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Top Wrestling Fundamentals with Angel Cejudo

Top Wrestling Fundamentals with Angel Cejudo

There are three main positions in wrestling, on the feet, on the bottom, and on top. In each of these positions there are fundamental moves that all wrestlers need to learn. Although these moves may be some of the first moves a new wrestler learns, wrestlers who are competing at the highest levels of the sport, NCAA championships and even the Olympics, are still practicing these moves and using them out on the mat. 

Top wrestling is a very important part of wrestling. There are three major styles of wrestling, freestyle, Greco Roman, and folkstyle. Freestyle and Greco Roman are the Olympic styles and folkstyle is what highschools and colleges in the United States utilize. Top wrestling in folkstyle is very different than top wrestling in freestyle or Greco. The fundamental top moves that are in this article are geared more towards folkstyle wrestling. 

Elbow Chop

The first move that Cejudo goes over is a very common breakdown called an arm chop or an elbow chop. This often used in what is called referee’s position where one guy starts on their hands and knees and the other guy gets on top like they show in the video. When the referee blows the whistle, the guy on bottom will try to stand up and escape, so the guy on top needs to stop the stand up and try to flatten his opponent out. 

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To hit an arm chop, the hand that is on the bottom guy’s elbow is going chop or pull the arm in at the elbow. Ideally, you would like to have your opponent’s elbow touching their side. Another important part of this breakdown that is difficult to see in the video is to use the knee to drive your opponent forward. Think of your opponent as a table with four legs. When you chop the arm, it is like you are removing one of the legs. Then to knock the table over, you need to push the table over the corner with no leg. This is what you are doing when you drive your opponent forward. 

Also, once you break your opponent down to their belly, be sure to keep pressure on them by staying off your knees. Stay on your toes, just like they do in the video. 

Half Nelson

After breaking down your opponent, the next thing you need to do is try to turn them to their back and look for the pin. The most basic way to do this in wrestling is with a half nelson, commonly called “a half”. 

You will notice in the video, once the guy on bottom is flat on their belly, the top guy is off to one side. This is the side the half will go on. If you are on the left side, you will use your left hand to sink the half by sliding your hand under their arm and over the back of their head and neck. Really pay attention to how Cejudo shows the proper hand positioning. Small details like this make a huge difference. 

Once the half is deep, you will elevate your elbow and walk your feet towards the head, then drive your opponent over to their back. At first, you will probably have the tendency to end up with your belly on your opponent’s chest, but you need to really focus on staying chest to chest with your opponent. From this position, keep your head up and sink your hips down to the mat and lift your opponent’s head off the mat. 

Arm Bar

Another pinning combination that Cejudo shows is an arm bar, also called a chicken wing. This is a great move to hit after an arm chop because often times, your opponent’s elbow is right there for you to slide you arm under. 

To hit an armbar, once your opponent is flattened out, you are going to slide your arm under your opponent’s elbow and put it across their back. If you are using your left arm, it will go under your opponent’s left arm. You can see in the video, the arm that is on the back is straight across the back, it is not angled up or down. 

Once you have the arm bar in place, you will grab your opponent’s far wrist and circle your feet towards their head and bring their shoulder to their ear. Then drive them over to their back and look for the pin.


These are great moves for beginners to practice. Be sure to watch this video multiple times to pick up on all the little details that are shown because even though these are very basic moves, they are still complex and having great technique still matters. 

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