How to become a wrestler
The different types of wrestling
When someone mentions wrestling to you, what do you think of? Do you instantly picture a ring and big burly men, a la WWE, or do you think of high school boys in spandex grappling on a mat in the gym?
For the purposes of this hub, I'm going to be concentrating on the former: Pro wrestling - as opposed to the other type, often called 'amateur'.
I'm not going to give away all the secrets, but I will help you realise that you don't have to be a particular type of person to be a wrestler; if you know where to look, the opportunities are for everyone.
So you want to be a wrestler?
First of all, analyse your reasons for wanting to be a wrestler.
If you want to do it purely for the status and the 'coolness' value, thinking you'll be able to get in shows and become famous straight away - you're doing it for the wrong reasons. Wrestling is hard work, and takes dedication. More about this later.
If you want to take part in a sport which can help you lose weight, tone up and allow you to make some great friends in the process - wrestling is for you.
Be honest with yourself. Too many people start wrestling only to disillusion themselves because they think they will be able to do it all from the get-go...you won't be able to.
Finding a school
It's important that you find a training school you're comfortable with. From my experience, the best schools are those which will allow you to go and watch a training session and meet the others. This is especially important if you have never done any training in wrestling or any other contact sport before.
When you're at the school, take notice how the other wrestlers treat each other, and how they interact with the coach. Is there a friendly atmosphere, or do you get the impression the wrestlers are afraid to put a foot wrong? Are the other trainees encouraged to work on particular moves, or does everyone have to do the same moves at the same time?
The best schools, in my opinion, are the ones where each wrestler is allowed to go at his or her own pace, and is never made to feel useless or embarrassed for making a mistake or forgetting a move. Everyone slips up, and a coach that will overly berate you for doing so shouldn't be coaching.
Bret Hart and his Figure 4 submission finish
Your debut in the training ring
Forget being in shows, at least for the first few months. There's more to being a wrestler than being able to pick someone up and slam them; you need to learn each move, how to take each move, how to communicate with your opponent, and a thousand and one other little things which make up a wrestling show.
Your training will nearly always consist of; stretching exercises, warm-up exercises such as pushups, and then 'bumps' - front, back and flips. These are a necessary part of a wrestlers career; if you can't land a bump, you can't do anything.
Once the preliminaries are over, training will invariably move onto 'spots' - combinations of moves performed in a match. When you first start, you will be shown the basic moves - wrist levers, back-hammers, and the full nelson. You will also be taught how to switch these on your opponent.
From these, you may be shown a couple of pins and perhaps a snap-mare or two, and the headlock will most likely feature too. These moves can form the basis of any wrestling match, and are moves that every wrestler should know.
Brother Ray (3D) doing a Powerbomb
Type of wrestler
Once your coach has taken you through certain moves, he or she will most likely be able to ascertain what type of wrestler you could become. There are essentially three types: Brawler, Technical and Flyer, although these names may vary. You could also become either a Heel, a Blue-Eye (Face) or a Neutral. I'll be covering each of these types a little later.
What character you go for can determine what type of moves you end up doing. Each wrestler will have signature moves - moves they perform particularly well or become well-known for. Often these are moves already used by famous pro-wrestlers, and renamed or perhaps altered slightly. Likewise, each wrestler will have at least one finishing move - for example, mine is a variation on the Samoan Drop by Samoa Joe of TNA, which I have called Eternal Slumber.
You may also decide on a ring name - the character name if you will. This will largely depend on the character you decide on; but often a character can build around a particular name.
Jeff Hardy - in his usual pose (upside down)
Face, Brawler, Blue-Eye...what?
More about the different types of wrestler and the types of move they do.
Brawler - The heavy-weights. Think 3D, Samoa Joe, Khali and Scott Steiner (Big Poppa Pump). Brawler moves are very power-oriented with powerbombs, bodyslams and suplexes featuring heavily (excuse the pun) in the matches.
Technical - Technical wrestlers tend to be more about speed than power. Wrestlers such as AJ Styles, Bret Hart and John Cena are all known for their technical ability and use speedy moves and lots of switching.
Flyers - These are perhaps the crowd-pleasers in any wrestling show. The ones who think nothing of launching themselves off the top rope to land on someone who may or may not have moved by then. The Hardy Boyz - Jeff in particular - are well-known 'flyboys'. top-rope legdrops, moonsaults and hurricanranas all feature in a flyer's repertoire.
Heel/Villan - speaks for itself, the Heels are the bad guys of the match. they're the ones who will distract the Referee while throtting their opponent on the rope; or drag somebody around by their hair despite repeated public warnings. The wrestlers the crowd love to hate.
Face/Blue-Eye - The favourites. Blue-Eyes get the crowd going and encourage the booing of their opponent. Nearly always technicals or flyers, Faces will usually be the more showy of the wrestlers, with lots of playing up to the crowd to get the chants going. Of course, such behavior only serves to anger the Heel...
Don't worry too much about choosing your character to begin with. You may well find that it changes as you progress, perhaps lose weight, or gain muscle; besides which, a Heel may find they have to turn Face to go against a bigger Heel, so it's worth learning all aspects of different characters.
Concentrate on your training and listen to your Coach, they have been through the ranks and have earned your respect; they are now imparting their extensive knowledge onto the next generation of wrestlers.
FAQs of wrestling
I'm not strong/fit enough to wrestle In reality, there's no such thing. Your strength and fitness will come as you train; and you can adapt moves to overcompensate if you feel you are lacking in one area.
I've got previous injuries/weak joints/medical condition This shouldn't matter if you use the proper supports. speak to your Coach and he or she will be able to advise you as to the best. Making your Coach aware of such injuries will also help them tailor your training to suit you.
How soon will I be on a show? This will all depend on how you progress. The more effort you put in, the sooner you're likely to get in a show. Your Coach will tell you when he/she thinks you're ready, not the other way around.
Do I need any special equipment or clothing? The use of elbow and knee pads is always recommended, as are comfortable clothing and, if possible, proper wrestling/boxing boots.
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