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Go and Fight!

Safety first

Go and Fight!
Artworks (above and below) by artist Pauline Goodwyn
Album DeviantArt

Русская версия

As with any physical activity, you can get hurt wrestling. You probably won't be hurt seriously but it can happen. The point is to avoid anything that is prone to causing injury and to be prepared if, heaven forbid, an injury should occur.

I've seen nothing on the Internet about this and that's probably because it's difficult to write about: I am NOT a physician or an expert in this area. So what I'm going to tell you is based on my experience and common sense.

The basic preliminaries

Obviously, the most important thing to do is follow the "rules" because these are oriented to safety. But other than that. Just DO the following:

Get yourself a good first aid kit and bring it with you to the match. Don't rely on anyone else having one. Buy one, make sure the contents are adequate and keep it with you when you go to wrestle (even practice or possible impromptu matches).

Adequate contents are a good infection treatment, a separate small bottle of alcohol, a good range of curads (bandaids), a selection of wrap-around bandages that fit you (including an ace bandage for elbow, knee and ankle), a sling bandage (I hope I'm not starting to scare you) and a bottle of smelling salts.

Go and Fight! Test your surface. Most injuries come from surfaces that are too hard and jarring or much too soft which can cause twisting of joints. Make sure the fight venue is padded and comfortable to a fall. Test it by falling loosely on it once to make sure. Just flop yourself down with your body relaxed. The surface should feel firm and it should jar you a bit but you should suffer no after-effect on any part of your body. If it doesn't, see if you can at least get a couple of mattresses if no mats are available. If you can't do this, postpone the match and take appropriate measures to get that proper surface.

Make sure the venue room is warm. If you're not sure, take off your outer clothes and just sit there for a few minutes. Are you starting to get cold? If so, make the room warmer. I would also turn off air conditioning in most rooms because drafts can be hell on muscles.

Warm up and stretch. You can do this in private but make sure you are warm. You actually don't have to be sweating when you begin but you should be near that point. You know your body - make it warm and stretch so the muscles feel loose. A cold or tight body will suffer muscle tears and strains much more easily.

Make your body injury proof. Take off all the jewelry (including rings except your wedding ring if you want - they are fairly safe). Make sure you have NO watches, bracelets or earrings on for the contest.

Deal with your hair because it poses potential problems. If you're going to wrestle straight, make sure your hair is controlled. If it's long, put an elastic around it and pony tail it. If you're going to catfight, the opposite is true - let your hair fall loose because that is actually much safer in a pull. And comb or brush your hair
Cut your nails to the proper (right above the skin's end) point. If you have to have long nails (and some women wear them quite long), use surgical gloves until you become skilled in fingertip grabs. Like it or not, you can accidentally scratch the hell out of someone with long nails and neither of you want that. Same, by the way, for toe nails.

Finally, know where the nearest Emergency Room is and make sure both of you know it and have a way to get to it. I don't mean to scare you and this probably will never be necessary but things sometimes happen and when they do, researching the nearest hospital becomes very difficult for a bunch of freaked out people.

Match conduct

Go and Fight! Right up front, choose a safe word that you can scream out if you need to stop because of injury. And USE it even if you feel something is about to go wrong.

Listen to me now! If girlfriend says the word while you're wrestling her immediately disengage. Just stop and move away from her two or three feet. Don't even touch her while you're engaged - the first point is to survey what's happened before you start moving her around. Just move away quickly. No questions asked.

If you notice any blood, visible scratches or any other lacerations stop immediately and apply appropriate first aid. Sometimes you get a scratch or cut and you can go right on fighting but you should first put some ointment or something on it to prevent possible infection. Go and Fight!

If you hear any snack, crackle or pop during the match, STOP. Don't ask, "Are you okay?" because if something has gone wrong she may not realize she's hurt or you may not realize you are hurt. Just stop and wait and see if something develops because one of you will feel an injury a few moments after for sure.

Avoid techniques that bend joints backwards. If she is bending your arm or leg in a strange position, use the safe word and call that to her attention. YOU should avoid that kind of craziness as well. That's for trained and experienced fighters. Oh... if you're both trained and experienced, bend her into a pretzel if you want.

If you knock heads by accident (and you probably will, my love) stop and check it you're both okay. Any queasy or dizzy feeling - it stops right there and you get yourself checked out. You probably have a concussion; that's not the end of the world in most cases but you should check it out.

By the way, if you feel nauseous, stop immediately and see if it settles down. It could be nothing but, if it continues, you should have yourself checked out.

Fight like what you are. Which is, for most of us, a recreational wrestler. Don't jump into the air or do stuff you see professional wrestlers do (like drop kicks); professional wrestlers are highly trained athletes/actors who work in cooperation with each other, using "calls" (to tell each other what they are about to do) and are expert in making a technique look real without causing injury to opponents. You are probably not that. Okay? So, stay on the mat.

