Applied Leverage

A history lesson

Imagine a $100 Billion company’s network goes down. For every minute they’re disconnected, they’re losing out on tens of thousands of dollars.

A technician is called in at twice his already hefty fee (with a guaranteed 5 hour minimum) to solve the issue.

After a quick look around the server room he notices a single wire is dangling. Nearby is an empty port, so he does the obvious: he plugs it in.

All the lights start blinking again, and the whole company is back up to speed.


The technician just made a huge payday without having to use much effort.

The company may argue that the solution was too simple, that he didn’t do enough, but they couldn’t fix it could they?

This is a common misunderstanding in the world: that high impact effects don’t necessarily require all that much effort.

In a way, the technician performed a magic trick.

To him it was a simple matter of seeing a disconnected wire: simple fix. To the company, their internet was down and they’re losing a lot of money for every minute it was down: huge problem.

The same happens in martial arts.

Most people are completely unfamiliar with the principles of leverage and momentum.

To the greater public, it’s a complete mystery how a smaller person can throw a bigger person around like a ragdoll.

To the skilled practitioner, however, it’s as simple as seeing a dangling cable.

What skilled practitioners seem to forget is that even the simple methods they take for granted have the potential to be amazingly effective to the uninitiated.


Let’s go back to the 1800’s where I would like to introduce you to Lulu Hurst, aka:


She was a Vaudeville performer who played the biggest theaters of the time, and made more money in a single performance than most people made in an entire year.

What was her act?

She couldn’t be moved.

That’s it.

That’s the whole act.

Nobody could move her if she didn’t want them to.

The demonstrations would look something like this. She would allow a man (or several men) to pick her up. She weighed 125lbs, so this was relatively easy for the committee.

Then, she would tap into the aether and sap the strength from the men who would be unable to move her.

It would feel as though she were somehow magnetized to the floor. Hence her moniker.

The gentlemen would strain with everything they had, and yet she remained perfectly at peace. They would be sweating and winded, and she would be completely undisturbed.

Invigorated, even!

And this went on for 2 hours.

Each demonstration would further prove her superhuman ability to completely overcome strength with her powers.

It made her a superstar.

Read this article from Scientific American from 1884:

The Umbrellas and Chairs of Lulu Hurst

For several months Southern papers have been describing the wonderful performances of a young girl as Lulu Hurst. These reports have stated that she possessed a unique and extraordinary “force.”

We were pleased therefore to receive recently a careful and conscientiously written account of this phenomenon from Dr. Seth N Jordan, of Columbus Ga. Dr. Jordan states that in company with Drs. George Grimes and Carlisle Terry he examined Miss Hurst and that are all agreed that she is not a fraud but possesses extraordinary and occult power. He writes that she is fifteen years of age five feet four inches high weighs hundred and twenty five pounds is of moderate development in good general health has menstruated regularly is of an intelligent and amiable disposition. She first became aware of the possession of her force last September and it has continued ever since with the exception a brief interval when she had a cold.

Drs. Jordan, Terry, and Grimes having purchased a new umbrella experimented with her for four hours in the room of a hotel. The phenomena developed were somewhat as follows: Two or three scientific persons take hold of the handle of an open umbrella and hold it fast; Miss Lulu then touches it with her open palm when presto! the umbrella is turned inside out or snatched away despite every effort. Meanwhile other persons find that no muscular contractions have taken place in Lulu’s arms.

Three strong and scientific men lift up a chair, and hold it in the air. Lulu places her hand upon it and it sinks to floor despite every effort. Dr Jordan and others took hold of a long stick, the phenomenon touched the other end and it rapidly revolved, or pulled the three experimentalists, roughly about the room. Miss Hurst’s force seems have a peculiar penchant for umbrellas and canes so that she cannot carry the former article at all, the mystical something snatching it away and leaving her out in the wet.

With the exception of the production of knocks and raps the above are the chief phenomena exhibited and described.

We fully believe that Dr Jordan has described them correctly and that Miss Hurst is a remarkable girl. But there is one feature in all her performances which no one, not even Dr Jordan seems to have noticed or, at all events, carefully studied. This is, that all the exhibitions of her wonderful force are exhibited in opposing voluntary muscular effort in others. This force has no power over dead matter but only over living conscious muscular exertions. This fact explains, we believe, the mysterious energy which the Georgian phenomenon appears to develop. It is experimenters, not the subject, who knock themselves and the umbrellas about. At any rate, the matter ought to be investigated from this standpoint. It will probably be found that Miss Hurst’s exhibitions are only another phase of hypnotic phenomena. –Medical Record

But the mystery would not live forever.

After touring the world as a performer, she was ready for a quiet life.

In 1897, thirteen years after the Scientific American article was written, Lulu would write her autobiography explaining how her demonstrations were not the result of occult powers, but the clever application of body mechanics and deflection of force.

Two years later in 1899 a Bartitsu (a gentlemanly martial art specializing in using a cane for self defense) instructor named Edward William Barton-Wright wrote an expose titled “How to Pose as a Strongman” where he illustrated the various demonstrations Lulu was famous for, and explained how they worked.

Then, a little over 20 years later in 1920, Houdini would write a book titled, “Miracle Mongers and Their Methods” which closes with a chapter on Lulu and explains the methods of the Magnetic Girl act (complete with illustrations).


Fast forward 100 years.

Nowadays you’ll find martial arts gurus espousing special understanding of Chi and they’re more than willing to demonstrate their superlative skills.

They look exactly like Lulu Hurst’s act.

This is not to say they’re not amazing, because they are.

What I’m pointing at, however, is that it doesn’t take a lifetime’s worth of self denial and practice to learn. That’s all theatrical dressing of a relatively simple application of leverage.

Easy to do when you know how, without a lot of practice!

Instant Results

When researching Lulu I came across a newspaper article or a piece of her advertising that described how she would invite a young boy, maybe 7 years old, onto stage. She would have a quick chat with him (off mic), and confer her powers to him before a grown man would try to lift the boy.

Pretty cool, right?

That proves that this stuff doesn’t require 20 years as an apprentice with a kung fu master to begin learning the inner secrets.

A lady can explain it to a 7 year old in two minutes!


What these demonstrations are: They’re amazing.

The principles are incredibly effective (especially against those who don’t understand them, which is everyone).

What they aren’t: Mystical, or the result of 20 years’ practice.

My goal is to demystify these demonstrations so more people can benefit from understanding the power of applied leverage and momentum in their martial arts practice.

These are the secrets that will empower a smaller, weaker person to safely address a bigger, stronger opponent looking to bully their way through.

Pretty cool.

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