Conditioning Opponent With Hands and Motion by Mario Mason
Mario Mason is a New Jersey native, who wrestled for the national powerhouse Blair Academy at the high school level, and was ranked as the number 1 recruit of his graduating class as he left highschool for the Division 1 level. He would go on to wrestle for the University of Minnesota at 149 pounds before transferring to Rutgers after his sophomore year. He would become an NCAA qualifier and was ranked as high as 4th in the country.
Every wrestling match will go through three positions, and win requires you to be proficient in all three in order to win at the highest levels: neutral, top and bottom. Every match starts on the feet (neutral), and you must be able to engage your opponent not only from space, but up close in the hand fight as well. This instructional is built around misdirection, which many would assume is an art that takes place outside the hand fight. However, at an elite level there’s a blurred line between “at space” wrestling (avoiding contact, motion as your primary setup) and actively hand fighting, a prime example being Jordan Burroughs. Mario Mason breaks down how to condition your opponent and set up attacks through the handfight, in addition to motion in your stance, to build towards misdirections.
A key detail Mario emphasizes is in any position making contact with your opponent, you should keep your elbows slightly bent. Be it a post, collar, club, or wrist control, keeping your elbow bent allows you to avoid your opponent simply popping any tie you take off of him by your elbow. Bending your elbow ensures you have control, so long as you keep them “in” (tucked into your sides as much as you can, basically don’t flare your elbows).
At the end of it all, it’s of the utmost importance to go in with a plan. Know what patterns you want to start setting up, and gauge your opponent’s reaction. Each opponent has a different reaction and feel when you post, club, or fake. It’s on you to determine how you start flowing from the handfight to your attacks. Some opponents will circle, some will clear your tie by the wrist. Ultimately what you want is to gather this sort of data, process, and act accordingly as the hand fight progresses. Don’t shake your opponent’s hand with the aim being to wait for him to go. Impose your plan early, and adjust then.
Misdirects, when practiced, are low risk and high reward setups for takedowns. You can see how this video ties in to grander concepts by picking up The Art Of Misdirection Wrestling, Mario’s instructional with Fanatic Wrestling. Learn how to move your feet and hands to set up both fundamental and flashy attacks to rack up points and avoid predictable tendencies.