wrestling. I have been arm wrestling this guy that will twist his wrist right from the start and we will go back and fourth for about a minute then he will just have that little bit extra to beat me. I hear a lot of people mentioning top roll and several other techniques that I've never heard of. Can you explain a few good techniques or give me some pointers on what seems to work for you; I don't know any techniques so detail would be good. I know I should have this guy beaten.
Thanks for your time!
 
First of all Jordan are you pulling on a regulation armwrestling table or across some hard table top? A lot of the offensive techniques require standing on a squared off table with elbows at least a certain distance apart. With out it and with out a referee setting the hands straight saying ready go I might have a hard time top rolling your friend.  In a hook match if you lift your elbow up and slide your elbow back will his arm open up or will yours? This may give you a good idea how things might turn out with the proper knowledge and technique on a professional table. There is a huge difference what you can and cannot do without something as simple as a table with elbow pads.

From Chris Roy

Dear John, Iím sure you get in tons of questions to answer. But I was looking at a page and a guy was telling you about his 23-year-old nephew and how he beat some big guys. Well I am 15 and have been wrestling for 2 years. And I have gone up against some pretty big guys in fact I had to armwrestle some national and world champs. Well the first time I heard of you was when you were in "Over The Top" and I thought that was awesome. Well I would be so glad to meet you all I need to know is of a tournament you might be attending in the next year. My next tournament I am hitting is Colorado Blue Mountain State. If you could just give me a time and a date I will try and make it. Thanks Chris Roy.
 Hey Chris I will see you there.  From there I will be attending the GNC tournament in New York Nov 10th.

 
From Nick

I hear that Richard Lupkes might be coming back. I saw a picture of you pulling Richard back about 10 years ago, and I was amazed at Richard's "guns." However, I was also amazed at how LONG Richard's forearms looked. Did you try and hook Richard then? Or were his biceps too tough? And have you heard anything about Cleve Dean making a comeback again? I saw that in a 2001 tournament, Cleve beat Ron Bath in the finals. It was a tournament held in the south. Wow, I would love to see you, Cleve and
Richard go at it in a tournament! And what can you tell us about this new guy from Canada-- Luke Reimer-- I see he has a victory over you, but I heard he sort of surprised you. How good do you think this guy will be?
 
Hey Nick, NO never try and hook someone with the triceps of a Richard Lupkus.  I always tried to attack his hand and was successful a couple of times and failing, and losing a few times trying. Yes, he had incredible size and strength.  I would also love to see Cleve Dean back pulling actively and better yet pulling against Richard. Luke is currently a great puller he has the build and desire to keep improving and I am confident he will be the man to beat in the near future.

From Kit Cannon


Hello, I just purchased an armwrestling table. So far it is working great. I pull with my Dad most of the time on it. I was just wondering how exactly you armwrestle. I know the best way to get better at armwrestling is to armwrestle, but to what extent. I usually armwrestle till my muscles get sore. Well, thank you for answering so many questions of
mine. Have a great day.
 
Hey Kit I think it depends on different factors. How old are you? How long have you been pulling? How are your nutritional habits? I will give you some background on what I have done...When I was 17  I pulled every day...yes my arm ached, but I still did it, and made some huge gains in a matter of a few short years.  When I was 18 I pulled and worked with a few guys with a name you may recognize (Dave Patton). We would pull before work in the morning and then after doing a lot of physical work (moving tree stumps and brush) we would pull after work. (Twice a day) Yes my arm ached all the time, but I did get stronger. Recently (about 3 years ago I tried to step my pulling up to pulling twice a week) I felt I was going the wrong direction and was injuring myself without giving my body a chance to repair. So I cut back to once a week. (I am currently 37 and have many years of wear and tear on the arm)....my point is you have to know and experiment with what your body can currently positively respond to.  Every day might be OK early on in life and with little experience, but as you get older and stronger I think you may find more rest ill be needed.

From Italy: Fabrizio Castellani

Hi John!!

I have 3 questions.
1) I'm an armwrestler by '94, Iím very light sixty Kg and recently, when I
pull I feel pain from my shoulder. What kind of exercise (table, weight....) can I make too improve strength in that zone?

