The Squat Style of Jerking
He Yingqiang of China registered an historic moment at the 1986 World Weightlifting Championships. He executed a successful jerk by lowering the body into a full squat position during the squat under. After the clean, which was performed with the normal slightly wider than shoulder width grip, He lowered his body into a full squat position to fix the bar overhead and then recovered from that full squat position without difficulty to complete the lift. Analysis of He’s technique showed that he drove the bar only a little less high than the average lifter during his lift and really only needed to lower the body into a half squat position in order to catch the bar. However, when the lifter catches the bar with such a heavy weight and with the knees bent at such an angle, a combination of balance difficulties and mechanical weakness seems to require an extremely long amortization phase. As a result, He Yingqiang traveled all of the way into the full squat before recovering.
He’s lift was interesting for several reasons. First, it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a full squat jerk could be successfully performed with top poundages. (He finished second overall and third in the jerk that day. Second, it supported the contention that recovery from a deep squat position is assisted by the fore-aft movement of the shoulders and hips (a degree of movement that is not possible when the bar is resting on the shoulders instead of at arm’s length). This point was made when He made a relatively difficult recovery from the squat clean and seconds later made a far easier recovery from the squat position in the jerk.
The reaction to He’s style was varied. Some viewed the performance as essentially a one-time event, and others saw it as the kind of style that would someday become predominant. He’s performance in the C&J remained at relatively the same level in subsequent years. Since that time a number of other world class athletes have employed the squat style in the jerk (perhaps most notably the 1996 Olympic Champion in the 70 kg. class, Zhan Xugang). Figure 11 depicts Zhan performing the squat style jerk.
However, it generally takes a combination of technical superiority and outright superiority for a lifter’s performance to motivate people to consider changing technique on a grand scale. While it seems very unlikely that the squat style jerk will ever emerge as the dominant style, it is a virtual certainty that before that could ever occur, more lifters will need to achieve a level of clear superiority using that style and it is probable that at least one lifter will have to achieve outright dominance it the jerk for this style to achieve true popularity).
Nevertheless, He and his successors have shown that another style is available in the jerk, at least for lifters who have special needs and abilities. He has offered us a clear demonstration of the point that there is still much room for technique innovation in the sport of weightlifting.
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