Wrestling is one of man's oldest sports, but many people really don't know what it is.
It's not "sleeper holds," "airplane spins," or "pile drivers." Those terms describe the sort of action that you'll see in our sport's distant relative, professional wrestling. And professional wrestling is closer to entertainment than it is to sport.
Then what is wrestling?
It's an increasingly popular sport that requires strength, flexibility, and conditioning of its athletes.
It's an individual sport. A wrestler can't hide behind his teammates. He must accept the fame for winning and take the blame for losing. The wrestler can't blame the guy who blew the double play or missed a tackle.
It's not a lonely sport. Sure, it's just you and your opponent out there on the mat, but even in an individual sport you need help. You'll need the cooperation and encouragement of your teammates, the enthusiasm and knowledge of your coach, and the understanding and support of your friends and family.
It is one of the fairest sports in that it favors no particular size or stature among wrestlers. Only in the heavyweight division is there any weight advantage. Athletes must meet a certain weight limit to compete. It is a sport for all sizes. There is room for everyone. Handicapped wrestlers, such as those who are blind or deaf, can compete successfully.
What is the object of wrestling? The ultimate object is to put your opponent's shoulders to the mat—to pin him. Pinning is not always possible when two well-conditioned athletes meet, so a scoring system has been developed to determine who has won. The basic concept of wrestling is simple. The wrestler tries to take his opponent to the mat; his opponent tries to get away from him or reverse positions with him. The wrestler tries to turn his opponent to his back. The maneuvers used to accomplish these relatively simple goals are not so simple, and they number in the thousands.
THE BASICS OF A WRESTLING MATCH
When a wrestler takes his opponent to the mat and gains control of him, that's called a takedown, and it's worth two points. If the wrestler in the bottom position changes position and takes control on top, that's a reversal, and it's worth two points. If a wrestler gets away from his opponent, that's an escape, and it's worth one point. When a wrestler puts his opponent's shoulders within four inches of the mat, that's a nearfall, and it's worth two or three points, depending on how long he holds them near the mat.
There are three prominent styles of wrestling in this country. The American style, used primarily in high school and college competition, is called folkstyle. Freestyle is the international cousin of folkstyle and is used in the Olympics. Folkstyle and freestyle are very similar. Greco-Roman is a form of wrestling used in the Olympics that permits neither the use of the legs in holds nor holds below the waist.
The first period, the length of which depends on the level of competition, begins with both wrestlers on their feet, which is the neutral position. Each wrestler will attempt to get a takedown in hopes of pinning the opponent. In a match, wrestler A takes down B and is ahead 2–0.
In the second period a coin is flipped to see which wrestler will be on top and which wrestler on the bottom. (These positions will be shown in a later chapter.) Wrestler A wins the flip and chooses to be on top. Wrestler B is down and will attempt to break free or change positions (reverse) with wrestler A. Wrestler B reverses his opponent and earns two points to tie the match at 2–2.
Wrestler A will start the third period in the down position since he was in the top position in the second period. If he breaks free, he gains a point for an escape and can go ahead 3–2. A breaks free to gain the lead but is then taken down by B for a 4–3 score. Wrestler A, however, comes back for a reversal to narrow the score to 6–5. Wrestler A then holds B's shoulders to the mat for a pin, which is also known as a fall, and the match is over.
COMPETITION FOR ALL AGES
There is no optimum age at which beginners should start wrestling prior to high school. Youngsters naturally tussle at a young age, and youth wrestling programs, sponsored by organizations such as the United States Wrestling Federation or the YMCA, take that impromptu play a step further. Basic holds and techniques, such as those shown in this book, are taught there. Various levels of competition, ranging from tournaments in which everyone gets a ribbon to national championships, are offered by the U.S. Wrestling Federation.
Junior high and high school competition are the next levels. Most U.S. high schools have wrestling programs, and many of them offer competition on junior varsity and varsity levels. Varsity competition consists of dual meets against one other school and tournaments involving several schools.
College competition includes schools of all sizes. College matches are longer since the athletes are older and stronger, but the sport is basically the same with some minor rule changes. National championships are conducted on all levels.
For wrestlers who are not in college as well as for college wrestlers during the off-season, there are open competitions. These tournaments might be between neighboring athletes or even between different countries. National and world open championships are conducted on several levels.
The top achievement in wrestling is the Olympic gold medal. Wrestling is one of the most competitive sports in the Olympic Games, and the United States has done well in recent Olympic competitions.
A WORD TO THE BEGINNER
To be a successful wrestler you'll have to work hard, watch your eating habits, and build your body. It isn't easy, so why do it?
Wrestling helps athletes develop in several areas. Briefly, it offers these benefits:
You will develop physically in strength, stamina, and flexibility.
You will also develop mentally through the use of different techniques and strategies.
You will gain an understanding of the human body and how it works.
You will develop socially as you learn to work with others, to interact with an opponent, to respond to an authority figure, and to follow rules.
Wrestling helps you grow emotionally as you learn to deal with success and failure.
Spiritual development comes in the form of courage and perseverance.
It is also fun. Wrestling brings together people from all walks of life, all of them striving to be the best wrestlers they can be.
In short, if you've decided to become a wrestler, you've chosen to participate in the sport of philosophers and kings. In ancient Greece, the birthplace of Western culture, wrestling was considered an important element in one's education and development. The sport had educational, social, and religious significance in that culture, and it still offers such benefits to participants. To elaborate, young wrestlers can look forward to the following rewards.
Wrestling certainly can contribute to your personal development. Physically it will improve your strength, flexibility, and endurance, as well as your balance and coordination skills. Mentally, concentration, the learning of technique and strategy, and problem solving are all part of this sport. Socially, wrestling demands that team members work cooperatively (Continues…)
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