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What’s the Difference Between Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling?

What’s the Difference Between Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling?

Although they both involve grappling with an opponent, Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling have many significant differences. Despite its name, Greco-Roman wrestling actually originated in France during the 19th century. It derives its name from the desire to mimic the wrestling styles of ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea.

Conversely, freestyle wrestling allows for just about any techniques to be used to pin the opponent’s shoulders to the ground. Incorporating elements of sumo and judo, the style became popular in both the United States and Great Britain during the 1800s.

At Broad Axe Wrestling Club, we understand the value that participating in a sport has for your child. From improving physical abilities to instilling discipline and camaraderie among their classmates, we foster an environment where they can learn the distinct styles of this time-honored sport. While they have some essential similarities, both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling have some differences as well. Let’s take a look at what makes these two styles unique.

Use of Legs

Participants of freestyle wrestling can use their legs for not only defense, but as an offensive weapon as well. The rules of freestyle wrestling also allow them to take their opponent down by using a single- or double-leg takedown. This is not permitted in Greco-Roman wrestling. In fact, Greco-Roman wrestlers are not allowed to grab their opponents below the waist at any time. Because they can’t use their legs, Greco-Roman athletes must rely on techniques like headlocks, body locks, suplexes, and arm drags to take their opponents to the mat.

Accompanying the Opponent to the Mat

How the opponent is thrown to the ground is another major difference between Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling. Freestyle wrestlers can throw the other competitor then regain contact with them once they fall to the canvas to secure a better position. However, the Greco-Roman style requires opponents to maintain contact through the entire takedown. If contact is lost between the two, a referee will stop the hold.

Escaping the Hold

Refusing contact with an opponent to stop them from initiating a hold is known as escaping, and it’s illegal to do in freestyle wrestling. While this also happens during Greco-Roman wrestling, the style has rules that can regulate the flee of a hold while on the ground. Since you can’t grapple below the waist in this style, Greco-Roman wrestlers need to avoid putting an attacker in that position.

Ordered Holds

If no points are scored in a freestyle wrestling match, the referee may grant what’s known as an ordered hold. In the case of an ordered hold, one freestyle opponent will get the advantage, which is determined by a random draw. The loser of the draw will put one leg inside the main circle while keeping one leg outside, giving the opponent a significant advantage. If the disadvantaged wrestler doesn’t give up a point, they win the round.

In a Greco-Roman setting, the rules regarding an ordered hold are much different. If there is no score for some time, then the wrestlers will take turns going into the par terre position. This formation involves one wrestler on their hands and knees in the middle of the circle, while the opponent positions themselves behind, either standing or with one knee on the ground. Whichever wrestler has the lead after the standing portion of the round wins the advantage in a par terre situation.

Regardless of what wrestling style your child is interesting in learning, we can provide them with the skills and confidence they need to succeed, all while building lasting friendships on and off the mat. For more information on our membership classes for both Greco-Roman and now freestyle wrestling, contact Broad Axe Wrestling Club today!


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"My son has been working with Sam for the past 8 months, participating in both private sessions and club practices on a weekly basis. As a physical education teacher with coaching experience for over 20 years, I am highly impressed with Sam’s coaching skills as he has certainly exceeded my expectations in the qualities that I look for in a great coach. I notice a tremendous improvement in my son's skill set and skyrocketing self-confidence in his own wrestling skills. My son has developed from a timid young wrestler to a confident athlete that is apparent in all areas of his life, not just on the mat."
"I have been a youth wrestling coach for the past 8 years and also wrestled myself. My son started going to club practice and getting private lessons from some over a year ago. The improvement in my sons wrestling in that time has blown me away. The attention to detail and next level technique sam has exposed him to I believe will take him far in the sport. Most important is the passion and love for the sport Sam translates to my son."
"Without question one of the best technician in the sport! Coach Walters work ethic and dedication has help create passion in my son's life both on and off the mat in the sport of wrestling. He has built a long lasting relationship with deep committee to see my son get better in the sport. The relationship he builds with his wrestlers is a true credit to his character not only as a coach but as a man."
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