Definitions

Freestyle wrestling

Freestyle wrestling

Freestyle wrestling is a style of amateur wrestling that is practiced throughout the world. Along with Greco-Roman, it is one of the two styles of wrestling contested in the Olympic games. It is, along with track and field, one of the oldest sports in history. American high school and college wrestling is conducted under different rules and termed collegiate wrestling.

Freestyle wrestling, like its American counterpart, collegiate (also known as scholastic or folkstyle) wrestling, has its greatest origins in catch-as-catch-can wrestling and the prime victory condition in both styles involves the wrestler winning by pinning his opponent on the mat. Freestyle and collegiate wrestling, unlike Greco-Roman, also both allow the use of the wrestler's or his opponent's legs in offense and defense.

According to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), freestyle wrestling is one of the four main forms of amateur competitive wrestling that are practiced internationally today. The other three forms of wrestling are Greco-Roman, grappling (also called submission wrestling), and sambo.

History

Freestyle wrestling, according to FILA, is said to have originated in Great Britain and the United States by the name of "catch-as-catch-can" wrestling. "Catch-as-catch-can" wrestling had a particular following in Great Britain and the variant developed in Lancashire had a particular effect on freestyle wrestling. "Catch-as-catch-can" wrestling gained great popularity in fairs and festivals during the 19th century. In catch-as-catch-can wrestling, both contestants started out standing and then a wrestler sought to hold his opponent's shoulder to the ground (known as a fall). If no fall was scored, both wrestlers continued grappling on the ground, and almost all holds and techniques were allowable. A Scottish variant of Lancashire wrestling also became popular, that began with both wrestlers standing chest to chest, grasping each other with locked arms around the body, and if no fall was made, with a match continuing on the ground. Also, there was the Irish collar-and-elbow style, where wrestlers started out on their feet with both wrestlers grasping each other by the collar with one hand and by the elbow with the other. If neither wrestler then achieved a fall, the contestants would continue both standing and on the ground until a fall was made. Irish immigrants later brought this style of wrestling to the United States, where it soon became widespread, especially because of the success of the wrestling champion of the Army of the Potomac, George William Flagg from Vermont. Catch-as-catch can was the style performed by at least a half dozen U.S. presidents, including George Washington, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Because of the widespread interest in and esteem of professional Greco-Roman wrestling and its popularity in many international meets in nineteenth century Europe, freestyle wrestling (and wrestling as an amateur sport in general) had a tough time gaining ground on the continent. The 1896 Olympic Games had only one wrestling bout, a heavyweight Greco-Roman match. Freestyle wrestling first emerged as an Olympic sport in the Saint Louis Olympics of 1904. All 40 wrestlers who participated in the 1904 Olympics were American. The 1904 Olympics sanctioned the rules commonly used for catch-as-catch can, but imposed some restrictions on dangerous holds. Wrestling by seven weight classes: 47.6 kg (104.9 lb), 52.2 kg (115.1 lb), 56.7 kg (125.0 lb), 61.2 kg (134.9 lb), 65.3 kg (143.9 lb), 71.7 kg (156.7 lb), and greater than was an important innovation in the Summer Olympics.

Since 1921, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), which has its headquarters near Lausanne, Switzerland, has set the "Rules of the Game", with regulations for scoring and procedures that govern tournaments such as the World Games and the competition at the Summer Olympics. These were later adopted by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) for its freestyle matches. Freestyle wrestling gained great popularity in the United States after the Civil War. By the 1880s, tournaments drew hundreds of wrestlers. The rise of cities, increased industrialization, and the closing of the frontier provided the affable environment for amateur wrestling, along with boxing, to increase in esteem and popularity. Amateur wrestling teams soon emerged, such as the wrestling team of the New York Athletic Club, which had its first tournament in 1878. Professional wrestling also developed (which was not like today's "sports-entertainment" seen today), and by the 1870s, professional championship matches offered allowances of up to $1,000.

