Wrestling - Quick Guide


Wrestling - Overview

Wrestling is a physical combat sport. It is one of the most exhausting sports, both mentally and physically and probably this is the reason why that moment gives immense pleasure when you win a bout in this match. This game demands not only sound physical fitness but also an unbreakable confidence and character that define true sportsman spirit.

Wrestling Sport

A Brief History

The ancient drawings on the caves trace back the game to 3000 BC. Wrestling was introduced into the Olympic Games in 708 BC. During early nineties, freestyle format was introduced into wrestling where an individual is allowed to hold his opponent above or below his waist by using his arms and legs. The game got immense popularity in United States and Great Britain.

Just like freestyle, Greco-Roman was another style of wrestling that was equally popularized but unlike freestyle, the wrestlers could use their arms and upper bodies and could hold only those parts of their opponents. Earlier ten categories were used to present in Greco-Roman style. Later in 2004 Olympic Games, modification was made that confined 8 categories.

Wrestling – Objective

The objective of each wrestler is to pin the opponent and establish own superiority without violence. While doing so, the wrestlers perform various techniques such as taking down, joint locks, pins, and grappling holds.

The judges award points for each successful move to pin down your opponent. The team having maximum points at the end of the match is declared as winner.

Wrestling Objective

Wrestling – Regulating Bodies

An international governing body named United World Wrestling (UWW) is for the sport of wrestling. It was formerly known as International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles or in French, Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées (FILA).

It oversees wrestling at the Olympics. It presides over international competitions for various forms of wrestling, including Greco-Roman wrestling and freestyle wrestling for men and women. UWW sets rules and regulations and holds international competitions in the following wrestling styles −

  • Greco-Roman Wrestling
  • Freestyle Wrestling (Men’s and Women's)
  • Grappling
  • Beach Wrestling
  • Amateur Wrestling
  • Weight Throwing
  • UWW conducts a flagship event named Wrestling World Championships.

Wrestling – Participating Countries

Wrestling is present in the Olympic Games since its inception. Since its introduction to Olympiad Games, the popularity and demand of this game by different nations grew exponentially. Many Asian and non-Asian countries have their active participation in this category of game.

Some of the dominating Asian countries participating in Wrestling are Japan, Iran, India, Uzbekistan, and South Korea. In 2014 Asian games, Yogeshwar Dutt of India bagged the gold medal in men’s 65 Kg freestyle category and Rio Watari of Japan bagged gold medals in women’s 63 Kg freestyle category respectively.

Similarly many non-Asian countries have shown their talents in events like summer Olympics. Countries such as Russia, USA, and Azerbaijan are dominating in the competitions. In 2012 Summer Olympics, Jordan Burroughs of USA bagged the gold medal in men’s 74 KG freestyle category while Natalia Vorobieva of Russia bagged gold in women’s 72 Kg freestyle category respectively.

Wrestling - Equipment

Wrestling is the low key game as far as the number of special equipment are concerned. The wrestlers compete in the area which can take the shocks of their actions. The wrestlers enter the game area hands-free.

Wrestling Mat

Wrestling mat is the primary equipment required in the game. The mat is designed such that it protects the wrestlers and enforces the rules for each style. The wrestling mats come in various versions such as High-school mats, Practice mats, and International Mats.

Wrestling Mat

International Regulation Wrestling Mats

The dimensions of mats must be uniformed and adhere to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) guidelines.

  • Mats may not be used for more than one year

  • An official must approve every mat before a competition.

  • The thickness of mats must be between 5 and 7 centimeters with a core made of high-density, shock-absorbing foam.

  • The surface of the mat must be of a non-abrasive vinyl material that can easily be cleaned and prevents slipping.

  • Square-shaped mats must be 12 meters X 12 meters.

  • Octagonal-shaped mats should have a diameter of 15 meters.

Wrestling Singlet

Wrestling singlet is a garment of one piece that covers the torso of the wrestler. For protection of the shoulders, straps are provided over it.

Singlet is made of Lycra or Nylon. It is mandatory to wear if the wrestler is participating in tournaments. A particular team wears singlet of a single color.

Wrestling Singlet

Wrestling Headgear

Wrestling Headgear

Wrestling headgear is not an essential item, but it is necessary enough to wear a headgear if you are playing in a higher level match where it can get more physical. There is a single size head gear available that can fit all with adjusting straps.

