Sport From Survival

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March 26, 2011 by David Gillaspie

Duck Under For G?

Former wrestlers getting up in years, or sooner, question the sport from the inside.

They turn it into some kind of self examining psychotherapeutic marathon. 

If they don’t, someone else will.

If you try to find the truth to wrestling, why not stick to the journalist’s formula and save time.

This is the traditional train of thought: who, what, when, where, why, and how.


Most wrestlers would say “anyone with a pair wrestles.”  Others might say “those with a need to engage in a primordial struggle wrestle.”

Stick with the pair and keep it simple.


It’s pure energy and effort, along with deception and dekes.  You don’t start out making others look silly, you start out looking silly. 

Silly is not a goal, or even a word to use, in wrestling.  But what else would you call losing a point in a tied dual because you didn’t cover your shoe laces?

Do everything right, win your match, then get dinged a team point for shoe laces? 

That ones on you, silly.


Let’s say you’re at a tournament with technical difficulties, the sort of message you get on television when someone falls asleep at the switch.  It’s ten at night and you hear your name called for Mat 1.

Do you say it’s past your bedtime?  That you’ve never wrestled at night?  That you’re too tired?

When you hear your name called, you go.  Let the other guy forfeit.


If you’re a JV guy traveling to another school and they put you on taped together tumbling mats, beat your opponent.

If you’re a five-time regional placer under the lights on the big mat, beat your opponent.

If you’re looking to try out for an All-Star team and the administrator wants to see what you’ve got, but doesn’t have a mat handy, pummel him in the hallway and explain what you’d do once you hit the ground.  Make it fierce so he gets the idea.

Then beat your opponent.


Why wrestle?  Everyone has an internal dynamic, opposing forces that fight one another all the time.  One of them is a quitter, the other is curiosity.  Most people listen to the quitter when things get too difficult. 

Wrestlers listen to curiosity to see how long they can go before their quitter speaks up.

Once they learn to shut their internal quitter’s mouth, they’re curious about what it takes for other’s to quit.

In a contest of pain thresholds, the loser isn’t always a quitter.  Rules come into play with a medical problem.

Other than that, beat your opponent.


This is the real question.  

local guy working through the police department has some at-risk youths in after school activities.  Some aren’t getting with his program so he decided to start a wrestling group for his troubled middle schoolers. 

He recruits a former wrestler.

During the interview, some questions come up:  Do you start from the mat and move to the feet, or start on the feet first?

If you start on the feet, do you work off the mat and tell the kids they’ll get to the mat when they’ve earned the right?

Do you introduce them to the push and pull on the gym floor to boost their balance, moving from standing on one leg pushing with one arm, to two legs and two arms?

Do you bring a wrestling shirt trophy and award it to the best guy at practice each week?

Remember what you learn now, because this will happen to you.  If it doesn’t, find a way to make it happen sooner than later.  It’ll be good for you, good for the kids, and good for the sport.

You already know what to do with your opponent, now show someone else.


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