Wrestling is a sport with its own language and lifestyle

More than any other sport, wrestling has its own language and a unique approach to its sport.
I’ve been listening to wrestling coaches for nearly 30 years, as they talk about moves like “The Oklahoma Choke,” “The Grapevine,” “High Crotches,” and many other terms. While I don’t know all the gyrations required to apply every hold, I’ve grown to recognize most of them through the years. I wouldn’t say I’m fluent in the wrestling language, but I hope I can be an able interpreter for those even less fluent in the vernacular of the sport.
It doesn’t take a degree in wrestling to recognize someone who excels in wrestling. The standouts usually show themselves pretty quickly in matches, and they aren’t always the biggest or most muscular of the combatants.
I don’t know if there’s another sport where experience is as important as it is in wrestling. That wrestling runs through some families, where the little wrestlers come out of the womb in singlets, is one of the biggest advantages possible. If kids are hearing the language of wrestling from birth, it becomes as commonplace to them as speaking English to most of us.
Going to youth wrestling tournaments is entertaining because some of the little tykes just out of diapers (hopefully at least) are being taught the proper techniques for running an arm bar or locking an opponent into a cradle hold. Some look like they are barely out of the cradle. But you’ll never see anyone take things more seriously than some of the parents at these meets.
It’s got to be tough for kids who didn’t start wrestling that young to join the sport. I can imagine what goes through a kid’s mind the first time they are told to goose their opponent to make him flatten out, but I’d rather not. It’s not a sport for the delicate psyche. I don’t know if I could have been convinced in middle school to roll around on the mat with some sweaty kid who had four bean burritos for lunch. If that doesn’t test a kid’s fortitude (intestinal and otherwise), nothing will.
I’ve really learned to enjoy watching a good wrestling match between two top quality opponents. It really becomes a chess match of sorts, with even the slightest move being made to try getting an advantage, or countering a move made by the opponent. There are matches where there are only three or four attempts made in the entire six minutes, but you have to wait for those moments, because they make it all worthwhile.
We are heading into the meat of the wrestling schedule. The dual meets and invitationals will continue through the rest of January. February is the biggest month of the year for Wisconsin wrestlers. That’s when the WIAA tournaments are held, beginning with the regional tournaments on the first weekend of the month. For the wrestlers, a year’s worth of work will decide how far they advance, with the goal of getting to Madison to compete in the ultimate showcase, the WIAA state tournament.