What Kind of Wrestling Is High School Wrestling?


Wrestling is a popular sport among college and high school athletes. Out of the three main types of wrestling, freestyle, folkstyle, and Greco-Roman, many people wonder which type is practiced in high school. 

What Kind of Wrestling Is High School Wrestling?

The kind of wrestling practiced in high school is known as folkstyle, though it is also known as scholastic or collegiate wrestling in both high school and college gyms. American schools teach folkstyle wrestling because it was considered a safer option than the standard style of catch wrestling. 

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss folkstyle wrestling and why it is used in high schools.  

Why Is Folkstyle Wrestling Used in High Schools?

Folkstyle wrestling is used in high schools because it originated in America as a safe wrestling style similar to catch wrestling. Because of catch wrestling’s dangerous nature, it was not widely accepted. Thus, folkstyle wrestling was created as a safer alternative.

The origins of catch wrestling are unknown. That’s because much of the documentation on catch wrestling was lost in history. 

However, catch wrestling had a lot of rich history in England throughout the late 1800s and beyond. Catch wrestling was eventually brought to America, and it grew quickly in popularity through traveling wrestling shows. 

Despite its popularity, catch wrestling was very dangerous. 

It featured many painful submissions, and the only way to win was pinfall or to make your opponent submit. 

Knowing this wasn’t feasible, America developed its own wrestling style called folkstyle, which took on parts of catch wrestling while leaving behind the more dangerous aspects. 

So, folkstyle wrestling began to take off in America, and it quickly became the standard academic wrestling style. It is now taught all over the country in high school and college. 

Is There a Difference Between Folkstyle Wrestling and Freestyle Wrestling?

There are a few differences between folkstyle wrestling and freestyle wrestling, such as pace and pinning strategies, and the points awarded throughout the match. Not only are the point systems different, but there are also differences in rules and move execution. 

While folkstyle wrestling is specific to American high school and college athletes, freestyle wrestling is more widespread. 

Folkstyle wrestling doesn’t continue beyond education, whereas freestyle is practiced in many competitions, including the Olympics. 

One major difference is pinning. 

In folkstyle wrestling, you must hold your opponent on their back for two seconds to win. Freestyle is done differently, only requiring a one-second pin. 

Freestyle is intended to be a faster-paced style of wrestling compared to folkstyle. 

While both wrestling styles follow a point system, they are set up a bit differently. For example, in freestyle wrestling, you are awarded 1-5 points depending on the intensity of a takedown, while you are awarded 2 points for every takedown in folkstyle wrestling. 

Freestyle encourages intense slams. Folkstyle only allows slams where the thrower’s body hits the mat before the person they are slamming. While these differences may seem small, they make each style of wrestling completely different.

Folkstyle wrestling focuses on planning and getting out of trouble, while freestyle is a more fast-paced style where wrestlers can be punished for delaying the match. 

How Many Styles of Wrestling Are There?

There are three main styles of wrestling: folkstyle, freestyle, and Greco-Roman. Though there are similarities in each, there are also major differences that set them apart, including throwing limitations and contact rules.

Greco-Roman wrestling first came to the Olympics in 1896. It quickly became a fan favorite and has been part of the ceremony since 1904. Since freestyle wrestling is also featured in the Olympics, there are significant differences between the two styles. 

One significant difference between the three styles is that Greco-Roman does not allow holds, trips, or throws to be done below the waist. 

This rule limits wrestlers to executing throws without involving their opponent’s legs. Compared to the other styles of wrestling, Greco-Roman tends to remove legs from the equation altogether because of the rules in place. 

Freestyle wrestling, while also an Olympic sport, is set up differently than Greco-Roman style. One major difference is that legs are more incorporated in freestyle wrestling, with fewer rules restricting the use of legs in holds and throws. 

Freestyle differs from Greco-Roman in their throwing rules also. In Greco-Roman, wrestlers must maintain contact during any type of slam or throw for it to count. Freestyle allows wrestlers to let go during a slam and resume contact once the opponent has hit the mat. 

Folkstyle and freestyle wrestling are the most similar of the three, although only folkstyle is taught in American high schools and colleges. 

What Style of Wrestling Is Best for MMA?

The style of wrestling that translates best to MMA is freestyle wrestling. Though a case can be made for Greco-Roman wrestling, there are more similarities between MMA and freestyle. 

Greco-Roman limits wrestlers on their use of legs in takedowns, submissions, and slams. Because freestyle encourages more use of legs, it is more closely tied to MMA fighting. Greco-Roman wrestlers will need to learn to be more comfortable involving their legs in their matches. 

A large part of MMA success is learning single and double-leg takedowns. Freestyle wrestling teaches those very early on. So, a freestyle wrestler will already have plenty of experience with those takedowns, while they aren’t allowed in Greco-Roman style. 

A lot of freestyle wrestling is learning to use your legs in a way that shifts your weight quickly. MMA fighters need to be quick on their feet when fighting in a cage and tackle their opponent to the ground without hesitation. 

That speed and ability to quickly shift weight can truly set freestyle wrestlers apart from other styles. 

Many successful MMA fighters come from a freestyle background. Most notably, Tito Ortiz has a background in freestyle wrestling.

Folkstyle wrestling is taught in high schools and colleges all over America, but it doesn’t continue after schooling levels. 

Once out of school, to continue wrestling, wrestlers must adapt and learn a different wrestling style to continue their careers. 

Since freestyle wrestling is closely related to folkstyle, wrestlers may choose to go that direction and continue into more fighting or even the Olympics. 

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