2) Is there some tv channel by Satellite that transmits some pull?

3) Are there any videos on the web to download?

Excuse me for my English but Iím a little out of training with language. :-)

Thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!
 
I have been fighting something similar in the shoulder for years now.  I use an elastic  band to strengthen and stretch mine after pulling hard. I will start with an overhead throwing motion then several other angles.  I will get to the point where its starting to feel good then I will over do it at some tournament having to start all over again. Armwrestling is no doubt hard on my rear deltoid. I don't know what is televised on your side of the world, but there is very little coverage of the sport here in the States, and I am sorry but I am not familiar with European satellite broadcasting. I think Dave has been talking recently about starting up a site that will have downloadable armwrestling footage.  Maybe he could give you an answer when it will be up and running.  Dave:  First of the year sometime.

 From Jason

John, I was just wondering if you remembered my father, Larry Geiser, I was
just wondering because he likes to tell stories about how you and him use to
wrestle together. Well I am his oldest son Jason Geiser. I was just wonder
because I have always wanted to meet you and talk to you.  Yes, of course I remember your dad.  That would be like forgetting about some of the best armwrestling days of my life.  These were the days when I would compete with my father.  We would show up at some local tournament in the Chicago area to go against the best,  (which included your dad), in the mid west. Is Larry still pulling?  I am sure he is still in great shape.  How old are you Jason?  Are you ready to take his place?  Tell him I said "hey", and look forward to seeing you both in the near future.

From Kym


I wanted to comment to you regarding the Howard stern show this morning. I am in California and listen to him on the way to work every morning and was totally excited to turn the radio on and here you john talking about and supporting armwrestling (i.e. pulling) I am sorry I missed most of the conversation, but what I did catch you did a great job promoting this sport. However, Howard could have trashed it and you, with his dry humor and take something good and twist it into a negative. I was totally excited and thank you for being there to promote it in a positive way. He tried to make it sound like wwf a few times but you held strong. I am a women puller and he talked about the women in the sport and I was trying not to get his negative visual he was seeing... I am honored for my wins and my losses and just happen to be a women arm wrestler and happen to pull with the best heavy weight women out there...best wishes...
Kym Weber  Thanks Kym I had fun with it.  We don't get his morning show here in Utah so I didn't know much about him.  He seemed like a nice enough guy though. Probably would have been more fun to do something in the studio.  Maybe next time!


From Steve in Florida

Hey Big John- Don't know if you remember me or not but I lived in the bottom floor of the house in South Weber-  Gary and Lisa Stain lived upstairs-  I was a Sgt in the Air Force back then, stationed at Hill AFB-  Me and my AF buddies had the privilege of pulling with you a few times on Garyís table while we'd watch the NFL-  Anyway, I've been able to keep up with your success thru MILO's coverage of your sport-  Then I heard about this website and I looked it up today- You don't look much older than when I knew you 16 years ago!!- Just wanted to say GOODONYA for the way you have carried yourself over the years, despite all the success-  You still sound like the same humble guy-  You know, over the years whenever a conversation came up about arm  wrestling, I've always been able to tell the story about when I pulled against the great John Brzenk-  (No, I don't say I won....I tell exactly what happened....I hit you as hard  as I could, your hand barely budged, and you pinned me without even trying!!) Then I tell folks that have seen Over the Top and think that all arm wrestlers are oil drinking, head banging ragers, that the real world's champ is a regular guy with a lot of class-  I never got into arm wrestling after I left Utah, but I did stick with my power lifting-  Did OK, went to a couple of AF Training Camps, but Desert Shield/Storm came along and I was out of the gym for a year or so- From there I went over to Australia and spent 6 years in the outback at a remote radar site- It was in the middle of nowhere, but I got back into my lifting and even met  a local girl who I ended up marrying-  Her name is Naomi, and last year she was ranked #5 drug free gal in the U.S. with a 240 Bench @132 lb weight class- I've gotten into the strongman sport the past few years and that, along with  my power lifting keeps me pretty strong for a 45 year old guy with bad joints!!-  Anyway, we have been stationed down here in Fl. at Patrick AFB/Cape Canaveral for the past two years-  I miss Utah but NOT the COLD!!!-  Hey, what ever happened to Gary? -  Does he still pull or did he stop-  I read in a MILO that you have started power lifting-  Is that true- how is your training going?  Have you been in a meet?  Anyway, was good to see you are still out there representing your sport after all this time- If you ever get down this way look me up and if we've got a shuttle going up Iíll get you a great seat to watch her go!! -  Take care and God Bless  V/R  Steve  Hey Steve thanks for the compliments and yes it's been awhile, but I do remember pulling on that occasion at Gary's home.  Your right I haven't changed much, but like everyone else I do feel a little older.  Still live here in Utah.  I haven't seen or heard from Gary in a while, but I believe he is still living in the Long Beach, Ca area.  No, didnít get involved in power lifting. It's been hard enough to get motivated to work out with the weights for armwrestling.  But good luck and stay motivated in helping the wife achieve that number 1 spot!

