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Developing A Wrestling Style

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  • Developing A Wrestling Style

    When deciding on how you want to approach your wrestling career, you’ll need to figure out what wrestling style best suits your needs. Now first off, what exactly is a “wrestling style”? Well, simply put, it’s the type of maneuvers and techniques you will use once you are grappling with your opponent in the ring. Professional wrestling has come a long way from its roots in the classic Greco-Roman style.

    A lot of the decision for what style you want to use will depend on your experience and background. Part of it will also be affected by your personal physical size and build. But the good news is that with some training and hard work, you can master just about any wrestling style that you want and make it work for you. The trick is to find the one that works best for you and then stick with it, trying to learn and improve yourself as you go.

    Now, I’ve categorized the different wrestling styles in my own way so let me preface the following by saying that there are doubtless other styles out there that I might have missed. But for brevity’s sake (and the fact that my memory isn’t what it used to be), I’ll ask you to bear with my own interpretation of wrestling styles and see if they make sense to you.

    I divide wrestling styles into four major categories, each of which then has one or two sub-categories. Again, this is my own way of looking at things so if you dispute my organization of this topic, feel free to complain at the end of the lesson. But I think you’ll agree that the following, if nothing else, are somewhat logical.

    1. Powerhouse
    These are the big boys of professional wrestling, the ones who rely on their overwhelming strength to crush an opponent. Size *does* matter with this style as you will need muscle mass and raw power to be able to hoist your opponent into the air for a display of strength. Powerhouses aren’t the fastest guys in the ring but when they hit you, you feel it right down to your bones. Typical Powerhouse moves include Gorilla Press slams, bearhugs and powerslams.

    1a. High Impact
    I categorize this as a sub-division of Powerhouse because it does not rely so much on raw strength as it does on the sheer power of the moves involved. It’s a slight distinction, I admit, but a High Impact wrestler performs moves which inflict so much damage on an opponent that only two or three are needed to end a match. The High Impact style is most often practiced by puroresuring stars over in Japan where the size of the wrestlers is statistically less then we find in North America. Some typical High Impact maneuvers include the Death Valley Driver, piledriver variants, and the brainbuster.

    2. Mat Technician
    The technician is a style that lends itself to the mid-sized or smaller wrestlers who don’t want to spend a lot of time leaping off turnbuckles and flying through the air. How they stand toe-to-toe with stronger opponents is through sheer wrestling ability, using techniques to overcome any strength disadvantages they might have. This is one of the most popular styles out there as a lot of wrestlers use this to their advantage. Mat Technician moves tend to incorporate takedowns such as Russian legsweeps and submission holds such as figure-four leglocks and Scorpion Deathlocks.

    2a. Submission Expert
    A sub-category of the Technician is the Submissionist, a wrestler who specializes in twisting and turning his opponent’s joints in ways they were never designed to go. This can be one of the hardest styles to pursue since submission victories can be the hardest to accomplish. But if you like twisting your opponents into a pretzel, this is the style for you. A Submission Expert can normally pull off moves like spinning toeholds, anklelock submissions and the STF.


    2b. Martial Artist
    Another sub-category of the Technician is the Martial Artist, the embodiment of anyone who has ever seen a Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan movie. Martial artists may use a number of different arts such as karate, judo, kung fu, tae kwon do, savate, and others in a combination of hard-hitting offense with masterful defence. One of their biggest drawbacks, unfortunately, is that purist fans of the martial arts don’t watch professional wrestling so it sometimes loses its effect with the audience. Typical Martial Artist moves include enzuigiri’s, knifehand chops, spinning heel kicks and similar maneuvers.

    3. High Flyer
    Some of the most exciting wrestling matches ever seen are put on by the spectacular daredevils who leap off of turnbuckles to hit devastating maneuvers. This style definitely favors the smaller, lighter wrestlers as it can be difficult for a three hundred pound behemoth to accomplish these types of moves. A High Flyer will execute maneuvers such as moonsaults, frog splashes and 450 splashes.


    3a. Luchador
    A sub-category of High Flyer, this draws on the rich wrestling heritage generated down in Mexico. Luchadors tend to be the lightest, smallest wrestlers in the ring but they are also the fastest moving and most suicidal. The lucha libre style has even brought a whole new language to the art of wrestling as typical moves used by the luchador include the plancha, the suicida, the tope con hilo, and the hurricanrana.


    3b. Puroresu
    While I class it as a sub-category of High Flyer, the puroresu style from Japan is more accurately a hybrid between high flying and high impact maneuvers. The workrate practiced by puroresu stars is phenomenal as they focus almost exclusively on the technical aspects of wrestling. The style does not always translate well for North American audiences but it can lead to some of the most dynamic matches you’ll ever see. Typical moves in Puroresuring include the senton bomb, countless suplex variations and the infamous Michinoku Driver.


    4. Brawler
    One of the most popular wrestling styles out there, this one tends to get the least amount of respect because it involves the least amount of technical skill. But it takes courage and stamina to wrestle in this style which relies more on punches and kicks than it does on holds. Brawlers have a tendency to use maneuvers such as forearm smashes, headbutts, and kicks to various portions of the opponent’s anatomy.


    4a. Shootfighter
    While I classify it as a variation of the Brawler, the Shootfighter style derives from the recent popularity of “ultimate fighting” and pancrase wrestling. This is a hard-hitting style which inflicts a lot of damage but also uses some of the more technical elements of Greco-Roman wrestling and judo. Typical Shootfighter maneuvers include takedowns into leglocks, forearm and knee strikes, and some suplex variants.


    4b. Hardcore/Extreme
    Also more popular today than previously seen, this is a very difficult style to maintain as it takes the harshest toll on the wrestler’s bodies. It is often criticized as being “garbage” wrestling or for needing the least amount of technical ability but the wrestlers who work this style literally shed their blood to put on exciting and dynamic matches. Wrestlers need to be careful about the health risks of this style for it often requires “blading” as bloodletting is a prerequisite. Maneuvers used in Hardcore/Extreme matches tend to incorporate using weapons on the opponent but suicide splashes are also common.


    So as you can see, there is a lot of variety in the different approaches and methodologies toward competing in a wrestling ring. I will not debate the relative strengths and weaknesses of each style as I believe all are valid and can be used to great effect.

    What I would advise to any wrestler trying to decide what style to use is to draw on your own experience and find something that works best for you. And if one style doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to try out another.

    By “Fireball” Ken Keening
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