Armwrestling (or Wristwrestling or Armsport) is a table contest consisting in strength testing by one hand. It is an athletic contest in which two people place either their right or left elbows on a table, grip their hands, and try to force back the other person's hand to the table surface. Armwrestling is an exceptionally popular sport - many tournaments, regional and world armwrestling championships are held.
Armwrestling is the most democratic and “peaceful” combative sport that actually doesn't require any special equipment, placement or outfits. Unlike any other sport, in armwrestling people of all ages have real chance to win. Just to mention that the current female world champion Cynthia Yerby is 54.
The sport requires considerable strength, as well as great mental acuity, "explosiveness", technique, and stamina.
In spite of seeming simplicity, there are different techniques and tactics of the contest conducting.
Contest is performed by one hand; the other one either holds a special pin or is locked with the opponent's hand under the main contest grip. Armwrestling may be performed standing, sitting (rarely - lying). In the official competitions standing contests in front of arm-table are the most common.
In brief, the rules are the following. Opponents come over to the arm-table put their elbows on special soft elbow pads and set up the grip: they touched by open palms, lock thumbs and try to get the most comfortable positions. While they prepare the referee makes sure that none of the opponent gets an advantageous and orders commands: "Straighten wrists!", "Straighten shoulders!” etc. Shoulder lines must be parallel to the edge of the table and shouldn't cross the control line. Grip set up is usually the longest and the most important part of the professional contest. After the lock is set up, the referee directs: "Don't move! Ready… Go!!!" After "Go" contestants may wrestle.
Each participant tries to lean the opponent's hand until the lock touches the table by the outer part of the opponent's hand. Some arm-wrestlers win just by an abrupt jerk. But the most exciting contests are usually those where wrestling is long and going with varying success.
From one to three referees control contests (main one and sometimes two more side referees).
Various factors can play a part in one's success in arm wrestling. Technique and overall arm strength are the two greatest contributing factors to winning an armwrestling match. Other factors such as the length of an arm wrestler's arm, his/her muscle and arm mass/density, hand grip size, wrist endurance and flexibility, "explosiveness", as well as countless other traits, can add to the advantages of one arm wrestler over another.
As a matter of fact, there are a lot of different moves and techniques in armwrestling - it looks simple just by the first glance. For instance, an experienced female arm-wrestler would easily win a strong and brawny guy not having armwrestling experience. In women's competitions the success is often reached by inspiration and mood rather than skills and even strength. It's also amusing to watch how a big and powerful athlete gives up to a girl having two times smaller hands but with the developed forearm and long fingers who uses her entire body rather than just a hand. But still the weight advantage is rather important.
Arm Wrestling Tournaments are usually divided into weight classes, left and right handed divisions as well as men’s and women’s divisions.
Rules & Regulations revised in January 2003 (according to ArmSports).
In official competitions, wrestlers’ elbows are placed on an elbow pad and two special pinning pads are put on the sides of the stand which are used for pin determination.
In the start position, the referee should be able to see both thumb knuckles and control the grip by touching it by his/her fingers. The grip must start just above the center of the table. Elbows may be placed in any place of the elbow pad. The active hand and forearm must constitute a straight line. The other hand must grasp the table peg. The wrestlers’ shoulders must be square to the table before the match will be started. Wrestlers’ shoulders may not be less than a fist distance away from his/her hand on the start.
A riser may be used if a wrestler’s beltline is below the table.
Only one finger in the hand grip may be wrapped before the “Go”. All starts will be a “Ready .. Go”.
Contest conduct rules
- Two fouls mean the defeat in the match.
- The first false start is a warning; anyone after that will be considered a foul.
- To detach the both feet from the floor is illegal (tearing of one foot is acceptable, sometimes wrestlers plant one foot firmly on the table stand).
- To detach a hand from the peg is illegal.
- To make a winning pin, any part of the opponent’s arm must be touched the pinning pad or a parallel pin must be obtained (when any part of your opponent’s hand, wrist or fingers goes below the touch pad.)
