Freestyle versus Greco-Roman wrestling

The two forms of wrestling most practiced in the world are freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling. Two styles of wrestling that are currently the only ones officially an Olympic sport.

They are both compared to each other a lot and although they have some similarities, they are very different. Here’s everything you need to know about freestyle wrestling versus Greco-Roman wrestling.

We’ll detail the history of each wrestling style and see how they compare between rules, point systems, and ways to win.

The History of Freestyle vs. Greco-Roman Wrestling

Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling both look older than they are, but each style is roughly the same age. They just had different paths to develop.

The history of Greco-Roman wrestling

Greco-Roman wrestling developed at the end of the 18th century in Europe. The person credited with developing this style of wrestling was a French soldier named Jean Exbrayat.

After serving in the French army, Exbrayat wrestled at traveling fairs and carnivals throughout France. Throwing open challenges to anyone who wanted to test their wrestling skills.

He began to develop his own style of wrestling which he called French wrestling or open hand wrestling. Exbrayat would begin changing the rules of his wrestling style to distinguish it from other styles.

In his style, you could only do above-the-waist takedowns and no submissions were allowed. His style of wrestling became very popular in Europe.

A Greek wrestler named Basilio Bartoletti coined the term Greco-Roman wrestling. Although modern Greco-Roman wrestling bears no resemblance to ancient Greek wrestling.

Anyway, the name stuck and this style of wrestling became very popular in Europe. This would lead to Greco-Roman wrestling becoming one of the first Olympic sports in 1896.

The history of freestyle wrestling

Freestyle wrestling began to develop shortly after the creation of Greco-Roman wrestling. It was mainly based on wrestling as wrestling can wrestling and other types of wrestling like Irish Collar wrestling.

The rules for freestyle would be a bit different from those for catching, as submissions were deemed illegal. A four-legged or tortoise position was established when it was not used in the fight against capture.

This style of wrestling would grow slowly, but pale in comparison to the growth of Greco-Roman wrestling.

Freestyle wrestling would gain popularity as it became a Olympic sport in 1904. Catch wrestling was actually supposed to become an Olympic sport, but was ruled out due to submissions.

The rules were changed to exclude submissions and thus freestyle wrestling became an Olympic sport. Freestyle wrestling would ride on this wave of momentum and become incredibly popular.

In the last century, it overtook Greco-Roman wrestling as the most popular and practiced form of wrestling in the world. Almost every country in the world practices freestyle wrestling and aims to win gold at every Olympic and World Championship.

Freestyle versus Greco-Roman match formats

Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling actually have the same match format.

  • 3 periods
  • 2 minutes per song
  • 30 second break between rounds
  • Win by pins, technical fall or points

Point systems of freestyle wrestling versus Greco-Roman wrestling

Freestyle wrestling point system

  • Disassembly without retroexposure: 1 point
  • Indent below the waist with rear exposure: 3 points
  • A throw from the feet on the ground with rear exposure: 3-5 points
  • Falls avoided: 1 point
  • Turn the opponent’s shoulders towards the mat: 1/2 point
  • Pushouts or going out of bounds: 1 point

Greco-Roman wrestling point system

  • Disassembly without retroexposure: 1 point
  • Takedowns below the waist: illegal
  • Back foot takedowns: 3-5 points
  • Imminent fall: 1 point
  • Turn the opponent’s shoulders towards the mat: 1/2 point
  • Leak: 1 point
  • Pushing or exiting out of bounds: 1 point

Ways to Win in Freestyle vs. Greco-Roman Wrestling

Ways to Win in Freestyle Wrestling

  • Pin
  • technical fall
  • Points
  • Default
  • Disqualification

Ways to win in Greco-Roman wrestling

  • Pin
  • technical fall
  • Points
  • Default
  • Disqualification

Similarities Between Freestyle Wrestling and Greco-Roman Wrestling

Although freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling look very different, the two styles have some similarities. Here are some of the more notable similarities that the two styles of wrestling share.

Same match formats

Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling have the same match formats. Two three-minute periods with a thirty-second break in between.

They start in a neutral position, then each wrestler starts in a dominant riding position in round two.

The same ways to win

The methods of victory are the same in both wrestling styles. Pin technical fall, points, default or disqualification.

Rules for locking hands

You can lock your hands on an opponent at any time during either match type. It’s different from folk wrestling, where you can only lock your hands during pin attempts.

Technical superiority

You can win in both wrestling styles by taking a six-point lead over your opponent at any point in a match.

Both are Olympic sports

Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling are both official Olympic sports. They are the only wrestling styles to have this honor.

The difference between freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling

Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling have a big difference and these are the rules of their competition. In freestyle wrestling, you can take down your opponent by attacking their upper or lower body.

Greco Roman rules state that wrestlers can only perform techniques from the waist up. Make stretches non-existent in Greco-Roman wrestling.

How Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling Affected MMA

Wrestling as a whole, which includes freestyle and Greco-Roman, has changed the landscape of MMA. They showed the importance of knowing how to perform takedowns, defend them, and control an opponent on the ground.

Statistically, there have been more wrestlers to win championships than any other fighting discipline. A fighter with a background in freestyle wrestling or Greco-Roman wrestling will have an advantage over his competitors.

Robert J. King