Nineteenth century wrestling matches were particularly long, and especially Greco-Roman bouts (where holds below the waist and the use of the legs are not allowed) could last as many as eight to nine hours, and even then, it was only decided by a draw. In the 20th century, time limits were set for matches. For more than forty years into the twentieth century, freestyle and its American counterpart, collegiate wrestling, did not have a scoring system that decided matches in the absence of a fall. The introduction of a point system by Oklahoma State University wrestling coach Art Griffith that gained acceptance in 1941 influenced the international styles as well. By the 1960s international wrestling matches in Greco-Roman and freestyle were scored by a panel of three judges in secret, who made the final decision by raising colored paddles at the match's end. Dr. Albert de Ferrari from San Francisco who became vice president of FILA, lobbied for a visible scoring system and a rule for "controlled fall", which would recognize a fall only when the offensive wrestler had done something to cause it. These were soon adopted internationally in Greco-Roman and freestyle. By 1996, before a major overhaul of FILA rules, an international freestyle match consisted of two three-minute periods, with a one minute rest between periods. Today, wrestlers from Russia and Japan have had the strongest showings. Alexander Medved of Russia won 10 world championships and three Olympic gold medals, in the period of 1964-1972. Many collegiate wrestlers have moved on to freestyle competition, particularly internationally with great success.

Weight Classes

Currently, international men's freestyle wrestling is divided into four main age categories: schoolboys, cadets, juniors, and seniors. Schoolboys (young men ages 14-15; or age 13 with a medical certificate and parental authorization) wrestle in 10 weight classes ranging from . Cadets (young men ages 16-17; or age 15 with a medical certificate and parental authorization) wrestle in 10 weight classes ranging from . Juniors (young men ages 18 to 20; or age 17 with a medical certificate and parental authorization) wrestle in eight weight classes ranging from . Seniors (men ages 20 and up) wrestle in seven weight classes ranging from . For men, there is also a special category for some freestyle competitions, "Veterans", for men ages 35 and older, presumably featuring the same weight classes as seniors. Also, all of the men's age categories and weight classes can be applied to Greco-Roman wrestling.

Women currently compete in freestyle wrestling in one of four age categories on an international level: schoolgirls, cadets, juniors, and seniors. Schoolgirls (young women ages 14-15; or age 13 with a medical certificate and parental authorization) wrestle in 10 weight classes ranging from . Cadets (young women ages 16-17; or age 15 with a medical certificate and parental authorization) wrestle in 10 weight classes ranging from . Juniors (young women ages 18 to 20; or age 17 with a medical certificate and parental authorization) wrestle in eight weight classes ranging from . Seniors (women ages 20 and up) wrestle in seven weight classes ranging from . Wrestlers after weigh-in may only wrestle in their own weight class. Wrestlers in the senior age category may wrestle up a weight class except for the heavyweight division (which starts at a weight more than for the men and more than for the women). Different nations may have different weight classes and different age categories for their levels of freestyle competition.

Structure of the Tournament

A typical international wrestling tournament takes place by direct elimination with an ideal number of wrestlers (4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc.) in each weight class and age category competing for placement. The competition in each weight class takes place in one day. The day before the wrestling in a scheduled weight class and age category takes place, all the applicable wrestlers are examined by a physician and weighed-in. Each wrestler after being weighed on the scale then draws a token randomly that gives a certain number.

If an ideal number is not reached to begin elimination rounds, a qualification round will take place to eliminate the excess number of wrestlers. For example, 22 wrestlers may weigh-in over the ideal number of 16 wrestlers. The six wrestlers who drew the highest numbers after 16 and the six wrestlers who drew the six numbers immediately before 17 would then wrestle in six matches in the qualification round. The winners of those matches would then go on to the elimination round.

In the elimination round, the ideal number of wrestlers then pair off and compete in matches until two victors emerge who will compete in the finals for first and second place. All of the wrestlers who lost to the two finalists then have the chance to wrestle in a repechage round. The repechage round begins with the wrestlers who lost to the two finalists at the lowest level of competition in the elimination round. The matches are paired off by the wrestlers who lost to one finalist and the wrestlers who lost to the other. The two wrestlers who win after every level of competition are the victors of the repechage round.

In the finals, the two victors of the elimination round compete for first and second place.

In all rounds of the tournament, the wrestlers compete in matches paired off in the order of the numbers they drew after the weigh-in.

