Kettlebell Origin of Turkish Getups

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Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I have a student from Turkey who says he is aware of the exercise and has seen guys do it in his home country, and also that the movement involved in the getup is the exact same one as in Turkish traditional dances. I'm still ultra curious about the history of this movement which has become a life changing thing for me.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Well, it must be called the "Turkish" get-up for a reason, but I can't find a whole lot more than this from Maxwell S&C:

Few people know that I introduced the "Turkish" get-up to the Kettlebell community.

The Turkish get-up was a popular lift at the turn of the last century and the common way of doing it was was to start from the floor -- with a barbell or dumbbell in the locked-out arm position -- then to "get-up". Some sources suggest the original starting position may have been from a cross-legged seat on the floor, but either way, supine or seated, this exercise was typically done with very heavy weights that couldn't otherwise be cleaned or pressed, thus it was an old-time strongman stunt; a single-rep lift.


I learned this exercise in the 1960's, from my old wrestling coach, who was a staunch upholder of old-time lifts.

Would definitely like to hear more. I've wondered if it didn't have something to do with impalement, but a relate to traditional dance would be a lot nicer!
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Having done research as a sports historian myself I have to say that I want solid proof before going ahead and believing his thesis. It is very easy to take a name like "Turkish Getup" or "French Kiss" or "Canadian Bacon" and then folk etymologize it in order to falsely nationalize the thing due to the silly name the thing has picked up. If the move is indeed Turkish this is very interesting indeed because it shows a more ancient pedigree for the movement than 19th Century Russia and the Ukraine. I think there is something of a half getup move done in Persian Wrestling schools as a weight lifting move done with a bow and arrow shaped rattly chain weight. I'll try to find a picture of this exercise. If we can establish some kind of link then we might be able to legitimately link the drawing of the bow like initial parts of the getup to actual archery training in ancient Persia.

The getup is a pretty complicated movement and sure it could have been invented by anyone anywhere, but it isn't unlikely that the move has evolved over the years from some kind of ancient training need.

Regarding pushups, it seems like these evolved out of wrestling sprawling drills, for example.
 

banzaiengr

Level 6 Valued Member
I ask Warren Tetting about this once. He was not absolutely sure but he told me that the old time strongmen were always involved in wrestling. Some of these strongmen saw Turkish wrestlers performing this move and thus the name. Take it for what it worth.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
There is also some interesting information on this in another thread:
Why "Turkish" Get Up???
And I just noticed who started that thread : )
I'm not giving up until I get to the bottom of this. My Turkish student gave me some more leads. It's honestly a very weird movement and I don't think it's something natural like a deadlift or a squat. It's complicated and quite odd.
 

Jeffro

Level 3 Valued Member
I've also often wondered about the oft repeated "come back when you can do a 100 pound getup" myth to start strong man training. Is there really any source to that? Were there really so many weaklings begging strongmen to teach them that this was really a thing?
 

MattM

SFG1
Certified Instructor
I've also often wondered about the oft repeated "come back when you can do a 100 pound getup" myth to start strong man training. Is there really any source to that? Were there really so many weaklings begging strongmen to teach them that this was really a thing?

If true, certainly a good way to weed out those who were not totally interested in being trained
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I've also often wondered about the oft repeated "come back when you can do a 100 pound getup" myth to start strong man training. Is there really any source to that? Were there really so many weaklings begging strongmen to teach them that this was really a thing?
This movement seems to be surrounded with a lot of myth and a lot of B.S.
I'd like to find the earliest RECORDED real evidence for this move and this will likely tell us quite a lot about its real origins.
 

Brett Jones

StrongFirst Director of Education
Master Certified Instructor
Beast Tamer
It appears in a 1928 book of KB training in Russian

Thomas Inch’s Scientific Weight-Lifting, 1905, has a chapter on it

Dr. Ed Thomas traced the history back over 300 years but I don't have the details but it does seem to be connected to Turkish wresting and training traditions
 

Matts

Level 3 Valued Member
@Kozushi I don't doubt or question the discourse on the TGU. I also heard about it in gyms back in the day, but never tried them until doing S&S in the last few years. I don't doubt it deserves all that's said about it and a spot in history.

