What Kind Of Wrestling Do They Teach In High School?


high school wrestling

The type of wrestling they teach in high school is known as folkstyle wrestling. When taught in high school it is also referred to as scholastic wrestling. Folkstyle wrestling is unique to the United States and is mostly taught in our middle schools, high schools, and colleges. 

Folkstyle wrestling is somewhat similar to the freestyle wrestling that is practiced at the Olympics. However, there are some major differences between folkstyle and freestyle wrestling.

Unfortunately, however, folkstyle wrestling taught in American high schools are not practiced in the Olympics like freestyle wrestling is.

But how did folkstyle wrestling become the style of wrestling that we teach in our high schools today?

Why American High Schools Teach Folkstyle Wrestling

The reason we teach folkstyle wrestling instead of other styles has to do with the history of how folkstyle wrestling came to be. Folkstyle wrestling is part of American history and has been traditionally taught in our schools.

To understand how this all happened we need to look at the history of scholastic wrestling. When the Europeans came to the Americas many of the Native American tribes already had their styles of wrestling.

The Europeans had a style known as catch wrestling or catch as catch can.Most catch wrestling submissions are pretty brutal and painful. The most common submissions would be things such as neck cranks, leg locks, toe holds, and spine locks.

So naturally, American high schools wanted to adopt a wrestling style that was more suitable for kids. So they adapted the previous styles by taking out the submissions and adopting a point system.

The Birth Of Scholastic Wrestling

Since catch wrestling was not likely going to be a sport accepted by much of the American population, they created a new style known today as folkstyle wrestling.

Of course, when taught in high school it is known as scholastic wrestling, and in colleges, it is referred to as collegiate wrestling. Both of which are folkstyle wrestling.

The point system however was not accepted until 1941 when introduced by Art Griffith, who was a wrestling coach out of Oklahoma State University. That said, this new style of wrestling would be a better fit for American schools and colleges that did not want their students injured.

Why Don’t They Teach Freestyle Wrestling In High Schools?

One question that comes up quite a bit is why don’t they just teach freestyle wrestling in high schools and colleges. After all, unlike folkstyle wrestling, freestyle wrestling is an international sport. It is even one of the wrestling styles in the Olympics.

In addition, folkstyle and freestyle wrestling are pretty similar. So why not get kids started at an early age with freestyle wrestling instead of transitioning later? Honestly, this does make a lot of sense and it is pretty hard to argue against.

One argument that does hold some weight is that folkstyle wrestling is probably safer than freestyle wrestling. Which of course is more fitting for middle schools and high schools. The main reason for this is that folkstyle wrestling does not have the high amplitude throws of freestyle wrestling. 

There are also some other differences in rules that you could argue make folkstyle a bit safer. When it comes to middle schools and high schools there are certain safety standards they need to adhere to. If kids start to suffer too many injuries from a certain sport then parents are going to want to remove the sport from the schools. 

In Conclusion

The type of wrestling in American high schools is folkstyle wrestling. It is also referred to as scholastic wrestling in high schools and collegiate wrestling in colleges. The reason we practice folkstyle in our high schools is that it is the wrestling style of our culture. It comes from a mix of Native American and European styles.

The biggest influence however is catch wrestling. In order to make catch wrestling more accepted by the people they tamed it down and created folkstyle wrestling. This is basically why freestyle wrestling was created as well. 

Folkstyle wrestling is part of our history and I hope that we continue to teach it in our high schools for a very long time. Folkstyle wrestling is an amazing sport and I hope we will all do our part to keep it alive.

Joshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a BJJ purple belt who lives in Austin, Texas. Joshua loves all forms of grappling and when he is off the mats he is likely spending time with his wife and son.

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