After the finals match, the awards ceremony will take place. The first place and second place wrestlers will receive a gold and silver medal, respectively. (At the FILA World Championships, the first place wrestler will receive the World Championship Belt.) The two repechage round winners will each be awarded third place with a bronze medal. The two wrestlers who lost in the finals for the third place are awarded fifth place. From seventh place down, the wrestlers are ranked according to the classification points earned for their victories or losses. If there is a tie among wrestlers for classification points, the ranking is determined in this order from the highest to the lowest:

  • Most victories earned by fall
  • Most matches won by technical superiority
  • Most periods won by technical superiority
  • Most points scored in the tournament
  • Least points scored in the tournament

Wrestlers who remained tied after that will be awarded placements "ex aequo." Wrestlers classified from the fifth to the 10th place will receive a special diploma. The wrestling tournaments in the Olympic Games and the Senior and Junior World Championships are designed to take place over three days on three mats.

Layout of the Mat

The match takes place on a thick rubber mat that is shock-absorbing to ensure safety. For the Olympic Games, all World Championships, and World Cups, the mat has to be new. The main wrestling area has a nine meter diameter and is surrounded by a border of the same thickness known as the protection area. Inside the nine meter in diameter circle is a red band of one meter (3 ft 3 in) in width that is on the outer edge of the circle and is known as the red zone. The red zone is used to help indicate passivity on the part of a wrestler; thus, it is also known as the passivity zone. Inside the red zone is the central surface of wrestling which is seven meters in diameter. In the middle of the central surface of wrestling is the central circle, which is one meter in diameter. The central circle is surrounded by a band 10 centimeters (4 in) wide and is divided in half by a red line eight centimeters (3  in) in width. The diagonally opposite corners of the mat are marked with the wrestlers' colors, red and blue.

For competition in the Olympic Games, the World Championships, and the Continental Championships, the mat is installed on a platform no greater than in height. If the mat lays on a podium and the protection margin (covering and free space around the mat) does not reach two meters (6 ft 6 in), the sides of the podium are covered with 45º (degree) inclined panels. In all cases, the color of the protection area is different from the color of the mat.

Equipment

  • A singlet is a one-piece wrestling garment made of spandex that should provide a tight and comfortable fit for the wrestler. It is made from nylon or lycra and prevents an opponent from using anything on the wrestler as leverage. One wrestler usually competes in a red singlet and the other in a blue singlet.
  • A special pair of shoes is worn by the wrestler to increase his mobility and flexibility. Wrestling shoes are light and flexible in order to provide maximum comfort and movement. Usually made with rubber soles, they help give the wrestler's feet a better grip on the mat.
  • A handkerchief, also called a bloodrag is carried in the singlet. In the event of bleeding, the wrestler will remove the cloth from his singlet and attempt to stop the bleeding or clean up any bodily fluids that may have gotten onto the mat.
  • Headgear, equipment worn around the ears to protect the wrestler, is optional in freestyle. Headgear is omitted at the participant's own risk, as there is the potential to develop cauliflower ear.

The Match

A match is a competition between two individual wrestlers of the same weight class. In freestyle wrestling, a jury (or team) of three officials (referees) is used. The referee controls the action in the center, blowing the whistle to start and stop the action, and supervises the scoring of holds and infractions. The judge sits at the side of the mat, keeps score, and occasionally gives his approval when needed by the referee for various decisions. The mat chairman sits at the scoring table, keeps time, is responsible for declaring technical superiority, and supervises the work of the referee and judge. To call a pin, two of the three officials must agree (usually, the referee and either the judge or the mat chairman).

Period Format

In Greco-Roman and freestyle, the format is now three two-minute periods. Before each match, each wrestler's name is called, and the wrestler takes his place at the corner of the mat assigned to his color. The referee then calls both of them to his side at the center of the mat, shakes hands with them, inspects their apparel, and checks for any perspiration, oily or greasy substances, and any other infractions. The two wrestlers then greet each other, shake hands, and the referee blows his whistle to start the period.

A wrestler wins the match when he has won two out of three periods. For example, if one competitor were to win the first period 1-0 and the second period 1-0, the match would be over. However, if the other competitor were to win the second period, then a third and deciding period would result. Only a fall, injury default, or disqualification terminates the match; all other modes of victory result only in period termination. One side effect of this format is that it is possible for the losing wrestler to outscore the winner. For example, periods may be scored 3-2, 0-4, 1-0, leading to a total score of 4-6 but a win for the wrestler scoring fewer points.

