ancient wrestling techniques

Want to Learn Ancient Wrestling Techniques? An Expert Guide

Throughout history, cultures have cherished these physical contests of strength and skill. Whether it’s the Greco-Roman style of ancient Greece or the various traditional forms of wrestling in Asia and the Middle East, ancient wrestling techniques have a rich history and cultural importance.

Ancient wrestling techniques are more than just physical movements – they’re intertwined with customs, traditions, and beliefs. These techniques reflect cultural values and practices from clinches to throws, pins to locks, and holds. Understanding these ancient techniques is essential to appreciate the sport’s historical and cultural significance.

This article will explore the definition of ancient wrestling techniques, their cultural relevance and historical significance, and the importance of mastering them in old wrestling.

The clinch in ancient wrestling refers to gripping and holding an opponent in a close embrace, often around the upper body, to establish control and create opportunities for offense or defense. 

The clinch can be used to set up throws, pins, locks, or holds and is a crucial element of close-quarters combat in wrestling.

The purpose of the clinch is to gain control over an opponent’s movements and limit their ability to execute techniques effectively. It can break an opponent’s balance, disrupt their attacks, or create openings for takedowns or submissions. The clinch requires precise positioning, leverage, and control to effectively manipulate an opponent’s body and gain an advantage in a match.

Different Types of Clinch Techniques Used in Ancient Wrestling 

  1. Collar Tie: This clinch involves gripping the back of an opponent’s neck with one hand while using the other hand to control their arm or wrist. It is commonly used to maintain an opponent’s posture, set up throws, or create openings for strikes.
  2. Over-Under Clinch: Also known as the double underhooks, this clinch involves securing both arms under an opponent’s arms and gripping their back or waist. It provides excellent control and can set up throws or trips.
  3. Body Lock: This clinch involves wrapping both arms around an opponent’s body, typically at the waist or lower back. It controls an opponent’s movements, breaks their balance, and sets up throws or takedowns.
  4. Front Headlock: This clinch involves gripping an opponent’s head from the front, typically with an arm around its neck. It can control an opponent’s posture, set up chokes or submissions, or create openings for attacks.

Throws in Ancient Wrestling

Throws are an integral part of ancient wrestling and play a crucial role in gaining points, achieving dominance, and securing victory. Throws allow wrestlers to use their opponent’s momentum and balance against them and can result in a quick and decisive victory if executed with precision.


Throws are not only about physical strength but also require technical skill, timing, and positioning. Here are some examples of throws commonly used in ancient wrestling:


  1. Hip Toss: This throw involves using the hips and leverage to lift an opponent off the ground and throw them over the hip, resulting in a forceful landing on their back.
  2. Shoulder Throw: Also known as a “fireman’s carry,” this throw involves lifting an opponent onto one’s shoulder and forcefully driving them to the ground.
  3. Leg Sweep: This throw involves sweeping an opponent’s leg with one’s own leg, causing them to lose balance and fall to the ground.
  4. Body Slam: This throw involves lifting an opponent off the ground and slamming them forcefully onto the mat, using one’s own strength and momentum.
  5. Headlock Throw: This throw involves applying a headlock on an opponent and using leverage to bring them down to the ground.

Pins in Ancient Wrestling

Pins, also known as holds, are crucial in ancient wrestling as they lead to immediate victory if executed successfully. In many old wrestling styles, pins are considered the ultimate goal. 


Pins require a combination of technique, strength, and strategy, as wrestlers need to use their body position, leverage, and weight distribution to keep their opponent’s shoulders on the mat for a specified period. 


Here are some examples of pinning techniques commonly used in ancient wrestling:


  1. Chest-to-Chest Pin: This pin involves controlling an opponent’s upper body and chest, using one’s body weight and leverage to keep them on their back, with both shoulder blades touching the mat.
  2. Half Nelson Pin: This pin involves applying a half nelson hold, a type of neck and arms control, to an opponent while keeping their back on the mat.
  3. Grapevine Pin: This pin involves entangling an opponent’s legs with one’s own legs while controlling their upper body, preventing them from escaping or bridging.
  4. Cradle Pin: This pin involves securing an opponent’s leg and head and rolling them onto their back while maintaining control over their upper body.
  5. Leg Ride Pin: This pin involves riding an opponent’s leg while controlling their upper body to keep them on their back.
ancient wrestling techniques

Locks in Ancient Wrestling

Locks in ancient wrestling involve joint manipulation, compression, or hyperextension to restrict an opponent’s movement and create opportunities for control or submission. Locks are often used as a defensive technique to counter an opponent’s attack or as an offensive technique to gain power or force a submission.


Depending on the wrestling style and rules, locks can be applied to various joints, including the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. They require precise technique, leverage, and an understanding of anatomy and joint mechanics to be executed effectively.


Some common types of locks used in ancient wrestling include:


  1. Arm Locks involve manipulating the opponent’s arms to create pressure on the shoulder, elbow, or wrist joint. Examples include arm bars, wrist locks, and shoulder locks.
  2. Leg Locks involve manipulating the opponent’s legs to create pressure on the hip, knee, or ankle joint. Examples include ankle locks, kneebars, and toe holds.
  3. Neck Locks: These involve applying pressure or compression to the opponent’s neck or throat to restrict their breathing or blood flow. Examples include chokes and strangles.
  4. Body Locks involve manipulating the opponent’s body to create pressure or control their movement. Examples include body triangles, body cranks, and spinal locks.
  5. Compression Locks involve using compression to restrict an opponent’s movement or cause discomfort. Examples include bear hugs and body squeezes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are some standard ancient wrestling techniques? 

A: Ancient wrestling techniques include clinch, throws, pins, locks, and holds. These techniques were used in traditional combat sports in various cultures throughout history.

Q: How important are clinch techniques in ancient wrestling? 

A: Clinch techniques are crucial in ancient wrestling as they allow wrestlers to gain control over their opponents, create openings for throws or other techniques, and maintain advantageous positions during matches.

Q: What are some popular types of throws used in ancient wrestling? 

A: Some popular throws used in ancient wrestling include hip throws, shoulder throws, leg trips, and body throws. These throws require proper technique, timing, and positioning to execute effectively.

Q: How significant are pins in ancient wrestling? 

A: Pins are essential in ancient wrestling as they allow wrestlers to immobilize their opponents and win matches by achieving a pinfall. Proper understanding and execution of pinning techniques are crucial for success in ancient wrestling.

Q: What are some common types of locks used in ancient wrestling? 

A: Common locks used in ancient wrestling include arm, leg, and neck locks. These locks are used to control and manipulate an opponent’s joints or body to gain an advantage in a match.

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