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huntandfishISU

The Evolution of Wrestling

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So the other day i got into a big argument with my dad about how wrestlers nowadays would smoke wrestlers from the past. Not saying if they were in the same time era training or had equal oppurtunities; but if you put an NCAA champion from the 1980s in a time machine today to wrestle a match, they would not be very good wrestlers compared to wrestlers of now a days.

 

My thought was that just watch an old match and tell me the wrestlers arent in worse shape, moving WAYYYY slower, and using different less effective technique. Dan Gable dominated college wrestling with a bar arm. How many guys do you see take a wrist, and a bar and run it over for a fall now a days. How many fireman carries do you see work in college wrestling?

 

Of course i do think that all the same wrestlers would be successful in todays world. I think what made them champions before would make them champions now. I just think wrestling and all sports really have evolved at a very fast rate.

 

Am i the only one who thinks this?

 

Im sure the old timers are really going to love this thread .....

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Interesting topic. Generally, I think today's wrestlers have superior technique, strength and power. That does not apply to all cases, of course, just generally.

 

That said, I strongly disagree with the notion that today's wrestlers are in better shape than those of the past. If there is one trait in which the old-timers are clearly superior, it's conditioning. Matches were longer, stalling was called more aggressively, there weren't as many stops in action as there are today (due to the modern rules), and there were fewer illegal or potentially dangerous holds.

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Gotta get lewboo in here to describe to you how effective Gable's 'primitive' bar arm was. The all-time greats had go-to moves that work in any generation. That said, overall technique today seems to be better and I think the average college wrestler today is superior to his counterpart in the past.

 

BUT, the evolution of folk style technique (principally scrambling) has hurt more than helped as far as freestyle goes. Look at Burroughs. His skillset is based on sound fundamental straight forward technique. You never saw him rolling around on the mat and that type of technique is what you need to succeed internationally.

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I think the athletes of the 70s and 80s would be competitive today with the same training and drilling today's athletes use. The "progression" of the sport has lead to wrestlers being more defensive and less likely to take risks. The same moves would still work if set up properly, but the risk involved in many of them precludes their use. If your opponent won't open up and wrestle, too many are nearly impossible to execute without giving up position. The sport was much more spectator-friendly back then, and I personally enjoy a 12-10 match over a 2-1 or 3-2 match any day. Freestyle was much better in the 70s than the past few years. The newest set of rules is the best in many years, as long as they last.

Long story short, Gable -Taylor in the same era would be a great match.

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the difference today is that wrestlers have so many more matches by the time they get to college. That gives them so much more experience that, yes today's wrestlers probably are better.

But champions of the past would be doing everything today's wrestlers are doing. IMO it would be a wash.

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Undoubtedly, the overall field looks more fit than they did in the early 70's when Gable competed.

 

We always refer to today's athletes as bigger faster and stronger than 30 years ago...the 80's. I believe that to be true in football, basketball, etc, but since wrestlers weigh the same, bigger is not a factor.

 

Cardio...there is just simply no way to explain to someone that competes today, how brutal 8 minutes with stalling called in a way that is just inconceivable by todays standards, could be. Hip to hip, laying on bottom, playing the edge, fleeing the mat, etc...are HUGE rest breaks. Haha, the old joke was, if you fled the mat, you better sprint to the center or you'll get a stall call too.

 

Throw in 400 more schools that wrestled before 1978, and it levels it out a little more imo. So the short version is, yes better, but no not at all like football or basketball. If you used the time machine and brought the same rules and officiating, I think the old guys beat these guys.

 

Now if you use today's rules, and officiating, and match length, and slowed down match pace, add in today's edge of the mat scoring and took them back to the 80's, I think you guys kick out Putins. JMO. One thing to remember is that every generation appreciates all of the ingredients of their current and constantly developing era. Most would just not believe how tough the old timers really were. The cyclical nature of the sport, assures that the techniques you use now, will be obsolete in 20 years...

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Would John Smith, Tom Brands, Cary Kolat and Alan Fried of the "long ago" past be able to compete with the 133 and 141 top flight kids today? The better question is whether the kids today could compete with them

I wouldn't consider those guys to be from a different era. Their matches are in color. :D

Watching lee Kemp beat Dan gable speaks volumes about the difference between the past and people's recollection of it.

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The biggest reason you see the low scores today versus the scoresvof the 1970s and 1980s is that stalling was called aggressuvely to the point the long lanky wrestler was unable to be very effective, unless they could throw or were pinners. You took two steps backward at Carver-Hawkeye it was a stalling call. So guys got into pushing/sumo contests which was great for guys like Lewboo, Ricky Dellagatta, Andre Metzger, and Mark Schultz to name a few.

 

I am starting to see a few more inside fireman's carries in the past 5 years. Very few headlocks though. The strict control on the front headlock has limited pinning and nearfalls when both are in neutral and on their knees. What wasn't potentially dangerous then is now.

 

Gable brought serious weight training to college wrestling on a large scale basis. Stephen Abas brought in the "funk" scrambling to counter some single leg finishes. Now you see too many wrestlers trying to get into a stalemste situation. Old days give up the takedown, get an escape or reversal and go back trying to pin the opponent, brcause if you didn't you'd get cautioned out. I think Bruce Baumgartner was cautioned out against Lou Bsnach one time. Lewboo will know for sure.

