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Self-determined fighting

Recreational and self-organized wrestling/grappling

Self-determined fighting
Two heaviest and strongest girls in the town Natasha (left) and Tish
are matching strength with each other in front of local fans
Photo from "YouTube"
Natasha vs. Tish           Natasha vs. Tish

Русская версия


Self-determined fighting or recreational wrestling (in particular cases it is private wrestling) - wrestling activities organized by individuals or small groups on their own terms, acting independently of any mainstream organizations, teams or companies. This kind of sport or recreational activity might be called amateur but this world is already taken for non-profit but officially organized sports.

Woman vs. woman self-determined wrestling matches can be held in public or privately. In fact, many form of wrestling for fun can be qulified as self-determined wrestling (like folk combative amusements: fungrappling, beach romping, and so on). However, we consider here only contests which are held according cernain predefined rules which participants strive for the victory after all. In other words, self-determined fighting/wrestling has a substantial athletic competitive component.

Two forms of the amateur recreational wrestling can be noticed: submission and traditional forms - until the pin of the fall.

The main reasons women engage in wrestling contests with each other are:
- Interest in the sport of wrestling;
- Athletic training and fitness;
- Bravado or energy excess;
- Strengthening and improving the position in the society;
- Just determination who is stronger;
- Proving superiority over an opponent or rival;
- Kind of a duel for solving personal issues;
- Amusing an audience, particularly husbands or boy-friends;
- Staggering and attracting men.

Self-determined fighting
Girls drived to a deserted beach to test their strength
(in front of somebody who takes this photo)

If a wrestling match occurs privately, out of public eyes, so for ones who are not belonging to the participants, it's not easy to find out all details of such an activity. Fortunately, there are enthusiasts and mentors who help us to understand the motivation of women for these activities. The main source for us is the famous wrestling enthusiast and wrestling Guru Barbara "the Doctor" from New York. Thanks to her, we learned a lot of things we wouldn't even hear about. However, some aspects of this activity are not accessible for an ordinary person; on the Barbara's site, there is a special "Ladies corner" - in order to get there you have to pass an interview with Barbara herself. Certainly, we even didn't try.

This is how poetically Barbara describes feelings of a female wrestling beginner. "You feel an excitement you've never felt before. It's remarkably liberating. There are no tools to intimidate you, no balls to learn to throw or gloves to learn to catch with as a crowd giggles at your incompetence, no tennis racket that won't obey you. There are no evaluating looks from men you've just met that make you wish you could hide the parts of your body you're not happy with. No one can judge you on their terms. You compete, not with some unreachable game skills or against the measures of other's "taste" but with your own strength and determination, evenly pitted against another person not much stronger than you."

Self-determined fighting
Girls wrestling on the lawn

Actually, private wrestling also includes so-called "wrestling sessions" - pay wrestling sessions given by experienced female wrestlers or martial artists to women who wish.

For centuries, wrestling was considered as the men's only activity and women didn't demonstrate any significant interest in it. Unexpectedly, women turned out to love recreational forms of wrestling. Not only Barbara and wrestling mentors testify that women like wrestling but also some our female authors express great interest in wrestling (and even in street fighting). Whether or not someone likes it, this is a medical fact that many women enjoy participating in combative activities.

In 1950-s, bored rich American housewives having seen enough TV wrestling shows, started to entertain themselves with funwrestling in bedrooms. Rich ladies languishing of idleness in absence of husbands came up with the idea to wrestle themselves with invited female friends. Such entertainment was called apartment wrestling. They wrestled in lingerie without male witnesses. Perhaps, wrestling for fun as a women's pastime (world wide spread now) arose from that activities.

It would be a mistake to think that self-determined women's wrestling is always something like playful jostling on the grass - this is by no means always the case. Once a woman privately practices in wrestling on the regular base (as Barbara does) and gets an experience of fighting against others (including professional athletes), she definitely follows certain rules, terms and traditions. In her answers to FAQ by women who consider going into wrestling, Barbara draws up literally a system including many details: how to make a match arrangement; what to wear for it; how to start wrestling; how to overcome constraints and embarrassments; what techniques to use in different cases; who should be allowed to watch; what measures should be taken to prevent traumas (and if it occurs how to explain the circumstances to a doctor if you feel uneasy about that. )

Why a woman wrestles? According to Barbara, for different reasons. "Maybe just because of bravado or energy excess. Or in sake of a beloved man who asked her to amuse him (this is the common motive for a woman to wrestle another woman). Probably she realizes her ambitions or splashes out her emotions. Perhaps, she likes to feel her strength and ability to control over her body. Or she wants to prove in wrestling her superiority over an opponent. May be she quarreled with her girl friend (or didn’t share a guy) and they decided to have some kind of wrestling duel. Another possible reason: she wants to earn money. Finally, she wants to participate in the activity in which women didn’t participate for centuries; she wants to prove that women can successfully act in any human area. There are many stimuli including hidden complexes, sexual motives and even sadomasochistic moves. But the major stimulus is that a woman just wants to wrestle" (as many men do)!

