Wrestling With Language

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October 14, 2010 by David Gillaspie

Is learning a sport harder than learning a language?  No, it’s all about communication.

Immersion is one technique.  If you want to learn Spanish, visit a Spanish-speaking country, or a Mexican restaurant, whichever is closer.

If you want to learn French, go to Canada.

What language does an English speaker learn if they go to England?  I’ll wait for the answer.

Some say music is the universal language.  Some say math.  Other’s say love is the great leveler in culture, but they’ve never kissed an East German lady shot putter with a five o’clock shadow. 

Sport has one activity that crosses all barriers; it’s always been there; will always be there.  It was, is, and will be, wrestling.   

And here’s why:

Are you strong? 

Strong people prove it by lifting weights.  The more they lift, the stronger they get, until something pops or shreds. 

Remember the USC football player who dropped the bench bar on his neck?  He got better.  This year he broke his leg.

Are you flexible? 

Flexible people make good rhythmic gymnasts who curve their spine to copy the arc of the ribbon they whip around.  Flexible people who are strong make good gymnasts, the one’s who hang on bars and rings at angles you can’t find on any protractor.

Are you quick? 


If you are all that, or more, you should be a wrestler if you’re not one already. 

German is the language of science, French the language of diplomacy. 

Wrestling is the language of sport.  Learn it. 

Who you see out on the mat are athletes who have logged the miles of a track man, lifted weights like a football player, stretched like a gymnast, and drilled like a drum major.

No missteps so far.

A wrestler is not facing a balance beam, making a goal line stand, or running in a circle.  It’s more.

What you find on the mat are competitors revved up enough to believe they can’t fail.  They’ve done the work, then they prove it.

It’s not always pretty.  My Mom saw her first match and couldn’t believe the way they all got after it.  The other wrestling moms told her to go home and stop ruining it for them.

She caught on right away.

A Kenyan runner once said, “Winning and losing is the same, it’s the competition that matters.”

The runner he out-kicked in the home stretch heard those words later and asked, “If winning and losing was the same to him, why did he spit in my face for the last hundred meters?”

This needs a complicated answer, maybe an interpretation.

For all concerned, hacking on an opponent is not a part of wrestling.  The guy in a mask isn’t wearing a sneeze guard, he’s got a broken nose.

And there is no spitting in the British Museum, as explained in the real Rosetta Stone.


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