As I am sure all of my readers know, being part of a sport – whether it is football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer or rugby – is extremely beneficial for your health, social life and over all well being.
For me though there was something about amateur wrestling that made me stick with it for six years.
From the ages of thirteen to eighteen I was an active member of my public school, high school and city wrestling teams.
Every time I smell bleach I am taken back to the mats. The early morning drives to practices and tournaments, the smashed feet, bruised elbows, scraped face, crushed fingers and bloody noses.
I remember it all.
At a tournament, before a match, I would take a look at the eight or twelve man bout sheet. While looking at my name and scanning the sheet I would almost always run into one of my competitors.
There was an immediate size-up from both of us. We would look each other over and contemplate whether we could take each other on. But as I knew, this was just a primal act. And that we would not know for sure who would win until the whistle blew and are hands and bodies met.
(Frosted tips were in)
This post was inspired by a blog-post from over at Danger&Play called, “Neil deGrasse Tyson: “We Wrestle Because It’s Hard”.
I am a big Neil deGrasse Tyson fan. Cosmos is the shit! Check out that video, it is not long, and swing back here.
Back? Okay good. Anyways, when I saw the title of the post I could not of clicked and opened it fast enough. If you have ever wrestled before than you can understand my excitement.
Seeing wrestling, or having it even talked about, in the mainstream media is almost never seen, at least where I am from. So seeing it from blog that I frequent was such a treat.
The video that was shared in the post resonated with me and I started reminiscing about my youth, back-in-the-day.
Neil goes on to describe, in his compassionate and high-spirited way, that amateur wrestling is the purest sport known to man (5min34sec).
I happen to agree.
(Far right, two medals baby!)
Head ‘N Arm
When my dad first started teaching, about thirty-plus years ago, he was also his schools’ wrestling coach. So it seemed natural that I was directed towards my old-man’s past-glory-sport.
I am so glad that my dad put me into wrestling. Not just because the life-long lessons I learned from such a disciplined sport but also because it almost did not happen.
You see, my older brother was born with a condition that makes his neck and upper spine vulnerable to injury. He is not physically disabled, in a wheelchair or inhibited in any way, just prone to injury.
At a young age because of my brothers’ compromising circumstance he and I were encouraged (by doctors) not to pursue football or hockey, two of the more popular (and full contact) sports in my city.
Again, I cannot thank my old-man enough for motivating me to go into amateur wrestling. It gave me something to work towards and kept me out of trouble (mostly).
(In the middle getting a head-lock)
I had been enrolled into other sports, baseball and soccer, when I was younger but none of them had an impact on my life like wrestling did. As I mentioned before, there are things about amateur wrestling that made me stick with it for so many years.
To give you an idea of what the competition looked like, when I started – thirteen years old – I was in the fifty-one kilogram weight class and when I finished – eighteen years old – I was in the sixty-one kilogram weight class.
I was not at the bottom of the weight classes (feather weight class) but I was also nowhere near the top (unlimited weight class).
My weight class was a mix of strength, agility and endurance. Heavy on the agility and endurance.
I was never one of those wrestlers who got so pumped-up that they needed to pace back and forth. I was a calm before the storm. That is why I was known for not being able to be read very well. My competition very rarely could figure me out.
My style was almost purely technique based. I had bad endurance and was not the most flexible but I was the most technical wrestler in my weight class, especially the last couple years I was in the sport.
The things Neil said in the video about wrestling could not be more true. And I could not articulate them any better.
But I would like to briefly mention the benefits that I gained from amateur wrestling and the things that I learned.
Some benefits of amateur wrestling are:
- a great way to build confidence and character
- the development of self-defence skills
- brings out males natural roughhousing abilities
- improvement of fitness and athletic abilities such as balance, agility, reflex and endurance
Some valuable life skills I learned from amateur wrestling:
- mental toughness
(I am the farthest left sitting on the ground)
As the years went on and my dedication to wrestling dwindled my focus went from the love of the sport and athletics to a commitment of binge drinking and weed smoking. Such is a life of a middle-class, white-suburban North American male.
Although one year I was invited to a Michigan university for a freestyle-wrestling summer camp I do not feel bad about not pursing a career in amateur wrestling.
The ebb and flow of life can sweep you up and present you with different opportunities and priorities. Whatever feels important to you is what you must pursue.
I will always have the wonderful lessons learned from one of the most ancient sporting activities known to man. And I hope one day to share my skills and techniques with young men and maybe perhaps if I have a family, my son. -dcl