When most people think about wrestling, they likely think of the more modern version of the sport, with wrestling mats, roped-in rings, and an indoor audience.
Although this is the most common version of wrestling practiced today, another form of wrestling has been taking hold over the past 20 years—one that takes place on the beach.
What Is Beach Wrestling?
Beach wrestling is a popular point-based form of wrestling that takes place on the beach without mats, in the sand. Contestants must follow a set of authorized moves to score three points against their opponent, all while remaining in a standing position.
In this article, I will discuss beach wrestling rules, where beach wrestling is popular, and ways that you can participate.
What Are the Rules of Beach Wrestling?
For beach wrestling tournaments sanctioned by United World Wrestling (UWW), each contestant must follow a set of rules before participating in a tournament.
The rules of beach wrestling are that matches must not exceed three minutes, wrestlers have to remain standing, and a player must score three points to win. There are also age and weight divisions, clothing requirements, and a set of rules in the case of a tie.
Let’s examine these more closely.
Age and Weight Divisions
There are three age and weight divisions for men and women: cadets, juniors, and seniors.
- Cadets: Ages 16-17, in which men must weigh 60-70+ kg (132-154 lbs), and women must weigh 50+ kg (110 lbs).
- Juniors: Ages 18-20, in which men must weigh 60-80+ kg (132-176 lbs), and women must weigh 50-60 kg (110-123 lbs).
- Seniors: Ages 20 and older, in which men must weigh between 70-90+ kg (154-198 lbs), and women must weigh between 60-70+ kg (132-154 lbs).
Contestants participating in a UWW-sanctioned event must wear a competition uniform that includes country abbreviations. Sponsor names may be included in the uniform as long as they don’t block out country details.
Shoes are also not allowed at beach wrestling tournaments. The sport includes one’s ability to remain standing on sand.
Before the Match Begins
At the start of every match, wrestlers go to a corner that matches their assigned color. At that point, they wait for a referee to call them over to their side, in which they must go through a uniform and body inspection. This inspection ensures that they are not covered in perspiration or any other greasy substances that could interfere with the match.
Wrestlers then greet each other and shake hands while waiting for the referee to blow their whistle. Once the whistle blows, the match has begun.
During the Match: Illegal Moves
During a beach wrestling match, there are specific rules surrounding the point system. There are also illegal moves that will disqualify a contestant. If a wrestler uses an illegal move to obtain a point, they will be immediately disqualified from a match. Here is a list of moves that disqualifies wrestlers from a match:
- Limb dislocations
- Neck cranks
- Biting, punching, or kicking
- Making intentionally malicious faces at an opponent
- Head butts
- Gouging of the eyes, ears, or nose
- “Fish hooking,” or using fingers to yank on the orifice of an opponent’s body
- Pulling an opponent’s hair, nose, or ears
- Attacking an opponent’s groin
- Standing throws on an opponent’s head or neck
- Putting greasy or sticky substances on your skin
- Leaving the designated match area for any reason
- Faking injuries
The Point System
To win, wrestlers must score three points against their opponents. To do so, they have to follow specific guidelines.
To score one point, wrestlers must bring any part of the opponent’s body, except for the hands, to the ground. They can also bring any body part out of the competition area. If a wrestler’s opponent has acted illegally, that player will also automatically score a point.
To score two points, a wrestler must expose their opponent’s back to the ground after performing a takedown.
If There Is a Tie
In the case of a tie, a set of criteria will determine the ultimate winner. If both wrestlers have already scored three points, here is how the referees can determine the winner of the match:
- If the wrestler has the highest value of holds against their opponent, they can win the match.
- If the wrestler scored the last point in the match, they can win the match.
- If the wrestler weighs the least, they can win the match.
- If the wrestler has the lowest number pulled during the weigh-in draw, they can win that way.
Where Is Beach Wrestling Popular?
Beach wrestling is an internationally popular sport, with guidelines to make it easier for different countries to come together and wrestle.
Although it’s steadily gaining international popularity, beach wrestling is especially well liked in Ukraine, which has its own All-Ukrainian Beach Wrestling Federation.
Beach Wrestling in Ukraine
Ukrainian interest in beach wrestling took hold in 2013 when the first tournament was held in Luzanovka—one attended by over 500 people.
Now, Ukrainian beach wrestlers are competitive and frequently participate in international competitions.
In fact, students of the Ukrainian Beach Wrestling Team participated in the 2017 World Cup held in Turkey. They got multiple 1st and 2nd place categories.
Ukrainian athletes also won other 2nd place medals while participating in the 2018 World Championships.
As beach wrestling became more and more prominent in Ukraine, it was evident that there was a need to create a federation, which is known as the All-Ukrainian Beach Wrestling Federation.
How to Sign Up for Beach Wrestling Tournaments
As beach wrestling is mainly known internationally, trying to get involved can seem pretty daunting. However, anybody can get involved in beach wrestling; you just have to follow a set of steps.
To get involved in beach wrestling tournaments, you can look online for events happening near you. Once you find a tournament you are eligible to participate in, use that website’s registration form and begin training.
Signing Up in the United States
To register for events in the United States, visit this link at usawrestlingevents.com and use their registration form to access events near you.
With their search tool, you can easily access local, state, and national events where you’ll receive instructions on registration.
Signing Up Internationally
If you live outside of the United States, United World Wrestling is a great resource to find events to participate in, as it is the standard for international beach wrestling. Using their website, you can find events near you with instructions on registration.
Additionally, you can easily access all upcoming events through their event page to see upcoming tournaments and plan for your participation.
Although beach wrestling is a relatively new sport, it is quickly growing in popularity. While it may seem like there are lots of rules that wrestlers have to follow to compete, those guidelines make it easier for countries to compete against each other.
Beach wrestling is a popular sport in Ukraine, but it is played across the world. If you are interested in getting involved in beach wrestling tournaments, sign up for events on the UWW or USA Wrestling website and begin training.
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