Soft-Work in Indian Wrestling

Excerpts from "The Wrestler's Body" by Joseph S. Alter

Atreya has drawn up seven points to help define where, when, how, and with whom one should practice jor (1985: 23). Although these guidelines are not followed as rules, they do define the basic principles of jor.

1. You should begin your jor regimen by wrestling with a young child or a wrestler who is clearly weaker than you. In this way you can warm up while the younger wrestler gets a chance to exert his full strength. You should always be careful to match strength with strength and never beat a younger wrestler simply to prove your superiority. As a senior wrestler you must draw the younger wrestler out to his full potential.

2. After wrestling with a younger and weaker wrestler you should wrestle with someone who is your equal. This will enable you to exert your full potential. You should not try to win. Neither should you lose sight of the fine points of the art to the end of showing off your skill. You should match move for move and countermove with countermove in a balanced exchange of strength and skill.

3. If you are called upon to practice jor with a foolish or braggart wrestler you should show him no mercy. He must be cut down to size immediately. Only in this way will he recognize that strength does not lay in conceit, but rather in the regulated practice of moves and countermoves. This must be done. Conceit clouds the mind and a wrestler will never be able to succeed or benefit from the practice of wrestling if he is ignorant of its basic tenets.

4. When wrestling with a stronger and more senior wrestler you should exert all of your strength but at the same time show deference to his rank. This is a very difficult thing to do. It is imperative, however, if you hope to advance and improve. You should learn from a senior wrestler but apply what you learn on someone who is your equal. Thus your achievement will never challenge the seniority of the other wrestlers in the akhara.

5. When wrestling with an old wrestler one must show respect and deference. Never wrestle as though you are stronger than him even if he is old and weak. Always seek to make the older wrestler feel good and strong.

6. If you practice jor with a well-known wrestler you should assume the posture of a disciple at the feet of his guru. You should show respect for well-known wrestlers, and it is also important to learn from them. You should not assume that your strength or skill is a match for theirs.

7. When wrestling with the best wrestler of an akhara you should always approach him in a forthright and confident manner. But never pin him down even if you are able. If you try to prove your strength then the practice of jor turns into a contest. As a result no one comes out of the session having gained any knowledge.


Great post. I came across that book a few years ago, during one of many days spent in my University library doing martial arts research.

Indian wrestling has a rich history and this post is reflective of the kind of gems people can find if they diversify their research and do a little digging.


Don't forget to check out the book "The Body Becomes all Eyes." It is about the Indina art Kalaripayrat(sp?). It is quite good, has some interesting takes in it. The Wrestler's Body has some excellent pictures in it also (heh check out the size of some of those clubs!)

Big Bubba Clubbells!

Definitely check out the cross post of this on the UG, entitled, "7 Guidelines for Practice." Quite a heated "discussion." :)

Robert, what does it mean to you? You'd have to
ask the author of the book to learn his meaning.

Coach Sonnon

Robert, I'm on the road currently, so I won't have a
chance to compose anything substantial.
However, I look forward to your review of LEG

Coach Sonnon