by Al Myers
John O'Brien, of the JWC, takes a 270 pound dumbbell to his shoulder at the First Ever USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships. This new Old Time Strongman Event mimics loading events in Strongman, but instead of loading something to a platform, the lifter has to take the dumbbell from the floor to the shoulder. Only at the JWC would the dumbbell be loaded with Old Jackson plates, which is very fitting!!!
It really gave me a good feeling that the FIRST EVER USAWA Old Time Strongman (OTSM) Championships was such a great success. Thom did an EXCELLENT JOB of hosting this event at his gym, the JWC Training Hall. Even though the USAWA only hosted two of these OTSM meets this year, I see this division of the USAWA as one that will grow over time. Actually, it is probably a good thing that we are growing at a slow pace with this, as it allows us to get “our ducks in a row”. This allows time to develop the proper protocols in administrating these competitions, as well as time to develop a good selection of OTSM events that will be contested. I’m hoping next year to have at least four of these Old Time Strongman Competitions within the sanction of the USAWA. Thom has already agreed to host next’s years Championship so we know we will have that as the “finale”. Eric Todd has showed interest in hosting one in his gym this upcoming spring, and the Dino Gym has one planned for next July.
I want to say a few general words about these changes that are happening in the USAWA. Most USAWA lifters have been very supportive of these changes, but I have received a few comments from people, that as I would say, are “reserved” in their feelings on this. When changes happen in any aspect in life, it is sometimes unfortable and takes adjustment on an individuals part. It is easy to just keep doing things as they are always done, but sometimes changes are needed to “spark things”. This is how I feel about the USAWA branching into Strongman. We have been struggling for years as an organization in keeping adequate membership to stimulate enough revenue (in membership dues) to keep functioning. Old Time Strongman will stimulate membership from lifters who may be only interested in these competitions, but a FEW will also compete in the traditional All Round Meets as well since they are already members of the USAWA. It is a sure thing that it will increase USAWA membership. Strongman is no different than other “niche” competitive areas within the USAWA that already exist. I talking specially about the Heavy Lifts and the Grip Meets that the USAWA has sanctioned.
I want to explain a few goals and formative ideas I have about this Old Time Strongman. First of all, in no way do I want to imitate Strongman Competitions that already exist. If a lifter wants to compete in those, there are plenty of opportunities for this. We have sanctioned several of those Strongman Competitions in the Dino Gym by NAS through the years. Instead, I want to share some of my “founding principles” of the USAWA Old Time Strongman so everyone will know where I’m coming from.
1. General Rules of the USAWA will apply. This includes using lifts that have established WRITTEN RULES in the Rulebook. Rules of weightlifting will apply with the 3 attempts allowed per lift, and a lifter will be able to CHOOSE what weight they want to attempt. No set weight implements will be allowed. No events for time will be allowed. Medley type events will not be done. This allows anyone, regardless of ability, to be able to compete. Also, the USAWA scoring system already in place for our meets will be used. Bodyweight and age correction will be applied to total pounds lifted. Now if a meet director wants to have awards for BEST LIFTER for age groups or age divisions that is not a problem, as that is already allowed for any other USAWA meet.
2. Drug testing will be done according to the USAWA guidelines. Most other organization’s Strongman Competitions are not drug tested. We will drug test! This will allow those drug free lifters to be able to compete against others who are also drug free.
3. The Old Time Strongman Events will be of such as to honor a lift/event done by an Old Time Strongman. This goes right along with our mission statement of the USAWA, to honor lifts done by Old Time Strongmen. No “modern” Strongmen events will be contested – such as stone loading, farmers walks, yoke carries, etc. Like I said before, there are plenty of other places to do those events in competition. Also, most of these Old Time Strongman Events will be done using just using a bar or dumbbell/dumbells. The use of specialized equipment in events will be limited, however, a few events will have them. I talking about unique lifts like the Dinnie Lift.
4. All of these Old Time Strongman Events will have “loose rules” compared to other All Round lifts. Several of these OTSM events will be partial movements, unlike traditional All Round lifts. I am hoping that eventually we will reach a list of around 20 “GOOD” OTSM lifts in our Rulebook so meet directors will have a good list to chose from for a meet. Finally, all of these lifts will have the minute clock, meaning a lifter gets as many tries within a minute to complete the lift on their attempt. No missed attempts on technicalities!!
I could see meet directors having an OTSM in which other All Round lifts might be included in the meet list of events. A lot of our other already established All Round lifts would fit “perfectly” into an OTSM meet. Lifts like the Crucifix and Two Hands Anyhow pretty much meet the criteria of an Old Time Strongman lift. But if these lifts are done in an OTSM meet, their rule as stated in the Rulebook must be followed, and not deviated from. This is essential so records in these lifts can be maintained. As you can see from these “founding principles”, Old Time Strongman will be a cross between modern Stongman and weightlifting. I’m really excited about this – and I’m looking forward to what the future will bring!