- A wrestler may not touch the grip by his/her body or head. If it happens and position is gained, that is a foul.
- The wrestler who gets a foul having his/her hand lower than 45 degrees, loses the match.
- The referee will only center the hands left and right; forward and back is up to the individual wrestlers.
- If a wrestler intentionally open an active hand and a slip occurs, he/she will receive a foul and the match is restarted.
- If a slip occurs the strap is to be applied (USA approved Velcro strap), unless a foul is called. (The strap cannot be applied lower on your wrist than 1 inch.) The belt arm-wrestling technique has its own tricks.
- If a wrestler places his/her foot on the opponent’s side of the table, he/she is risking it getting knocked off.
- Wrestlers’ shoulders may not go past the center of the table; if position is gained a foul is charged.
- A position, in which a wrestler may hurt his/her arm, is not allowed and the match might be stopped. (If the match is stopped for a hurt arm position, the violator is gotten a foul.)
- The wrestler must have contact with the peg when the pin is made.
- If an elbow comes off the elbow pad and the wrestler gains position or there is a hand change, he/she gets a foul. (If the elbow comes off the pad and there is no position gained or hand change, “no call”.) If the elbow stays off the pad the wrestler will get continuation fouls until it goes back on the pad.
- If the elbow comes off the elbow pad and touches the touch pad, he/she loses.
- Back pressure to the extent that it pulls your opponent past the center of the table is not allowed. This infraction will be deemed the same as a false start.
- The referee will give a referee’s grip after 1 minute. Wrestlers must not move during the set up until the “Ready Go”. The wrestlers cannot change the grip that the referee gives to you, any change is a foul.
- Wrestlers must continue the competition until the referee grabs their hands signifying the end of the match.
- Wrestlers should conduct themselves suitably; the referee can give a disciplinary foul for un-sportsmanship behavior.
- All referee decisions are final.
History of armwrestling
The sport of armwrestling has turned 54
The competitive organized matches began In Gilardi's saloon In Petaluma, California in 1952. Bill Soberanes, a young journalist was the founder of the organized sport. He inspired the annual Petaluma, then Northern California and then the California armwrestling championships. In 1962 Bill and Dave Devoto got together to form the World's Wristwrestling Championship, Inc. and take it to one of Petaluma's largest auditoriums. The event was tremendously successful and exciting things began to happen. Until now, the World's Armwrestling Championship has always been held the second Saturday in October in Petaluma, California.
Armwrestling gained real popularity after it was widely covered on television. In 1969, Dave Devoto contracted with the American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the World's Wristwrestling Championship began a 16-year relationship with ABC's “Wide World of Sports.” So, armwrestling came of age. This televised event was the highest rated show in the young history of Wide World of Sports. Most of the competitors in the sport today first became aware of Armwrestling through those shows.
Armwrestling world championship was featured in the 1987 Sylvester Stallone movie Over the Top. The armwrestling champ at the time, Cleve Dean, was supposed to be Stallone’s final opponent in the movie, but it was changed at the last minute to another actor as the producers thought it would be too unrealistic if Stallone beat Dean.
As soon as armwrestling became a popular sport and entertainment, women didn’t keep out of it.
Armwrestling is an unique form of wrestling – no body squeezing, no chokes or other violent things.
Armwrestling is quite spectacular form of single combat, especially women competitions. It doesn't involve disheveled hair or tattered shirts not to mention black eyes. But then ardor, persistence, emotions are there which is reflected on faces always being visible for the audience. Armwrestling - a sport for everyone, no matter what build you have, from subtle to plump persons. A spectator of this female sport is one who likes women in physical contest but who is not too much happy about violence from women and toward them.
The term armwrestling can be interpreted regarding any contest using arms only. So, besides the established sport, various forms of female contests with clutched arms can be included (both serious and entertaining ones); see the article "Fingerlock wrestling".
Bill Soberanes and Dave Devoto by the sculpture "Armwrestlewrs"
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