Alright, moving on from gymnastics guide into something we’re all familiar with: wrestling. Everybody’s had some exposure to the wrestling world at one time or another, either through school sports or professional wrestling, even if it was through a friend or relative. It’s a contact sport that gets a lot of attention for the wrong reasons. We’re going to guide you through the wrestling world with all the right stuff – and maybe give you some ideas for something new to try.
Wrestling Through the Ages
Once upon a time, early humans decided that wrestling with each other was a thing they wanted to do. The first reference to wrestling comes from 15,000-year-old French cave drawings, and we even have art from Babylon and Ancient Egypt showing the same moves we used today being in use then. Wrestling has pretty much been around as long as humans have.
Isn’t that glorious?
The Ancient Greeks beat modern civilization to including it in the Olympic Games – their Olympics had wrestlers from the start, ours didn’t include them until 1904 – and the first modern tournament occurred in New York City in 1888. You could almost say it’s human nature to want to clothesline each other – but not to wear singlets, that’s a recent addition.
Wrestling Across the World
Every major country has its own unique form of wrestling, though it isn’t necessarily handled by a specific governing body. Folk wrestling is how people refer to these forms that are culture-and-country-specific, though you probably won’t find them on television any time soon.
That’s a shame.
Europe has backhold wrestling, while England has Cumberland and Catch-as-catch-can. Tajikstan’s style is called gushteengiri, Uzbekistan’s is kurash, and Italy’s is Lotta Campidanese. Siberia gets khuresh, Switzerland has schwingen (what a great name), and China has shuai jiao. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it does get the point across: wrestling is a world-wide sport with a massive audience, and if nothing else can bring humanity together, watching two barely-clothed people try to pin one another to the ground should be able to.
Turkey has the most interesting version of the sport: oil wrestling. Wrestlers are doused in olive oil and wear a special form of lederhosen – the kisbet – in which they struggle to subdue one another. Sometimes one wrestler manages to gain control by getting a good hold on his opponent’s kisbet. Back in the day, you could wind up with 48-hour-long matches as they weren’t timed and these champions are especially stubborn. Imagine that, two days of greased-up dudes struggling to put a hold on one another.
This is the national sport in Turkey, folks. It’s fantastic. It’s so popular that the annual tournament has been going on since 1362, and it’s been spreading to other countries. Yes. If you’re looking for a business idea, consider bringing Turkish oil wrestling to your county.
Much like with gymnastics, even kids can get into wrestling, usually starting at 4 or 5 years of age. Whether or not a child can start wrestling at this age depends entirely upon their interest level and personality, as well as their physical ability. If your child has coordination issues – even if they don’t – wrestling can help improve that area, and help them develop emotionally. This is a sport that works all the major muscle group and is highly beneficial for a child’s growth.
It’s most common for people to start into wrestling in middle school, as teenagers, when they’re more capable of handling all the stresses of competition – but they miss out on some major development opportunities by starting late. There are a lot of states that don’t allow entry into wrestling until kids are in high school, though, so that depends entirely upon where you’re living.
The other upside on starting young is that competitive focus doesn’t actually start until much later. No proper wrestling association will allow young children to compete, as the focus really should be on having fun and learning the ropes.
Wrestling is available as a sport all through high school and into college, where wrestlers can even attend on a scholarship for their sport, much like with football. The two versions developed almost at the same time, so it only makes sense that they’re so deeply interconnected. When the NCAA standardized its wrestling rules, that prompted major growth of high school and college wrestling. It’s a genuine life-long sport, with people as old as 83 competing in the ring.
Wrestling for Healthy Kids
A lot of parents probably cringe at the idea of their kids joining a wrestling team. It’s roughhousing in a controlled environment, for sure, but it’s the mental image of their kids throwing each other around that might be off-putting. The thing is, wrestling is actually really good for the kids for a variety of reasons. How can your kids benefit from a bit of a wrestling education? Take a look!
The most obvious reason? Exercise. Wrestling is a highly demanding sport that builds muscle, endurance, strength, agility, and other necessary skills and fitness-related areas. It doesn’t matter if your child – or even yourself – ever wrestle in competition. Just practice and drills help your health and make you a stronger person. If your kids are a little on the unfit side, getting them into a wrestling team can and will improve that.
Confidence and discipline
As your child becomes a better wrestler and gains strength, their confidence level will improve. Confident kids are happier kids. Even if they don’t become great at the sport, the fact that they’re going out and doing it is a great thing and teaching them that – instead of giving them hell if they lose – is also an excellent boost.
Discipline is instilled by regular class attendance and following instructions. Practice makes perfect, so the more practice they get in, the better, and practicing enhances discipline. Sometimes kids may get assigned to help out in the gym after class – whether by cleaning the wrestling mats or putting equipment away – which will make them more responsible overall.
Television might make you think otherwise, but wrestling does teach kids new skills, and new skills make a kid smarter. They’ll learn how to push themselves to succeed, they’ll learn about nutrition and what nutrients do, how they contribute to muscle development, and what they need to eat in order to help them with their energy levels and to fuel their growing bodies. They’ll also learn how to defend themselves if they need to, with the safety of helmets, wrestling mats, and supervision.
More educational options
In the USA, kids on wrestling teams can sometimes earn themselves a scholarship if they’re good enough, and that can lead on other paths like learning to teach kids about wrestling when they’re older. They might even get to become Olympians, or professional wrestlers themselves!
