Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hey, Hans, Want to Pull My Finger?

I don't know, maybe it was too much time spent watching Beavis and Butthead, but I always had a different idea what finger pulling was all about.

Naturally, we have the Germans to help clarify things.

Finger Pulling Championships in the Alps
It may sound funny, but for some Bavarian and Austrian men finger wrestling is no joke. They take it very seriously: For them it's about prestige and honor.

In the old days, people say, it was used to settle disputes. Today it has the standing of a national sport in the Alpine region of southern Germany and neighboring Austria.

But anyone who thinks Fingerhakeln -- "finger wrestling" -- is some kind of amusing time-waster Bavarian men engage in after a few too many beers down at the village inn is very mistaken. The sport's practitioners take it very seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that before a major contest they subject the finger they intend to do battle with -- most chose their middle finger -- to a punishing training regime. Some of the wrestlers like to crush tennis balls with their hands; others will do pull-ups with only their middle fingers; and some have even been known to make their digits lift weights of up to 50 kilograms.

Yet, regardless of the training program, all the finger wrestlers share the same goal: to have a finger that is as strong as humanly possible.

The contest works as follows: Two contestants, usually men, sitting on opposite sides of a substantial table, thread their fingers into a strap. Once in position, they wait for the referee to give a signal, before pulling as hard as they possibly can. The winner is the person who manages to pull the other contestant across the table, using only his finger.
These guys really have to get out more.

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