Physical Culture – March 1903
By Bernarr Macfadden
Illustrated by Photographs Specially Posed by Tom Jenkins and Clarence Boudin
Tom Jenkins, until recently the world’s champion catch-as-catch-can wrestler, whose photographs illustrate the wrestling tricks shown in this article, is a remarkable specimen of physical manhood. Every line of his body indicates the rugged vigor which has enabled him to win so many hard fought contests. Recently he was beaten by Dan McLeod, though he claims that his defeat was due to a bad leg, and he expects to wrestle his conquerer again in the near future.
The holds herein illustrated may be too difficult for most of our readers, but by a little practice they can be easily mastered. Of course, I would not recommend that the Strangle Hold be used at any time in a wrestling bout. The Hammer-Lock is also a dangerous hold, and should be used with great caution.
Be careful to avoid the mistake of trying to learn too rapidly. Select someone whose strength is no greater than your own, and, instead of attempting to secure a fall at first, it would be far better if you would simply practice the “holds” here shown.
After learning a few of them you can then attempt to gain a fall, though do not work too vigorously at first. This is one of the greatest dangers in learning to wrestle. Beginners are too apt to strain every nerve to gain an advantage, and they waste their strength in useless struggling because of the lack of knowledge of the exercise.
There is one result that you can depend upon with absolute certainty if these exercises are practiced regularly: They will harden every muscle of the body and develop a vigor which no other exercise can give you, for wrestling practically exercises every muscle of the body. Of course, the muscles of the arms and back are used more thoroughly and effectively than other parts, but after you have acquired some knowledge of the sport, and when you are able to indulge in an active bout, you will quickly realize that there is no part of the body that has not been used.
The writer has seen many weaklings develop into vigorous men while practicing this exercise. You must not expect results too quickly, for it takes time, but gradually, day by day, if you practice regularly you will notice an increase in your strength and, what is really more valuable, you will feel an increased vitality and improved health in every way.
A careful study of the photographs of almost all well-known wrestlers will prove the truth of these statements, and it is a well-known fact that many of these men were comparatively weak in their youth, and that their great strength has been developed almost entirely by the practice of this one exercise.
It is hardly advisable to wrestle on the hard floor unless you are very careful to avoid injuring your opponent or being injured yourself. Wrestle on the grass or soft ground. About the best thing for wrestling on indoor is a mat made from boiler felt. It can be laid on the floor and a canvas pulled tightly over it, though it is much better if quilted, for otherwise it will soon break or tear into pieces.
A mat can also be made by spreading sawdust over the floor, about two or three inches deep, and then stretching a canvas tightly over it and tacking it down at the sides. However, if a mat of this kind is used very long, it becomes very hard, so that the sawdust should be raked up frequently.