From Walter

Hi John, my name is Walter and I'm 33 years old, I've been pulling for almost 16 years, I really do agree with you when you say that armwrestling is the best for gaining arm and hand strength, still I feel that I can get a lot from my weight lifting workouts, maybe cuz that way I can rest from my strenuous armwrestling workouts?? . By the way I armwrestle once a week, and every four weeks I take a whole week for resting from both armwrestling and weight lifting workouts, it works great for me. I am curious about the armwrestling match you had with a Brazilian called Marcio Barbosa, how was that match?? He is a friend of mine, and I must tell you that it was an honor for him to armwrestle you. John thank you very much for sharing with us your time and knowledge.  Yes I think changing things up a bit is important and extended rest periods are helpful. Marcio is extremely talented and he has proven this fact by recently winning the heavy weight class at a tough GNC Pro Performance event in New York. I was a little concerned with him during our first meeting, (which has been almost a year ago now), as I am when ever I pull someone for the first time. From what I can remember he as a strong uncomfortable set up. Which lead us to a referees grip. I also recall being stopped short from pinning him on my initial hit to the pad in a hook. There must be some good strength in those big biceps he carries around.  He will have, and deserves my full undivided attention in future meetings.

 
John, I have been hearing a lot about Alan Karaev, since well before this year's worlds. How have you fared against him in the past, is their any indication that he will be coming to GNC? By the way, a gentleman sent you a message earlier, talking about how he can do wrist curls with 75lbs and for like 15 or something, but a 146lb man from Massachusetts named  DEVIO does 90lbs for 40 reps!!!! And he does more than one set extending down inside his thigh and coming up to a full curl. Just food for thought.  I have pulled Alan twice within about 20 mins of each other. It was in Moscow in 1998 in a Super Match.  I hadn't heard of him before our meeting either. He beat me soundly on our first set up while I was still trying to recover from pulling a previous match with a strong capable Georgian competitor. The second match went a little longer... I broke his wrist back, and while we were in the middle of the table his elbow lifted which resulted in a stoppage and a restart.  After the restart I was able to stop him for a brief moment, but eventually lost again.  I am 0 and 2 against Alan. I am sure he has gotten much better since then, and he continues to prove he is the best Heavyweight in the World by winning The WAF Worlds and overalls in one of the most talented events of the year. I look forward to testing him again soon.

Steven From Los Angeles.

Hi John I just wanted to know if your going to the Petaluma World Championships 2001...and what did you think about Ed Arnolds armwrestling moves back in Over The Top. I'm trying to execute his triceps move...do you think its good to use against todayís armwrestlers... Do you think a lot of armwrestlers will expect to get pinned by a move like that? Your answers will be much appreciated.  It is going to take a very special person to be effective in perfecting the Ed Arnold shoulder roll. Compact size, big chest with great triceps and a strong wrist. A shoulder roll move leaves the wrist vulnerable to being topped.  And in my personal experience it is very difficult to strengthen the small muscles on the side of your arm to keep your arm in front of you for the push. This move is a very powerful move and works great against guys that aren't expecting it.  But if it is all that you do there are moves that make it difficult to be consistently effective using it. Perfect this move, but save it for special occasions when you really need that surprise win.

