Take him to the mat! The basics of wrestling

By Estefania Wujkiw

At first glance, a wrestling match seems more like a ball of tangled humans drenched in sweat rolling across the mat until the referee blows the whistle. Blink once, if feels, and you've missed all the action. It seems like a step back in time to the most basic primal moves of our ancestors, but if you pay close attention, winning a match is complex and aggressively demanding.

So what does it take to win at the world’s oldest competitive sport? The ultimate goal is to get your opponent on their back with both their shoulder blades touching the mat simultaneously. A match may be won by a “fall”, technical superiority or points.

"I teched him" - how to win by fall

This is called when one of the wrestlers is taken down and three points of contact are touching the mat. A fall signals the end of the match regardless of when it occurs or the score of the wrestlers at that point.

"Mercy!" - how to win by technical superiority

If at any time the difference in points is more than ten, the match is stopped and the winner is announced.

"Add 'em up" - how to win by points

Photos: Ken Sterzuk

The wrestler with the most points is declared the winner. If the score is tied at the end of the match, the winner is declared by considering the highest value of technical moves.

How to get points

There are several hundred moves that award points, depending on the level of control over the opponent, or the difficulty of the move.

  • 1 point for stepping behind the opponent and gaining control, or the first opponent who touches out of bounds;
  • 2 points awarded by taking down the standing opponent to the mat; and
  • 4 points awarded by making the standing opponent directly on to their back, throwing them into the “danger position.”

Cautions are given for stepping out-of-bounds, wrestling too aggressively (for example punching or headbutting), or being passive by refusing to make a move. A wrestler who receives three cautions during the match will be automatically disqualified.

A coach is allowed to challenge a call by throwing a foam object on the mat to request an appeal. If the referee modifies the points after reviewing video evidence, then the challenge can be used again during the match. If the referee doesn’t change his decision, the wrestler loses the challenge and the opponent receives one technical point.

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