Headgears are designed to protect the wrestler's ears. Without headgears, a wrestler may suffer from "cauliflower ear" which occurs after someone gets repeated hits to the ear. Wrestlers are likely to have cauliflower ear because their ears may be hit while they're in a match. These blows can damage the shape and structure of the outside of the ear.

Wrestling Shoes

The shoes need to be very soft and lightweight. This is because the wrestler needs to be feel light during the match. Unless you are playing for very long hours, this is also not a mandatory item to invest in.

Wrestling Kneepads and Mouth Guards


Kneepads are used for the protection of knees. During the shooting process most of the wrestlers get hurt on their knees, so this is an essential item.

On the other hand, mouth guards are used to protect the teeth of the wrestler during the match. These are like braces that the wrestler wears inside of his mouth.

Wrestling Bands

Wristling Bands

Generally two types of bands are used in a match: red and green. One wrestler is given red band and other is given a green one. These are needed to be placed on the ankle of the wrestler.

Bands make the identification and scoring of the wrestler easier for the referee. The referee has these two types of bands with him wrapped on his wrists.

Wrestling - Playing Environment

Wrestling is an indoor sport. Apart from the area allocated for wrestling match and viewers, the playing environment involves a jury of three officials −

  • Referee − The referee controls the action in the center, and blows the whistle to start and stop the action.

  • Judge − He sits beside the mat to keep score and give occasional approval when required by the referee on various decisions.

  • Mat chairman − The mat chairman sits at the scoring table and keeps time. He is responsible to declare technical superiority, and supervise the work of the referee and the judge. To call a fall, any two of the three officials must agree.

Playing Environment

Wrestling - Important Terms

Before you start playing this game, you need to understand its frequently used terms. Let us discuss some of the basic terms that we are going to encounter frequently in a wrestling game.

  • Action − It is referee's command to the wrestlers to begin wrestling.

  • Arm control − Controlling the opponent's arms.

  • Arm throw − A move in which a wrestler throws his opponent over his shoulder by holding the opponent's arm.

  • Base − It is a good wrestling position where the wrestler lays on his hand and knees instead of back or belly.

  • Bridge − This is a position the wrestler prevents his back from touching the mat.

  • Bridge out − This move is used to escape the opponent. The wrestler rolls onto a stomach from a bridge.

  • Breakdown − This is move where one wrestler tries to put another wrestler on the mat upon his stomach or side.

  • Bout − A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two (occasionally more) competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position.

  • Clamping − This is a process of interlocking the arms around the opponent. The opponent must control his arms, hands, and wrists from clamping.

  • Default − This is a process of announcing the winner when the opponent is injured so badly that he cannot play the match or he does not appear for the bout when his name is called upon.

  • Decision − This term signifies winning of a match in 1-7 points.

  • Disqualification − If any wrestler breaks the rules of the match, he is disqualified.

  • Escape − If any wrestler breaks the rules of the match, he is disqualified.

  • Pin − The process in which one forces other’s shoulders blade to the mat.

  • Reversal − This is a move in which the wrestler who is underneath of another, gains control over his opponent. This type of move fetches the wrestler two points.

  • Stalemate − When such a situation arises that none of the wrestler can improve their positions, the match again gets started from the starting line. This is called stalemate.

  • Freestyle − It is a type of wrestling where the wrestler is allowed to hold his opponent above or below his waist level by using their arms, bodies and legs.

  • Folkstyle − The process is same as freestyle with more focus is given on the control.

  • Greco-Roman − A very popular style of wrestling in which the wrestler can use his upper body and arms to hold or attack his opponent’s same part.

  • Illegal hold − At any point of the match if one wrestler pushes another with much force that is beyond tolerable limit or performs any action that hampers the normal breathing process of the opponent, then it is called an illegal hold.

  • Major Decision − This is a process of winning a match by 8-14 points.

  • Near fall − It is a position where one shoulder of the wrestler touches the mat and another is past 45 degree angle, or if both the shoulders are positioned within the 4 inches area of the mat.

  • Neutral position − It is the position where both the wrestlers have lost their controls. Hence; from this position the wrestlers try to takedown each other.

  • Takedown − To gain the control by putting down your opponent on the ground from a standing position is termed as takedown. This action fetches the wrestler two points.

Wrestling - How to Play?

Wrestling is the combat game of power as well as strategy. The wrestlers need to anticipate the forthcoming moves of the opponent and answer them with equally powerful move. Wrestlers enter into the playing area and go into the center circle marked on the mat. Let us see a few basic moves the wrestlers employee while playing −

Half Nelson and Crotch

This is one of the simple yet important moves of the wrestling. The main part of this move is the crotch that is barred in Greco-Roman Wrestling. Here is how you do it

  • Initially, put your hand on the back of your opponent. Jerk him forward.

