Wrestling is a form of combat sport involving grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and take-downs, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds.
A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two (occasionally more) competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position.
There are a wide range of styles with varying rules with both traditional historic and modern styles. Wrestling techniques have been incorporated into other martial arts as well as military hand-to-hand combat systems.
The History of Wrestling
Wrestling is one of the oldest forms of combat with references to it as early as the Iliad, in which Homer recounts the Trojan War in the 13th or 12th century BC.
The origins of wrestling can be traced back 15,000 years through cave drawings in France. Babylonian and Egyptian relief’s show wrestlers using most of the holds known to the present-day sport.
In ancient Greece, wrestling occupied a prominent place in legend and literature; wrestling competition, brutal in many aspects, was the number one sport of the Olympic Games. The ancient Romans borrowed heavily from Greek wrestling, but eliminated much of its brutality.
During the Middle Ages (fifth century to fifteenth century) wrestling remained popular and enjoyed the patronage of many royal families, including those of France, Japan and England.
Early Americans brought a strong wrestling tradition with them when they came from England. The settlers also found wrestling to be popular among Native Americans.
Amateur wrestling flourished throughout the early years of the country and served as a popular activity at country fairs, holiday celebrations, and in military exercises.
The 1st organised national wrestling tournament was held in New York City in 1888, while the 1st wrestling competition in the modern Olympic Games was held in 1904 in Saint Louis, Missouri. FILA was founded in 1912, in Antwerp, Belgium.
The 1st NCAA Wrestling Championships were also held in 1912, in Ames, Iowa. USA Wrestling, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, became the national governing body of amateur wrestling in 1983. It conducts competitions for all age levels.
Greco-Roman wrestling and modern freestyle wrestling ended up becoming regulated in formal competitions, in part resulting from the rise of gymnasiums and athletic clubs.
On continental Europe, prize money was offered in large sums to the winners of Greco-Roman tournaments, and freestyle wrestling spread rapidly in the United Kingdom and in the United States after the American Civil War. Wrestling professionals soon increased the popularity of Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, worldwide.
ñGreco-Roman wrestling became an event at the first modern Olympic games, in Athens in 1896. Since 1908, the event has been in every Summer Olympics.
ñFreestyle wrestling became an Olympic event, in 1904. Women’s freestyle wrestling was added to the Summer Olympics in 2004.
Since 1921, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) has regulated amateur wrestling as an athletic discipline, while professional wrestling has largely become infused with theatrics but still requires athletic ability. Today, Olympic wrestling is the national sport of several of Russia’s Republics, Iran, Turkey, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Gambia, USA and several ex-U.S.S.R nations.
Styles of Wrestling
Wrestling disciplines defined by FILA, are broken down into two categories; International wrestling disciplines and folk wrestling disciplines. According to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, there are five current International wrestling disciplines acknowledged throughout the world. They are Greco-Roman Wrestling,Freestyle Wrestling, Grappling, Beach wrestling and MMA.
Greco-Roman is an international discipline and an Olympic sport. In Greco-Roman style, it is forbidden to hold the opponent below the belt, to make trips, and to actively use the legs in the execution of any action. Recent rule changes in Greco-Roman increase opportunities for and place greater emphasis on explosive, ‘high amplitude’ throws. Pinning one’s opponent to the mat is one way of winning. One of the most well known Greco-Roman wrestlers is Alexander Karelin from Russia.
Freestyle wrestling is an international discipline and an Olympic sport, for both men and women. This style allows the use of the wrestler’s or his opponent’s legs in offence and defence. Freestyle wrestling has its origins in catch-as-catch-can wrestling and the prime victory condition in this style involves the wrestler winning by throwing and pinning his opponent on the mat.
American high school and college wrestling is conducted under different rules and is termed scholastic and collegiate wrestling. Outside the U.S., one can find professional wrestlers who compete by the rules of freestyle wrestling.
FILA Grappling is a wrestling style that consists of controlling the opponent without using striking and also includes the use of submission holds. It is also referred to as “submission grappling.” It starts from a standing position or on the ground after a throw, and the goal is to make the opponent submit via the use of immobilisation techniques such as locks.
Grappling, differing from the FILA definition, plays an important role in the practice of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and can be used as a self-defence technique. It brings together techniques from Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Freestyle Wrestling, American Folk Wrestling (catch-as-catch-can), sambo, and judo. Grapplers wear shorts and a tight shirt (No-Gi) or kimonos (Gi).