Introduction to Arm Wrestling    Rules    Arm Wrestling Organizations    Famous Arm Wrestlers    Technique    Asia on the Rise

Introduction to arm wrestling
Tim Bresnan one of the great legends of Arm wrestling

There are many kinds of arm wrestling but generally speaking there is sit down and stand up.  Stand up being more popular and now firmly recognized as a legitimate almost mainstream sport.  Stand up arm wrestling is n my opinion on the verge of an explosion in popularity with more and more strength athletes from different sports trying their hand. Stand up Arm wrestling involves two participants. Each places one arm on a surface with their elbows bent and touching the surface, and they grip each other's hand. The goal is to pin the other's arm onto the surface, with the winner's arm over the loser's arm.

I went into the world of stand up arm wrestling at a late age (47 years old (in 2015) not with the intent of winning titles but just to get stronger and have a different challenge in another strength sport.    I would advise anyone else of my age (that unless you have been continuously working out as I was prior to arm wrestling) to do so with great caution as it is easy to over do it in the beginning months..  Arm wrestling is however in my opinion a sport that older people can still do very well at since the so called "Old Man Power" can be extremely useful.  There are indeed many arm wrestlers still doing very well in their 50's and some even in their 60s!  Old Man power is what is broadly described as the strength in tendons that is build up in some people after years of either manual labor or sports that require use of grip and tendons.  Tendon strength is as I have mentioned one of the key components that is totally neglected by most body builders, gym coaches and surprisingly many strength athletes.  In arm wrestling tendon strength is of vital importance and is very difficult to attain.  In arm wrestling there is no point in having massive muscles if there is not enough tendon strength to utilize those muscles, it is analogous to having a weak chain on a thick sprocket.

I would highly recommend anyone take up arm wrestling but its vital to find a responsible club with good coaches that will teach safe technique as injuries can occur when safe technique is not followed (quite serious injuries at that).  However, if practiced safely arm wrestling will develop total arm strength probably to a level the unacquainted may have thought not possible.  Arm strength means not just big bulging biceps but TOTAL arm strength going from the fingers to the shoulder; including tendons, ligaments, bones and muscle.  If there is one overriding factor as to why Id advise a strength athlete to take up arm wrestling then it is to allow the athlete to find the weak links of the arm.  A good arm wrestler in a match will very quickly find the non experienced wrestler's weak area and exploit it.  Therefore a person may have bigger and stronger biceps but this will not guarantee success if a person has a weak wrists, as those weak wrists will be attacked, and its useless to have strong wrists when one has a weak grip as the grip at the fingers will be attacked.  The take home point is that if you want to find out the weak areas of your total arm then arm wrestling is a great way to do it, but do it safely in a good club or with a responsible teacher.  Arm wrestling in the beginning can be painful and personally speaking it was more painful for me, than I've experienced in any other strength or combat sports, but if done sensibly and a person sticks to it then I almost guarantee he/she will be very satisfied with the results.  Arm wrestling also combines very well with grip, arm sports and metal bending.  It's a really great sport to add to anyone's arsenal of strength improving techniques.


Doug Link doing arm wrestling curl


Arm wrestling tournaments are also divided into weight classes such as left and right-handed divisions. Furthermore, strict rules such as fouls given to penalties (such as the competitor's elbow leaving a matted area where the elbow is to remain at all times, or a false start), and trying to escape a possible arm pin by breaking the grip with the opponent may result in a loss.  Rules vary from organization to organization and for a full description of the various rules just go to the websites of those organizations.

arm wrestling referee

Picture above is of myself refereeing and arm wrestling match between Japan and Taiwan in 2016.

Arm Wrestling Organizations

At present my favorite arm wrestling organization is The World Arm wrestling Federation (WAF) due to its drug testing policies.  The WAF is the universally recognized  as one of the major global governing body of amateur arm wrestling and comprises of 80 member countries.  There are also a few other notable organization such as WAL (World Arm Wrestling League) and PAL the professional Arm Wrestling League.  When considering who are the best arm wrestlers then the leagues in which they fight is of great importance; for example anyone who has won a Gold in the WAL would in my opinion be an elite arm wrestler likely in top 10  and possibly even number 1 in the world at time of winning (certainly top 3 in amateurs).  PAL is an organization for professionals, and anyone even fighting in that league should be considered an elite arm wrestler (arm fighter).  There are small differences in the rules of the different arm wrestling organizations or at least the strictness in application of those rules.

Famous Arm Wrestlers

In my opinion some of the best arm wrestling competitors include John Brazenk (hailed as the greatest arm wrestler of all time), Travis Bagent, Dimity Trubin, Alexey Voevoda, Denis Cyplenkov, Andrey Pushkar, Tim Bresnan, Devon Larratt, Ion Oncescu, Neil Pickup and Jerry Cadorette, Cobra Rhodes, and  Allen Fisher who is one of the oldest multiple world champion title holders in the sport of arm wrestling at 55 years of age in the year 2011. Heidi Andersson is a female arm-wrestler from Sweden who has won eleven world championships between 1998 and 2014. Engin Terzi is a Turkish arm wrestler famed for his powerful strength and skill in the straps ,indeed countries like Turkey and Poland  have some great arm wrestlers who are often over shadowed by the larger arm wrestling nations of the USA, Russia and Canada. 

Tim Bresnan is also another older arm wrestler in his 50's who has accumulated a lot of very powerful silverware and just recently beating the much younger and more famous legend of arm wrestling Alexey Voeveda.  Alexey Voeveda is a legendary strength athlete as well as being an arm wrestler winning Olympic gold for his native Russia in the bob slay.  Voeveda and Tim Bresnan are both two athletes that I admire greatly in different ways and who both have very different training philosophies.  Indeed I've been lucky enough to get lots of advice from Tim Bresnan in helping with both arm wrestling and general strength training; he is one of the Great Legends of the Sport and seem to defy Father Time.


There are three main techniques in arm wrestling "The Hook" , "The Top Roll (and bottom top roll known as Cobra style)" and the "Press"

"The hook" or "hooking" is any move derived from the inside system of arm wrestling. The second generic system or style of Arm wrestling is known as outside arm wrestling "the top roll" or "top rolling", while the "triceps press", "shoulder pressing", or "shoulder rolling" is often described as the third generic system or style of arm wrestling.

Many arm wrestlers will have a signature style or favorite technique, while others have enjoyed success by becoming extremely well rounded.  Great Britain's most successful Arm wrestler and former two time European and World Middleweight Champion Neil Pickup is one of today's leading Arm wrestlers widely recognized as having originated and developed techniques to suit the genetic make up of individual Arm wrestlers. Neil Pickup has enjoyed an Amateur and Professional career spanning more than 20 years during which time he has won more than 60 International titles across 5 different weight classes on both his right and left arms, while also training numerous World Champions both male and female. This success has been largely attributed to his technical prowess, experience and understanding of the athletes whole body as a lever.