  • By this time, your opponent will try to protect himself from the toe fall.

  • Now thrust your right hand through his legs for a crotch hold.

  • As soon as he will try to spin around, slip your left arm under his left hand and perform the half nelson and crotch combination.

One Important Move

Scissors on the Body

Here is how you do it −

  • Put your opponent on the mat and secure it by rolling him under your body.

  • Perform a half nelson by suddenly pushing his head down on his left side. During this time the opponent will try to resist.

  • Jump in such a manner that he will slip between your legs.

  • Roll above him as shown in the below picture.

  • Adjust the feet in a grapevine manner and this will result in a sure shot fall.

Scissors on the Body

Bar and Further Arm Hold

Here is how you can do −

  • If you are present on the left side of the wrestler, secure a further arm hold by shooting his left arm around.

  • Get a firm hold under the head and bar hold under the left arm of your opponent with right.

  • Perform upward movement of the bar followed by a pulling forward action with a further arm grip. This action will force the opponent to mat in such a position that his weight will be bore on his chest.

  • Through this action the shifting of his grip occurs which is followed by an immediate fall on the ground.

Bar and Further Arm Hold

Toe and Ankle Hold

This move can be well secured when the wrestler will be on the mat −

  • While working on the right side, draw the left foot of the defensive grappler up.

  • By holding the toe, slide under his right leg.

  • To complete the hold before the defensive player rises up, put your right hand under him and grab the imprisoned left ankle.

  • This process will give a less pain and the opponent will gladly give up.

Toe and Ankle Hold

Wrestling Headlock

The perfect time to apply the headlock is when your opponent is on his hand and knees on the mat. This position is suitable because in this case the hand is locked with the head.

This is how you do it −

  • If you are present on the right hand side of your opponent, push down his head, resting the left arm heavily on the head.

  • Now try to get inside the right arm of your opponent

  • Grab your own left hand just below the wrist.

  • Now securely lock his head by drawing it towards your arm. This makes the defensive player helpless and with a little effort he can be forced on to the mat.

Wrestling Headlock

Quarter Nelson

If you want to shift the grip, then this is the best move for you. This is how you do it −

  • If you are present on the right hand side of the opponent, put your left hand under his right arm pit.
  • On the other hand, position your right hand on the back head of the opponent with palm facing down.
  • Try to grasp your own right wrist with your left hand followed by applying pressure.
Quarter Nelson

Wrist Lock and Arm and Leg Grapevine Hold

Go for this move when your opponent is over you. When you are dealing with such situation −

  • Grasp the left wrist of your opponent with your right hand.
  • Do the arm grapevine by encircling your left arm.
  • Grapevine the left leg of the aggressor with your own left leg.
  • Now with a grapevine twist, you can make your opponent fall on the mat.
Wrist Lock

Wrestling - The Rules

In wrestling, a pin (or a fall) is when you bring down your opponent on his/her back with any part of both shoulders or both shoulder blades. Your opponent’s back or any body part said above should stay in contact with the mat for at least two seconds.

If nobody gets pinned, the wrestler who scored the most points during the match is declared as a winner. Let us see the rules regarding points and illegal actions on the mat −

Wrestling – Weightage of Points

There are multiple ways you can score points of the following weightage in a wrestling match legally −

  • Takedown (2 points)

  • Escape (1 point)

  • Reversal (2 points)

  • Near Fall (2 pints if lasts for 2 seconds or 3 points if lasts for 5 seconds)

  • Penalty Points (1 or 2 points)

Wrestling Rules Regarding Illegal Holds

The referee can penalize you for −

  • Grabbing the singlet, the mat, or the headgear.

  • Locked or overlapped hands: If you are down on the mat in control of your opponent, you cannot lock or overlap your hands, fingers or arms around your opponent's body or both legs unless −

  • You have fulfilled the criteria for a near pin of your opponent.

  • Your opponent stands up and has all his/her weight on two feet.

  • You have lifted the opponent off the mat.

Wrestling Rules Regarding Technical Violations

The referee can penalize on the violation of the following rules −

  • Going off the mat or forcing your opponent off the mat to avoid wrestling.

  • Leaving the mat during the match without the referee's permission.

  • Reporting to the mat not properly equipped or not ready to wrestle, or with the illegal equipment at the time of starting the match.

