In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: wrestling.
Ooh I’ve got a good ‘un for you today!
Today I went and had a lesson in…. wrestling. And it was awesome!
My favourite blog posts in this series have been the ones where I’ve actually been coached in something which is new to me, and learned a skill (however small and to whatever miniscule level of proficiency!) Today’s experience is definitely one of those.
Remember when I went and had a conditioning session (and learned track starts) at Five Star Health and Fitness? Well, it turns out that they not only have a huge, well-equipped martial arts area, but they offer wrestling classes. Sign me up, I said! It’s for the blog.
So I found myself earlier today in a room with several blokes, a Romanian National Champion wrestler and… me. I had no idea what the class involved (let’s face it, I have basically no idea what wrestling itself involves). I didn’t know what to wear. I wasn’t even 100% sure that it was done barefoot.
Well! What an experience. Who knew that gymnastics drills formed part of wrestling training? Yes, Mum, I *did a series of cartwheels*. :-O
The class instructor was a delightful chap called Daniel Vlad, wrestling coach and former National Champion from Romania. Dani, if you’re reading this, should you ever choose to give up coaching wrestlers, you could find a second career in stand-up comedy. What a dude!
After a warm up, we did a series of gymnastics drills. Now, let me just give you an idea of what happens to me on a cellular level when someone says “do a roly-poly”. My heart stops. My blood freezes. My brain spins into a panic and I fight the urge to run from the scene screaming “I can’t! I can’t!” However, there I was. And I was second in line. So, no time to think really. Dani did an excellent job of explaining how to do the various rolls, shoulder rolls, cartwheels etc and before I knew it… I was doing them! Over and over again, down the length of the room.
Quite frankly if he taught me nothing else, I was delighted. I CAN CARTWHEEL!
(This video was taken after the class – I’m v tired by this point!)
However that was far from all, obviously. The drills were just an introduction to the level of agility, flexibility, balance, strength and body awareness needed for wrestling.
We were then paired up and had to do various lifts and carries with our partners. This was very funny (although I suspect I was the only one in the room actually giggling). I don’t know what my (male) partner weighed (not much – he was a martial artist) but I was pretty chuffed to be able to lift him, chuck him about and walk/run with him over my shoulder.
From that it was into some “clinch” work. After getting into a wrestling stance (low squat but leaning forward, hands in front and shoulders up slightly to protect the neck which – we were told – is like “a third arm” in wrestling) we linked hands with our partner and experienced pushing/pulling them about, reacting to them and learning how to control them and their weight.
We learned how to change levels (very important during sparring) and learned how to react defensively when your opponent goes to grab your leg (you kick it out behind you, replacing your foot with the hand on that side to keep you stable). Then we learned what to do it they try to grab both your legs – you sprawl. A sprawl is a delightful kind of squat thrust/burpee-esque thing and we had to do a whole series of them – out into a sprawl with arms locked, then jumping the legs back in and immediately back up into a wrestling stance.
By now I was so very pleased I’d trained legs this morning.
We learned some wrestling techniques like a double leg take down with a lift (which involved me hoisting my poor partner onto my shoulder again – apologies for the time I totally grabbed your bum cheeks instead of the back of your knees!) and clinch variations like “over and unders”.
The style of wrestling we were learning was freestyle, which is one of three styles they do at the Olympics (and the only one the women do).
Thank you, Dani, and thank you Five Star Fitness for letting me jump into the class! It’s a regular class (and one of many martial arts and MMA classes on the programme) so you can try it yourself!
How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.