 

From Engin in Turkey

Hello Dave n John, how are you all doing? This is Engin Terzi n Dursun from Turkey. We hope that you all doing great.  Congratulations for gnc winning, Dursun just couldnít make competing. John I'm right now 1.55 but I'm going to gain 50 more pounds to get your chair :). Hey John I have a question for you, I had a final with a Russian at this years worlds in Italy. As long as ref says go the guy  directly goes under the table, and lowers his shoulder below the table level. An old Canadian man was doing same thing at Harley pull but this guy was going with his whole body to under the table. The match was ended after more than two minutes, I hurt my elbow and my wrist got bent for the first time in my entire armwrestling life.  I won the championships but it was a nightmare. Your experiences surely greater than mine and I need them for this matter, please take care of yourselves and tell friends I said hello, thank you Engin.  Yes this could have been a real nightmare if you were to meet up with someone who does this early on in the tournament.  I suspect there is no real danger of getting beat by someone that employs these tactics but they can be a real spoiler. I don't have a lot of experience pulling armwrestlers that pull this way, but I did get a chance to watch some of the matches at the Harley pull, and could feel for some of the great armwrestlers that got tied up. I would have to experiment with a few different moves, but I would think if you knew it was coming and it was early in the tournament I might try making sure this broken wrist jamming move could not be executed by purposely gripping low on the wrist and forcing a wrist to wrist move. I would also think the added support of a strap should help... Thank goodness most guys don't team up to practice this spoiling defensive move.  May be good tactics in the future to bring along a spoiler that does this for team events?

From Travis in Little Rock

John,
I'm really interested in armwrestling and I would like to now how to get
involved in the sport. I'M 5'9 154 pounds and I'm 18 years old. I live in
Arkansas and I haven't found any place to test my strength. Also could you
give me some exercise and tips on how to become better at the sport. I feel
strong but I would like to get stronger and bigger. Just e-mail me back
I'm sorry Travis I don't know of any contacts in the Little Rock area maybe Denise or Leonard could comment. If you have a brother grab him and construct a table.  Pull pull and then do some more pulling.


Dear John I am only thirteen but I am very good at armwrestling. I was
wondering which muscle to work the most when I am training?
Lots of muscles need to work together.  Participating is the best solution to solve the question of what muscles are involved.  Most good armwrestlers need a good strong hand.  That's always a good place to start.  Buy yourself a racket ball and try and pop it a few times each day.

Brandon from California 

HEY JOHN,
FIRST LET ME THANK YOU FOR INSPIRING ME TO BECOME ARMWRESTLER. I SAW YOU ON TV IN '81 OR '82 TAKEN A SECOND PLACE BEHIND JOHNNY WALKER. FROM THAT DAY FORWARD I KNEW I WANTED TO BE AN ARMWRESTLER. CAN YOU DESCRIBE SOME OF YOUR BEST MATCHES WITH RICHARD LUPKES? WHAT'S YOUR OVERALL RECORD WITH HIM? HOW DID HE PLACE AT THE OVER THE TOP, AND WHO BEAT HIM. I SAW THE BEST MATCH IN THE HISTORY OF ARMWRESTLING FROM THE FRONT ROW IN '88 AT PETALUMA WITH YOU AND RICHARD. YOU GRIPPED HIM LOW IN A HOOK, THEN ROLLED TO THE OUTSIDE TO TAKE HIS HAND. IS THIS THE WAY YOU ALWAY'S PULLED HIM? WHAT WAS HIS STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS? THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, 
I recall pulling Richard at 4 or 5 different tournaments. My first experience against him was the Over The Top final...with a Volvo White truck on the line. He had beat Ed Arnold in the semi final draw.  And we met on the A side...both of us being the only ones left undefeated. His match with Eddy was a tougher match then my semi final match so he came to the table with a big disadvantage. I was able to Top roll his wrist and the match went fairly quick.  He then had a rematch with Ed Arnold, which he lost after a good struggle. Our second meeting was in Reno I think where he beat me in an early match. (very convincingly I might add. With a very powerful shoulder press). Our next meeting was in Petaluma, which with the help of the wristwrestling table I was able to hold off that incredible power and back pressure his wrist out of position. I then came in with a shoulder press of my own. I think we pulled in a small tournament in Canada in the mix somewhere, but I can't recall the outcome...(I must have lost...I seem to forget those more than the ones that I win). Our final meeting was the finals of the Yukon Jack in Chicago.  He beat me in an early round...I came back through the losers bracket.  And in our final match he controlled the match inside.  I was able to hold him off and after a few restarts he hurt his shoulder. After his shoulder injury he dropped out letting me win the tournament uncontested. That was our last meeting....Early on at the Over The Top tournament his weakness was his wrist...but he quickly fixed that, and it became very difficult to do anything offensive with him.  The best I could do was hang on and hope that that massive power would deplete to a level where I could do something.

