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WRESTLING AS AN INTERVENTION
TIFFANY WIELAND
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FRESNO

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Introduction
Therapeutic recreation promotes health and wellness along with providing a goal of
reaching better quality of life. Through this they utilize several different recreation and leisure
activities as treatment to reach that end result. Whether someone was born with impairments or
not there are several different interventions to choose from, and through careful observation
you can find the perfect fit based on the individual’s needs. The challenging intervention that I
will be discussing is wrestling. This is an intervention that doesn’t work for everyone and does
require physical interaction. Wrestling is one of the oldest recreational sports going back about
5,000 years during the time of the Sumerians and has continued to be used throughout our
history ever since. (History of Wrestling n.d.). Wrestling also provides many different benefits
in teaching an individual performance, motor and cognitive skills. It also assists in adaptation
and unpredictable situations. This intervention could potentially benefit someone who is blind,
deaf or has one or more amputated limbs and these are just a few examples. This was a topic
that I really enjoyed researching and learning about. It really did open to the possibilities that
are out there for everyone.
History of Wrestling
Wrestling has been around for thousands of years and has been used through every era
throughout history. Archeologists have discovered drawings have been discovered from the
Ancient Egyptian times portraying hundreds of wrestlers. They have also found evidence of
them using refereeing codes and rules (History of Wrestling n.d.). I found that pretty
fascinating that humans have maintained some of the same ideas all of these years. The Greeks
also used wrestling during their time as well. They viewed it as an art along with using it to

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train young men. I found very interesting and creative that they would wrestle naked, covered
in olive oil sand. They did this protect their skin from the sunlight when it was hot and from the
cold when the temperatures dropped. They found that their fights were very similar to the way
we do them today. Whoever could throw down their opponent on their elbows, knees, chest,
hips or back would be the winner. Wrestling was also celebrated during the Middle Ages and
the Renaissance by many different painters, including Courbet, Locke and Rousseau. It was
also practiced socially in the castles and palaces (History of Wrestling n.d.) Many scholars,
soldiers and nobles viewed it as an important tool for prepping for the military. There were also
fencing manuals that contained unarmed techniques that were obvious wrestling moves
(Clements 2001). The profession of wrestling began in France around the year 1830 and
became popular enough that those who couldn’t be a part an elite would create their own
groups and travel around to show off what they were made of. They also tried to use fun and
intimidating nicknames like many wrestlers do today, which I thought was funny because it
shows guys haven’t changed much. When freestyle wrestling was introduced, the American
Wrestlers were against it. They were only accepting to the Greco-Roman style of wrestling, but
that changed during the fourth Olympics games when they incorporated both styles (History of
Wrestling n.d.). There are some distinct differences between the types of styles. In Greco style
you cannot grab below the waste and you cannot make contact with your legs. In Freestyle
Wrestling you are allowed to use these techniques. Another technique prohibited in Greco is
breaking contact, while in Freestyle you can throw your opponent to the ground and then
continue with a reconnection to pin them (Davidson 2015).
Wrestling as an Intervention

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I never really put much thought into how someone might benefit from wrestlingespecially when assigned this topic. There were many different benefits that wrestling had to
offer certain individuals. They really help to assist in strengthening someone’s cognitive and
performance and motor skills. Wrestling puts you in an uncontrolled environment being that
you cannot predict your opponent’s next move (Schmidt Wrisberg 2008)). This also assists in
decision making and understanding the challenge. Wrestling also provides self-confidence and
mental toughness. You can only rely on yourself and you have a sense of accountability for
your own failures and successes, along with taking on a challenge to help you reach your goals.
It also provides discipline and sportsmanship by learning how to respect and create an
admiration for the opposite opponent as well as your team. You become responsible to make
sure you are up early and making time for practice and training which provides a good work
ethic (The Benefits of Wrestling: Why you should wrestle). Louis Beek (2007) also added to
these benefits by discussing the importance of learning weight-making techniques. During a
four day test before simulated wrestling there were weight making techniques used and the
children showed a 7% increase in perceived exertion.
Hearing and Visual Impairments
Hearing and visual impairments were mentioned the most when related wrestling being
an intervention. The American Athletic Union of Deaf was established in 1945. It later became
the American Athletic Association of the Deaf in 1957 and today it is known as the USA Deaf
Sports Federation which was established in 1977. The purpose was to regulate and structure
rules of the completion along with providing social opportunities for those who are deaf or hard
of hearing. This integration provided an opportunity for individuals with hearing impairments
to be a part of national sports teams in international competitions. A few rules for eligibility for

