Wrestling is the hand-to-hand struggle between two unarmed combatants, in which each wrestler strives to get an advantage over or control of their opponent. Many styles of wrestling are known all over the world and have long histories, and sport wrestling (particularly amateur wrestling) has been an Olympic sport for over one hundred years.
Wrestling disciplines are broken down into two primary categories: (1) International style wrestling; and, (2) folkstyle wrestling.
International Wrestling Disciplines.
International wrestling disciplines include Greco-Roman and Freestyle.
Greco-Roman is an Olympic sport. In Greco-Roman style, it is forbidden to hold the opponent below the waist, to make trips, and to actively use the legs in the execution of any action. In Greco-Roman wrestling, emphasis is placed on lifting the opponent or throwing him for great amplitude in order to secure points and to ultimately win the period.
Freestyle wrestling is also an Olympic sport. In freestyle, it is allowed to hold an opponent below the waist, to make trips and to actively use legs in the execution of any action. The ultimate goal in freestyle is to pin your opponent to the mat, which results in an immediate win. It is currently the international style in which women participate in competition.
Folkstyle Wrestling Discipline.
Folkstyle wrestling disciplines include folk and collegiate.
Folkstyle wrestling is a generic term used to describe a traditional form of wrestling unique to a culture or geographic region of the world, which may or may not be codified as a modern sport. A folkstyle wrestling discipline (or a modification of the collegiate wrestling style, as discussed below) is used across the United States in high school wrestling, as well as in middle school levels and for even younger participants.
Collegiate wrestling (sometimes known as scholastic wrestling and even folkstyle wrestling) is the commonly used name of wrestling practiced at the college and university level in the United States. As collegiate wrestling forms a part of international mainstream wrestling, it is considered too popular to still be considered “folk” style wrestling. It is also that is practiced at the high school.
In folkstyle and collegiate wrestling, as well as its international counterpart freestyle wrestling, the ultimate goal is to pin your opponent to the mat, which results in an immediate win. Folkstyle, collegiate and freestyle wrestling (unlike Greco-Roman) all allow the use of the wrestler’s or his opponent’s legs in offense and defense.
Basic Differences in International and Folk Wrestling Disciplines.
Generally, rather than lifting the opponent or throwing him for great amplitude in order to win the period in the international style of Greco-Roman wrestling, the folk, collegiate and freestyle wrestler most often seeks to take his opponent down to the mat and perform a “breakdown” (that is, to get his opponent in the defensive position flat on his stomach or side). With the opponent off of his base of support (that is, off of his hands and knees), the offensive collegiate wrestler would then seek to tire out his opponent by “riding” (controlling the legs and arms in the offensive position on top), for example. With strategies such as this, the collegiate wrestler is then more likely to turn his opponent over for a pin (or fall). The defensive wrestler could counter such attempts for a takedown, or when once taken down try to escape his opponent’s control or reverse control altogether. In a last ditch attempt to foil a pin while on his back, the defensive wrestler could also “bridge” out (that is, arch his back up and then turn toward his stomach). Overall, a folk, collegiate and freestyle wrestler in his techniques would most likely emphasize physical control and dominance over the opponent on the mat.
Folkstyle and collegiate wrestling differ in a number of ways from freestyle and Greco-Roman. Some of the differences are listed below.
* There are a few scoring differences. For example, in Greco-Roman wrestling, points are given for exposing an opponent’s shoulders to the mat. This can be accomplished by performing a quick rotating maneuver, which simply causes the opponent’s shoulders to face the mat even if only for a moment. In collegiate wrestling, by contrast, one of the opponent’s shoulders must be held on the mat and the other of the opponent’s shoulders forced within at an angle of 45 degrees or less from the mat for 2 to 5 seconds to score. The points generated in this situation are called “near fall points.” Of course, a collegiate wrestler can win the match by pinning both of his opponent’s shoulders to the mat. This distinction in wrestling disciplines shows a difference in focus: while the international styles encourage explosive action and risk, collegiate wrestling encourages and rewards control over the opponent.
* There is an additional position to commence wrestling after the first period, and also to resume wrestling after various other situations encountered during the match. All three styles begin a match with both wrestlers facing each other on their feet with the opportunity given to both to score a takedown (force the opponent to the mat and into an inferior position). In collegiate wrestling, once a takedown is scored, the wrestler in the inferior position (defensive or bottom) remains there until he escapes the move, reverses positions, the period ends, or various penalty situations occur. The inferior position is similar to a choice for a starting position of the second and third periods, where it is called the referee’s position. By choosing the bottom place in the referee’s position, the wrestler has the advantage of greater scoring possibility, as escaping is easier than scoring a takedown from the neutral position or scoring near fall points from the superior position. In the international styles, where the escape point was difficult to achieve and is now no longer awarded, the inferior position is used to penalize a wrestler who has committed an illegal act.
* In collegiate wrestling, there is a de-emphasis on “throws” or maneuvers where the other wrestler is taken off his feet, through the air to land on his back or shoulders. This lack of emphasis on throws is another example of how collegiate wrestling emphasizes dominance or control, as opposed to the element of risk. A throw is awarded the same amount of points as any other takedown, whereas in the international styles, a wrestler can be awarded additional points for throws. A well executed throw can even win the period in the international styles, especially those throws of grand amplitude; while in collegiate wrestling, such throws may even be illegal in some age groups. However, many collegiate wrestlers still incorporate some throws into their repertoire of moves because a thrown opponent often lands on his back or shoulders and thus in a position more conducive to producing a fall or near fall points.
Wrestling in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
Wrestling has gained respect among martial arts practitioners, especially with the advent of mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions. In the early years of MMA competitions, more wrestlers defeated stylists from traditional striking and submission grappling oriented styles such as boxing, judo, tae kwon do, karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing. Currently, many of the top ranked MMA fighters competed extensively in collegiate and Greco-Roman wrestling before beginning their careers in mixed martial arts. Many other prominent and successful fighters from non-wrestling backgrounds often pursue wrestling training to complement their other skills. Today, wrestling is one of the most dominant fighting styles in MMA.
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