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huntandfishISU

The Evolution of Wrestling

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That picture made me think about other events that are easier to quantify.

 

Here is a comparison to the Medalists in Track and Field to the NYSPHSAA 2012 Finals (Note: New York is not considered a top track and field state; California, Florida, and Texas are much better on a year to year basis)

 

http://espn.go.com/high-school/track-an ... champs-div

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletics_ ... r_Olympics (You can click on event details to get times for each heat)

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Not trolling: Was the "cartwheel into the vault" technique known but banned at some point?

 

To my understanding, the Flop was always a legal technique that became viable with modern landing pits. Did the cartwheel vault go through a similar evolution, or was it outright banned for a period of time?

 

I'm not sure if it was outright banned, but it would've been effectively banned because the equipment used would not have qualified as official before the invention of the cartwheel/springboarding techique (called a Yurchenko vault). The regulation standard for equipment that allows Yurchenko vaulting changed significantly over time to allow for more air, safer vault hand placement, safer springboarding, and safer landing from higher amplitudes.

 

By the way, I think athletes have gotten physically better over time. I'm not at all arguing that gymnasts of today are not better physically prepared to compete than those of the past. All I'm saying is the physical differences are not as dramatic as some make it seem based on old footage versus new.

 

The evolution in complexity for vaulting was the result of changes in equipment and accepted technique more than changes in pure physical ability. I don't think the absolute level of athleticism changed that much (I'm sure it got a bit better over time).

 

In a sport like wrestling, where equipment has not changed, I'd say the main differences between today and the past are the significant changes in rules and their interpretation, followed by the amount of experience younger wrestlers can amass these days, followed by the widespread availability of technique online. I think today's wrestlers are generally better athletes physically than those from, say 40+ years ago, due to the evolution of strength and conditioning and nutrition best practices, but I wouldn't say these differences are as significant as some make them out to be.

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Not trolling: Was the "cartwheel into the vault" technique known but banned at some point?

 

To my understanding, the Flop was always a legal technique that became viable with modern landing pits. Did the cartwheel vault go through a similar evolution, or was it outright banned for a period of time?

Yes, the Flop met the requirements of a legal jump, but was completely unknown prior to Fosbury. He invented it through a fortuitous injury. He was such a strong jumper that he could scissor jump high enough to win HS meets while protecting an upper body injury. While doing this he started to lay back to get his hips higher. After he healed he continued to play with the technique. He just slowly invented it, though it did face a few challenges as to its safety and legality.

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While wrestlers haven't changed physically, wrestling mats have changed considerably.

 

I'm old enough to have actually wrestled on horsemats with a canvas or plastic cover. My high school opened in the fall of 1960. The most modern mats were the Residlite foam, covered by canvas with a plastized coating. Within a few years the covers were gone, and we had the modern mat developed by Resilite.

 

Wayne Baughman always has maintained that the international mats were too soft, to allow Gray Simons to utilize his full quickness. I do know that the old wrestling mats weren't nearly as soft to get thrown on as the modern mats. So guys who wrestled prior to around 1960 wrestled on the old horse hair mats or their equivalent. Hence, they didn't look as slick on their feet, because the mat surface was uniformally smooth.

 

The weight certification would cause some of the old wrestlers to move up 1 or 2 weight classes. The weigh-in times have varied considerably over the years. A teammate of Stan Abel's said they weighed in 5 hours before the match, he said if it had been a 1-2 hour weigh in, there was no way Stan could have weighed in at 130 and been effective wrestling two hours later.

 

Conversely, the old timers used to have to make weight several days in a row (usually 2-3) in the world and Olympic tournaments, not the competitors weigh in the night before and wrestle only one day. So they can effectively cut more weight and be re-hyrdrated by the day of competition. Now not all of the old timers cut a lot of weight. Doug Blubaugh told me he weighed 157 at the 1960 Olympics when he wrestled at 160 pounds. He said Shleby Wilson weighed the same he did, but cut to 147. Tommy Evans wasn't a big weight cutter, and neither was Dan Gable. I know Hodge had to cut weight to make 174/177, because there wasn't a 190 pound weight class except for conference and the NCAA tournaments. Usually only 8 weight classes in dual meets then.

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