The Different Wrestling Arts of the World


An Olympic Wrestler performing a throw on his opponent

Almost everybody knows about the sport of wrestling whether they competed themselves in high school or college or they watch events on television. What people don’t know is that wrestling is one of the oldest sports being practiced in various forms around the world for thousands of years. One of the most prominent examples of ancient wrestling was performed at the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece, though this was a much more brutal form of competition.

Today different forms of amateur wrestling competitions are held across the world and the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Style (FILA) regulates most of these competitions. For a wealth of information and news on amateur wrestling styles and rules visit FILA’s home site here

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling are some of the most popular versions of this sport practiced and are the only types of wrestling in the modern Olympic Games Along with these very widespread wrestling styles there are other international wrestling disciplines such as combat grappling, pankration, and oil wrestling are all practiced as well. There are also folk-wrestling styles which are classified by their native influences and do not have international ties. American collegiate wrestling is considered a folk-wrestling style but is similar to freestyle wrestling.

Greco-Roman Wrestling

This wrestling discipline has a very unique characteristic that separates it from other styles, there is no grabbing of the opponent below the waist or using the legs offense or deffense. In addition to this there is also an emphasis on throws and slams in this discipline while pinning the opponent is a secondary concern once they are slammed to the ground. This style is very explosive and power oriented because of the fact that you cant grab the legs or use them on the opponent, which makes it a very fun sport to watch and participate in.

Here is a video of Alexander Karelin who is considered one of the best Greco-Roman wrestlers of all time

Freestyle Wrestling

Freestyle wrestling is probably the most widespread type of wrestling practiced. The main goal of this style of wrestling is to throw the opponent to the ground and pin him. Because there are no restrictions on grabbing the opponent below the waist, along with the implementation of many techniques from other martial arts disciplines, freestyle wrestling is considered the most complete style of wrestling. It requires more finesse, strength, and quickness than the Greco-Roman style of wrestling.

American Collegiate Wrestling

American Collegiate wrestling is very similar to freestyle wrestling, however there are a few fine points which separate the two styles. The differences come from the folk-wrestling influence of the american collegiate wrestling. These differences include a focus on pining and controlling the opponent instead of throwing and slamming him along with differences in scoring and starting positions.

Other Wrestling Styles

Beach wrestling, grappling, Pankration and mixed martial arts are also styles of wrestling that FILA oversees around the world. Beach wrestling is a type of wrestling adopted by FILA in 2004 which takes place in a sandy arena and its participants try to throw their opponents to their back or out of the ring. Grappling tournaments are practiced as well and are separated from more traditional wrestling styles because of their emphasis on submissions over pinning the opponent.

Pankration has its roots in the ancient Olympic wrestling games. This is essentially an ancient form of mixed martial arts which combined strikes, wrestling, and submissions and lacking in rules. While the modern form of amateur pankration is a much more civilized sport, with safety actually being a concern, it is still a very powerful style of fighting.

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