The Many Disciplines in International Wrestling

October 27, 2017 at 5:29 am Ron Mullinax

Remarkable and Famous International Wrestling Disciplines Today


The Many Disciplines in International Wrestling

Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the world. A combat sport that makes use of grappling, clinching, fighting, throwing, takedowns, joint locks, and pinning techniques, wrestling is a sport that can be competitive (MMA, Olympic wrestling) or for theatrical entertainment (pro wrestling). Pro wrestling promotions such as International Wrestling Alliance, International Wrestling Association, and the and the famed WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) have many detractors; yet followers can’t deny that pro wrestling has made the sport popular and profitable for athletes nowadays.

Whether for entertainment or competition, wrestling is still a physically demanding sport. There are many disciplines with varied rules of the sport. International wrestling rules are set by FILA and United Word Wrestling (UWW). Here are some of the most popular international wrestling styles as defined by the UWW.


Olympic Styles

  1. Greco-Roman. In this discipline, wrestlers are forbidden to attack or hold below the belt of their opponents. This include tripping and actively using legs to do any action. Greco-Roman wrestling gives more emphasis on high throws and pinning opponents to the mat to win the match.
  2. Freestyle. Also, an Olympic sport, this wrestling discipline is divided into men’s and women’s division. Unlike Greco-Roman, this discipline allows wrestlers to use their legs for both offense and defense. Wrestlers score points by throwing or pinning their opponents. American scholastic and collegiate wrestling is based on freestyle but with some different rules.


Associated Styles

  1. Grappling. Grappling is a style that combines techniques from different combat sports such as sambo, judo, catch wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, freestyle wrestling, and more. This wrestling discipline focuses more on taking down opponents, controlling them on the ground, and forcing them to submit through chokes and joint locks.
  2. Pankration. The only martial art that can trace its origin from the 648 BC Olympic Games, the modern version of this wrestling discipline is like mixed martial arts but without strikes to the head. The rules for pankration for both men’s and women’s divisions are similar.
  3. Beach wrestling. One of the newest wrestling disciplines to be codified (20014) by the international wrestling federation, beach wrestling uses various techniques from different disciplines but is played in a seven-meter-diameter circle of sand. Wrestlers earn points by bringing opponents to the ground, pushing opponents outside the circle, and exposing opponents’ shoulders to the ground during takedowns.



Professional Wrestling

Pro wrestling, although not under FILA or WWU, is traditionally based on catch wrestling and freestyle wrestling. However, unlike competitive wrestling tournaments, pro wrestling follows dramatic and highly theatrical storylines. This doesn’t mean that pro wrestlers have it easy. In fact, pro wrestlers mostly come from competitive wrestling backgrounds.

Such stars include WWE’s Kurt Angle who won gold medals as a freestyle wrestler at the 1995 World Wrestling Championships and the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Which wrestling discipline do you think is better suited for MMA or for pro wrestling? Let’s discuss each discipline’s strengths and weaknesses. Talk with me on social media on my Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads pages. Don’t forget to check out my book, Fritz Von Erich: Master of the Iron Claw, to learn about the famous Von Erich wrestling dynasty.



Grabianowski, Ed. 2006. “How Pro Wrestling Works.” How Stuff Works, January 13. Accessed October 12, 2017.

United World Wrestling. n.d. “Disciplines.” United World Wrestling. Accessed October 12, 2017.

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