Amateur Wrestling is the most widespread form of sport wrestling. There are two international wrestling styles performed in the Olympic Games under the supervision of FILA (Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées or International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles): Greco-Roman and freestyle. Freestyle is possibly derived from the English Lancashire style. A similar style, commonly called collegiate (also known as scholastic or folkstyle), is practiced in colleges and universities, secondary schools, middle schools, and among younger age groups in the United States. Where the style is not specified, this article refers to the international styles played on a mat.
Greco-Roman and freestyle differ in what holds are permitted; in Greco-Roman, the wrestlers are permitted to hold and attack only above the waist. In both Greco-Roman and freestyle, points can be scored in the following ways:
- Takedown: A wrestler gaining control over his opponent from a neutral position.
- Reversal: A wrestler gaining control over his opponent from a defensive position.
- Exposure or the Danger Position: A wrestler exposing his opponent's back to the mat for several seconds, also awarded if one's back is to the mat but the wrestler is not pinned.
- Penalty: Various infractions (e.g. striking the opponent, acting with brutality or intent to injure, using illegal holds, etc.). (Under the 2004-2005 changes to the international styles, a wrestler whose opponent takes an injury time-out receives one point unless the injured wrestler is bleeding.) Any wrestler stepping out of bounds while standing in the neutral position during a match is penalized by giving his opponent a point.
Scores no longer awarded in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling
In 2004, FILA radically changed the format and scoring of the international styles. Part of this involved eliminating two ways of scoring which are possible from the par terre, or 'on the mat,' position.
- Escape: A wrestler getting from a defensive position to a neutral position.
- Lifting: A wrestler successfully lifting an opponent in the defensive position without exposing his back. Prior to this rule change a wrestler could score 1 point simply by lifting his opponent off the mat into the air.
Scores only awarded in collegiate wrestling
As in the international styles, collegiate wrestling awards points for takedowns and reversals. It also awards points for escapes. Penalty points are awarded in collegiate wrestling according to the current rules, which basically penalize moves that would impair the life or limb of the opponent. However, the manner in which infractions are penalized and points awarded to the offended wrestler differ in some aspects from the international styles. Collegiate wrestling also awards points for:
- Near Fall: This is similar to the exposure (or danger position) points given in Greco-Roman and freestyle. A wrestler scores points for holding his opponent's shoulders or scapulae to the mat for several seconds while his opponent is still not pinned.
- Time Advantage or Riding Time: On the college level, the wrestler who controlled his opponent on the mat for the most time is awarded a point; provided that the difference of the two wrestlers' time advantage is at least one minute.
In the international styles, the format is now three two-minute periods. A wrestler wins the match when he has won two out of three periods. For example, if one competitor were to win the first period 1-0 and the second period 1-0, the match would be over. However, if the other competitor were to win the second period, then a third and deciding period would result. Only a fall, injury default, or disqualification terminates the match; all other modes of victory result only in period termination.
One side effect of this format is that it is possible for the losing wrestler to outscore the winner. For example, periods may be scored 3-2, 0-4, 1-0, leading to a total score of 4-6 but a win for the wrestler scoring fewer points.
In collegiate wrestling, the period structure is different. A college match consists of one three-minute period, followed by two two-minute periods, with an overtime round if necessary. A high school match typically consists of three two-minute periods, with an overtime round if necessary. Under the standard rules for collegiate wrestling, draws are not possible; this rule is sometimes modified for young wrestlers.
A match can be won in the following ways:
- Win by Fall: A fall, also known as a pin, occurs when one wrestler holds both his opponents' shoulders on the mat simultaneously.
- Win by Technical Superiority: If one wrestler gains a 15-point lead over his opponent at any point in the period, the current period is declared over, and he is the winner of that period. Also, if a wrestler executes one 5-point throw or two 3-point throws in a single period, the current period is declared over, and he is the winner of that period.
