Wrestling is a sport that has passed through the ages. Passed down through the generations and through the different cultures, many different styles have emerged. In today’s world, Freestyle and Greco are the two that dominate. These are the styles that are in the Olympics. These two styles are essentially the exact same as far as rules go, the only main difference is that in Freestyle you can attack your opponent’s legs and use your legs for attacks—while in Greco, you cannot use your legs to attack, or attack the legs of your opponent. However, the point system is the same for both.
In the United States of America, we train in Folkstyle. It is similar to Freestyle in the sense that there are leg attacks, but the point system and ground game is completely different. In Folkstyle, one can expose ones back to the mat in an effort to gain control of the situation without any points being awarded to either athlete. In Freestyle and Greco, your opponent gains points every time your back is exposed.
In Folkstyle, it is one long seven-minute match with three periods. In Freestyle and Greco there are three periods as well, but each period is two minutes long and counts as a win/lose situation. The matches are handled best two out of three. So if you win the first two periods, the match is over.
USA Wrestling is a very proud tradition. We have produced some of the best international wrestlers to ever step foot on the mat, the only problem is that we are few and far between. The problem here, is the transition of our college athletes from Folkstyle into Freestyle and Greco. In other countries that dominate on the international scene, like Russia and Iran, wrestlers grow up only competing in Freestyle and Greco—our country’s wrestlers do not have that luxury.
The United States does have a strong off-season competition schedule in which our wrestlers are able to test their mettle against each other in the foreign styles. A perfect example of this would be Fargo Nationals. This is the national Freestyle and Greco tournament for highschoolers in America. It has over 4,000 participants in it every year and is actually the largest wrestling tournament in the world.
However, it has proven to not be enough. The United States is a sports crazed nation and to many of us, anything less than the best is unacceptable. And trust me, nobody takes that to heart more than wrestlers do!
So what are we to do as a nation if we are to reach the top? We have the athletes, the dedication, and the raw talent—we need to change our system though if we want reach our goal of being the best. I propose that we get rid of Folkstyle all together. Sure, it is an American tradition, but America isn’t even that old—it’s not something that our ancestors participated in. Plus, nobody else is doing it! It is honestly doing nothing but holding us back. If we want to be the best then we have to start training to be the best. And we are wasting too much time trying to make a transition. Our wrestlers need to start on Freestyle and Greco and have that be the only thing that they ever compete in. Only then will we see the global dominance that we as Americans strive for!