By STEVE CORNELIUS, CJ Sports Editor
Eau Claire, Wis. —
Local professional arm wrestler Ryan Barnett breezed through his six matches in the United States Arm Wrestling Federation National Championships, in the 198-lb. (90 kg.) left-handed division.
Barnett, who his currently ranked 7th in the nation in his division, will represent the United States in the USAF 2013 World Arm Wrestling Federation Championships – to be held in Gdynia, Poland.
“I am so excited to win a national title, but I am even more excited to be able to represent the United States in the World Championships,” Barnett stated.
Barnett, who has been on the professional arm wrestling tour for the past seven years, has had an amazing stretch of success over the past two years. During a 20-month period, Barnett has won 15 consecutive arm wrestling tournament titles.
Over the years, Barnett has dominated his opponents in his local state of Kentucky, and he is now making a name for himself on the national and world levels in the sport of arm wrestling.
Barnett, at the age of 33, is considered young for a sport that is typically dominated by competitors in their mid to late 40’s. But already, Barnett has captured seven different state arm wrestling championships.
Barnett is now hoping his exposure at the world level will open up opportunities to compete in Europe and England.
“There are bigger money events over in Europe and England, and that is a goal of mine to arm wrestle as a profession,” Barnett explained.
Barnett picked up the sport of arm wrestling from his father Jack Barnett, who was a 7-time Virginia state arm wrestling champion.
Barnett is part of a unique sport where competitors spend countless hours of training for a competition that last a little over a few seconds.
“I will do intense arm wrestling specific training up to three hours a day,” Barnett stated. “I work everyday to strengthen my hand, my wrist, my forearm, my bicep and my back. These are all areas that can improve my arm wrestling abilities.”
But at Barnett’s level of the sport every competitor is extremely strong, and there is a lot more to the sport than meets the eye.
“The set-up strategy before a match is extremely important,” Barnett said. “Each competitor is looking to get a strong set-up that will be to their advantage.”
Barnett explained he had an extremely successful technique in his set-up where he lets his competitors feel like they have a better set-up than him by his somewhat loose grip. But Barnett gets his wrist in a strong position in the set-up, which has led to quick ‘blink of the eye’ takedowns.
“Most professional arm wrestling matches are over with in a matter of one to two seconds,” Barnett stated. “So, it is extremely important to try to take advantage of your opponent in set-up.”
Barnett even stated that gamesmanship or psychological warfare is a big part of the professional arm wrestling matches.
“Sometimes I can pysch out an opponent by taking them down on a false start, which is pulling before the referee gives the competitors the ‘go’ sign,” Barnett explained.
Barnett even studies the cadence of competition referees, which is the time between the referee’s ‘Ready and Go’ instructions.
“I will spend hours watching tapes of competitions timing each referee’s cadence,” Barnett explained. “I want to be able to look at a referee’s mouth and know to the exact mili-second when he is going to say ‘Go’.”
Barnett will get to put all of his training, studying and analyzing to the test in the World Arm Wrestling Championships on September 1-8. The Arm Wrestling World Championships will be televised on ESPN.