- Win by Decision: If neither wrestler achieves either a fall or technical superiority, the wrestler who scored more points during the period is declared the winner of that period. If the wrestlers have gained the same number of points at the period's end, then the winner is determined in the following order: 1. Fewest caution points awarded to opponent 2. Most 3-point throws 3. Most 2-point throws 4. Last point scored. 5. If neither wrestler has scored a point in the period then a clinch is used to decide the winner. The referee flips a disc with a blue side and a red side. This determined which wrestler will take the opponents leg while kneeling in front of his opponent. Once the referee blows his whistle, the kneeling wrestler has 30 seconds to score a point and win the period. If he does not score or his opponent scores first, then the wrestler whose leg was taken to start the period is declared the winner.
- Win by Default: If one wrestler is unable to continue participating for any reason or fails to show up on the mat after his name was called three times before the match begins, his opponent is declared the winner of the match by default, forfeit, or withdrawal.
- Win by Injury: If one wrestler is injured and unable to continue, the other wrestler is declared the winner. This is also referred to as a medical forfeit or injury default. The term also encompasses situations where wrestlers become ill, take too many injury time-outs, or bleed uncontrollably. If a wrestler is injured by his opponent's illegal maneuver and cannot continue, the wrestler at fault is disqualified.
- Win by Disqualification: Normally, if a wrestler is assessed three Cautions for breaking the rules, he is disqualified. Under other circumstances, such as flagrant brutality, the match may be ended immediately and the wrestler disqualified and removed from the tournament.
Amateur wrestling is a positionally-based form of grappling, and thus generally prohibits the following:
- Pinching or poking with the fingers, toes, or nails, including fish-hooking the nose or mouth
- Gouging or intentionally scratching the opponent – eye-gouges especially are grounds for disqualification and banned status in most amateur wrestling competitions
- Strikes using the hands, fists, elbows, feet, knees, or head
- Joint locks, including armlocks, leglocks, spinal locks, wristlocks, and small joint manipulation.
- Chokeholds, strangling, suffocating, or smothering
- Spiking, or lifting and slamming the opponent head-first to the mat (though other forms of slamming are generally allowed in the international styles; in collegiate, slamming per se is illegal)
- Grasping or holding the opponent's genitals
- Using a figure-four (grappling hold) leg lock (where one knee is bent at a 90º (degree) angle and placed behind the other knee) on the torso or the head in the neutral position (It is, however, legal to figure-four the head if both wrestlers are not in the neutral position; this rule exists primarily to prevent people from using a figure-four lock of the head to prevent a 'shooting' takedown, as it is very dangerous in that circumstance.)
- Most types of amateur wrestling also discourage or prohibit the use of one's own or the opponent's clothing for grasping or performing any type of hold.
No modern sport allows biting, finger-poking, eye-gouging, or genital shots. But many other grappling-based sports permit some or all of the other tactics listed above, including shoot wrestling, judo, jujutsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, mixed martial arts, and catch wrestling. Different styles of amateur wrestling may also prohibit specific types of illegal holds (e.g. Greco-Roman wrestling prohibiting holds below the waist).
While there is not much equipment that a wrestler wears, it is still highly specialized. A wrestling singlet is a one-piece, tight-fitting, colored, lycra uniform. The uniform is tight-fitting so as not to get grasped accidentally by the opponent and allows the referee to see each wrestler's body clearly when awarding points or a pin. Women wrestlers wear a higher cut singlet usually with a sports-bra underneath.
Wrestling shoes are light, flexible, thin-soled, ankle-high sneakers that allow maximum speed and traction on the mat without giving up ankle support. The current rules call for laces (if any) to be covered so that they do not come untied during competition.
In American high school and college wrestling especially (Although under current FILA rules, it is optionable.), headgear is mandatorily used to protect the ears from cauliflower ear and other injuries. Headgear is made from molded plastic polymer or vinyl coated energy absorbing foam over a rigid hard liner and strapped to the head tightly.
Wrestling is conducted on a padded mat that must have excellent shock absorption, tear resistance, and compression qualities. Most mats are made of PVC rubber nitrile foam. Recent advances in technology have brought about new mats made using closed cell, cross-linked polyethylene foam covered in vinyl backed with non-woven polyester.