A Fair Start

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The start of each arm wrestling match is the most vital moment, except for the pin. I admire people who’ve mastered the cadence of refs far and wide. Timing the middle syllable on “Readygo”! Or watching lips for that first movement of G on “Go!” gives you an advantage. It’s harder to watch the ref if your opponent was faster to the table and took the non-buckle side. They get a good look at the ref’s mug and you have to crane your neck. Anyway, timing the cadence of a ref makes false starting easy, and usually you’ll get away with it. Refs can only focus on so many things. Complicating this further is that every ref tends to have a different cadence, and organizations use different phrases and words to start the match. Some refs concentrate on making this cadence difficult to time, others don’t. Regardless, it is a significant variable. However, other sports, even ones where the first millisecond isn’t as vital as it is in arm wrestling, use a far more professional method of starting each contest.

We can get closer to getting a truly fair start, for every match,  based on reaction time. Check out these clips from other sports, and turn your volume up:


Imagine this, the head ref sets the hands according to the rules of whatever federation is running the tournament, then presses a button under the table. 1 to 3 seconds later you hear a loud beep. That means go. Just like in a professional sport. A simultaneous light could be added at the center of the table for deaf competitors. Competitors won’t have to alter their position to watch the ref and we guarantee a consistent start for every match. Cameras (which we will discuss soon) can confirm false starts quickly. The reason other sports use starting guns or buzzers is specifically to prevent false starts. The technology already exists and retrofitting tables with this equipment is a one time cost.

This measure would take away another foolishly lopsided aspect of the sport, without taking anything away from the excitement. In fact, you’d have a much truer test of both reaction time, and the strength necessary to absorb a hit. There are a number of organizations world wide promoting our sport. Some, like PAL and the WAF, emphasize rigid rules. This is a necessary feature of all sports that are taken seriously around the world. If we want our sport to garner more respect, utilizing accepted measures from sports with similar aspects, that we adapt and make our own, is one avenue.

What do you think? Worth a try?



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