Category: Freestyle wrestling

Rules and Scoring

In freestyle wrestling, as well as in Greco-Roman wrestling, points are awarded mostly on the basis of explosive action and risk. For example, when one wrestler performs a grand amplitude throw that brings his opponent into the danger position, he is awarded the greatest number of points that can be scored in one instance. Also, a wrestler who takes the risk to briefly roll on the mat (with his shoulders in contact with the mat) could give a certain number of points to his opponent. Scoring can be accomplished in the following ways:

Takedown (2 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):5 points are awarded 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, three points are awarded for a takedown brought about by a short 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.
(2 points[31]):Two points are awarded 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 and while in this position holding him down with control.
Reversal (1 point): A wrestler is awarded one point for a reversal when the wrestler gains control over his opponent from a defensive position (when the wrestler is being controlled by his opponent).

Two United States military servicemen grapple in a freestyle wrestling championship match.
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 injured 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.[34] A wrestler whose opponent regularly refuses to take an ordered hold is awarded a point.
Out-of-Bounds (1 point): Whenever a wrestler places his foot in the protection area, the match is stopped, and one point is awarded to his opponent.
Passivity (1 point): A point awarded to the attacking wrestler whose opponent flees the hold or refuses to start.[35]
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.

Victory conditions

Compared to collegiate (scholastic or folkstyle) wrestling, the main style done in U.S. high schools, colleges, and universities, freestyle wrestling involves a greater emphasis on explosive action by both wrestlers, as opposed to one wrestler’s dominance and control of the other.
A match can be won in the following ways:

Win by Fall: The object of the entire wrestling match is to attain victory by what is known as the fall. A fall, also known as a pin, occurs when one wrestler holds both of his opponents’ shoulders on the mat simultaneously. In Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, the two shoulders of the defensive wrestler 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 fall.) A fall ends the match entirely regardless of when it occurs.
Win by Technical Superiority (Also called Technical Fall): If at any point during the match, a wrestler gains a ten-point lead over his opponent, the wrestler would win the match by technical fall.
Win by Decision: If neither wrestler achieves either a fall or technical superiority, the wrestler who scored more points during match is declared the winner.
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.

The wrestler on top secures the fall in this freestyle wrestling match.
Team scoring in tournaments
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 60 kg weight class finishes in first place, then his team will receive 10 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.

History of Freestyle Wrestling

Freestyle wrestling has been in the Olympic Games since the 1904 Olympics in Saint Louis, Missouri.
Modern freestyle wrestling, according to UWW (formerly FILA), is said to have originated in Great Britain and the United States by the name of “catch-as-catch-can” wrestling.[1] “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.[2] “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 which began with both wrestlers standing chest to chest, grasping each other with locked arms around the body and, if no fall was made, with the match continuing on the ground.[2] In addition, 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.[2] 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.[2] 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 71.7 kg (158 lb)—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, 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.[3] In the 20th century, time limits were set for matches.[4] For more than forty years into the twentieth century, freestyle and its American counterpart, collegiate wrestling, 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.[5] 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.[4] Today, wrestlers from Post-Soviet states, Iran, U.S., Bulgaria, Cuba, Turkey, and Japan, have had the strongest showings. Alexander Medved of Belarus won 10 world championships and three Olympic gold medals, in the period of 1964-1972.[6] Many collegiate wrestlers have moved on to freestyle competition, particularly internationally with great success.

In the spring of 2013, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted wrestling out of the core sports for the summer Olympics beginning in 2020[8] As a result of this news the wrestling community started a massive campaign in order to reinstate the sport. A largely online group called 2020 vision lead the movement. They had several campaigns as well as Facebook and Twitter pages that spread awareness and gathered support for the cause of wrestling’s return to the Olympics. They had a mission of gaining 2,000,020 signatures (online and offline) in support of wrestling’s return to the Olympic Games.[9] In September 2013 the IOC voted to allow wrestling back into the Olympics for 2020 and 2024 as a probationary sport. In order to achieve this FILA, the international governing body of wrestling made several changes to the rules as well as changes to the weight classes.[10] There are also discussions about uniform changes as well as changes to the competition mat.

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