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“I’m Crushing Your Head”

Training a Chinese friend in Olympic lifting, who is a very competent jiu jitsu artist, an admission of fear was revealed to me. He said, “How do you put the barbell over your head like that?”

The split snatch was the dominant form of the snatch Olympic lift, until the 1960s.
Illustration of a classic "Split Snatch".

“Well, that is what we’ve been working,” I responded with a tinge of a question mark.

“No, it’s my English. When you snatch, the barbell could fall from above and crush your head. I fear it.”

I had no immediate answer, but the old Kid’s In The Hall skit came to mind. I quickly squashed that inappropriate response and admitted that I had never thought of it that way. I wasn’t bragging. I have fears of other lifts, but in the snatch, that result is not one of them.

Mulling the unsaid phrase around my brain for several years, I realized that it was not just a clever reply, gladly un-blurted.

There is a ring of truth behind immediate responses, like the glimpse of one’s psyche in a Rorschach Ink Blot Test. It was one of the “secrets” Smitty had tried to ram into my skull. Because of his education, I automatically break down the lifts into component parts, easily accomplished, often with significantly more weight than the related full competitive lift. As I train those parts, I’m doing something far more significant than making muscles stronger and teaching neurons to fire efficiently, I’m training my mind. By adding perspective, the very rational fears will not crush my head.

All the best,
Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

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