A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 12, 2010
“You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe”

The phrase “you can’t fire/shoot a cannon from a canoe” seemingly dates to naval warfare from the 1800s, but there’s no evidence of the phrase until the late 20th century. The saying has been popular with fitness instructors, who say that to “fire a cannon” (build strong arms and legs) you can’t do it from a canoe (poor abdominals).

F. Don Miller (1920-1996) was a boxing champion and Olympic boxing coach who became the executive director of the United States Olympic Committee from 1969-1985. Describing the National Sports Festival in 1978, Miller said: “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe. You have to have a solid base.” Gideon Ariel, the inventor of a computerized weight machine, said “you can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe” since at least 1980.

Google News Archive
27 July 1978, Schenectady (NY) Gazette, pg. 34, cols. 2-3:
First Sports Festival
Has 2,100 Competitors

AP Sports Writer
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP)—The National Sports Festival, a massive, ambitious, expensive operation aimed at a broad-based improvement of America’s sagging Olympic fortunes gets under way today with some 2,100 athletes competing in 26 sports.

“You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe,” said Don Miller, executive director of the sponsoring U.S. Olympic Committee. “You have to have the solid base.”

And it is with that principal in mind that the U.S.O.C. has poured some $1.3 million into the establishment of these games. The goal is the long-range improvement of the American Olympic teams—not necessarilyi n 1980,” Miller said. “We’re taking the long-range view—toward 1984 and 1988.”

13 November 1980, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “A Biomechanic Study Center Is Unveiled at Coto de Caza” by Peter Donovan, pg. OC-B1:
Albrittoti was bending the knee of his front leg, which Ariel said was like trying to throw from a trampoline or shoot a cannon from a canoe.

Google Books
January 1982, Popular Science, pg. 58, col. 3:
The interdependence of body parts is true of all sports. Ariel’s (Gideon Ariel—ed.) co-researcher at Coto, psychologist and tennis guru Vic Braden, uses the analogy of a whip. “Power supply comes from efficiently transferring shock from one body segment to another and finally into the implement or ball.” Or as Ariel likes to say: “You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe.”

Ariel himself once shot cannons— or tried to. Competing for his native Israel in the 1960 and ‘64 Olympics, his best shot puts landed far short of the gold.

Google Books
The Fast Men
By Tom McNab
London: Hutchinson
Pg. 269:
“You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe” had been Moriarty’s final statement on the matter.

New York (NY) Times
F. Don Miller, 75, U.S. Olympic Committee Chief
Published: January 18, 1996
Col. F. Don Miller, whose leadership in 1980 twice helped save the United States Olympic Committee from extinction, died last night in Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs. He was 75.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer in March 1994, his son-in-law, Michael Wagner, said.

From 1969 to 1985, Colonel Miller served as executive director of the U.S.O.C., the national umbrella organization for amateur sports.

Google Groups: alt.music.maniacs
Newsgroups: alt.music.manics
From: (Keitho)
Date: 2000/01/15
Subject: Re: cool quotes

‘ You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe ‘
Admiral Nelson.

The Telegraph (London)
Are you sure you are doing it right?
There’s more to exercise than good intentions - too much, too soon can damage your body, warns Tony Durrant

By Tony Durrant 12:01AM BST 23 May 2001
This means developing the postural muscles. “You cannot fire a cannon from a canoe” is the expression used by instructors to urge us to develop the body’s core before hanging weights off its protruberances.

Testosterone Nation
05-03-2005, 08:55 AM
What’s the great Fred Hatfield quote? “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe”

Talk Tennis
12-22-2008, 03:59 AM
I think it was Bolletteri who said, “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.” The OP would be well served in applying these words of wisdom to his game.

Building Muscle for Skinny Guys
Exercises to Strengthen Quadriceps
By Pete Owen on Thursday, March 26, 2009
Quadriceps – commonly referred to as the thigh – is the frontal muscle group of the upper leg, and is both the largest and most powerful muscle group in the entire body. Fred (Dr. Squat) Hatfield said you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe, and he’s right; strong quads are the absolute foundation upon which the body should be built.

The Irish Times
Friday, April 23, 2010
You can’t fire a cannon from a currach
RUGBY ANALYST: Connacht continue to defy the odds, but can’t continue to overcome lack of IRFU investment.

06-10-2010, 02:31 PM
‘You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe’ - Rex Hazeldine

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 12, 2010 • Permalink