There are no limits to who can wrestle
Wrestling doesn’t discriminate. No matter your child’s gender, size, or orientation, your child will have a place on the wrestling team. All that’s needed is the interest and desire to join in. After that, it’s smooth sailing!
Kids naturally enjoy roughhousing. When they join a wrestling team, they get to do it in a safer environment than the school yard, and with supervision. Safety equipment is available – like the previously mentioned wrestling mats, helmets, and other padding – which they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
In conclusion, wrestling really is good for your kids! They’ll learn a lot and get healthy in the process, plus, it’s safer than football!
What Are Some Common Wrestling Moves?
There are a number of moves that are familiar to most people, where they’ve been seen in action but the names don’t come to mind very easily.
We’ll give you five moves for an idea of what you’d be in for.
A Full Nelson is when a wrestler gets his arms under those of his opponent, then clasps his hands behind the head of his opponent to limit their movement. It’s always done from behind, and may be a lead-up to getting them out of the match. This move can also be performed with one arm to knock the other guy off his feet.
A really common pinning move is the bridge, and also can help a wrestler escape from being pinned. The wrestler, while lying down, arches his back as high as possible, either to keep an opponent down on the mat or to get the upper hand over somebody that’s keeping them down.
If nothing else, you’ve probably seen a headlock in action. Just as it sounds, a wrestler gets his arm around his opponent’s head and squeezes. This move is really painful, and if a wrestler tries to get their arm around the opponent’s neck, that’s considered a choke hold and is a huge no-no.
A suplex is another common move that requires the wrestler to get hold of their opponent and throw them onto their back. This is about as painful as it sounds.
Finally, the clothesline is when a wrestler runs at their opponent with their arm extended out from their body, parallel to the ground, and knocks them over. The impact tends to hit the neck or chest.
Basically, wrestling involves a lot of moves where pinning the opponent, throwing them around, or otherwise painfully having them say hello to the floor.
Types of Professional Wrestling
There are three main schools of professional wrestling: Anglo-American, Puroresu, and Lucha libre. Anglo-American is the theatrical sort that’s represented by organizations like WWE, where there’s a focus on storyline and performance, with the fights being a secondary feature. Puroresu is Japan’s professional wrestling, and it’s almost entirely a wrestling competition with far fewer storylines than what we have in America. Injuries are more of a problem.
And then, we have lucha libre.
This is Mexico’s professional wrestling style, where luchadores in colorful masks engage in three rounds of combat. The late WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero started his career with this form. Most luchadores give up the masks as they progress in their careers, by the way.
Some of us really miss Eddie, if you didn’t notice.
Common Wrestling Injuries and Prevention
Wrestling is a high-impact sport that, no matter how hard you try to make it safe, will always have some measure of risk to it. Some common injuries have pretty common sense ways to prevent them, though – but what are they and how can they be prevented?
The kneecap – the patella – hits the wrestling mat a lot during a match, and the sac that rests in front of it can become inflamed with enough bashing. Once that swelling has set in, the only treatments are to take painkillers like ibuprofen or Aspirin, and to rest the knee and apply ice. Wearing knee pads is a great way to prevent this injury from happening in the first place. If you absolutely must participate in a wrestling match after developing prepatella bursitis, wearing a knee pad will reduce impact to the knee and keep it from getting worse.
This is what happens when your ears get bruised too much: the ear structure swells with the bruising and the injury has to be drained and then wrapped in a cast so that the ear doesn’t become deformed. This is another injury that can have lasting repercussions, and headgear is the best way to prevent it from happening, though you may not completely avoid it.
Skin infections spread from bodily contact or with contact from a wrestling mat that hasn’t been disinfected, and can include something as horribly unpleasant as ringworm. Keeping yourself clean with frequent showers – before and after wrestling – as well as keeping the wrestling mats clean with disinfecting sessions before and after use are the best ways to prevent infections. If someone on your team does have an infection, have them avoid contact with their team members. These are treated with antibiotics, for the most part, and as with any antibiotic treatment, just because you think you’re better doesn’t mean you are! Follow the doctor’s instructions!
Your ligaments take a lot of abuse during a wrestling match and during practice, especially those in your knees as they hit the wrestling mat or get twisted. These injuries need to be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE is the handy acronym to remember that). Serious sprains require a doctor’s intervention, but rarely need to be operated on. You can go back to the ring when the doctor says it’s okay, and when the pain is gone. Prevention of ligament injuries generally consists of keeping your quads and hamstrings strong and flexible, so strength-building and proper stretching.
Injury prevention starts at home, sort of, and by that I mean in the gym. Having the proper protective equipment, high-quality wrestling mats, and executing moves properly are keys to keeping yourself injury-free in the ring. Sometimes things happen, though, and injuries can’t always be prevented, but every effort is worth it.
Wrestling clubs are one of the best ways to get started in the sport if you’re past the age of the high school wrestling team. Classes are also accessible for most people. If you don’t mind a bunch of teenagers seeing you in your compression gear, a high school-level club may be the right level for you to start.
Of course, if you want to become a pro wrestler, you can always go to school for it – if you’re willing to pay, anyway. Wrestling school can cost upwards of $50.00/month, sometimes more.
Stay tuned for The McBryde Guide to Jiu-Jitsu! In the meantime, visit our News page and see what we’ve been up to.