West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Folk-Style Wrestling, A Dying Sport

Is American "Folk-Style" wrestling a dying sport?

Whether you realize it or not, the mat sport in the United States has always been uniquely different from the rest of the world. Our wrestling techniques that place more emphasis on "control."

Freestyle wrestling (the international style) does not involve as much control. For example, even if the bottom man initiates the move (say a forward roll) and exposes his back to the mat, the top wrestler would score near-fall points, without truly restraining his adversity. Furthermore, the offensive wrestler can be awarded near-fall points without holding the defensive wrestler on his back for a second, but just be "tilting" him there for a fraction of a second. Again, no real solid control!

Of course, both folk-style and freestyle wrestling stress takedowns. However, this is where the similarity ends. Riding and escape/reversal maneuvers are virtually nonexistent in the international style.

Sad to say (as far as I am concerned), we are gradually converting to freestyle wrestling in America. Below are some of the changes made in scholastic "folkstyle" wrestling over the last three decades:

Now many prominent wrestling authorities believe that we must shift to freestyle wrestling to be competitive on the international level. But I, for one, am tired of seeing the United States always trying to appease the rest of the world. Afterall, America was started to make changes in the affairs of mankind and its previous conforming traits.

As with American "jazz," folk-style wrestling has its origins in our country. Unfortunately, the way things are going, I fear that folk-style wrestling is becoming a dying sport!

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Updated December 24, 1998