A form of ancient martial art, wrestling evolved into a sport practiced all around the world. A number of wrestling forms exist, with the common denominator that punching and kicking are not allowed. The rules and scoring systems in wrestling vary from one regional variation to another. Bouts usually are won by forcing an opponent to submit by applying a painful joint lock or choke hold, by pushing him out of the ring or by pinning an opponent's shoulders to the ground.
An Olympic sport, Greco-Roman wrestling that takes place on a matted area marked with a large circle. Greco-Roman wrestlers are not allowed to perform attacks on the legs and must instead rely on grabbing their opponent around the waist or above. Bouts can be decided in a number of ways. Points are scored according to the successful performance of various wrestling techniques that demonstrate technical superiority, and the wrestler with the highest points total is declared the winner.
Additionally, a wrestler can win a bout outright by throwing his opponent to the mat and pinning his shoulders down -- called a fall. If a wrestler is injured during a bout and unable to continue, the uninjured wrestler is declared the winner. While it is not the aim of Greco-Roman wrestling to push or throw an opponent out of the circle, doing so will score 1 point.
Sumo wrestling originated in Japan, where it is the national sport. The aim of sumo is to drive your opponent out of the ring or force him to touch the ground with any part of his body other than the soles of his feet. Sumo wrestlers are normally very big and can weigh in excess of 300 pounds. Sumo wrestlers train at schools called stables, where they live, eat and sleep. The wrestlers are known for their diet of chankonabe, a calorie-rich stew of fish, meat, rice and vegetables. Wrestlers eat large quantities of chankonabe to develop their immense size.
Catch wrestling is a traditional form of wrestling that uses submission holds as well as pinning to win a bout. Also known as catch as catch can wrestling, this variety of wrestling originated in rural England and often is associated with traveling shows in which carnival wrestlers would accept challenges from locals for money. Choke holds are not allowed in catch wrestling, but as many of the bouts at carnivals were unregulated, this rule was not always observed. Catch wrestling still is practiced in some rural locations, such as Lancashire and Cumbria in England, and many of the techniques have been adopted by modern mixed martial artists.
Professional wrestling is the most well-known form of wrestling. Modern professional wrestlers often are household names, such as Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H. Professional wrestling usually is choreographed so that the combatants know in advance who is going to win. Wrestlers often adopt specific personalities in the ring, either good or bad; bad wrestlers are sometimes known as heels. This results in a high degree of audience participation, as the crowd cheer on one wrestler and boos another. Despite being choreographed, professional wrestling is a tough, energetic and skillful sport, and a small error in technique or timing can result in serious injury.
Unlike other forms of wrestling, submission wrestling matches are not won by throwing or pinning an opponent but only by forcing a submission, usually through the successful application of a painful joint lock or choke. Submission wrestling bouts start in a standing position but quickly descend to the mat as each wrestler attempts to gain a superior position from which to apply a lock or choke. The techniques of submission wrestling form a large part of the skills seen in mixed martial arts and also form the backbone of Brazilian jiujitsu, Japanese shooto and Greek pankration, considered to be the oldest martial art in the world.
- The Encyclopedia of Professional Wrestling: 100 Years of History, Headlines & Hitmakers; Kristian Pope and Ray, Jr. Whebbe
- Encyclopedia of American Wrestling; Mike Chapman
- Say Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro Wrestling & Modern Grappling; Jake Shannon