Matt from Missouri

Mr. Brzenk. First off, I'd like to tell you I'm a big fan. I saw you at a little tournament here in Missouri about a year ago at Brewskees.  I was absolutely SHOCKED at how easily and effortlessly you put down those bulky juicers! I admire that alot! Anyway, I'm in the Army, and I was just  wondering if you know of any tournaments or little clubs or organizations of ANY kind for Arm Wrestling in the Army. I'll be stationed in North Carolina  here pretty soon, if you know of any clubs there or anything..please tell.  I've been wanting to go to a tournament here lately but none around here in St.Louis lately. It's a shame. This should be an Olympic sport. That's my opinion anyway. Oh yeah..one more thing..do you remember a young guy named  Eric Browne when you came to St.Louis a year ago? He was about 17 or 18 years old and he wrestled in the 199+ but he's a thinner guy and he literally slammed all those big biker guys. And everyone was all shocked and amazed at how this young kid could do that. Did you see any specific technique he used, IF you remember that is. Thanks, hope to hear back soon.-Matt
I'm sorry Matt I don't know of any clubs or tournaments in the Missouri area. And I don't remember Eric.  But if he was only 17 or 18 I'm sure I'll hear about him in the near future.

Lisa from California

JOHN, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT OVER THE TOP? WHO WERE SOME OF THE PULLERS IN THE CLASS FOR THE TRUCK? WHO FINISHED BEHIND YOU FOR THE TRUCK? IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAD A HARD TIME QUALIFING. HOW DID YOU GO FROM THAT TO WINNING THE TRUCK? I NOTICED AT THE END OF THE MOVIE YOU WERE ON STAGE BEHIND STALLONE, DID THE DIRECTOR PUT YOU UP THERE BECAUSE YOU WON THE TRUCK. WHY DIDN'T CLEVE DEAN OR SCOTT NORTON COMPETE FOR THE TRUCK? WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE JOHN BRZENK FROM OVER THE TOP PULLED THE JOHN BRZENK OF TODAY? THANK'S FOR YOUR ANSWER'S LISA FROM CA.Ed Arnold from California a seasoned shoulder roller finished second. Followed by Richard Lupkus from Minn. I qualified to pull this open class about one year before the final at the   first qualifying event in Beverly Hills Ca. taking a second to Ed Arnold.  I was very young, so I did improve from the qualifier to the actual final. Yes, I did get to show my face in a couple of spots one being the trophy presentation at the end of the movie. It was originally decided that to participate in the open division for the truck that you had to be a licensed truck driver or a teamster.  Cleve Dean nor Scott Norton filled this requirement.  So they pulled the open class for money. At this stage I think the 21-year-old Brzenk would beat my sore aging arm.

 

