Bodybuilder and occasional acrobat Jujimufu might have strength in spades, but he is constantly testing his mobility and agility in challenges that involve gymnastic conditioning, rock climbing, and dangerous moves like the barbell backflip. Earlier this year, Juji challenged a bunch of professionals to a match prior to the World Arm Wrestling League 503 in Richmond, Virgina, to see whether his biceps were enough to defeat their technique.
Spoiler alert: they were not. But he did learn a thing or two about what it takes to crush an opponent in the sport.
First, he took on Justin Bishop, a.k.a. the Bama Bull. Bishop had been arm wrestling for eight years, and is relatively unique in that he is able to wrestle using both hands—something only around 5 percent of professionals can do, or as he puts it, “only the real badasses.” Bishop easily trounces Juji, who makes some mistakes in his approach.
“Even guys with experience tend to fall away,” says referee Bart Wood. “Bracing yourself against the table gives you more leverage.” Bishop adds: “Don’t drop away, drop under.”
Next up is Latvian arm wrestler Janis Amolins, a.k.a. the Jedi, who points out Juji’s bad leg positioning. The pro advises that Juji apply more back pressure, brace his leg under the table, and not lean back. Even after correcting the form mistakes, though, Amolins still beats him.
“I curl a lot, man!” Juji protests. But while bicep curls sure help to build strength, Amolins reminds him that in arm wrestling, you need to be able to keep up the pressure when your arm is bent at an acute angle.
“Right now, in a professional arm wrestling tournament, I don’t see him placing high,” says Amolins, adding: “With smart training, with good understanding and good coordination, you can get better.”
The third professional Juji takes on is Marcio Barboza, a.k.a. Phenom, who quickly out-angles Juji with superior technique.” You have to make sure you place your fingers for as long as possible in a setup,” says Barboza, whose wrestling hand is smaller than the others. “Your hand has to be stronger than your opponent.”
What Juji learns in each bout is that it’s far from simple strength that makes these guys champions. “When you’re gripping up with a professional arm wrestler, there’s something in the wrist and hand, you just can’t bend it, you can’t do what you want to do with it, they’re more steady,” he says. On top of that, he notices their unrelenting focus, a result of years of training, which he, as a noob, is unable to match.
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