Freestyle Wrestling vs. Greco Roman: Key Differences and Comparison


Wrestling is a martial art that has an ancient and diverse history that incorporates many different cultures and origins. Greco Roman and Freestyle Wrestling are modern forms of Wrestling that evolved from different Wrestling styles around the world. There are some key differences that distinguish these two wrestling styles from each other.

One of the biggest differences is that freestyle wrestling involves all parts of the body. Greco Roman is done primarily while standing, with no contact below the waist. Additionally, Greco Roman wrestling requires constant contact. While both have a points-based scoring system the way these points are distributed will be different. 

Even though both Freestyle Wrestling and Greco Roman Wrestling are modern forms of ancient Wrestling practices, they are not limited to certain regions of the world. Both these styles have attained popularity as a sport in many countries worldwide. However, they are two distinct styles that subscribe to a different code and set of rules.

Quick History of Freestyle Wrestling

The modern form of Freestyle Wrestling has its origins in Britain and the United States and gained popularity in the mid to late 1800s. In those early days, it became a crowd-pleasing spectacle at local fairs and district festivals and developed a great rivalry between participants.

Freestyle wrestling

In its early form, it was often known as Catch-as-catch-can Wrestling, and in this form, it was introduced to the United States of America by Irish immigrants towards the latter part of the 1800s. The popularity of this style of Wrestling spread far and wide across the continental USA. In this era, matches were extremely long, some lasting up to 8 or 9-hours, making the wrestling match a test of endurance as well as skill and strength.

The length of the matches has been reduced to two 3-minute sessions, with a break of 60-seconds between the two sessions. In the early days, the match could only be won by a fall, but in 1941 a points system was introduced and widely accepted as the means to score a match and declare a winner.

Freestyle Wrestling – Rules, and How to Win

In Freestyle Wrestling, you can attack all parts of the body and use all parts of the body to try and take down your opponent. You can use the whole body in freestyle. As a result, there are many different ways to attack, a lot to defend. Your goal is to try to get your opponent onto their back so that both shoulder blades touch the mat simultaneously. If you successfully pin your opponent’s shoulder blades to the mat for one second, the referee will stop the match and you are the winner by default. If neither wrestler can pin each other to the mat, you can win the match by scoring the points instead.

The match is scored by the awarding of points to the wrestlers for the following situations.

  • A takedown. A takedown will score between 2 and 5 points depending on the type and success of the takedown.
  • The reversal. A single point is scored if a wrestler manages to get out of a hold from his opponent and reverse the attack.
  • Exposure or danger position. If a wrestler gets his opponents back on the mat for a few seconds, he is awarded between 2 and 3 points.

There are also penalty points where a point is awarded to a wrestler if his opponent infringes certain rules of the match, such as going out of bounds off the mat, performing an illegal move, or showing passivity.

A participant in a Freestyle Wrestling match is declared the winner in the following circumstances.

A win on points. If there is no win by any other means during the match, at the end of the time period, the points are tallied up and a winner declared.

Win by fall. Even if a wrestler is behind on points if he manages to hold both his opponent’s shoulders to the floor long enough for the referee to declare a total control of the fall, usually between 0.5 and 2-seconds. After a successful fall, the match is ended, and the wrestler who performed the fall is declared the winner.

Win by technical fall. If a wrestler gains a 10 point lead over their opponent, they are declared the winner by technical fall, and the match is ended.

A win by default. If one wrestler is unable to continue or simply fails to show up for a match, their opponent is declared the winner by default.

A win by injury. If a wrestler is injured during the match and is unable to continue, his opponent is declared the winner by medical forfeit. If the injury was caused by an illegal move, the injured wrestler is declared the winner.

Win by disqualification. If a wrestler contravenes the rules and receives 3 cautions during the course of the match, he is disqualified, and the opponent is declared the winner.

Quick History of Greco Roman Wrestling

Greco Roman Wrestling originates from the ancient civilizations that inhabited the Mediterranean regions of the ancient world, mostly Greece and the Roman Empire. The style was formalized by a Frenchman and became known as Flat Hand Wrestling which alluded to the fact that no strikes were allowed in the match.

Greco Roman wrestling

This style of Wrestling is distinguished by only allowing holds above the waist, and also painful or torsion holds that twist joints to cause pain was illegal according to the rules.

Greco Roman Wrestling – Rules, and How to Win

In Greco Roman wrestling, the objective of the game is to wrestle the opponent and win by either pin or by points. In Greco Roman wrestling, you can use your torso and upper body to take down your opponent. Using your legs or attacking your opponent’s legs is not allowed for any reason. As a result, there’s isn’t as much to attack, and not as much to defend. Your goal is to try to get your opponent onto their back so that both shoulder blades touch the floor simultaneously. If you successfully pin your opponent’s shoulder blades to the mat for one second, the referee will stop the match and you are the winner by default. This is referred to as winning by fall or winning by pin. If neither wrestler can pin each other, you can win the match by scoring the points instead.

The Greco Roman Wrestling match format is two 3-minute periods. If the match is at a draw at the end of both periods, a third and deciding period will result, and the wrestler who has won two of the three periods is declared the winner.

The match is scored in a similar fashion to a Freestyle Wrestling match.

  • A takedown. A takedown will score between 2 and 5.
  • The reversal. 1 point is scored if a wrestler gets out of a hold from his opponent and reverses the hold.
  • Exposure or danger position. If a wrestler gets his opponents back on the mat for a few seconds, he is awarded between 2 and 3 points.