Dear John, well this story may be a bit shocking but I'm looking for some advice so your input would be helpful.  I'm 30 years old married with 4 kids and have suffered from 2 spiral breaks one in each arm of the humorus bone. I have always been a wrestler since high school and have been considered locally one of the best. I competed in bar tournaments in my early 20,s until I suffered my first left arm break. Doctors said I was done because they put a rod in my arm to fix the break. After that I stopped competing until the past year.  I'm 30 now. I entered a tournament called the Harley pull not knowing the level of competition.  It has been many years since I pulled and I did pretty good by finishing 8th.or9th.at the Harley pull. I even won against Gerald eas.a 4-time national champ.  Iím in that video with a red hat and black shirt. Maybe you remember the match? Anyhow I suffered through tendon pain as a result of that but did heal. I pulled in Mike Bowlings local events and did ok but I donít think I was totally healed from the Harley pull, so I took off for 7 weeks and went to the Michigan state qualifier in the upper peninsula, at this time I felt really good. My first match I won easily and I felt really strong. My second match was devastating, at the start with in 2 seconds I had broke my right arm. I was even moving toward the pad when it happened. The referee said I wasnít in the break arm position either.  Man I tell you what I donít want to quit but Iím not sure I can go through or put my family through this again. Doctors donít give straight answers and I donít really know of any books to teach me styles and techniques so I can improve on this sport and prevent breaks. The only one thing the doctors did say is that my bones are strong, no deficient bone problems. If you can help me with some advice so I can clear up this nightmare. I do love this sport but maybe itís not for me. Thanks.
I am no doctor, and I don't know how long it takes for the body to respond to the stress of armwrestling. But I do know that most seasoned armwrestlers that have worked into the sport after a few years do not have the same problems with breaks.  How long does it take to get into the safe zone?  I'm sure it may be a little different for everyone. My advise to people who want to start armwrestling and especially the ones that are bigger and stronger with well developed weight lifting muscles is to take it slow at first.  Practice pulling and stay calm and mentally in control.  I can't think of any armwrestlers that have been pulling for a few years having bone problems...Take it slow.  Pull hard, but maybe you should think twice about pushing the limits that a tournament will cause you to exceed.  Give those bones a chance to strengthen past the strength of those big muscles

Matt from North Carolina

Mr. Brzenk. First off, I'd like to tell you I'm a big fan. I saw you at a little tournament here in Missouri about a year ago at Brewskees.  I was absolutely SHOCKED at how easily and effortlessly you put down those bulky juicers! I admire that a lot! Anyway, I'm in the Army, and I was just  wondering if you know of any tournaments or little clubs or organizations of ANY kind for Arm Wrestling in the Army. I'll be stationed in North Carolina  here pretty soon, if you know of any clubs there or anything..please tell.  I've been wanting to go to a tournament here lately but none around here in St.Louis lately. It's a shame. This should be an olympic sport. That's my opinion anyway. Oh yeah..one more thing..do you remember a young guy named  Eric Browne when you came to St.Louis a year ago? He was about 17 or 18 years old and he wrestled in the 199+ but he's a thinner guy and he literally slammed all those big biker guys. And everyone was all shocked and amazed at how this young kid could do that. Did you see any specific technique he used, IF you remember that is. Thanks, hope to hear back soon.-Matt
I'm sorry Matt I don't know of any clubs or tournaments in the Missouri area. And I don't remember Eric.  But if he was only 17 or 18 I'm sure I'll hear about him in the near future.

Doug from Canada
 
First off, thanks for taking the time to answer questions in this forum. The information here is priceless.
 
I met you last year at the Stampede Pull and got to see you pull... WOW! You demonstrated the warrior in you in your merciless rematches with Luke in the right (I was 3 feet away from you when you pulled, between the table and the
building). And you once again showed the true sportsmanship people always compliment you on, when you chose the left hand for the class champion  tiebreaker. I hope you find your way up to Canada again soon.

Here are my questions.
 
In a recent tournament, Ron Bath managed a couple wins over your right. You didn't offer it as an excuse, but I heard that he tore you up a bit in those wins. If so, the injury must have been minor, as you pulled three divisions in your next tournament in the right? And won them all. Please comment on the matches with Ron and the following tournament.
I have been struggling the last two years with some annoying elbow pain.  I have tried to solve it from trying several supplements, resting, to physical therapy, and lately have gone to the extreme of getting cortisone shots and an MRI.  I have continued to armwrestle through the discomfort, but working out with any energy has been very difficult. In it's current state it feels unstable and mentally is extremely tough to pull hard with any confidence. But yes Ron did put a new squish on my arm...that injury is currently healed. I have been debating for a long while now to completely quit for an extended period of time to see if this will help, but it is very difficult to give up on something I have done all my life. Using Nevada as an example, I am still very competitive but pulling continues to aggravate the situation. My advantage over many armwrestler including Ron through the years has always been my ability to hit in a vulnerable direction with enough force to keep them from using their strength and endurance against me.  I have always felt my tensile strength or lock has to be accompanied with aggressive movement.  I have never considered myself to have the strength or endurance of someone like Ron.  And if I were to slow pull with him among a few others I would be at a large disadvantage. Once truly stopped (as I was in Ohio) the match was basically over. I could hang on for a while but the end result was inevitable.

