Freestyle, Folkstyle, and Greco Roman: Understanding The Different Types Of Wrestling

jordan burroughs, mma, wrestling, freestyle and folkstyle wrestling

Whenever someone says the word ‘wrestling‘, two things automatically come to mind:
– an extra bouncy boxing ring where guys give each other stone cold stunners and hit eachother with metal chairs…

– two bruts with their hair dyed bleach blonde and their ears mutilated wearing singlets and trying to pin each other..

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Conventional knowledge dictates that wrestling is wrestling, but little do most people know that there are 3 different distinct styles of amateur wrestling which all have their own rule sets and competitions.


Freestyle wrestling is a style practiced all over the globe. Freestyle is one of the two styles contested in the Olympic games (along with Greco Roman).
In a free style match both wrestlers start on their feet in a ‘neutral’ position. Both throws and shots are used to take down an opponent. Suplexes, lateral drops, and other ‘high amplitude’ throws are awarded 5 points in a freestyle wrestling match. Other, Less ‘dramatic’ moves that take your opponent from their feet to back are awarded 3 points, and normal take downs where an opponent falls to his or her stomach are awarded 1 point. Also, If a wrestler steps out of bounds while both wrestlers are on their feet, his opponent gets a point.



Folk style is a style only practiced and contended in the United states at the High school, Middle school, and collegiate level. Folkstyle is also known as ‘scholastic wrestling’.

Folk style wrestling matches also begin with both wrestlers on the feet in a ‘neutral’ position, and both throws and leg attacks are permitted, but a throw must go off to the left or right at an angle and not straight back. Here is an example of an illegal throw in folk style wrestling. Also in folk style matches there is no “pushout point”, and all takedowns are awarded 2pts. So folk style is very similar to freestyle, other than the ‘high amplitude’ throws being forbidden, most likely to prevent injury among young middle school and high school athletes.

 Greco Roman

Greco Roman wrestling is a style of wrestling that is practiced worldwide and is also contested at the Olympic games along with freestyle wrestling. In a Greco Roman wrestling match, any attacks below the waist (shots) are strictly forbidden, which puts a large emphasis on high amplitude ‘5 point’ throws. This emphasis on high amplitude throws and ban on leg attacks are the major distinction between Greco Roman and the other styles of amateur wrestling.

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