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being a part of a USA team are, having a hearing loss of 55 dB or greater, you must be an
American Citizen and be in good standing with the members of the Federation and you are not
allowed to wear hearing aids during matches. The main modification for wrestlers when they
are deaf is that they must maintain eye contact throughout the entire competition
(USdeafsports.org).
According to Recreation Therapy.com, wrestling is the most natural sport for someone
who is visually impaired and is meant for all shapes and sizes. This type of wrestling is
sometimes referred to as “sited” wrestling and it is definitely modified. They begin with an
overlap of their hands over their opponent. They are then allowed to move into wresting and
may continue as long as they don’t break contact. Once contact is broken, the referee will blow
his whistle and reconnect contact (Sports and Activity Rules for those with Visual
Impairments). Bob Linchlentels is an individual involved with “sited” wrestling and he wrote a
great article on his perspective along with some advice. Problem-solving and performance
adaptions are two of the main skills he refers to when he talks about what he’s learned from
wrestling. You also learn how to create and determine goals and how to achieve them. There are
a few important things to know about training. One, it is crucial to have control of the action of
a match and you can do this by knowing the body orientation from the beginning. This is
because the less you touch you have to rely on the better chance you have of keeping control
and taking down your opponent. When learning moves you want to be as verbal as you can and
practice in both slow motion and match speed. You want to be very prepared for the real action
and you don’t want to be caught off guard with the speed of your opponent (Sports Vision:
Wrestling).
Amputees

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In my research I found a couple of awesome stories involving individuals who are
amputees and are involved with wrestling. The first is an amazing young man named Kyle
Maynard. He was born with both of his arms ending at his elbow and both legs ending at his
knees. His parents and coach really helped to encourage him throughout his journey and he
eventually became one of the top wrestlers in Georgia. He won the 2004 ESPY award for best
athlete with a Disability as well as receiving the president’s Award for Sport Humanitarian Hall
of Fame. Kyle also wrote a very inspiring book called, No Excuses which went to New York
Times Best Sellers List. In an interview he quoted, “I try to teach other people disabilities done
exist and are most certainly not an option. If you are going to limit yourself like that, you might
as well not even try to go out and achieve your dreams. I think there’s possibility for everybody
(Carpenter 2005).” I found this to be such an inspiring quote and really makes me appreciate
what I have. I feel like this kid has more heart than most people I know. In his story he
describes his father and it seem like he was so harsh but Kyle understands his father’s tough
love and knows that what made his so self-sufficient. He explained how his dad only made him
watch his losing matches over and over so that he could see his mistakes and learn and how to
fix them for future matches (Carpenter 2005). A second story I read was about a kid named
Anthony Robles. He was born without his right leg and when began wrestling he only weighed
90 pounds and lost almost every match he in his first two years. He kept at it taking the good
days and the bad days and when he was a senior at Arizona State University he was undefeated
with a record of 36-0. He quoted, “No matter your circumstances you can be unstoppable
(Hamm 2011).”
Self-Reflection

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Being that my major is Therapeutic Recreation I found this assignment to be very
resourceful and educating. This is definitely information that I will be able to take with me in
the future. It really allowed me to use some critical thinking and ask questions I might not have
ever asked. I never really considered wrestling to have so many different cognitive and motor
benefits.

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Works Cited

Bob Lichtentels Wrestling
http://www.mysportsvision.org/adaptive/wrestling.htm
Carpenter, A. (2005). Congenital amputee overcomes the odds. Human
Events, 61(37), 20
Hamm, L. (2011). Wrestler anthony robles: Against the odds. People
Weekly, 75(13), 71.
http://www.recreationtherapy.com/tx/txblind.htm
Clements, John. (2001). Consideration of wrestling and grappling in
renaissance and fencing
Sports and Activity Rules for those with Visual Impairments
http://wrestling.isport.com/wrestling-guides/the-benefits-of-wrestlingwhy-you-should-wrestle
Davidson, Jeremi. (2015)What is the difference between Greco and
Feestyle Wrestling?
Schmidt. Richard A, Wrisberg, Craig A. (2008) Motor Learning
and Performance: A Situation-based Learning Approach
Burk, Louise. (2007) Department of sports nutrition Australian institute
of sport

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