Greco-Roman Wrestling Rules: A Beginner’s Guide

Welcome to learning about Greco-Roman wrestling. Competitors grapple using only their upper bodies in a sport where strength meets strategy. There are no leg holds here, only sheer power and tactical skill. In fact, I already have difficulty picking up a pen without using my legs. You will learn more about how wrestlers score, win, and more. 

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    What Is The History Of Greco-Roman Wrestling? 

    The sport of Greco-Roman wrestling has its origins in the ancient world and was a popular form of entertainment in Ancient Greece. The first recorded Olympic champion in Greco-Roman wrestling was Coroibus of Elis, who won the inaugural Games in 708 BC. Moreover, the rules of Greco-Roman wrestling were codified in the late 19th century, and the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), now known as United World Wrestling (UWW), governs the sport today. Greco-Roman wrestling is one of the three wrestling styles practiced worldwide. The other two are freestyle wrestling and folkstyle wrestling. Greco-Roman wrestling is typically contested by men, although there are also women’s divisions. 

    How Do You Score In Greco-Roman Wrestling? How Does A Wrestler Win A Match? 

    Greco-Roman wrestling aims to throw or takedown one’s opponent to the ground and gain control over them for a period of time.

    Scoring

    • Takedown (2-5 Points): The referee awards the wrestler points if they take their opponent down to the ground and achieve control over them. The number of points awarded depends on the level of control achieved.
    • Exposure (2-3 Points): The referee awards the wrestler points if they expose their opponent’s back to the mat for some time.
    • Penalty (1-2 Points): A wrestler can be penalized for various infractions, such as illegal holds, stalling, or unsportsmanlike conduct. In addition, the referee can award penalty points to the opponent.
    • Reversal (1 Point): The referee awards the wrestler a point if they reverse their opponent’s position.
    • Out of Bounds (1 point): The referee awards the wrestler one point if they force their opponent out of the wrestling area.

    Winning

    There are many ways to win a Greco-Roman wrestling match.

    • By Pin/Fall: A wrestler can win by pinning their opponent’s shoulders and hips to the mat for a period of time.
    • By Technical Superiority: A wrestler can win by achieving a certain number of points more than their opponent.
    • By Decision: If the match ends in a tie, the wrestler who accumulated the most points for takedowns and exposures is declared the winner.
    • By Forfeiture: Wrestlers can win if their opponents are disqualified for breaking the rules.
    • By Injury Default: A wrestler can win if their opponent cannot continue due to an injury.
    Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash

    What Are The Technical Rules Of Greco-Roman Wrestling? 

    The technical rules are the rules that each wrestler must abide by for the match. Wrestlers may be given a warning or penalized if they break any of these rules. If a wrestler is penalized twice in a competition, they will forfeit the game.

    Some of the technical rules are as follows: 

    • Wrestlers must maintain contact with their opponent at all times.
    • Wrestlers are not allowed to use any holds below the waist.
    • Wrestlers are not allowed to trip their opponents.
    • Wrestlers are not allowed to attack their opponents with their knees or legs.
    • Wrestlers are not allowed to headbutt their opponents.
    • Wrestlers are not allowed to bite or Gouge their opponents.

    What Equipment Is Necessary For A Wrestler In Greco-Roman Wrestling? 

    Here is the necessary equipment that a wrestler needs for a wrestling match: 

    • Singlet: A one-piece, skin-tight wrestling uniform.
    • Headgear: Optional in Greco-Roman Wrestling.
    • Greco-Roman Shoes: These shoes have reinforced soles for traction and support when wrestling.
    • Blood Rag: If a wrestler is bleeding, they will receive a blood rag. The wrestler can use this piece of cloth to wipe away the blood. The referee must approve the blood rag before the wrestler can use it.
    • Fight Mat: The wrestling mat is where the match takes place. The mat is typically made of foam and cushioned to help protect the wrestlers from injury.

    What Are Some Common Strategies And Holds In Greco-Roman Wrestling? 

    There are a few common strategies that wrestlers use in Greco-Roman wrestling. 

    Strategies

    One is known as the “bodylock.” This strategy involves locking your opponent’s arm around their waist and using your other arm to control their head. Furthermore, it gives you an excellent position to throw your opponent to the ground.

    Another common strategy is known as the “headlock.” This strategy involves controlling your opponent’s head with both arms and using your body to control their upper body. This is a good position to take your opponent down or to force them to submit.
    Finally, the “armbar” is a common submission hold in Greco-Roman wrestling. This hold involves controlling your opponent’s arm with one of yours and using your other arm to control their head. You then use your body weight to pressure their elbow, causing pain until they submit.

    Types Of Wrestling Holds

    There are a variety of different holds that wrestlers use in Greco-Roman wrestling. 

    Some of the most common are as follows:

    • The Fireman’s Carry: This hold involves lifting your opponent onto your shoulders and carrying them around.
    • The Body Lock: This hold involves wrapping your arms around your opponent’s torso and using your body to control them.
    • The Headlock: This hold involves placing one arm around your opponent’s head and using your other arm to control their body.
    • The Front Chancery: This hold involves placing one arm around your opponent’s neck and using your other hand to control their far arm.
    • The Rear Chancery: This hold involves placing one arm around your opponent’s neck from behind and using your other hand to control their far arm.

    Wrestlers can use many other holds in Greco-Roman wrestling, but these are some of the most common.

    What Are The Weight Classes In Greco-Roman Wrestling?

    There is currently only greco-roman wrestling for men in the Olympics. Therefore, only the weight classes for the men are shown below. 

    Men’s Weight Classes

    Weight Class (kg) Weight Class (lbs)
    55 121
    60 132
    63 139
    67 148
    72 159
    77 170
    82 181
    87 192
    97 214
    130 286

    Conclusion

    Congrats! You made it to the end. I hope you learned something new about Greco-Roman wrestling rules. In case you want to learn about other wrestling types, you should check out our breakdown of freestyle wrestling.