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Different types of wrestling

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Wrestling may seem like organized fighting but there are various forms of the sport. Here’s a look at a few wrestling styles.


Folkstyle (scholastic) is the style common to high school and college competition in the United States. As the name implies, the style was developed in the US, and is not used in international competition. Folkstyle concentrates on control, with points awarded for controlling an opponent for lengths of time longer then when under control. The wrestler on top must constantly work towards a pin while the wrestler on the bottom must continually try to escape or reverse. Folkstyle is similar to Freestyle in that for some of the time both wrestlers are on their feet and attempting to take each other to the mat in order to gain control. Obviously, knowing Folkstyle enables the wrestler to understand how to control an opponent.


Freestyle wrestling is one of the wrestling techniques performed at the Olympic level. Modern freestyle wrestling originated in the United States and Great Britain. This form of wrestling has fewer restrictions than other types of wrestling techniques at the international level. These techniques include using the legs to trip or otherwise subdue an opponent. An exception to using the legs in freestyle wrestling is the scissor-hold.


Greco-Roman wrestling is another wrestling type permitted at the Olympic level. Greco-Roman wrestling is unique in that using the legs to hold, subdue, or even grabbing below the waist is prohibited. Contrary to popular belief, the term Greco-Roman in wrestling was not popularized until the 19th century.


Judo, meaning soft sport, is an oriental style of wrestling which concentrates on throwing your opponent off his feet and into a position of back control or submission. Wrestling consists of one five minute period, with both wrestlers starting on their feet. If one wrestler is taken down or thrown, wrestling continues for a short time to see if a pin can be achieved. Unlike karate, which also requires the wrestler to where white pants and a jacket but no shoes, blows are not allowed, nor are chock holds for wrestlers younger then 13 years old. Colored belts are awarded to wrestlers who reach various levels of excellence.

The primary advantage in learning Judo is that it teaches the wrestler how to control their falls plus it enables the wrestler to master both trips and footwork. It also teaches how to avoid being triped or thrown.


Sombo is a style developed in Russia which combines the stronger aspects of Judo, Greco-Roman, and Freestyle. A jacket and standard wrestling singlet or shorts is worn, including shoes in competition. Like Judo, SOMBO concentrates on taking your opponent off his feet and into a position of submission. However, unlike Judo and all other wrestling styles, there are no pins, and back points can be scored only once. Points are accumulated as in Freestyle, or, like Judo, a total victory throw can be recorded. Also, like Judo, both men and women compete in separate classes. There are no choke holds in SOMBO, but submission holds are allowed in the cadet and above age groups. Like Judo, colored belts are awarded to wrestlers who reach various levels of excellence.

The primary advantage to learning Sombo is learning how to get out of holds. A Sombo wrestler is constantly subjected to not only the throws and grappling techniques used in traditional wrestling and Judo, but they are continuously put into submission holds. Learning the proper way to get out of a hold by rolling over, standing up, fighting hands, and moving prior to the hold being applied serves very well when competing in other styles.

Professional wrestling

As a final note, the wrestling commonly seen on television bears little resemblance to sport wrestling. This form of wrestling is known as catch-as-catch-can, and is both dangerous and theatrical in nature. While modern traditional wrestling is professional in some parts of the world, it is not as glamorous or dangerous as that seen on television. In all traditional styles, wrestlers compete in age and weight categories, so each boy has an equal chance regardless of size. Sport wrestling is safer then football (according to insurance companies), with scholastic wrestling currently ranked as the third most popular sport among high school boys in the U.S.

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