To answer your question about Nevada, I went there to pull mainly left and then maybe one lightweight class right. But once there greed set in and I decided to pull everyone there and drop out, as I felt necessary.  Lately I have had this mental worry that I am going to cause permanent damage. However once the referee says go it becomes second nature to move to the pad.

Can you help me with the hook?? In learning the top roll, I was taught to pull directly back towards my face, and flare out my wrist to attack the lower part of the opponentís hand, then move to the pin line. This type of move is prone to the slip later on, but is effective in teaching you how to "attack the hand" (also works well against the hook). Can you describe a good basic hook technique from which to build on? I already took the advice you've given many times on this page and have been practicing every week in the hook, but I don't feel confident there yet.   
It takes time...lots of time. I never felt confident in the hook during my initial years in the sport, but with persistence it will develop.  There is no wrong way to pull in a hook.   Work the style that feels most comfortable first then work all the directions that don't feel right afterward.  There are basically two main different directions posting in a hook using your biceps which helps the top roll move and dragging or pulling with your lat and triceps dragging down on your opponents biceps.

Also, are you planning on attending the Worlds in the next two years, with them being US and Canada?

What did you think of the Canadian fellow who won the Harley (Dennis Dubriel)? Did you get a chance to pull with him? What did you think?

No, I plan on trying to take some time off and the competition at Worlds is no place for someone with an injured wing.  (I am planning to pull the GNC in New York in Sept next.) Dennis is a great guy and I was thrilled to see him win the Harley.  Of course I could have used it but I was very happy for him. I did get a chance to pull with him in the overalls but I think he may have felt a little intimidated because he didn't put the hurt to me like I know he could have.
 
Can you comment on the Legend, Dave Hicks? You two were in the Golden Bear together and you both had huge comeback wins one year against some very tough men (The Crushin' Russian and the Georgian Giant...)? Could you describe these matches and also your views on this great Canadian puller?

Dave and I have similar styles and build, and this was very evident in our comeback matches in Russia. Both of us had to grab a little lower than usual to control the matches inside.  Very well done I might add! Dave is incredible ...I think he may be a year or two older than me but I have this funny feeling he will be pulling long after I have decided to retire.   I have a new found respect for guys like Dave pulling so strong in their later years.

Other than Gary Goodridge, can you name some other Canadian pullers who stand out in your mind??

Gary who? There isn't enough room on this board to begin to list the impressive Canadian pullers I have had the pleasure of meeting and pulling against through out the years. 


Hi John,

I just wanted to know if you do wrist curls with a dumbbell do you let your wrist bend back to the bottom of your finger tips or do you stop it before your wrist bends back. And whenever you lose a match do you get mad. I do get mad when I lose, but I just wanted to know if you did too. I'm just asking about the wrist curls because some people say to me that if you do wrist curls and let your wrist go back while you do them you are training your wrist to go back, but if you stop your wrist from going back when you do wrist curls, and only go half way down your wrist will never go back. I just wanted to see what you think about the wrist curls. And do you get upset when you lose a match; even so it only happens once in a few years.
When I do wrist curls I let my wrist drop, but I do not roll the bar out onto my fingers. I don't get mad when I loose, but I do talk to myself or anyone else that will lesson for a long time. I do believe muscles have memory and should be conditioned for their application. But I'm not sure this would apply doing wrist curls half way.  I think you would want to stretch the forearm muscles fully.  One of the main things you want to accomplish exercising the forearm is not only to strengthen for holding a specific position, but maybe as important, develop an aerobic endurance. Working the forearms so they don't feel that pump when you stress them out armwrestling. Of course this is just my opinion...


