Jesse and Rik take on the World

Still recovering from our 37 hour flight to Brazil for the World Arm Wrestling Championships on our first day we had registrations. As we made our way around the hotel checking out things we started seeing people very famous  in the arm wrestling world.

It was very surreal to see big names regularly around the hotel and talk to famous pullers such as  Andrey Pushkar, Rustam Babayev, Janis Amolins, Sarah Backman and many more.

After registrations there were  4 tables set up so Rik Kamana and myself had some table time discussing techniques and moves. This lead to me being on the table with a huge range of competitors who were keen to have a go until 11pm getting advice and learning different moves as well.

"We caught buses to the competition which was held nearby and I started chatting to Neil Pickup who said he'd love to organize an "Armwars" competition in Australia in the future. As were all of the people that i spoke to, he was a huge fan of Australia."

Australian Armwrestling Federation

Jesse Johnson gripping up with the legendary Rustam Babyev.

The competition was in a huge convention centre with 6 tables going at once on the stage at the end of it.  Rik caught a guys huge hit on the left arm holding him for a few seconds before the other guy managed to get him down.

My right arm had aches from so many matches out of comp but I was fired up for competition.

In my 2nd match right hand we both started heavily loaded and high.

On the "GO!" I started to top roll him and he dived his elbow forwards off the pad in an attempt to get high on me resulting in him getting a foul.

The second match went the same as the first one ending in me winning. My next opponent was a Turkish guy who I slowed down but couldn't beat.

Australian Armwrestling Federation

Rik Kamana in his very first match on the world state against one of the top 100kg Ukranians.

The most intense match overall was the 100kg final between Arsen  and Krasimir, they had 6 matches and it went on for 25 minutes fouls warnings slips etc. The crowd was going wild!

There was a training table set up next door to the  main stage where anyone could pull whoever. The atmosphere was amazing there I versed countless guys and girls from 17 up to 75 years old there! I spent the majority of my time there pulling, getting coached or watching the incredible technique from other competitors.

My most memorable funny  moments were the  following.

Australian Armwrestling Federation

Jesse Johnson unable to move the wall that is 110kg Georgian Genadi Kvikvinia

Using two hands against Genadi Kvikvinia a 110kg Georgian world champion while everyone was killing themselves laughing because I had been arm wrestling anyone keen to pull for 4 hours and they thought I was crazy doing that before comp!  Thinking I would surprise  zoloev by hitting him as hard as I could from a relaxed  grip, he tensed and just smashed my arm forwards with his wrist smiling. After which he continued to toy with people ripping there arms off the pad  up into the air as though he was doing a warmup calmly and not exerting any energy!

The last night there was an after party at the hotel. As i was dancing I see  Pushkar loping around the dance floor I looked again to make sure it was actually him,  indeed it was!  Beside Sarah Backman it was a serious contrast of styles!  After this Pushkar spotted two guys armwrestling on a  small table so he strolls over grabs the winners hand and hammers  his arm down smashing the table to pieces!

Australian Armwrestling Federation

Jesse Johnson and multiple Swedish world champion Sarah Backman.

Australian Armwrestling Federation

Jesse Johnson, Russian champion and coach Andrey Mosolov, and Rik Kamana just hanging out.

Australian Armwrestling Federation

Jesse Johnson gripping up with Bulgarian 100kg champion Krasimir.

The most intense weeks of my life with so much armwreslting I was sore for 2 weeks from hard matches everyday. Overall the trip was a huge experience learning heaps of techniques and making  new friends  I can't wait for next time!

by Jesse Johnson

Thick Grip Handles

This is a short review on two of the thick grip sleeves abounding the internet these days and a specialized pulley handle. These popular little additions help spice up normal training and are alot cheaper than buying thick bars themselves.

The thick grip sleeves that I want to talk about are the Manus grips and the Ironbull Tgrip 2.5. Both are made of very resilient rubber and fit easily onto all the equipment I have, dumbells, barbells, one handed pulley handles etc..all work fine with thee 2 sleeves. The manus grips have a type of knurling on the inside which is marketed as an aid to minimize slipping on the bar. Personally I have found this to make no difference at all. The Ironbull has no knurling and doesnt slip anymore than the Manusgrip. The biggest differences between the two sleeves is that the Ironbull is slightly thicker (at the center) than the manus grip, and it also has a tapered shape to its design, that does feel more ergonomic in the hand. Both of these products come in a number of colours and are very similar in cost. The only downfall with my purchase of the Ironbull 2.5 was with shipping, it took forever to get to me from Canada, roughly 2 months. The company owners were sympathetic and offered to send me more for free if my order did not show at all.

Exercising with these is really only limited by your imagination, some of my favorites are dumbell wrist curls, barbell one handed hook lifts and dumbell rows, but they can be adapted for almost any lift.

An interesting side note is that people with wrist pain when benching often say that their pain when doing this exercise is reduced when using thick bar sleeves, I guess its because the weight is distributed through a larger surface area than before.