In freestyle, if the score is tied at 0-0 at the end of a two-minute period, the two contestants then wrestle in an overtime period known as The Clinch, that lasts for a maximum of 30 seconds. The referee determines by a coin toss which wrestler will have the advantage in the clinch position. The wrestler who lost the coin toss then places one leg in the middle of the central circle and the other leg outside of the central circle. The wrestler who won the coin toss then signals to the referee which leg he will place in the middle of the central circle. After doing so, the wrestler who won then wraps both of his arms around the leg of his opponent that is in the central circle and then places his head on the outside of his opponent's thigh. The loser of the coin toss then places both of his hands on his opponent's shoulders. When the referee verifies that the clinch position is correct, the two contestants then wrestle. The first wrestler to score a point wins the period. If after 30 seconds, the wrestler who had the advantage in the clinch fails to score a point, his opponent would then receive a point and be declared the winner of the period.

When the period (or match) has concluded, the referee stands at the center of the mat facing the officials' table. Both wrestlers then come, shake hands, and stand on either side of the referee to await the decision. The referee then proclaims the winner by raising the winning wrestler's hand in the air usually. Each wrestler then shakes hands with the referee and returns to shake hands with his opponent's coach.

Match Scoring

In freestyle wrestling, points can be scored in the following ways:

  • Takedown (1 to 5 points): A wrestler is awarded points for a takedown when the wrestler gains control over his opponent on the mat from a neutral position (when the wrestler is on his feet). At least three points of contact have to be controlled on the mat (e.g. two arms and one knee; two knees and one arm or the head; or two arms and the head).

(5 points) - For a takedown brought about by a throw of grand amplitude (a throw in which a wrestler brings his opponent off of the mat and controls him so that his feet go directly above his head) either from the standing or par terre position into a direct and immediate danger position.
(3 points) - Generally, for a takedown brought about by a grand amplitude throw that does not bring his opponent in a direct and immediate danger position or for a takedown in which a wrestler's opponent is taken from his feet or his stomach to his back or side (a throw of short amplitude) so that he is in the danger position.
(1 point) - For a takedown brought about by a wrestler taking his opponent from his feet to his stomach or side such that his back or shoulders are not exposed to the mat.

  • Reversal (1 point): A wrestler is awarded points for a wrestler when the wrestler gains control over his opponent from a defensive position (when the wrestler is being controlled by his opponent).
  • Exposure also called the Danger Position (2 or 3 points): A wrestler is awarded points for exposure when the wrestler exposes his opponent's back to the mat for several seconds. Points for exposure are also awarded if one's back is to the mat but the wrestler is not pinned. Criteria for exposure or the danger position is met when 1) a wrestler's opponent is in a bridge position to avoid being pinned, 2) a wrestler's opponent is on one or both elbows with his back to the mat and avoids getting pinned, 3) a wrestler holds one of his opponent's shoulders to the mat and the other shoulder at an acute angle (less than 90 degrees), 4) a wrestler's opponent is in an "instantaneous fall" position (where both of his shoulders are on the mat for less than one second), or 5) the wrestler's opponent rolls on his shoulders. A wrestler in the danger position allows his opponent to score two points. An additional hold-down point may be earned by maintaining the exposure continuously for five seconds.
  • Penalty (1 or 2 points): Under the 2004-2005 changes to the international styles, a wrestler whose opponent takes an injury time-out receives one point unless the injurëd wrestler is bleeding. Other infractions (e.g. fleeing a hold or the mat, striking the opponent, acting with brutality or intent to injure, using illegal holds, etc.) are penalized by an award of either one or two points, a Caution, and a choice of position to the opponent.
  • Out-of-Bounds (1 point): Whenever a wrestler places his foot in the protection area, the match is stopped, and a point is awarded to his opponent.

Classification points are also awarded in an international wrestling tournament, which give most points to the winner and in some cases, one point to the loser depending on the outcome of the match and how the victory was attained. For example, a victory by fall would give the winner five classification points and the loser no points, while a match won by technical superiority with the loser scoring technical points would award three points to the winner and one point to loser.

The full determinations for scoring are found on pages 34 to 40 of the FILA International Wrestling Rules

Scores no longer rewarded in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling

In 2004, FILA radically changed the format and scoring of the international styles. Part of this involved eliminating two ways of scoring which are possible from the par terre, or 'on the mat,' position.

  • Escape: A wrestler was awarded points for successfully escaping his opponent's control and returning to a neutral position.
  • Lifting: A wrestler was awarded points for successfully lifting an opponent in the defensive position and exposing his back.

