Rules of Thumb Wrestling | How it is Played?

There are all sorts of games out there, some require physical fitness while some require mental agility, and the most competitive ones require both. Amid the unprecedented development and activities revolving around some of the toughest sports in the world, Thumb Wrestling brings fun and competition both. The best bit is, it is safe!

Rules of Thumb Wrestling

Thumb war, which is also known as pea-knuckle or pea-knuckle war in New Zealand, has different names in France but the objective of the game remains the same. Surprisingly, despite looking like a casual sport, Thumb wrestling is an internationally recognized sport now.

The surprising thing about this sport is nobody knows about the origin of this game, yet it has gained widespread popularity all across the globe. Several people claimed to have invented this sport, one of them is Paul Davidson who claimed that his grandfather invented this sport in the 1940s. But historians believe that this game is older than this and has been in practice for 100 of years.

Object of Thumb Wrestling

It’s basically a fight between two thumbs, one of the thumbs has to pin the other one by using legit techniques. A common way of winning the match is to pin the opponent’s thumb and say “1,2,3 I win the thumb-o-war”.

How to Play?

Thumb wrestling takes place between two players, mostly of the same gender, having their fingers clasped each other and thumbs fighting to pin each other. As the name suggests, this is a fight between thumbs and no other finger can be used. Players have to pin the thumb of their opponent and chant a particular Rhyme to win the game.

Despite being a casual game, there are rules dictating how the game should start and end, and what is the time limit of a single round, you can read each and every rule in the general rules of Thumb Wrestling.

General Rules of Thumb Wrestling

  • Both players use the same hand, either left or right.
  • Both players stand face to face with their fingers tightly clasped against each other.
  • Before the match officially begins, both players chant this rhyme, “One, two, three, four… I declare a thumb-o-war!
  • At the end of this rhyme, the match begins for the next 60 seconds and both players try to pin the thumb of their opponent.
  • Once a player has pinned the opponent’s thumb, he then rhymes “1,2,3 I win the thumb-o- war”.
  • If no winner is found in the 60 seconds, another round is played.
  • To maintain the competitiveness of the matches, men compete against men and women compete against women.

Time Duration

In the World Thumb Wrestling Championship, the time limit for a single round of fight is 60 second. More rounds are only played if no winner is determined during this period.

Playing Equipment

There is no particular equipment required for Thumb Wrestling.

Playing Field

Unlike arm-wrestling, thumb wrestling can be done anywhere. There are no laws regarding where players can keep their arms or if they can hold something in the other hand or not, precisely because of the fact it’s the fight between thumbs, not hands.

Tactical Play

It may sound easier to play but the game definitely includes some techniques which make it more competitive. Especially at a professional level these techniques play a crucial role in an individual’s success.

In the start of the play, players hold out their hands in a thumbs up with their fingers curled around each other. Players are not allowed to use another finger to pin other than the thumb. The two thumbs fight like humans, ducting, striking and launching sudden attacks to pin the opponent.

Both players are required to show sportsmanship and not to cause any infringement that might spoil the fun of the game. Thumb wrestling is a source of entertainment among people of all ages, it can be played anytime and anywhere, so winning the game is not the mere object of this game.


Professional matches are supervised by the referees who ensure that no player uses any unfair means against his opponent to gain advantage over his opponent.

Famous Thumb Wrestling Events

The yearly Thumb Wrestling championship is held at the mecca of Thumb Wrestling, Beccles in Somerset, UK. Professional players from the UK, USA, Holland, South Africa, Poland and France and many other countries participate in this tournament. The tournament is getting popular and better by every passing year.

Governing Body

The International Thumb Wrestling Association is the governing body for the sport that sanctions all international tournaments and is responsible for promoting the game of Thumb Wrestling worldwide by organizing yearly tournaments.