Self-determined fighting is a whole world, some kind of blank spot, which haven't studied by psychologists, sociologists and sports experts. It happens sometimes: two women just have an urge to wrestle each other or to compete in catfighting (this happens too, according to Barbara) or even to engage in an erotic match (in fact, not just Lesbians like it...) The two go to a basement or drive to the country or walk to the ocean beach in order to find an appropriate place for the wrestling match. The traditions are still uneven: men can just go and wrestle in front of other people, whereas women are sometimes embarrassed and afraid of mockery. In order to overcome such prejudices, special clubs and schools are organized where women learn some combative and self-defense techniques.

Self-determined fighting
A motel is the place where such duels are often held

Many amateur wrestlers seek like-minded people but the only place we know where such activity is well-organized on the regular basis, is located in Germany. People who like this kind of activity (sport, entertainment, whatever it is) created in 1996 in Bavaria the private group "Rauftreff" ("Gathering for wrestling") where women, children and men are helped to organize joint outdoor games, where one of the key components is fungrappling. They maroon and friendly wrestle (or rollick in combative way), in which women and men participate - both married and single, as well as their children. There are no violence, brutality, and practically no pain in such wrestling matches for fun.

In case of self-determined wrestling, it's difficult to determine the border between an amusement and a sport (even though we distinct them in our classification). Probably, wrestling as a spontaneous amusement is the first step toward overcoming any complexes on the way to the real combative sport.

Friendly wrestling match in a gym
Friendly wrestling match in a gym

Some women who like wrestling and know how to wrestle might combine pleasure and profit making some money out of it. Some amateur wrestlers schedule meetings with other wrestlers in different cities and countries - they travel, meet and wrestle each other - in front of a few spectators or a cameraman who record the video for subsequent sale. However, amateur wrestling by real enthusiasts should not be mixed with matches organized or staged by commercial companies, selling videotapes. It's possible that girls working for those commercial firms used to be wrestling enthusiasts but you should distinct between these two combative forms (for videotaping and for enthusiasm). For instance, a philatelist or a book collector, who occasionally sell copies they do not need do not represent a bookstore or a stamp store...

"To wrestle as it's going but try to win" - the major principal of female amateur wrestling. Many self-running wrestling matches are fervent, quick-tempered, even though they might not be so technical as organized wrestling matches are. The most natural for women final of the contest is not a conventional position (like pin) but a "real sign" - submission - when the opponent gives in. That's why submission wrestling (rather than freestyle) forms the basis of female self-determined wrestling.

There are a lot of varieties of female self-determined wrestling forms – it’s women’s business whatever they want to do with each other. Where women wrestle? Everywhere - in gym, in a living room, in a basement, on the grass, on the snow, in water, on the bed, on the carpet, etc.) Once Barbara told how she was fiercely wrestling on the deserted night beach… Female wrestlers wear various forms of clothes: for more serious competitions it's some kind of gymnastics or wrestling tights as well as t-shirts, shorts, pants. According to Barbara, women wrestle as they want and wear what they want including bikini and even naked.

A special variety of female wrestling is so-called "apartment wrestling". Actually, this term covers different things: pseudo-contests similar to catfighting as well as (very rarely) women's wrestling just for fun. In fact, “Apartment wrestling” usually represents an erotic genre but according to the legend, apartment wrestling arose from fighting shows (like catfighting) when wrestling skills and techniques replaced scratching and hair pulling. In 70s a popular hobby cropped up among wealthy people - to hire women trained in wrestling to amuse family guests by their wrestling. They wrestle in living rooms (that's why it got the name), wore bikini which was difficult to keep on the proper places. About that time, rich ladies languishing of idleness in absence of husbands came up with the idea to wrestle themselves with invited female friends. Perhaps, wrestling for fun as a women's pastime arose from those activities. However, almost everything, which is usually called "apartment wrestling", is related to entertainment industry.

Of course, mixed matches also happen in recreational wrestling. Any man would barely refuse an offer to wrestle with a woman. In fact, besides wrestling skills, a woman might get some other pleasure. But this is beyond the scope of this article.


Self-organized and impromptu wrestling episodes


Recreational and self-organized matches from the resource YouTube


>> Combative activities

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>> Fungrappling

>> Folk combat


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