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This article picks up from the basic breakdowns and escapes we looked at last month to talk about how to finish off your opponent with a pin or devastating lead in points. A pin is when both of your opponent's shoulder blades are touching the mat, and it ends the match immediately, in your favor. This is, obviously, good for you, even if it is fairly humiliating for your opponent (especially if his girlfriend is in the stands watching; not that I would know anything about that from personal experience or anything). You score near fall points when you expose your opponent's back to the mat. His back has to be within a 45-degree angle from the mat for the referee to start counting. If you hold your opponent in this position for a three-second count, you are awarded two points; a five-second count rewards you with three points. These points can add up very quickly in a match if you are efficient and experienced at turning the opposition.

As with the other moves we have covered, you can work a series of moves off of one initial "hold." This allows you to move from one thing to the next to get past lines of defense that your opponent may attempt. This month we will be going over one of the most basic pins or turns, a half nelson, and a bit more advanced one, the crossface series. Both are extremely effective and can put a hurtin' on your opponent, especially the crossface series.

In the past couple months' articles we have gone over some of the basics of wrestling. We've looked at a small set of movements from the feet, but what happens when we get on the mat? This month we will talk about the bottom position for escapes and reversals as well as breakdowns from the top position.

When you and your opponent are set up with one in the bottom position, on hands and knees, and one in the top position, above and behind the other, with one arm around his waist and the other on the elbow, this is known as the "referee's" position. The bottom person is on his knees and typically sitting on his ankles, with toes pointed back. If you sit on your heels and leave your toes in the mat, you give your opponent more options for breaking you down, which we will look at later in the article. The hands are positioned about ten inches in front of the knees and your weight should rest mainly on your butt. If you rock too far forward onto your hands, it gets you off balance and can again open the door for you to get broken down more easily.

In last month's article I talked about the very basics of wrestling--the stance, penetration step, and some fundamental movements and defense. Now that you are armed with some kind of knowledge on how to set out on the path to wrestling stardom, we ought to explore some options in offense.

This month we will talk about set-ups, double-leg and single-leg takedowns, and some finishes. Once we get in on a shot we need a way to get our opponent to the mat. This comes in the form of a finish and there are all different kinds. This month we will be keeping things simple and only going over a few, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the more options you have with finishes (or completing the takedown) the better off you will be against an experienced opponent.

So let's get into set-ups, which come out of the handfighting that typically begins a match. A set-up is when I am trying to get my opponent out of position and make him vulnerable to my attack. This is the very first part of our takedown and you will see beginner wrestlers making the mistake of not using set-ups. Against experienced wrestlers it is important to get them off balance or out of position during our handfighting so that we can use set-ups to get past their lines of defense and into a successful shot.

As I mentioned last month, I think the best defense is effective and calculated offense. In order to score a takedown, you have to take calculated risks. There are tons of different moves out there to use as attacks and means of getting your opponent to the mat, but even the best wrestlers in the world often stick with the very basics--for example, the double- and single-leg. What the experienced wrestler does differently comes in the set-ups that precede the takedown itself, as well as in his or her ability to do what we call chain wrestling. (Those of you familiar with jiu-jitsu will recognize some similarities here.)

Wrestling has long been known as one of the oldest sports in history. Martial arts originated from the very simple sport of two individuals combating directly against one another, one on one. One of the things that attracted me to wrestling to begin with is the idea that it was "fair." As a kid I was always into sports but I was a total shrimp. My two or three strides on the soccer field were equivalent to my friends' one. (Granted, I didn't know the POSE method then, and am only just learning it now, but something tells me that may not have helped.)

I was constantly trying to keep up with the rest of the crowd. Wrestling creates an even playing field. You are matched up with someone your same weight, so neither person has a size advantage over the other, and there are no excuses and no one to blame for outcomes. No person to pass the ball to, no one to call out for not paying attention, no one else to blame for your mistakes. Some people mistype wrestlers as "jocks" or "blockheads." But I think you will find that the majority of wrestlers are actually fairly bright. At elite levels, wrestling is like a chess match--the competitors are playing a few steps ahead, anticipating movements and playing an intricate game of trying to make the opponent make a mistake they can capitalize on to score.


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