How To Learn Wrestling

By: Leslie T.

Wrestling is a popular sport that dates back many thousands of years. Frescoes, statuary and other works of antiquity from Greek, Babylon, Egypt, Sumaria, and India depict various wrestling holds, stances and manoeuvres. Greeks immortalized wrestling on their coins and first introduced it as an event in their Olympic Games in 776 BC. Turkish mercenaries taught the Persians the finer points of wrestling during the early middle ages. Dubbed "koresh" its various techniques quickly spread throughout the Islamic nations. Europe and Brittany modified these early forms of wrestling to suit their own preferences of the day and Medieval knights even added wrestling to their fighting repertoire.

Learning wrestling terminology can be easy if you're committed to learning about the sport. Once you learn the terminology it will make watching the sport of wrestling that much more enjoyable. To get started with a basic vocabulary of wrestling terms, tackle these steps.


Master the names of the basic types of amateur wrestling, the kind you'll see at high school and college matches and in the Olympics. In Greco-Roman wrestling, opponents are limited to using their arms and upper bodies, and may only apply holds above the waist. In freestyle (sometimes called folkstyle) wrestling, opponents can use arms and legs, and can apply holds both above and below the waist.


Identify the basic action. A wrestling match, or bout, consists of three rounds; in the Olympics, they're 2 minutes each, with 30-second rest periods in between. The goal of the wrestler is to bring the opponent's shoulders to the mat and keep them there for a particular duration.


Learn your way around the ring.


In amateur wrestling, legal moves can generally be grouped into holds or locks (in which one wrestler controls another's movement) and throws (in which one wrestler lifts another off the mat to change position). (Body slams, a highlight of pro wrestling, are illegal in amateur wrestling.) Both holds and throws can be used offensively or defensively.


Get acquainted with the officials. Amateur wrestling matches are decided by three officials: the referee, the judge and the mat chairman (who sometimes goes by the French title "Chef de tapis"). These officials award technical points and decide the outcomes of rounds and matches.

Tips & Warnings

Watch Olympic wrestling matches or attend high school or college meets to get the best exposure to wrestling terms in action.

Pro wrestling is a completely different world. Although pro wrestling is built on basic wrestling moves and terminology, it also draws heavily from entertainment and drama, with "storylines" and opponents classified as good guys and villains.