Farmer Burns: The Hangman’s Drop

Posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 by John Wood
Farmer Burns built his neck strength to such an advanced level that he could literally “hang” himself with a noose, including the drop, — and live (all the while whilst whistling Yankee Doodle!) That’s pretty intense as this rare photograph shows (DO NOT try this at home.) His theory was simple — one of the most important physical training goals of any combat athlete is to build the neck to the point that no one can choke you out. The “Old Farmer” built up his neck strength with his favorite exercise: The Wrestler’s Bridge.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Martin “Farmer” Burns

Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2018 by John Wood
Iowa-born Martin “Farmer” Burns was a champion wrestler and America’s premier grappler at the turn of the last century. The “Old Farmer” trained hard, and that made him hard to beat. Plenty of wrestler’s bridges gave him a 20″ neck at a bodyweight of only 165 pounds and his level of conditioning was legendary, regularly tiring out much larger and stronger opponents until they could easily be pinned. Burns wrestled over 6000 matches, lost only 7 and held the World’s Championship on two separate occasions. Once his competitive career came to an end, the “Old Farmer” as he was known, focused on managing and training other wrestlers and athletes. His most famous pupil was Frank Gotch, who, thanks in large part to Farmer Burns’ coaching, became arguably the greatest wrestler of all time.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Carl Busch

Posted on Friday, February 2nd, 2018 by John Wood
Carl Busch was a great strongman and wrestler who was active in the early 20th century. After winning the 1901 German national title, he toured Europe performing feats of strength and wrestling all comers. He even wrestled the great Frank Gotch to a draw under Greco-Roman rules. Busch also wrestled the likes of George Hackenschmidt, Professor Roller, Heinrich Weber, Yousef Holusane, Fred Beell, and even Farmer Burns. As far as feats of strength, Busch could bent press 250 pounds at a bodyweight of only 175 pounds. In 1891, Busch started his own circus which is actually still going strong today if you can believe it.

Wrestling for Boxers

Posted on Thursday, December 28th, 2017 by John Wood
How do you train when you want to be in the meanest and toughest possible shape? The answer is “Like a wrestler” which is exactly what boxing champ Jim Jeffries used to do in his training camps. There’s nothing better for buiding strength of mind AND strength of body. Jeffries’ wrestling coach? None other than Farmer Burns.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Dr. Benjamin Roller

Posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 by John Wood
Dr. Benjamin Franklin “B.F.” Roller was an early catch wrestler who sparred with the likes of Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, The Great Gama, and Stanislaus Zbyszko. Aside from wrestling, Roller was a great athlete in other sports, captaining the football and track teams at DePauw University where he attended in the late 1800’s. Roller briefly held the world record in the discus.

Roller was actually a legitimate Doctor having graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. Roller played a bit of professional football to pay the bills after that but eventually accepted a professorship at the University of Washington. Shortly after, in a rather interesting twist, he instead chose to chase fame and fortune — mostly fortune — as a professional wrestler.. Roller’s first professional match was against Jack Carkeek whom he defeated in two falls after 17 minutes and for which he received $1600 which was a rather princely sum in the early 20th century.

Roller was a very good (but not great) wrestler although he did win his fair share of matches, and held the American Heavyweight title on three occasions. Roller wrestled the likes of Farmer Burns, Fred Beell, Raymond Cazeaux, Hjalmar Lundin, Raoul Le Boucher, George Lurich, Jim Londos, Ed Lewis, and Joe Stecher (among others.) Eventually he became a training partner for George Hackenschmidt during the time Hack famously tussled with Frank Gotch.

In the years after, Roller wrote a syndicated column for newspapers around the country on health and physical culture topics and even came up with his own training system dubbed “Rollerism.”

The Farmer Burns School of Wrestling and Physical Culture

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2017 by John Wood
It had to be quite an experience to train at the Farmer Burns School of Wrestling and Physical Culture. Farmer Burns believed that every athlete should train like a wrestler – and I agree.

The bulk of the training was, I’m sure wrestling — holds, take-downs, blocks, breaks and plenty of sparring. Of course, the “Old Farmer” knew that wrestling was only “part” of what made a good wrestler — physical training was important too. He had his students throw the medicine ball around, hit the speed bag, jump rope, use light dumbbells, develop their chests with breathing exercises, use traveling rings, swing indian clubs, climb ropes, and do enough calisthenics in order to make them stronger, tougher and more conditioned than any man willing to step in the ring with them. The advertisement above is from 1920.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Farmer Burns on the Wrestler’s Bridge

Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2014 by John Wood
“I wish to impress upon all my students the great value of physical training connected with the bridge exercise. I want you to practice bridging every day, for you can find nothing that will develop the neck and back muscles to such an extent as bridging will do.

You already realize the importance of a very strong neck and it is entirely up to you to have a wonderful neck or not, depending entirely on the amount of study, and time of practice that you give the subject. A strong, well-developed neck is not only valuable to health and your personal athletic appearance, but important in wrestling as well.”

~ Farmer Burns, 1912