Hepburn The Handbalancer

Posted on Thursday, December 8th, 2016 by John Wood

A shot of a young Doug Hepburn performing what amounts to a “muscle out” with a friend performing a handstand on his outstretched arms. This picture was taken around 1950, then, and for a few years prior, Doug was a lifeguard at Vancouver’s famous Kitsilano beach. Doug took take a weight set with him and trained right on the sand — this was one of the most productive periods of his life.
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Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 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.

Val De Genaro

Posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by John Wood

The old York Lifters all used to practice the bent-press because the lift built incredible core strength. This, in turn, helped in increasing their Olympic Lifting totals.

One of the most talented of the bent-pressers was Val De Genaro who could lift 215 pounds. Bob Hoffman said that De Genaro had the most perfect bent-press technique that he had ever seen. Perhaps due in great part to his bent pressing ability, as a 148-pound lifter, De Genaro could Jerk 290 pounds.

De Genaro was also, unsurprisingly, an excellent hand-balancer who could walk the length of a football field on his hands.

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Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 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.

The York Hand Balancing Course

Posted on Saturday, April 16th, 2016 by John Wood

It took a couple years but I finally tracked down an extremely rare copy of the York Hand Balancing Course. It was well worth the wait, you wouldn’t believe what’s in there. No author is listed but I believe that it was written by Bob Jones. We may actually reprint the York Hand Balancing Course at some point in the near future.
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Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 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.

Eugene Waddell

Posted on Saturday, October 24th, 2015 by John Wood
Eugen Waddell was a member of the famed “Jackson Trio” and the only man we know of who could replicate Bob Jones’ signature feat of standing atop a series of Indian Clubs and flicking them away one-by-one until left balancing only on his thumbs.
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Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 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.

The King Brothers – Herculean Comedy Athletes!

Posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2015 by John Wood
Edward Traver and Robert Shank were two lads from Schenectady, New York who ran off and joined the Vaudeville circuit as “The King Brothers – Herculean Comedy Athletes!”

The duo performed hand-balancing feats and were featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. They were at their peak in the teens and 20’s and once even shared the stage with Will Rogers in Atlanta. Unfortunately we’re not sure which of the King brothers is featured in the rare postcard above but all that hand-balancing work has certainly built an impressive pair of arms for this fellow.

The Jackson Trio

Posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by John Wood

… Easily one of the most amazing photographs ever taken. Jimmy “Muscles” Jackson (Frank Kirigin), Gene “Jewell” Waddell, and Charley “Jarley” Jackson were known professionally as the “Jackson Trio” as they traveled the country performing on the Vaudeville circuit. (At times, they were also known as “The Three Jacksons,” “The Jackson Brothers” or  “The Three Zeckos”.)

On August 21st, 1934, with the news reel cameras rolling, the Jackson Trio balanced precariously on a ledge of the 86th floor of the Empire State Building while this famous picture was taken. The Jackson Trio got their start opening for Houdini on the vaudeville circuit and when in New York, the trio always trained at Sig Klein’s Gym!

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Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 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.

Handbalancing Feat #1

Posted on Sunday, August 17th, 2014 by John Wood

Months of handbalancing practice will make you pretty confident, in fact, after enough time passes, you’ll eventually reach a point where you only underbalance (falling back toward your feet) coming out of your handstand and rarely, if-at-all overbalance (fall forward overhead,) Practicing your handbalancing on a stationary object or set of handles is also a useful tactic since it will train your skills in a much different manner than holding a “free” handstand.

In either case, this feat, accomplished by amateur handbalancer Miles Hayes, of Mansfield, Ohio, is still quite impressive (but definitely don’t try this one at home folks.)

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Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 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.

Bob Jones at the York Picnic

Posted on Thursday, February 20th, 2014 by John Wood

Bob Jones Does His Thing at the York Picnic

Bob Jones (who else?) does a one-arm handstand on a (tipped) rocker at the York Barbell picnic some time in the late 1930’s (probably 1937). The early York picnics were held right behind Bob Hoffman’s house on Lightner’s Hill in North York, Pennsylvania. Hoffman can be seen bent-pressing the large globe barbell in the background in another picture taken the same day HERE.

They say that the York picnics were so popular that cars were parked three quarters of a mile in every direction. Hoffman’s house is still there and you can see it if you know where to look.

Handbalancing Feat

Posted on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 by John Wood

How about this handbalancing feat from the Russian circus, circa 1967? I’d say the neck strength of the two “bottom” men may be even more impressive.
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Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 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.

Doug Hepburn’s Handbalancing

Posted on Sunday, October 6th, 2013 by John Wood

Doug Hepburn's Handbalancing

Many of the Olympic-style weightlifting champions of years past were also very good handbalancers. They felt–with very good reason–that handbalancing would build shoulder strength and stability to help their overhead pressing power and in holding heavy weights in the overhead position.

Showing that a heavy bodyweight isn’t an obstacle, the great Doug Hepburn could easy perform handstand pushups at the drop of a hat at 305 pounds. Handbalancing is still very much a discipline that will benefit every strength athlete.

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Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 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.