Flex muscles to build sport: Singapore’s arm wrestlers face off in first national championships
“A GAME OF CHESS”
In the national competition, many were already internationally recognized champions. Singapore Armwrestling president Valen Low had the most impressive resume, having won competitions in Australia, China and Malaysia.
Low and some of the other seasoned shooters have played several roles in the championships, alternating between the organizer, the competitor and then the referee.
According to arm wrestlers, their sport is not purely a show of strength.
âThis sport is like a game of chess – most of the time the real battle starts before the match even starts,â said shooter Joshua Park, who competes in the 70kg category.
“An analysis of the opponent must be done in order to exploit their weakness and obtain the ultimate victory!”
Tay Jia Jun, a shooter in the 78 kg category, also compared the sport to chess.
âIt brings out our nature as human beings. So that you can unleash your primitive side while keeping your rational side at the same time, âhe said.
âIt is one of the most technical and powerful sports. It is similar to a game of chess but using your hands across your body.
Techniques can differ significantly from shooter to shooter, with some finding themselves almost under the table by the time their matches are over.
âIn arm wrestling, there are usually three main movements, namely the top roll, hook, and press,â Park said.
âI mainly use the top roll as an offensive move. Top roll means attacking the opponent’s fingers and also opening his wrist – this will cause him to lose strength as he is not able to use the hand and wrist effectively.
The hook and press are considered âinner movements,â Park adds. â(These movements) target the opponent’s wrist and biceps, however, it takes a lot of force in the elbow joints, tendons and shoulders,â he said.
For the lighter weight classes, the fight can be over in a flash, often lasting less than a second. Heavyweight contests tend to last a bit longer, with extractors finding themselves locked in wars of attrition.
It’s a bit like sumo, where size and strength are balanced with speed.
Five weight classes were contested in the championships – 63 kg, 70 kg, 78 kg, 86 kg and 105 kg + – each divided into right-handed and left-handed events. There were also open categories where the best shooters competed against each other regardless of their weight.
âThere are certain techniques that are more useful for those who have a higher body mass. Concrete example: a dead wrist press. Such techniques are more popular with heavyweights than with lightweights, âLau said.
“Also, like many combat sports, mass comes at the expense of speed, so we would expect lightweight weights to be faster and more explosive in executing their moves.”
In this sport, bigger isn’t always better.
âIt’s not uncommon to see guys under 60kg able to compete with guys under 100kg,â Chan said.