There are also penalty points that are awarded to the opponent if a wrestler infringes the rules.

In Greco Roman Wrestling, a wrestler can achieve a win in the same manner as Freestyle Wrestling.

  • A points win. If there is no win by other means during the match, at the end of the time period, the points are tallied up and a winner declared. If the points result in a draw, a third session of Wrestling can result in deciding the winner.
  • Win by fall. A wrestler is declared the winner, and the match is stopped if he manages to hold both his opponent’s shoulders to the mat long enough for the referee to declare a total control fall, usually between 0.5 and 2-seconds. A fall can win the match even if a wrestler is behind on points.
  • Win by technical fall. If a wrestler gains an 8-point lead over their opponent, they are declared the winner by technical fall, and the match is ended.
  • A win by default. If one wrestler is unable to continue or fails to show up for a match, their opponent is declared the winner by default.
  • A win by injury. If a wrestler is injured during the match and is unable to continue, his opponent is declared the winner by medical forfeit. If the injury was caused by an illegal move, the injured wrestler is declared the winner.
  • Win by disqualification. If a wrestler contravenes the rules and receives 3 cautions during the course of the match, he is disqualified, and the opponent is declared the winner.

The Main Difference Between Freestyle And Greco Roman Wrestling

Greco Roman and Freestyle wrestling are very similar in their formats and rules, but there are some aspects of each style that make the two distinct from each other.

The main difference between Greco Roman and Freestyle Wrestling is that in the Greco Roman style, no attacks below the waist are allowed. It is illegal to use your legs to take down an opponent or grab their legs to take them down. On the other hand, you can use the whole body in freestyle wrestling to attack your opponent.

There are some very minor differences in some of the scoring between the two styles and the format of the matches. For example, should there be a draw in a Greco Roman style match, the match can be extended to a third session to determine a winner. This is not the case in a Freestyle match; if the match is determined by points and each wrestler has equal points, the match is declared a draw.

Both freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling are featured in the Olympics. But they will follow a very different set of rules. For example, in freestyle wrestling, both men and women will be able to compete. However, Greco Roman wrestling is limited to men. 

Which Is Harder Freestyle Or Greco Roman?

Both wrestling styles require strength, fitness, and agility in order to best an opponent, and there would be a learning curve associated with becoming competent in either Freestyle or Greco Roman Wrestling. However, there are some aspects that make one style more difficult than the other.

Greco Roman Wrestling is more difficult to learn than Freestyle Wrestling. This is mostly because of the restriction in Greco Roman Wrestling of holds below the waist being illegal and not being allowed to use your legs or to grab your opponent’s legs to initiate a takedown.

These restrictions require a lot more ingenuity and more difficult moves to take down your opponent and get them on the mat to attempt a fall or pin.

Which Wrestling Style Is Better For MMA?

Both Greco Roman and Freestyle Wrestling are great wrestling styles to learn for MMA, but freestyle may have the edge because takedown techniques using the legs are allowed in this style. Because this is also permissible in MMA, you would be learning techniques that Greco Roman deems illegal. 

For this reason, many MMA fighters prefer to learn the Freestyle Wrestling style, which includes learning takedown techniques using the legs.

Which Wrestling Style Is Good For Self-Defense?

Both Freestyle and Greco Roman Wrestling styles have a lot to offer when teaching techniques for self-defense, but The Greco Roman style may have some limitations in this regard.

Freestyle Wrestling is the better style to learn for self-defense because you will learn how to take down your opponent or attacker by going for their legs and using your legs as well. These techniques are illegal in Greco Roman Wrestling and are therefore not taught.

In a self-defense situation, you want to have as wide a repertoire of moves and techniques available to you as possible, and Freestyle Wrestling offers more in this regard than Greco Roman Wrestling.

Why Is Real Wrestling Not Popular?

There is a significant difference between professional Wrestling and amateur Wrestling; professional Wrestling is seen more as entertainment rather than a sport, while amateur wrestling remains true to the sport.

When thinking about wrestling, the first images that come to mind are often associated with the WWE, rather than Olympics-style wrestling events. There are several reasons for this. First, wrestling companies, like WWE, have been able to work their way into the social fabric. Even casual fans are familiar with people like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. They also have crafted characters that stick in people’s minds, like the Undertaker. 

Real Wrestling has become less popular because of the glitz, glamour, and entertainment value that professional Wrestling has brought to the world stage. This, along with the short matches, has led to real Wrestling, or amateur Wrestling, losing some of its popular appeal.

However, the sport of wrestling is struggling. It was even briefly dropped from the Olympic Games. There were a few reasons for this. The main one is that It can be confusing for spectators, especially those who aren’t familiar with the intricate scoring process. 

Despite these hurdles, there is reason to be optimistic about the future of the sport. The number of students that are learning to wrestle is rapidly increasing. Amateur Wrestling is a sport and cannot compete with the entertainment value that professional Wrestling brings to the public.

Conclusion

Greco Roman wrestling has a long history, appearing in the first Olympics. While freestyle wrestling is more modern, it has the same object, attempting to get control of an opponent. However, there are plenty of things that separate these sports. This includes the type of body parts involved and the way that the bouts are scored.

Clay E

Clay E is a MMA/Muay Thai practitioner who was a collegiate wrestler at James Madison University.

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