Starting Wrestling As An Adult
Father time is the only undefeated fighter in all of history. He comes for us all, and for us athletes he brings a harsh reality that no matter how good an athlete is, age will be their undoing. Some of us can hold on longer than others.
Cael Sanderson the first undefeated four time NCAA Champion and Olympic gold medalist started to coach the Penn State Wrestling team in 2010. The team made a bet with Cael that if they won a tournament, he would enter the team trials for that year.
The Nittany Lions won, and after seven years of retirement Cael Sanderson walked into a regional qualifier and won a spot on the worlds team. Then Took 5th at the world championships that year. Cael was still a phenom on the mat, but he had started to slow in comparison to his youthful opponents.
Age is not just a number on an application, but rather a state that the body is currently in. Many find themselves having to take a few days off from an activity when just a few years previous the same incident would not have even been a speed bump by comparison.
Yet as we move through the 21st century we are finding more and more adults are getting into physical activities. Most major sports have a “Masters” Division for 30 and up competitors.
Popular grappling styles such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Catch as Catch Can Wrestling are becoming more and more common with ages from preschool age to retirees.
The problem with the previous two styles of grappling are they both start standing and to be truthful, both are honestly AWFUL at takedowns. Also wrestling out of bad situations turns into “Pulling guard” or stalling to get stood back up.
So maybe you have fallen in with a group of CACC guys or joined your local BJJ Gym, or you have a kid that has gotten into wrestling and you want to help be one of the coaches but have no experience in wrestling.
All of these reasons could be valid and before we go diving into how we can help we have to make sure we set our expectations correctly. Not to curb enthusiasm but to make sure limits are set so a newcomer doesn’t go out and get themselves hurt.
*Slow is Smooth ,Smooth is fast! – don’t buy into the idea you have to do something at “Live” speed to learn it. Go slow, do it right, speed will come. Injuries take longer to heal, avoid the preventable ones.
*Grapple with experienced partners- Don’t get caught drilling with the new 18yo kid who is just looking to win. These guys are dangerous and will spazz out, most likely hurting you over themselves.
*Listen to your instructor- Take the experience they have. It is ok to bring in new things to try and make your own style but make sure you have practice with something before you try doing it in a Live Match.
*Let it consume you- if you are going to be a student of wrestling, Take it all in, Match’s now, previous matches, talk with people, Train! Train! Train! Obsession is good, let it mold you!
Want to learn from Funky Ben Askren? Click Learn More!
Now that we have some ground rules out of the way let's talk the basics of wrestling.
The goal is to Pin the other person flat on their back for 3 solid seconds. Or to beat them by “Technical Fall” Which is usually 15-0 or 12-0 in Freestlye.
How do we score points? Take downs are worth two, escapes worth 1, reversal is 2, Near fall is 2 seconds for 2 points or 5 + Seconds gets you three.
Lets go through a quick match.
You start in the neutral position where you and your opponent step on one of the small lines at the center of the mat. When the referee blows the whistle you Change levels and Shoot for a double leg.
Here is a video that explains how to set up and finish a double leg
If you land your opponent on their hips or back and maintain the position you have just scored “2” points. If they are flat on their back and you have control of their hips you also may get back exposure for another “2” points.
Being excited, you are not focused, and your opponent pushes your head and gets up! He scores “1” point for an escape.
Now he shoots for your legs, but you Sprawl by throwing your hips down and legs back! You spin behind him and land in the referees’ position which will score you “2” more points.
Now you hook one of your legs in and their head. You push your head into their side, and lock your hands together. You are set up for a near side cradle.
Here are some details on how to set up and finish cradles!
Your cradle is tight, they are flat on their backs and you win!
All this in under three minutes! The key was good fundamental wrestling.
No one can explain this better than NCAA Champion and former Olympic Team Member Ben Funky Askren! Nothing fancy, just highly technical wrestling that will yield results.
His instructional is a DEEP DIVE into wrestling, and all aspects of it. Not all of it will be useful for the various other grappling arts, but all of it will be beneficial to your overall grappling awareness.