Once in a great while, a person becomes a master of his/her art.
Becoming a master requires the rare combination of desire, natural
ability and intelligent training. I had the opportunity to talk
with a master of the art of chinning. What follows is a summary
of the conversation that I had with Jasper Benincasa. This was
not conducted as an interview and these were not the exact words
used. However, I believe that this summary adequately portrays
the conversation that we had. It was extremely rewarding for me
and Jasper seemed to enjoy talking with someone who had an appreciation
for bodyweight strength feats.
Brad: I got a copy of The Super Athletes
about 10 years ago. I always viewed your feats with great interest
because our height and weight was about the same. I understand
from Jack Arnow that some of your greatest feats were not mentioned
in the book.
Jasper: There is a lot of hearsay in
that book. I never cared much for publicity and it is not important
Brad: What strength feat were you proudest
Jasper: The double bodyweight chin. At
a weight of 130 pounds, I did a chin-up while holding a 265
pound man with my legs.
Brad: That is incredible! I heard that
you did 19 consecutive one arm chins! What were some of your
other strength feats?
Jasper: I once picked up a 90 pound person
with my legs and did an Iron Cross. I also held an Iron Cross
with one finger on each ring. I used to do a stunt where I stood
on a platform with a hangman's noose around my neck. When the
platform was removed and I was falling, I would catch the rope
above my head and do a one arm pull-up. I removed the noose
with my free hand and then climb up the rope in front lever
Brad: Did you do any other rope climbing?
Jasper: Rope climbing was a sport back
then. A friend asked me to climb in a competition at Penn State.
I hadn't done it before and when I got to the top of the rope,
I missed the black mark. I would also climb a rope with one
Brad: One arm without the use of your
Jasper: Of course!
Brad: That means that you would have
Jasper: That's right! It all comes down
to I.M. (Initial Momentum). It is also important to have rosin
on your hands for this or you will slip.
Brad: I understand that you did one arm
front levers. I have been working on those for a while without
Jasper: Yes. I got tired of doing them
two armed. Do you have a solid two arm front lever?
Jasper: Slowly let yourself down. Turn
your body a little to the side and straddle your legs. Do you
know what I mean?
Brad: Yes. I will try that!
Jasper: It will decrease the strain on
Brad: Were you a gymnast?
Jasper: No. They use a lot of momentum.
I liked the strength movements because they are pure.
Brad: What are your recommendations on
dealing with and preventing injuries?
Jasper: I usually did my one arm chins
by alternating arms and this decreased the strain on my shoulders
and elbows. You will experience elbow tendonitis. The only thing
you can do is rest.
Brad: How frequently did you train?
Jasper: My training was very haphazard.
I'd train as often as I could. I was a construction worker and
I would chin on the scaffolding after I was already tired from
work. I would do alternate one arm chins down the length of
the scaffolding and then turn and work my way back. My wife
couldn't understand why I was tired when I got home from work!
Brad: It has been an honor talking to
you! Thank you very much!
Jasper: Thank you! You got my ego flowing!
Call me any time if you have any other questions.