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The biggest difference I see is how much better guys are today at staying in position. You go back 30 or 40 years and watch some of the NCAA finals matches and it is shocking how often the guys came out of position or left themselves exposed. That's probably partially related to TNTwrestle's point about the old guys being willing to take more risks than today's guys. The wrestling back then looked a little sloppier, but I have to agree that I would rather see guys just going for it, taking risks, and ending up with a 14-12 score than sit through a 2-1 handfight. That being said, I feel that better positioning and more extensive drilling of what to do in each position would almost always result in today's champions beating the champions of yesteryear.

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Always an unprovable conjecture that has been discussed innumerable times. And amazingly a poster with barely double digit posts stirs the pot. A Troll has gone chuming, and invariably some rise to the bait.

 

What's "chuming?"

Sorry. Misspelt. ;)

 

"Chumming (American English from Powhatan[1]) is the practice of luring animals, usually fish such as sharks, by throwing "chum" into the water. Chum often consists of fish parts and blood, which attract fish..."

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Studs from a past era would be studs now. I truly believe that wrestling was tougher in the past. Stalling was called, potentially dangerous was not called as often and that twirl thing did not exist. But, in general, IMHO technique today is a bit better overall and it should be. I hope we always strive to get better. Kids now should be better in some aspects of the sport or we are stagnant. The other big factor is that most sports are very specialized. Wrestling was my primary sport but I was very accurate throwing baseball and football, I could also hit better than many of my friends who play baseball etc...those are back in the days when kids played outside. Now, most of the serious wrestlers I know look uncoordinated and awkward in any activity off the mat. Kids now are highly specialized. There are also more club teams with very high level coaches working with youth wrestlers. Competition may also be a bit better with all these national tournaments. The internet gets the best kids to the same events. The internet also gives kids the ability to watch technique and watch high level wrestlers live.

Not all evolution is good. The funk has had some weird effects on the sport. The funk in many instances is not entertaining. Leads to time eating ankle chasing ending in a stalemate. Some say that an inferior classic wrestler can be neutralized by a good funk wrestler who gets beat on the set up and shot. The hope is that the advent of the funk will force classic wrestlers to become even better by developing even better set ups and cleaner finishes. Wrestlers now spend a portion of time on defense moves like the funk which means less time on offensive moves.

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Biggest reason that an old-timer transported in a time machine might struggle in his first few matches would be the rules. He'd be shocked that you can block with your head and grab hands and not get called for stalling. Adjustments would be quick for the best guys, but your average AA from 30 years ago might take a whole year or two to adjust. Wrestling as a whole has evolved, but the rule differences make it hard to speculate. Just look at freestyle wrestling with all the rule changes and how they have helped and hurt certain guys, and in a much shorter period of time.

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If I hadn't seen so many old timers kick the crap out of today's best wrestlers I may be inclined to think athletes today have an advantage. The reality is some of these old guys can take a match in a direction today wrestler have been. It wasn't that long ago Bono, an old guy won the Midland.

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I had this debate with a few former college teammates not long ago. The elite guys today have had training since they were really young that is simply far better than what we had as kids. That, and they travel to see better competition at an early age. My son's in middle school, and he's already wrestled all over the country, in front of large crowds.

As much as it pains me to say it, I think the skill level is better today, and the overall athleticism is better.

 

At the HS level, I think the elite are better than what we had, but we had farrrrr better depth back then. Today, if a kid isn't a stud right away, isn't in the varsity lineup by the time their sophs, they quit. My HS had multiple wrestle offs at every weight for the freshman, JV and varsity. It's not like that any longer.

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I think you are correct in that we develop our wrestlers to a higher level earlier, but I think that also hurts us in the long run. High level potential may be chased out of the sport due to the level they need to achieve to have success early on and stick with the sport. We also chase away tons of kids at the beginning stages of our sport because they inevitably run into some little freak whose dad makes them train like a Sr. level athlete and they go out and have a miserable experience then quit. We were much more competitive with the rest of the world 30 years ago.

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I had this debate with a few former college teammates not long ago. The elite guys today have had training since they were really young that is simply far better than what we had as kids. That, and they travel to see better competition at an early age. My son's in middle school, and he's already wrestled all over the country, in front of large crowds.

As much as it pains me to say it, I think the skill level is better today, and the overall athleticism is better.

 

At the HS level, I think the elite are better than what we had, but we had farrrrr better depth back then. Today, if a kid isn't a stud right away, isn't in the varsity lineup by the time their sophs, they quit. My HS had multiple wrestle offs at every weight for the freshman, JV and varsity. It's not like that any longer.

 

I agree on all points. My HS team was competitive in NYS throughout the 70's through 2000, meaning perennial state rank 10-15, sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but pretty much always within that range. In the late 80's/early 90's when I was on the team, wrestle-offs were commonplace before every match or tournament for probably half the weights on the team, including mine. The team was tight but competitive amongst each other. We would run, drill and lift together before and/or after practice without our coach, including early morning runs. It made everyone better and the team as a whole was SOLID. Having weak spots was rare for the competitive teams, where now it is the norm. Forfeits were also much less common than nowadays. Dual meets were much better back then, at least more competitive and fun. There were a lot more tough teams and dual meets were town vs town fights. The scores of the duals were lower and reflected harder fighting than you see these days.

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