Want To Wrestle? Here Is Where To Start!
Wrestling has been one of the fastest growing collegiate sports in the United States for several years. So much so that in the United states there are over a quarter million “boy” athletes on over ten thousand teams in the US. Both numbers are an all time high. Wrestling ranks number seven in all youth participated sports.
Ladies you are to not be forgotten, in 1994 there were 804 girl wrestlers in the entire USA. As of 2019, a staggering 21,124. In 2004 the Olympics first had women’s wrestling and the USA achieved gold for the first time with Helen Maroulis.
With numbers like that it is not uncommon to hear young kids wanting to get into wrestling. For the longest time unless you were from the Midwest, youth wrestling was not a thing. Yet now internet forums and message boards are full of aspiring wrestlers asking the question “How do I wrestle”
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The Midwest has always had good youth programs but for the rest of the country, it might be hard to break into the sport without a little guidance. Thank god for the internet.
Back in the day, if you were the kid on the team with the Dan Gable VHS tapes, you probably had the admiration or disdain from the rest. Now we have social media sources like YouTube and you can research anything you want. NCAA Champs giving away “The Secret” that won them the title. All for the sake of Clicks.
On the flip side we see athletes walk into the room, try a lateral drop and land flat on their back. Never to try again because that single video didn’t show all the angles or have the time to go into detail. Or most importantly give you options when things don’t go well.
The question remains is where to start for the beginner? First, I recommend finding a wrestling club, or MMA Gym. If those are not readily available, I recommend content that focuses on the fundamentals. Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson did not win National and Olympic gold with backflips, and fancy throws. Both those legends took the fundamentals and sharpened them until they could do them as effortlessly as they could breathe.
A Great way to get a grasp of the fundamentals of wrestling is understanding what they are. Understanding that the underhook is one of the strongest positions in wrestling is key. In submission grappling the underhook is king.
Chael Sonnen is known as “The American Gangster” but what many don’t know is he is also a NCAA Div. I All American, Two Time Dave Schultz’s tournament Greco Champion, and two time PAC-10 championship runner up. Chael knows a thing or two about wrestling.
Check out his take on the underhook below.
What we see is a valuable tool for wrestling, the ability for a single skill to be used in many situations. A huge key that Chael brings to light is what makes a underhook strong in valuable vs the overhook. Keeping the partners elbow high, as long as the partners elbows high he has control.
What is also apparent that the underhook can be used for a variety of entries for takedowns, examples used are the high crotch and Knee pick.
For the High crotch the underhook pulls the partner off balance while changing levels and reaching through the partners legs. To finish a fireman’s carry (kata guruma in Judo) is a cinch.
Switching to the other side driving the underhook high, while driving forward with a small tap of the knee to topple the partner. Chael calls this a knee pick.
This is a great place to start whether you find a coach, club or decide to start training on your own.
The key to success is repetition and good technique. Chael's latest instructional is easy to follow and will give you the upper hand on the mat!