Wrestling is one of the fastest growing boys and girls sports over the last decade, possibly due to the explosion of televised mixed martial arts events (MMA) such as the UFC and strike force. Wrestlers have been able to put on a display of an enormous amount of toughness, conditioning, balance, focus and diversity in the way they approach combat.
Some wrestlers, like former UFC champion Matt Hughes, had a style that was focused on grounding his opponent and pounding them from the top position. This tactic helped him to 45 wins during his MMA career and he knocked out 14 of 15 opponents while on the ground with them. Hughes also had 20 submission victories, many by virtue of his opponents either giving up while taking a beating or they simply allowed him to put them in a submission hold in order to avoid taking any further punishment.
Chuck Liddell, another UFC champion, was known as a ferocious striker with knock out power but not everyone knows that Liddell had college level wrestling skills which allowed him to stay on his feet in order to unleash his hands which helped him to record 7 knockout victories in a row while in the UFC.
Sadly, there are not very many places where you can actually train in the sport of wrestling unless you are still young enough to be part of a youth or high school wrestling program or good enough to actually make it to the college level. There are some mixed martial arts gyms available that will have some cross training in wrestling but that usually is a small portion of the overall curriculum but still better than nothing.
The good news is that if you desire to develop endurance, explosiveness and agility we have some movements that you can perform at home without a partner that will help you on your way to getting you wrestling fit while simultaneously giving you some of the coordination that wrestlers possess.
- Duck Walks – There are a few versions of the duck walk but the wrestlers version simulates closing the distance to attack with a double leg take down. The benefit of this exercise is that it teaches you to keep your balance when moving in to “shoot” for your takedown and it develops strength and driving power in the legs. You can take this motion slowly and speed it up over time which will help with your cardio conditioning as well.
- Sprawl Drills – You may have seen a similar drill if you have ever watched or participated in a football practice. This drill is beneficial because it teaches you how to create the space you need and counter an attempt at a tackle or a dive for your legs. The sprawl drill is another endurance booster that works on agility and is a defensive technique that can be applied to most physical confrontations since many would be assailants eventually trying to bring you to the ground.
- Spin Drills – At this point you have mastered the sprawl by practicing the sprawl drill, what comes next is what is known as the spin drill. When an opponent attempts a tackle or dives for your legs once you have sprawled you have to decide what to do next. In most cases, if you reacted quickly enough, the opponent will be stuck underneath you but still facing you. This allows them the opportunity to try to stand back up or to try to go for your legs again by simply driving through you. The sprawl drill is used to teach you how to move around your opponent and even behind them in order to be in a safer position and establish control of the person before they can make any progress. The drill not only teaches sensitivity but aids in endurance and balance.
- Stand Up Drills – Stand ups are the primary defense for a wrestler when someone has taken their back as shown in the spin drill. The best way to get out of this situation is simply to stand up, but it is not as easy as you think when someone has taken you to the ground and is putting their weight on you from behind. The stand up drill teaches you the correct stand up from the bottom technique and it helps with explosiveness and leg strength at the same time.
All of these drills can be done at home or the gym and can be done with a partner or without. By adding these movements to your fitness routine you can begin to develop the balance, explosiveness and endurance that wrestlers are known for while at the same time improving your reaction and ability to perform or defend against grappling techniques.