  • Bringing roughness in the game unnecessarily.

  • Conducting oneself indecently or unsportsmanlike.

  • Incorrect starting position or false start

The first and second time you are penalized, your opponent is awarded one point. The third time you are penalized, your opponent is awarded two points. The fourth time you are penalized, you are disqualified.

The rules for various wrestling styles in the Olympics and international championships are different.

Wrestling - Scoring

While you start practicing this combat sport, you must become aware of various techniques of scoring and signaling used by referees. You also must know the categories of Wrestling Championships.

The following table lists the points that are assigned for different cases in a match −

Cases Points
Escape 1 point
Stalling 1 point ( after 1 warning)
Technical Violation 1 point
Takedown 2 point
Reversal 2 point
Near fall(Injury) 4 point
Near fall (2 sec) 2 points
Near fall (5 sec) 3 points

The following table lists the different cases of scoring points for the team −

Cases Points
Fall (Pin) 6 points
Tech Fall (margin 15+ points) 5 points
Major decision (margin 8-14 point match) 4 points
Decision (Major 1-7 match point) 3 points
Major Decision (margin 8-14 points) 4 points

Wrestling - Champions

Every participating country has its own governing body to organize the game successfully throughout the calendar. Here is a list of some important tournaments in this category.

  • Asian Games
  • Olympic Games
  • World Championships
  • Commonwealth Games
  • Continental Championships
  • Mediterranean Championships

Based on the wrestler’s weight, the terms used are as follows −

Weight Term
115 pounds (52 kg) Flyweight
139 pounds (63 kg) Featherweight
150 pounds (68 kg) Lightweight
161 pounds (73 kg) Super Lightweight
170 pounds (77 kg) Welterweight
181 pounds (82 kg) Super Welterweight
192 pounds (87 kg) Middleweight
203 pounds (92 kg) Super Middleweight
214 pounds (97 kg) Light Heavyweight
231 pounds (105 kg) Junior Heavyweight/Cruiserweight
231 pounds (105 kg Minimum) Heavyweight

Wrestling – Hall of Fame

Many wrestlers have left and are still leaving their mark on various championships and international tournaments.

Yogeshwar Dutt

Yogeshwar Dutt

Popularly known as ‘Yogi’, this Indian wrestler comes from North Indian state of Haryana. He won gold medal in 65Kg freestyle event conducted during Asian games in year 2014 in spite of going through the trauma of his father’s death 10 days before the games.

Yogeshwar also bagged a gold in 2003 Commonwealth Games. He is a recipient of the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award 2012 given by the Government of India.

Natalia Vorobieva

Natalia Vorobieva

She is a Russian wrestler born in Tulun, Soviet Union. She is World Champion, runner-up 2013 and bronze medalist in 2013 year. She is also the holder of a number of titles at the youth levels.

Natalia had an immense inclination towards wrestling and she entered into this power sport when she was 10. Her mother inspired her to take up this sport. Today, she is a well-known sportsperson of wrestling, the men-dominating game.

Artur Taymazov

Artur Taymazov

Arthur is an Ossetian-Uzbek wrestler and Uzbekistan's most decorated Olympian. He is from Tashkent. He decided to wrestle at the age of 11 years, when a freestyle wrestling club was opened in his village.

He participated in London Olympics 2012, Beijing Olympics in 2008, and Athens Olympics in 2004 in which he received gold medal in 120Kg freestyle wrestling.

In the Asian Games conducted in years 2000, 2006, and 2010, Arthur received gold medals in 130 Kg freestyle wrestling.

Armen Nazaryan

Armen Nazaryan

Armen is an Armenian Greco-Roman wrestler who represented Bulgaria. He won the European Championship six times in 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2002, and 2003. He won World Champion three times (in 2002, 2003, and 2005).

Armen also has to his credit two Olympic titles. He was recognized by the FILA as the best fighter of the year in 1998 and 2003. He was awarded as coach of the year for all sports in Bulgaria in 2013.

Sushil Kumar

Sushil Kumar

This World Championship gold medal winner hails from a Hindu Jaat family of Delhi, India. He started wrestling at the age of 14. He started taking lessons in freestyle wrestling at Chhatrassal Stadium Aakhada (Wrestling School).

He won two gold medals in Commonwealth Games, once in 66Kg category at Delhi in year 2010 and another in 74Kg category at Glasgow in 2014. He also won a silver at the 2012 London Olympics and a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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