There are two Olympic styles of wrestling, freestyle and Greco-Roman. With one key exception, the rules of the two styles are identical:

In Greco-Roman, a wrestler may not attack his opponent's legs, nor use his own legs to trip, lift or execute other moves.

In freestyle, both the arms and legs may be used to execute holds or to defend against attack.

Freestyle is similar to the "folkstyle" wrestling popular in American schools and universities, but with different scoring and strategies. There are some major differences between the U.S. folkstyle wrestling and the international styles.

The Athletes

An athlete must be at least 17 years old, and must be sponsored by their national federation, to compete at the World Championships or Olympic Games.

The Weight Divisions

There are eight weight divisions in men's international wrestling and six for women. Athletes are weighed in prior to the competition, and must be at the weight level or below in order to participate in the competition.

Freestyle and Greco-Roman Weight Classes:

Men's Weight Classes
54 kg / 119 lb.
58 kg / 127.75 lb.
63 kg / 138.75 lb.
69 kg / 152 lb.
76 kg / 167.5 lb.
85 kg / 187.25 lb.
97 kg / 213.75 lb.
125 kg / 275.5 lb.

Women's Weight Classes
44 kg / 101.25 lb.
51 kg / 112.25 lb.
56 kg / 123.25 lb.
62 kg / 136.5 lb.
68 kg / 149.75 lb.
75 kg / 165.25 lb.

The Mat

International wrestling is contested on a mat, with a nine meter circular competition area. There is also a 1.2 to 1.5 meter protection border on all international mats.

There is a red band, a one-meter passivity "zone" on the inside of the edge of the nine meter circle, where wrestlers are encouraged by officials to stay in the competition area.

The Officials

There are three officials for every international wrestling match, a referee (on the mat) plus a chairman and a judge. There are never two officials from the same nation working the same match, nor may an official work a match including an athlete from his or her nation.

The officials award points on a majority vote. At least two of the three officials must agree on technical points and falls.

The Coach

The coach may remain at the foot of the platform or at least two meters from the edge of the mat during the competition.

The Uniform

Wrestlers must wear a one-piece singlet, in the color assigned to them (red or blue). The wrestling singlet must be of a type approved by the international wrestling federation. Wrestlers must wear wrestling shoes providing firm support for the ankles and must carry a handkerchief.

Referees must wear an all-white shirt or pullover. Pants and shoes are also white.

The Competition

Beginning in 1989, each match became one five-minute period without rest.

At the start of each bout, the wrestlers shake hands. The match starts with the wrestlers standing on their feet. The wrestlers attempt to take their opponent down to the mat to score points. Wrestling also occurs down on the mat, known as "par terre." At the end of each bout, the arm of the winning athlete is raised. The wrestlers shake hands with the referee and with their opponent.

The main objective in wrestling is to pin your opponent. This is achieved by holding his shoulder blades to the mat for about one-half of a second. This automatically ends the match. A pin is also known as a fall.

If a wrestler is not able to pin his rival during the five minutes, he must score more technical points to win the bout. Points are awarded for performing techniques or moves within the rules.

If a wrestler scores 10 points more than his opponent at any time, the bout is stopped. This is a technical superiority, or also known as a technical fall.

A bout can also end by an injury default, a forfeit or a disqualification.

Wrestlers are now required to score a minimum of three points in order to win a match. If neither wrestler has scored three points at the end of five minutes, the match will go into a three-minute overtime period. The first wrestler to reach three points will be the winner.

If neither wrestler reaches three points in overtime, the winner will be determined by the officials.

If the bout is tied at the end of overtime, a wrestler with more cautions and warnings for passivity will lose. If the marks are equal, the officials select a winner based upon activity.

All bouts tied at the end of regulation also go into over-time. If no winner is determined at the end of the three minute overtime, the winner is decided by the officials.

Scoring Terms

Takedown occurs when a man takes his opponent to the mat from a standing position. This is worth one point, but can be worth more if the opponent is brought down onto his back.

Exposure turning an opponent's shoulders to the mat. Once the line of the back area breaks a 90-degree angle, points are scored. This can occur both from the feet and on the mat. A wrestler who holds his opponent in a danger position for five seconds will receive one extra point.

Reversal when the man underneath completely reverses his position and comes to the top position in control, he has scored a reversal, worth one point.

Escape when an athlete works to come out from the bottom position (after being under dominant control) and gets to his feet, facing his rival, he has scored an escape, worth one point.

Passivity There are no longer disqualifications for passivity in international wrestling. The officiating team can call an unlimited number of passivity calls. Wrestlers will be permitted to place the passive opponent in the down "par terre" position or continue the bout in a standing position after each passivity call.

The Pairings

Wrestlers are paired off for the preliminary round according to a numerical order determined by a drawing of lots during the weigh-in.

The winning wrestlers in the preliminary round are placed in Group A, while the losing wrestlers in the preliminary round are placed in Group B.

Athletes are then paired off against opponents in their group in each following round.

Each wrestler must lose two matches to be eliminated from the tournament. A wrestler who loses a match in Group A will be placed in Group B for the next round. The highest that a wrestler in Group B can place is third.

The winner of Group A claims the gold medal, while the second place wrestler in Group A claims the silver medal. The winner of Group B is the bronze-medal winner.

Final matches are held to determine places 1-6 in each weight class. Place finishers 7-10 are determined by a point system.

Team Scoring

At the end of the tournament, team scores are compiled. A champion earns 10 points for his nation, a runner-up scores 9 points, third place is worth eight points, etc., down to a 10th place wrestler scoring 1 point.

The nation with the most team points including all 10 weight classes is declared the World Team Champion.

Scoring Rules and Terms

Match length: 5 minutes, one period

Fall or Pin: Both shoulders held on mat, match ends

Technical Fall: 10-point margin, match ends

Injury default: Athlete can not continue to compete, match ends.

Decision: The athlete who scores the most points in a bout and wins. If neither wrestler scores at least three points during regulation, the bout goes into a three-minute overtime period. The first wrestler to reach at least three points is the winner. If neither wrestler reaches three points, officials decide winner.

Tie scores: Broken by sudden-death overtime. If tie is not broken by end of three-minute overtime, officials decide winner.

1 point: Takedown, Reversal, Hand-to-hand Exposure, Escape

1 extra point: High amplitude throw from mat, holding man on back for five seconds

2 points: Exposure, Takedown then exposure

3 points: Takedown to immediate exposure from feet; high amplitude throw without danger

5 points: High amplitude throw to danger

Penalty Calls

1.Illegal hold without consequence: 1 point plus caution 2.Illegal hold with consequence: 2 points plus caution 3.Fleeing the mat: 1 or 2 points plus caution

4.Fleeing the hold: 1 point plus caution

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