Question To wrestlers

I have just returned home from being abroad for the last 14 years with the United States Army.... I am now a member of the full time Guard in the state of Florida.
My son who is eleven has several years of BJJ under his belt. He has also trained in wrestling a little under some of my friends who have great credentials. Because of moving around every three years we are used to coming onto the scene as the new guys etc. etc. and i understand that the wrestling scene down south does not even remotely compare to the scene up North but here is my problem.
The local coaches most of wich are football coaches who also coach wrestling, do not teach tying up or pumeling to set up attacks. I do not understand this mentality. I am not sure if it is because they do not understand how to teach this approach or could it be something else.
My son and I train with a realistic approach. I may not have to tie up with a guy but then again I just might. I am curious to your thoughts and appreciate them all.

SFC Preston

My brother is a freestyle state champ. Hw has been wrestling since he was six. My family has state placers and his coaches were national level placers.

We do not tie up. We use set ups like underhooks, elbow control, inside control, etc. etc, but we never do the ear to ear where each guy has a hand on the back of the neck and elbow tie-ep. We also shoot a lot from the outside using fakes and faints to create motion. Some guys do tie up, and get very good with it. When we touch our opponent we are setting him up not just tying for the sake of tying. You rarely HAVE to tie up. If you are controling the tie you decide when to break it.

Hope this helps. I'd like to hear Richard's thoughts.


I am new to the wrestling lingo as well. When i state tying up, I mean all that you just mentioned. underhooks, collar tie controlling the elbows etc. etc.
The coach that gives me the most concern is the coach that will eventually be my sons coach. He does not teach his kids any of the above mentioned techniques. I have tried on a couple of occasions to talk to him about these things but he is not interested. He only wants his wrestlers to shoot. No wrist control just slap the guy on the forehead and shoot for a double or a single.
What are your suggestions in getting him to try new attacks??

Thank You Again
SFC Preston

Hi SFC Preston,

The situation you describe is not too far off from here in NE TN.  (This will likely be changing now that Bristol has a college team at King College with a very talented USA wrestling certified coach, Doug Reese.)  There are a couple of decent high schools but they are the minority and even they tend to be fairly parochial in their teaching, almost "incestuous" so-to-speak.  They encourage little freestyle or greco off-season work and their kids do little with regard to good summer camps to get exposed to good national and international level wrestlers and their technique.

Unless your child's coach has wrestled at a good NCAA level, at minimum, or, better yet, has some high caliber freestyle or greco training and experience, their whole game will be fairly primitive and that goes double for tie-ups and set-ups that will probably not include good pummeling control, underhooks, front headlock, etc. which all transition off each other.  Good coaching with regard to takedown preparation involves a variety of tactics and strategies to manipulate your opponent in favorable position to attack him (and unfavorable position for him to attack you).  What you do before the attack is crucial and not a substitute for a good attack, however good, at least against a high caliber opponent.  This necessitates getting training from somebody who can teach your son when and how to attack (both in terms of preparation and formal attack) "high" (waist or above) vs. "low" (legs).  Good tie-up training gives a wrestler as concept of manipulating their opponent so if "high" is not open, "low" most probably is, and visa-versa.  It is about giving a structure and conceptual framework to your son's game for which technique is then rationally based, not just a bunch of "moves" which you are likely to run across at the level of coaching in your area you are indicating.

One of the kids, Kolby, at our BJJ school, who helped me as my partner while filming my video series, has very supportive parents who have send him to very good camps around the year, for example, Ken Chertow's camps (and there are other excellent ones as well).  Despite having little in our area, he has developed outstanding technique for someone so young (12 at the time of our filming).  Indeed, he knew more good technique at age 12 than I knew as a high school senior based upon his exposure to some outstanding camp clinians.

Videos help (OK, a self-serving comment) but they DO NOT substitute for competent instruction and, in particular, feedback both drilling and going live.  Therefore, I am a strong proponent of the camp thing particularly if you are in an area without strong day-to-day coaching.  Frankly, that goes for individuals even with an outstanding and experienced coach.  Getting exposed to a variety of technique, tactics, and strategies will help develop YOUR (or your son's) best INDIVIDUAL game.

Good luck to your son.



Thank you for your input. My son has a lot in common with the young man you mentioned in your reponse. I am a product of Matt Larsen. A Brown belt in BJJ under Jacare' Caventelle (forgive the spelling). Matt is solely responsible for the restructuring of the Army Hand to Hand Program. A system that is BJJ based that branches out using takedowns from wrestling and Judo, Strikes from Kick boxing etc. etc. more info can be found on this web site under the soldier ground. My son has had exposure to some superb athletes. Jacare', James Cook who fights for Fairtex, Forrest Griffan, the list goes on and on. I also have him scheduled for the camp circuit this summer as well. Once again like the young man you mentioned, he is far more focused than I was at 11. I feel more comfortable with the training approach we are taking now that I have read your oppinions. I just didn't want to put him through all of this and it not be the a practical approach.

SFC Preston

I don't know much about the coaches in the south but I can understand the concept of just teaching them to shoot. Your son is probably a lot more advanced than kids at that age.

I helped coach junior high school (7th and 8th graders) and high school kids .. and the junior high school kids were fairly dumb as dirt when it came to wrestling because it was essentially a BRAND new sport for them..or something they saw on WWF. In high school.. it is easier to teach them throws and tie-ups and underhooks at all that because hopefully they had some training in junior high school.. and they also might be more in tune physically with their body movements.

At the junior high school level.. the inexperienced kids don't have the right movement or footwork to execute a proper throw other than maybe a head-and-arm throw. Single leg and double leg takedowns are the bread-n-butter of wrestling so I can understand a coach's point of view of teaching that more so at that age.. then showing throws when they are older.

Here is a link to some wrestling clubs in Florida.

I agree with you in regards to teaching being conducive with his experianbce level. However the coaches I am refering to are high school coaches in general. Atleast for my area. And I am not saying there is not a wrestling coach out there not teaching good tie up drills etc.I just Haven't seen it.
Initially He was having to work out with the High School team because it was the only thing going. But last night they started up the wrestling club for his age group in the area. Kind of a pipe line for the middle school kids to the High scholl scene if you will wich makes total sense to me. The guy who is the primary instructor for the kids seems to be pretty good. So it seems if things are about to take a turn for the better.

I refrain from telling him to ignore a few things but Instead I show him the correct way if I know it and label it an alternate way because of the whole coach student relationship that needs to be there. It's just all knd of frustrating at times. The kid eats lives and breathes fighting. Grappling of any kind seems to be his outlet.

Any way thanks to all who responded. Rich I invite you to look into the soldier Ground. All of you for that matter. It's a good look into how our soldiers in the Army are training in the Hand to Hand area for todays modern battle field. This is a good forum as well. Thanks again you all do your sport justice.

SFC Preston