Wrestling (sports)

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For other uses, see Wrestling

Wrestling is the act of competing for a physical advantage over an opponent through the use of grappling, typically without the use of striking. In popular usage, it generally refers to the family of combat sports, martial arts, and competitions devoted to the practice of this act, as well as the physical activities the use of these martial arts entail.

Wrestling typically entails opponents grabbing, holding, pushing, pulling, or otherwise attempting to physically move each other through persistent force rather than percussive force. Goals of wrestling are typically to force an opponent to the ground, pin an opponent, or force the opponent to submit through the use of a submission hold.



Grappling as form of combat and a sport has existed for millennia in many different cultures.

Ancient Greece and Rome

Greek wrestling was a popular martial art in Ancient Greece. After Greece was conquered by the Romans, Greek wrestling was absorbed by the Romans and eventually transformed into Roman wrestling.

International wrestling disciplines accepted by FILA

Wrestling disciplines are commonly divided into two categories: international wrestling disciplines and folk wrestling disciplines.

The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) acknowledges five current international wrestling disciplines: Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling, sambo, grappling, beach wrestling and judo. This usage of the term wrestling and grappling, as well as the categorization of styles, is not completely in common usage.

Greco-Roman wrestling

Freestyle wrestling


What FILA calls "grappling" is commonly (perhaps more commonly than the term "grappling" in the community itself) referred to as "submission wrestling", and is a sport

Beach wrestling


Judo is a Japanese martial art and combat sport.

Folk wrestling disciplines

As the concept of grappling in combat is a natural one, disciplines of folk wrestling can be found in many cultures.

Catch wrestling

Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Shuai jiao


Collegiate wrestling

Collegiate wrestling, also called folkstyle wrestling and scholastic wrestling, refers to the sport of wrestling practiced in United States universities. Collegiate, high school, and middle school wrestling, as well as wrestling for younger participants, are all similar, with slight variations of rules calling for slightly different focuses and techniques.

One significant difference between Folk wrestling and other wrestling styles is the number of moves deemed to be illegal due to their danger in execution. Although these rules may vary slightly by jurisdiction, examples of common illegal moves in folk wrestling are:

  • Full Nelsons: Putting both hands under the arms and behind the head of the opponent
  • Figure-fouring the body: Grasping your opponent's body with your legs in a figure-four shape
  • Grabbing less then four fingers
  • Stretching the arm of the opponent to more then a right angle while holding his arm behind his back, or lifting his arm from his back while in the same position

Professional wrestling

Professional wrestling, while not technically a martial art or combat sport, is still linked to the sport of wrestling and is a highly stylized performance of wrestling techniques.

WWE - and formerly ECW, WCW etc. - are examples of American professional wrestling and sports entertainment. These brands feature professional wrestlers in pre-planned story arcs and as part of themed stables, as well as pushing a number of "gimmicks" - 'Hardcore' wrestling, where performers use stage props like chairs, trash cans and so on to smack each other around with.

Wrestling in other combat sports and martial arts

Mixed martial arts

Wresting disciplines are commonly practiced in mixed martial arts, and are often considered one of the most important arts to be trained.

A number of high-level mixed martial artists have backgrounds in wrestling.