Also, avoid sleeper holds and other choke techniques. If you're not both highly trained martial artists, these techniques can be very dangerous.

Finally, be extremely careful with scissors holds. Never nail a scissors on her neck! You can cause some very dangerous injuries that way.

The monthly issue

Go and Fight! This is an issue that is seldom discussed in public but often raised by women. After all, we are different from men in many ways but a main one is that most of us menstruate once a month until we reach menopause. So the issue is: do I wrestle during menstruation?

The first point is to explore what menstruation actually is because it is NOT the emissions portion of your period. Menstruation is a period of the month that lasts several days and the bleeding only lasts a small part of that time.

That doesn't mean nothing is happening. During menstruation your body is going through several major changes and your reproductive organs are responding to those changes and forcing other changes to occur. In short, my sister, you are DIFFERENT during those days.

Caring for yourself during your period is a major responsibility because it not only affects your health but also your ability to bear children. Okay? Sooo... you must listen to your body here.

Try to avoid scheduling matches during the seven or eight central days of your period. Now that's tough to time, obviously so if you have scheduled a match and you feel changes like loss of energy, bloating, headaches, etc. - you should probably postpone the match. Some of us feel these changes all the time and, if they are ordinary, use your judgment but postponing a match for a few days is not the end of the world and, if you level with her, your opponent will understand. Go and Fight!

NEVER let either of the men pressure you into doing it if you're questioning whether you should. It's your choice.

By the way, avoid any erotic fighting during this time - it's not dangerous per se (sex is never dangerous during a period) - but it's fighting and any stress and trauma could complicate things within you.

And I would strongly suggest that you avoid any fighting contact during the time of the actual menstrual emission or if you think it's coming.


The moment you miss your period, stop wrestling. If it's a false pregnancy (and that does happen) you can resume immediately after making sure the false sign isn't symptomatic of some problem. I exercised extensively during both my pregnancies (swimming, working out and even doing some running) but none was banging her body into mine in those activities. Wrestling is fighting and you don't fight with a growing life inside you, girlfriend.

And you WILL be able to come back and no combative woman will disagree with you. No bridges will be burned. We've had two occasions in Ladies Corner during which active combative women just took off for nine months to give birth. The reaction from all the other women in Ladies Corner was supportive (and of course asking about weight, looks and trying to get photos of the newborns - I mean we ARE women, right?) .

Going to the doctor

Okay... somebody's been injured and you have to go to emergency room. What the hell do you say?

Simple: "My girlfriend and I were horsing around, sort of wrestling, and we got into this hold and I felt... etc." That's all you need to say and the doctor will accept that explanation without any more questions asked and you need answer no more. You need not answer questions about a possible attack because you are not pressing charges. That's it.

Don't know what the doctor will think and who cares? Your health is the priority and the doctor is probably more interested in dealing with the real injury than how it occurred.

Here's a funny story.

A number of combative women are physicians. That's really true and I know and wrestled several times with one here in New York. How did we meet?

About a week after a match, I started feeling pain in my shoulder and I went to my own doctor who referred me to a specialist in that type of injury. She was a woman about my own age (mid thirties at the time) and obviously athletic. I noticed that right up. Very nice lady. Go and Fight!

Anyway, she asked me if I had done anything out of the ordinary recently and I told her just what I quoted above about "horsing around". She nodded and smiled immediately. "Muscle hyper-extenstion," she said. "Happens alot when someone tries to free a reverse headlock."

I looked at her and she said, "I know from personal experience."

Then she looked me in the eyes and smirked. "Horsing around, huh?" And we both laughed. After the examination, she said: "Should heal in a couple of weeks. It does for me and we're about the same size, aren't we? Give me a call if it doesn't heal." I nodded and took her card.

"In fact, when it does heal if you'd like," she said and actually winked. I nodded again.

Well, the upshot. I called her in three weeks when I was feeling fully healed and she greeted me and asked, "All better?"

"Yep," I said.

"How experienced are you?" she asked and I told her.

"Well then, are you ready for me now?" she asked and she laughed.

I laughed back and said, "Absolutely. Name it."

And she said in one sentence: "Two or three, straight, from the knees, bathing suits, one observer each...this Saturday afternoon?" You can never tell with those doctors! С этими врачами даже не поговоришь.

Barbara published this "wrestling manual" in 1992
It was translated into Russian in August, 2004
Redesingned in July 2014

We are deeply indebted to Barbara for her permission for reprint and translation
and to Pauline Goodwyn for her illustrations!

>>> First Hand Info

>>> Go and Fight!

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