Wrestling is one of the world's oldest forms of athletic competition. Many cultures had forms of wrestling as a component of their military preparation. The ancient Olympics included wrestling, with the competition first recorded as taking place in the Games of 708 BC.

The recognized sport of wrestling is an athletic event, sanctioned by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), and it is included as both an international and Olympic competition. In North America, a variant to the FILA-styled competition is popular in both high schools and at a university level. In a number of countries in the modern world, wrestling, referred to as pro wrestling, is the name given the entertainment exemplified by the shows staged by the World Wrestling Federation, but this type of wrestling is not FILA-related.

Wrestling is a sport involving two athletes engaged in a physical competition that is limited to a specified area defined on a mat. The general object of all types of wrestling is one wrestler attempts to force the shoulders of the opponent to the floor in a prescribed manner. The contest, a bout, is generally two rounds, each three minutes in duration. A wrestler wins a bout by either scoring a fall against the opponent, or by accumulating points through the successful execution of various maneuvers. In all forms of wrestling, a referee will supervise the contest, and judges positioned near the mat will score the progress of the contest. The two different types of wrestling competition are freestyle (in which men and women compete in separate divisions) and Greco-Roman.

Freestyle wrestling is the most popular form of the sport throughout the world. In freestyle, the wrestler is permitted to use his entire body in the execution of any of the permitted techniques. Holds of the opponent, including the use of the legs and the tripping of an opponent, are a part of freestyle. The Greco-Roman discipline restricts the competitors to holds applied to an opponent from the waist up, and the use of the legs to hold or throw the opponent is prohibited. North American collegiate freestyle wrestling is similar to that of FILA competition; the chief differences are variations in the rules with respect to the definition of a fall and the length of a bout.

In all forms of wrestling, there are a variety of methods in which to score against an opponent. When the wrestler places the opponent in a position in which the opponent's back is pressed to the mat, points are scored. In the course of a maneuver that

Competitors wrestling at the 2003 Titan Games.
appears to have the wrestler in a position of control by the opponent, the wrestler will score if he is able to execute an escape from the disadvantageous position. A reversal is scored when a wrestler turns a scoring position for the opponent into a scoring position for himself. The best-known wrestling maneuver, a takedown, is when the wrestler takes the opponent from a standing position to the mat.

Wrestling in all of its forms is a demanding and highly athletic sport. As with many sports where physical strength and size are important competitive factors, wrestling competitions are divided into specific weight categories. Wrestling training must be comprehensive to produce a successful athlete, and all of the traditional attributes of complete physical fitness are engaged in the sport: strength, power, speed, flexibility, and endurance. The primal nature of wrestling, and the requirement that a single opponent be conquered, also demand the development of a very rigorous mental approach to training and competition.

The foundation of successful wrestling training is the development of a strong cardiovascular system. Like boxing, wrestling places demands on both the anaerobic energy system, due to the short, intense nature of the competition segments, as well as the aerobic system, necessary to facilitate recovery by the athletes. Traditional means of developing anaerobic fitness, such as interval training, are of benefit to the wrestler. Most comprehensive wrestling programs will ensure that the athlete obtains significant aerobic exercise, including running and cycling or the use of cardio machines when the athlete wishes to minimize the stress directed into legs, since they are the subject of very pronounced stresses in other aspects of training and competition.

The development of core strength is perhaps as important to a wrestler as any other physical attribute. Successful wrestling techniques each apply basic principles of physics, especially those relevant to the establishment of leverage, necessary to successfully throw an opponent, and the maintenance of a low center of gravity, to ensure stability in all movements. Successful wrestlers seek to develop their core strength to permit the maximum utility of the muscles of the abdomen, lumbar (lower back) region, groin, and gluteal area.

A characteristic of all successful wrestlers is the combined effect of flexibility and agility. Wrestling is a dynamic sport where the athlete must be able to respond to an opponent's attacks from a variety of physical positions. The rules of wrestling permit a multitude of different applications of force in which the greater the flexibility and resultant range of motion in the joints of the athlete, the more likely a positive response can be made and the less likely an injury will be sustained.

SEE ALSO Exercise, high intensity; Muscle mass and strength; Stretching and flexibility; Weight categories.