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Folkstyle vs. Freestyle Wrestling

Posted by Jeffrey Pape on


If you are interested in the sport of wrestling you have probably come across the terms folkstyle and freestyle often. They are two different styles of wrestling with separate sets of rules. In both styles, the ultimate goal is to pin the opponent to the mat, which results in an immediate win. Folkstyle and freestyle wrestling also both allow the use of the wrestler's or his opponent's legs in offense and defense. Here we will discuss some of the differences between the two wrestling styles and where you are likely to spot them being used, according to FILA (International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles).

Folkstyle Wrestling

Folkstyle, or often called collegiate wrestling, is a style of amateur wrestling that is practiced at the high school, college and university level in the United States. Folkstyle wrestling is the fifth most popular sport in American high schools and the most commonly practiced style of wrestling in the United States.

Folkstyle matches are comprised of three periods. The first period is always contested in the neutral position, and, unless ended by fall, technical fall or disqualification, each wrestler is given the opportunity to choose the starting position in the second and third periods. There is no rest between periods and delays between periods may be penalized by the mat referee. Mat wrestling is an important component and, in addition to points for exposing and holding an opponent's back to the mat, points are awarded for escaping an opponent's control or gaining control from him/her. In Folkstyle wrestling, the defensive wrestler must wrestle from the bottom position and the offensive wrestler must work hard to earn near fall points (exposure) or a fall. Failure to wrestle aggressively results in stalling penalties (passivity) from the mat referee, which can lead to disqualification. Tied matches are settled first with a "sudden victory" period (i.e., first wrestler to score from the neutral position wins) and then with mat wrestling where the wrestlers alternate the starting position.

Freestyle Wrestling

Freestyle wrestling is a style of amateur wrestling that is practiced throughout the world. It is one of the two styles of wrestling contested in the Olympic Games, along with Greco-Roman. According to FILA, Freestyle wrestling is a combat sport which confronts two male competitors who try to gain control over their opponent through the use of throws, locks, leg trips, and clinching techniques. All Freestyle holds can involve the legs in order to ultimately pin the opponent's shoulders to the mat. If a wrestler manages to do so, victory by "fall" is earned, otherwise, the match continues until the end of the regular time and the winner is decided according to the technical points scored.

Both styles of wrestling require the appropriate wrestling gear, including, wrestling headgear, wrestling shoes, kneepads, singlets, etc. No matter what style of wrestling match you are taking part in, it is important to always keep yourself protected and outfitted to do your best on the mat.