Rich from California

I have two questions, the first one being the most important. When you pull someone who has a longer forearm than you, what's your strategy? I heard somewhere that having a short forearm is an advantage if this is true please explain. My second question is when you practice pulling do you have certain schedule that you follow as far as time and specific moves like the hook then some top rolls and maybe some starts or do just practice until your arm feels like it's going to fall off. Thanks.
From my experience someone with a taller build usual is difficult to top roll. Their higher hand position is normally accompanied with a larger hand. This makes fighting the hand battle difficult. These individuals have been easier for me to deal with by grabbing lower on the hand and sometimes wrist and controlling the match arm to arm in a hook. The shorter forearm is more compact and will have better leverage once the match is turned wrist to wrist. Our practices are not structured with times or certain directions.  Everyone works the areas until they personally feel they need to move on to other techniques.

Hi my name is Derek, if I am armwrestling someone with a longer arm and a bigger hand what technique should I follow. Thanks
It depends how this long armed individual sets up.  Does he position his hand high or leave it lazily low? Most of the better long armed armwrestlers require being controlled into a hook.  But if he leaves his hand low a successful posting style top roll can be effective.


Tim Abroad.  UK

I only armwrestle with my mates and I seem to do all right, but my question is: would you say that the wrist is important to help deciding weather you win or lose? Also: do you think that the upper back muscles come into play at anytime? It would be great if you can answer my questions. 
The forearm may be the most important muscle in armwrestling.  Not only for hand positioning, but I also believe it plays a key role in keeping your arm locked at the 90 degree angle. Try this experiment work nothing else but wrist curls.  Really pump them up without doing anything else. Then try to armwrestle the weakest guy in the group...how did you do? Next week work any other muscle group ...biceps, triceps, back, chest, you name it...then armwrestle. Not much lose in strength is there?


Hello John, I watched you on TV last year in some
competition where football players armwrestled each other. They should've matched you up against the winner of the footballer's division. Anyhow, I was wondering, have you ever armwrestled any NFL football players, professional bodybuilders or world's strongest man competitors? How do you rate their armwrestling strength/skills based purely on your experience? Thanks a lot!
There is no comparison between someone that has dedicated years to the sport of armwrestling against someone that may have tons of natural potential. Some of those football players could be great competitive armwrestlers if the dedicated the time to the sport, but without pulling they are very big, very strong men without the physical or mental programming to apply it on a table. I have pulled with many of the winners of the past AWI championships through the years and many could beat the average non-armwrestler.

From Rick Anderson

Do you remember when you were in Davenport and pulled Carl Coone at Miller time Billiards on my wristwrestling table, I remember. Because I pulled you after you pulled him and of course you put me down. But I think I can give you little more competition now. I have a lot more experience and a lot stronger since we pulled, I would like to try again. 
OK, your on!
Are you sure your ready?  Maybe you should stay in hiding a little longer. I do remember you and I do remember you had a great arm.  Look forward to seeing you again. Keep pullin.  Remember ďtoo much is never enough.Ē

Tom from Michigan

Hey there. My name is Tom. I am 21 yrs old and have a knack for armwrestling. I havenít lost a match in 4 yrs. I'm not the biggest guy (180lbs) but seem to beat anybody. I donít know why I have this rare strength when it comes to armwrestling. My question is that Iím looking to get into the sport but donít really know how to go about it. So if you could drop me some tips it would be very appreciated. By the way Iím from Michigan. Thanks
I grew up in northern Illinois and there where a lot of local tournaments in that area including Wisconsin. I do not know Michigan.  Maybe you should plan on making a road trip up north to one of the many Canadian tournaments.   Armwrestling is still a very removed group from mainstream America.  Getting to a tournament to meet and talk with others interested in the sport is the first step. Then getting together on a regular basis to practice.

Nathaniel from Arkansas

Hey John this is  I have a brother I think you know his name is Harold Owens. You may know him as the viper. I was wondering if you would pull against him because I don't think there is anyone around here the can beat him. He come to a lot of your matches so next time he is there could you pull against him?
You bet.  I'll pull with him anytime.  He seems like a great guy and is an asset to the sport. Tell him if he is ever up this way he is always welcome to come practice with us.

  

Thanks again John!

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