However, even if there was some mythology or hyperbole going on, I wouldn't care a bit. There's an important purpose for this type of story-telling. Joseph Campbell has written about this. In most spiritual/ethical traditions in the world, great truths are communicated by parables and koans. In literature, novels are fiction, but the great ones communicate truths about human nature and society.

Have you ever seen the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"? "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
 

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Get-up was considered an old exercise already in 1930s. It was usually called just get-up, or one-arm get-up. There many, many references to the get-up in the old manuals & magazines.

As for "Turkish", one of the very few references I was able to find is from George Hackenschmidt’s Way to Live (1907), "sitting in Turkish style, and getting up with bar-bell". Note that it was often performed from top down and back up.

Old sources have no detailed instruction - we at StrongFirst are thanks to Pavel, Steve Maxwell, Gray Cook, Brett Jones, Mark Cheng, Jeff O'Connor, and many other excellent instructors an evolution: sound, safe, and strong biomechanical movement, progressions for all levels/ages, multiple benefits.

Summary:

- no fairy tales, legit and very old lift
- SFG get-up rocks. Do it.
 

Harald Motz

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I am just glad and happy to be able to get up out of bed without of help in the good and sometimes not so good morning, and later in the day with a piece of iron. I am alsohappy, that I do not need to speak Turkish and only have to do my body English to experience this endless deepness of this beautiful art of strength.

So the roots of the get up lie in the human ability to come of out of the ground from mother earth and going back down to it, like live itself. This community does a precious work to pass all this to these days and forward into future.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I've found with sports research that I end up adding to my training when I learn the real origins for things. This has helped a lot with my judo training for instance. When I discovered the goals of the creators of judo this helped me to get more out of it.

Anyhow, so far it's seeming like the getup is NOT really Turkish - "Turkish" is just a name given to someone sitting on the floor. Probably someone in the early 20th Century made it up as an identifiable "move" and it's been refined recently by Pavel and others.

One reason I suspect this is that no one has chanced upon some exotic strength culture somewhere in the world doing this movement and reported back about it to the strength community. There really don't seem to be old school Turks doing it nor Persians, nor Chinese, nor Mayans, nor anyone else - it's an old time European/Western strong man move that appeals to the myth of Turkish power, which was very true under the Ottomans for 6-700 years of history!

Anyhow, I've emailed the author of that article to see if he has any real evidence for Turkish origins. I'm hoping that he does because that would be more cool now wouldn't it be?
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Wikipedia (for what it's worth) says that sitting on the floor is sometimes called "Indian style" in American English and "Turkish style" in many European languages. Interesting.

Sitting - Wikipedia
At the moment I think the move was invented as part of the European-American strong man showman circus type culture of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries while toying around with things to do with kettlebells and other nifty weights. Heck, those guys even juggled kettlebells, so I could easily see some guy thinking, like hey, I'm tired and lying down on my back next to my weight, why don't I try to press it and then stand up with it? Giving it an exotic name inspired by the "Turkish" sitting posture gave it a bit of attention in a marketing sort of way, people started making up baloney histories for the move and then there we have it - a mythology. But, it's an AMAZING move and deserves mythical status, I think!!!

I almost hate to say this but I think the ancients were kinda dumb when it came to exercise - they just understood hard work but had no idea at all of kinetic science or physiology, and progressive overload doesn't even seem to have been much understood - old cultures tend to work out with the same weights through your whole life. If you look at old school exercises they tend to be more about very high reps of exercises that could be made a lot harder to do quite easily by even slight changes in posture. I'm not saying that this is 100% the case for everyone nor that their methods were "bad" exercise, but they must have evidently valued endurance over everything else because that's what their high rep workouts develop. I still find it odd that the Ancient Greek sources mention hanging from a bar as an exercise to develop strength, but not chinups - it's as if they had no idea that pulling yourself up was worth the effort! It seems that they thought hanging on for dear life would strengthen everything up optimally already. And, it does appear that they actually built these hanging bars into their training gyms - at least the literature suggests this - just to hang from! How unimaginative!

Onwards and upwards!
 
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