Now, this weird cone shaped Handle. This handle was originally purchased on ebay by a Melbourne Armwrestler, I bought it and adapted the shape to being more specific for Hook training. The idea is not mine to claim, I first saw this type of handle on Igor Mazurenko's webshop. Buying from Armpower (Igors webshop/site) is not as easy as it could be so I asked our resident Armbreaker Jesse Johnson who is a fitter and turner to lathe down the original handle to something like the polish version. A month later it came back and was much better than I had hoped, Jesse had also made finger grooves in the plastic. Now if yous are wondering how this helps with hooking the give away is obviously the shape. by holding the handle with the narrow end up by the thumb theres very little pressure on the top fingers and much more on the bottom two digits just like when forcing a hook. Now that my broken pinkie finger has roughly healed I can give this handle a good run and see if it helps me in getting a solid, vice-like hook/wrist.

Melbourne Equipment Review

Just a small sample of the training kit available to train on for Armwrestlers residing in the greater Melbourne area.

The first piece of equipment on the far left (see top photo) is a Thick Revolving Handle being sold on Ebay at the moment from a seller in Israel. They retail for around the $100 dollar mark. They come in 2 different styles with one being just a normal thick handle and the other being slightly offset. They are very smooth with no knurling and pin very well. This is the type of handle a Hook puller would cut his teeth on....great for working the wrist cupping movement and extremely taxing on the fingers as we all found out doing heavy static holds at our last training session.

Next in order (left to right) is a piece of equipment called an Orbigrip. It is a very solid well made object made by the grip master David Horne who lives in Stafford, England, and you can see it in action here .This is a great all round wrist strengthening tool as it will uncover any weakness in almost any angle that you have in your wrist. It pumps massive amounts of blood into the forearms so it is also a great recovery/prehab/rehab machine.

Moving on down the line we have the Heavy Handle Dumbell. This is a great dumbell to work off-set movements that are otherwise hard to mimic. You can load for example, 5 kg to the front arm and 8kg to the side arm and vice versa. The thick bar also works the open hand aspect which is obviously very beneficial to ArmWrestling. The only drawback is that I have been told they dont ship outside of the USA, so you need to arrange other ways to purchase it.

Last we have the Thick Handled leverage bar sold by the same company who make the Heavy Handle Dumbell. While I heavily endorse making your own equipment where possible, the sheer convenience of this thick bar sold me. Its so easy and quick to change eights and they are very secure and its got great knurling too. Rear levering is a real treat as the ring and pinky fingers get a blasting from the thick handle.

So there you have it, our first equipment review for the year, we hope you find some of it useful.

An encounter with an Arm Wrestler

Arm Benders Victoria had its humble beginnings back in the middle of 2009, where its membership existed of 2 sole Arm Wrestlers who knew very little of the sport. We met, like we still do , every 2nd weekend and our primary internet exposure was limited to the Aussie strength forum. Not long after the birth of the club I received a PM on the strength forum by a person called Martins Lorencis expressing his interest in coming over and training. He mentioned he had experience in a few overseas comps etc and thought he could help us out with some guidance. Now all this was very exciting so I inquired of him what comps he had entered and he replied with a link to a series of photos he had stored online, so I clicked on the link....'Holy F87k' was my very first imprssion, here were pictures with this guy posing with the very greats of the sport! Voevoda, Brzenk, Bagent, Bath..they were all there. Needless to say all this got my mind racing so I invoked the mighty god of the internet lord Google to see what would come up of this guy, very little was his reply. So I decided to ask on Engin Terzi's forum as he knows a huge amount about Europeans pullers, and this is the reply that was finally given by Janis Amolins, himself an elite Arm Wrestler..

"Martins Lorencis is 3 times Latvian champion (2006, 2007, 2008) in 75kg class. Also has podium places from lot of international Europian tournaments such as Golden arm, Gladiator Nights, ArmWars, Riga Open... He is one of most talanted latvian light weight. If he will focuss one day on armwrestling trainings really hard, he could do great also in international level."

Engin Terzi

So probably for the very first time in Australian history, here was a very experienced  and high end European Arm Wrestler training in the suburbs of Melbourne!

The time came for training, it was winter, (so troubling for Goldcoast beach boys but rather refreshing for a kiwi boy) and 1pm rolled around and a white beaten up, seen better-days car pulls up my driveway and out jumps this thin smiling young man who introduces himself and this is how it all began. We probably had about 10 training sessions with Martins all up spread over 4-6 months and the biggest impression he left on me is the need for speed at the table and wrist strength! Martins was/is incredibly fast and his rotation strength and front wrist strength for a light guy is also very good. He was and probably still is, a person who is constantly changing/evolving, from the time we first met he went from being on an animal based diet, to a vegetarian to eventually becoming vegan. He also stopped smoking and gave up alcohol...so probably not a gout candidate!

All good things come to an end and we had to eventually say goodbye to the little maestro who went back to the UK and elsewhere for work and training. Since that time we have heard he was won the Latvian champs again in the 70kg class having to cut 3kg in a day to make weight! All in all, from an Arm Wrestlers point of view, besides the last Sydney meet up, meeting and Training with martins would have to be my highlight so far!

Brendan Downes

A different kind of training

Just stumbled across a couple of great training videos Martins Lorencis put together using equipment you would find in any standard gym.

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