You are on page 1of 4

Wrestling a unique combination of traditional sports and cultural elements - is one

of the three main sports of the Naadam Festival in Mongolia. Wrestling also has
thousands of years of historical development in Mongolia.

According to an ancient rock-carving, dated back to the Bronze Age (7000-

11000BC), portraying a wrestling festivity found in Ulziit soum of Dundgobi
province, wrestling has well been exercised in the territory of Mongolia for over
7000 years. With regard to its vast open territory and nomadic culture, Mongolian
wrestling has certain uniqueness such as no weight or field limitation, expanded
time and countless tricks.

Throughout its history, Mongolian wrestling has been developed in three main
streams: Mongolian bull wrestling, Khalkh wrestling, and Inner Mongolian wrestling.
They have similarities in the wrestlers costumes, wrestling dances, rituals of judges
and attendants and the wrestling field. However, they are differentiated in the rules
of winning/losing. Touching a head, knees, or elbows are counted as losing in the
Khalkh wrestling, for instance, while touching back is counted as losing in the
Mongolian bull wrestling.

There are four main parts in the Mongolian wrestling costumes:

1. Four-sided soldier hat

2. Shoulder vest & snug shorts (zodog & shuudag)

3. Cloak

4. Traditional boots

Hat: A Wrestlers hat has lots of significance in its garments. Four-sides, for
example, connote the four major provinces Mongolia used to be divided into in the
early 1900s; and nowadays, silver carvings of a champion, a lion, an elephant, and
a hawk titles given to winning wrestlers could be placed on the sides of the hat.
Mongolians, in general, never put their hats or caps, which go on top of a person, on
the ground. Especially, wrestlers hats are treated with special care and dignity and
therefore, never put on the ground or elsewhere considered non-sacred.

Shoulder vest & snug shorts (zodog & shuudag): Only men are allowed to exercise
the Mongolian wrestling. However a legend tells that, in the early days, a female
wrestler competed in the national wrestling competition on behalf of her aged father
and ultimately won the game. At the time, wrestlers wore a vest that covered their
chests and therefore, the female wrestler was able to compete throughout the game
without being noticed of her gender. Since that incident, at Mongolian wrestling,
participants were obliged to wear a chest-open shoulder vests.

Special techniques and fabrics are used for making wrestlers costumes which
usually come in red or blue. Blue obviously signifies eternal blue sky in Mongolia
and red signifies eternal flame which would be carried on through the generations of
wrestlers of Mongolia.

Cloak: In the wrestling field, wrestlers come in two wings: right and left. Wrestlers
with the highest titles lead each wing and wear cloaks, made of delicate fabrics and
special technique. Nowadays though, it is uncommon that a leading wrestler wears
the cloak.

Traditional boots: Traditional Mongolian boots have upturned toes which enable
wrestlers stay stable, and not to be trapped. For extra stability, wrestlers tie straps
around their boots.

In 2011, Mongolians registered their wrestling in the World Guinness Records under
the title - a wrestling with the largest number of participants by collecting 6000
wrestlers at one time. During the opening ceremony of the wrestling game, Prime
Minister of Mongolia Mr. S.Batbold highlighted that the gathering of 6000
wrestlers simultaneously in a country with a population of 2,8 million is a truly
record setting event.

Titles of wrestlers

From ancient days, Mongolian wrestlers have done a special dance, before and
after the wrestling, resembling mighty birds like eagles, hawks, and vultures both as
an expression of elegance/ strength and warm-up for the games.

Since the 8th century, various titles have been given to wrestlers and since the
13th century, traditions of naming the wrestlers with mighty animals like hawks,
elephants, and lions have been adopted. Since 2004, during the Naadam festival,
each five-and-more round winning wrestler has been given different titles: a winner
of 5 round - hawk of nation, 6 round falcon of nation, 7 round elephant of
nation, 8 round garuda of nation, and 9 round - lion of nation, namely.
One elite wrestler was once given the title Eye-Pleasing Nationally Famous Mighty
and Invincible Giant.

In provincial Naadams, wrestlers are able to get the following titles: hawk of aimag
(means province), falcon of aimag, elephant of aimag, and lion of aimag. In village
(soum) Naadams, the number of wrestlers is either 32 or 64; and therefore,
wrestlers can get only the following titles: hawk of soum, falcon of soum, and
elephant of soum. Wrestlers have

to compete in higher levels in order to ger higher titles.

If you would like to know more about the Mongolian wrestlers titles, please refer to
the following table.

Level Title Mongolian Cyrillic Provision

Undefeatable Giant Win 5 times in Nation
1 Nation
of Nation Naadam Wrestling
Win 4 times in Nation
2 Nation Wide Giant of Nation
Naadam Wrestling
Ocean Giant of Win 3 times in Nation
3 Nation
Nation Naadam Wrestling
Win 2 times in Nation
4 Nation Giant of Nation
Naadam Wrestling
Win in Nation Naadam
5 Nation Lion of Nation
Runner-Up in Nation
6 Nation Garuda of Nation
Naadam Wrestling
Semi-final in Nation
7 Nation Elephant of Nation
Naadam Wrestling
Quarter final in Nation
8 Nation Hawk of Nation
Naadam Wrestling
1/8 final in Nation
9 Nation Falcon of Nation
Naadam Wrestling
Win in Aimag Naadam
10 Aimag Lion of Aimag
Runner-Up in Aimag
11 Aimag Elephant of Aimag
Naadam Wrestling
Semi-final in Aimag
12 Aimag Falcon of Aimag
Naadam Wrestling
Win in Sum Naadam
13 Sum Elephant of Sum
Semi-final in Sum
14 Sum Falcon of Sum
Naadam Wrestling
Level Name Place Date Participating wrestlers
Nation Naadam Ulan 512 wrestlers, 1024 in big
1 1st July,11-13
wrestling Bator anniversary year
Aimag Naadam each 21 approximately July,8-10
2 2nd 128 or 256 wrestlers
Wrestling Aimag or middle July
Sum Naadam each 329
3 3rd early July 32 or 64 wrestlers
Wrestling Sum

For the Naadam of Ulaanbaatar, the matches are held in a large stadium, while in countryside for
smaller scale Naadams the matches are generally held in a small stadium or on an open grassy
field; however they can also occur on a soft dirt area not littered with gravel.

Related Interests