West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

...on the "Body Leg Scissors"

Since I began wrestling in the 1950s, there have been many changes regarding the rules of wrestling. The most significant area pertains to illegal holds. There are far more "outlawed" moves now than when I competed in the mat sport.

These new rules have been established with one thought in mind -- the safety of our wrestlers. I applaud the effort, but I feel that one move in particular needs to be placed in the "illegal holds" category. That maneuver is the body leg scissors with feet locked.

Presently, the leg scissors is prohibited around the head, with or without an arm encircled. Furthermore, the body leg scissors is illegal when applied for "punishment alone." However, if a wrestler is pinning his opponent, the body leg scissors is legal, even with its punishing attributes.


This move has caused me consternation for quite a long time. About five years ago, I learned of a very unfortunate fatality caused by the body leg scissors. A father was "rassling" around on the living room floor with his pre-adolescent son, squeezing his boy's stomach with a body leg scissors. Two days later, the child died of internal injuries, and the grieving father was almost arrested for manslaughter.

It was brought to my attention again in recent tournaments that I officiated. When wrestlers were being pinned with the use of the body leg scissors, I could tell they were in agony to the point where a couple actually gave up -- and pinned themselves!

My fear is that some day a grappler with extremely strong legs might crack some ribs, causing serious internal damage to his opponent's body. I sense that if we do not prohibit this move in wrestling, it's an accident waiting to happen. I pray that I am totally wrong.

I know that every member of the current national wrestling rules committee is totally committed to the well-being of all participants in the mat sport. This is why I believe that the committee needs to revisit the body leg scissors and reconsider its legitimacy in the sport of scholastic wrestling.

Personally, as a former coach, I never taught the body scissors because I felt that that its only usefulness in wrestling was to inflict pain. Furthermore, the move has the potential to cause permanent injury to a matman's body. As I previously stated and wholeheartedly believe, "It IS an accident waiting to happen!"

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