Victory Conditions in Freestyle Wrestling

A match can be won in the following ways:

  • Win by Fall: A fall, also known as a pin, occurs when one wrestler holds both his opponents' shoulders on the mat simultaneously. In Greco-Roman and freestyle, a pin must be held long enough for the referee to "observe the total control of the fall" (usually ranging from one half-second to about one or two seconds). Then either the judge or the mat chairman concurs with the referee that a fall is made. (If the referee does not indicate a fall, and the fall is valid, the judge and the mat chairman can concur together and announce the pin.) A fall ends the match entirely regardless of when it occurs. In the United States, for the Kids freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling division (wrestlers ages 8 to 14) in competitions sponsored by USA Wrestling, it is specified that a pin must be held for two seconds.
  • Win by Technical Superiority (Also called Technical Fall): If one wrestler gains a six-point lead over his opponent at any time in the period, scores a five point throw (a throw where the person's feet go directly above his head, also called a throw of grand amplitude), or scores two three point takedowns (taking an opponent from his feet to their back or sides so that there is shoulder exposure), the current period is declared over and he is declared the winner of that period.
  • Win by Decision: If neither wrestler achieves either a fall or technical superiority, the wrestler who scored more points during the period is declared the winner of that period. If the score is tied by points at the end of a period, first, the number of cautions; next, the value of points gained; and finally, the last scored technical point are taken into account to determine the winner of the period. Generally, the wrestler who scored the last technical point would be awarded the period. If the score is tied at zero at the end of a period, the wrestlers go through a 30-second overtime procedure known as The Clinch in which the wrestlers are required to enter the clinch position and wrestle until a point is scored, or until one of the wrestlers breaks the clinch.
  • Win by Default: If one wrestler is unable to continue participating for any reason or fails to show up on the mat after his name was called three times before the match begins, his opponent is declared the winner of the match by default, forfeit, or withdrawal.
  • Win by Injury: If one wrestler is injured and unable to continue, the other wrestler is declared the winner. This is also referred to as a medical forfeit or injury default. The term also encompasses situations where wrestlers become ill, take too many injury time-outs, or bleed uncontrollably. If a wrestler is injured by his opponent's illegal maneuver and cannot continue, the wrestler at fault is disqualified.
  • Win by Disqualification: Normally, if a wrestler is assessed three Cautions for breaking the rules, he is disqualified. Under other circumstances, such as flagrant brutality, the match may be ended immediately and the wrestler disqualified and removed from the tournament.

Team Scoring

In an international wrestling tournament, teams enter one wrestler at each weight class and score points based on the individual performances. For example, if a wrestler at the 52.0 kg weight class finishes in first place, then his team will receive ten points. If he were to finish in tenth place, then the team would only receive one. At the end of the tournament, each team's score is tallied, and the team with the most points wins the team competition.

Team Competition

A team competition or dual meet is a meeting between (typically two) teams in which individual wrestlers at a given weight class compete against each other. A team receives one point for each victory in a weight class regardless of the outcome. The team that scores the most points at the end of the matches wins the team competition. If there are two sets of competitions with one team winning the home competition and one winning the away competition, a third competition may take place to determine the winner for ranking purposes, or the ranking may take place by assessing in order: 1) the most victories by adding the points of the two matches; 2) the most points by fall, default, forfeit, or disqualificaiton; 3) the most matches won by technical superiority; 4) the most periods won by technical superiority; 5) the most technical points won in all the competition; 6) the least technical points won in all the competition. This works similarly when more than two teams are involved in this predicament.

Women's wrestling

Freestyle is the only style used for international competition in women's wrestling. The rules for women's freestyle wrestling, with some modifications, are largely the same as that for the men. The period lengths are the same, with a 30-second break between two periods. Women wear a special singlet, so that they will not simply have to wear a male's singlet with a T-shirt underneath. Some small United States college wrestling clubs have women wrestle freestyle against Canadian universities mostly because of the limited number of wrestling programs in the United States. Most of the U.S. athletic organizations such as the NCAA do not sponsor women's wrestling, while the Canadian Interuniversity Sport association does. (The National Collegiate Wrestling Association is sponsoring a women's division beginning with the 2007-2008 season, based largely on collegiate wrestling rules.) Women's wrestling made its Olympic debut at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

See also

Notes

References

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External links

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