The ability to initiate takedowns from the neutral position is the most important aspect of wrestling. Studies conducted in this area show that the superior takedown wrestler will usually win the match. There is no simple way to become a dominant takedown wrestler, but knowing and understanding key concepts will make the learning process easier. This involves knowing something about the "why" as well as the "how" of the techniques used to initiate offensive and counter maneuvers.
As a wrestler begins to learn or a coach begins to teach takedowns, it is extremely important to start with a strong foundation. The Strength of a wrestler's takedown foundation will determine how successful he will be on his feet. Once a wrestler has established a solid foundation, he will then have the base to build his offensive and defensive takedown system.
Establishing a Takedown Foundation
The first area of takedown a wrestler needs to concern him/her self with is the takedown stance. The stance will determine how successful a wrestler will be on his feet. The stance determines a wrestler's balance, speed, and ability to react. A wrestler's stance will also determine how effective he will be in learning and initiating new techniques. Remember, every takedown that a wrestler initiate has to have a starting point. If that starting point or stance is weak, then the wrestler's chances for takedown success will be diminished. The importance of learning how to get into a good stance position can not be overstated.
There are two basic stances: the Square Stance and the Lead-Leg Stance. The exact positioning of body parts may differ from person to person, but there are fundamental concepts that apply to all wrestlers. There are five extremely important concepts a wrestler needs to concern him/her self with once he assumes his stance.
A wrestler must first concern him/her self with the positioning of his body parts. There are six parts of the body that wrestlers need to focus on: (1) the feet; (2) the knees; (3) the hips; (4) the back; (5) the head; and (6) the arms and hands.
Proper positioning of the feet is a very important part of the stance. The feet are the base of almost everything you do from the standing position. A wrestler's balance, speed, and power emanate from the feet. I will detail concepts about the position of the feet and weight distribution later in this chapter. Pay close attention.
A wrestler's use of the knee joints will be critical to his takedown success. The knees should be flexed almost all of the time. There are only two exceptions I can think of. A wrestler may straighten his legs momentarily to take a breather. Of course, this should be at a time when he is not in danger of being attacked. The other instance would be when a wrestler is initiating a throwing maneuver. He then has to straighten his legs to obtain a back arch. Flexing at the knees allows a wrestler to change levels to attack the opposition or ·sprawl quickly to defend him/her self. Knee flexing will also give a wrestler the speed and power he needs to attack or defend with maximum efficiency.
Wrestlers should get into a habit of flexing their knees at all times. By doing so, they will be less apt to telegraph their shots or slow themselves down by having to flex before each takedown attempt.
A wrestler's hips are the most powerful part of his body. The hips are the center of a wrestler's balance. Both the legs and the upper torso emanate from the hips. Those are the two parts of the body that are used the most in the sport of wrestling. You can liken a wrestler's hips to being the control tower for the upper and lower body. If a wrestler can gain control of the opponent's hips, he will most likely score points. The hips are the part of the body that needs to be protected the most. They are also the part of the body that wrestlers need to use effectively in many critical wrestling situations. I would prefer to see wrestlers keep the hips in more of a vertical position. This will help to keep a wrestler from leaning too far forward. A wrestler will also be better able to curl his back and keep the head in more of an erect position. (Carl Adams Video Basic Takedowns)
The position of the back can be an important factor when a wrestler is attempting to attack the opposition or defend him/her self.) I prefer seeing a wrestler curl his back instead of having a straight back. Curling the back will enable a wrestler to have his body parts closer to the center of his body. This will allow him/her to maintain a better defensive position. It will also give a wrestler more explosive power as he attacks or begins to lift the opposition.
The position of a wrestler's head can determine how effective or vulnerable he will be in his stance position. The head can be used to defend against an attack or help secure an offensive takedown. The placement of a wrestler's head will often determine how effective he will be in completing his takedown.
The head should be held in an erect position, as opposed to leaning forward with the eyes focused toward the mat. This will allow a wrestler to see what his opponent is doing. The head can also be effectively used to block the opposing wrestler out on defense.
The use of the arms and hands will determine how successful a wrestler will be on his feet. A wrestler's defense, set-ups, offensive attacks, and finishes are often performed exclusively by the arms and hands. Placement and use of the arms and hands are critical in all takedown situations.
The arms should be kept close to the sides of the body. Reaching laterally or vertically away from the body will weaken a wrestler's ability to defend him/her self. The arms should only come away from the side of the body when a wrestler is attempting a set-up, attack, or to control the tie-up position. This will often require that a wrestler concentrate and use discipline to keep his arms and hands in a good position.