Just few never wrestled on the beach sand - the Sun, fresh air, water and soft sand are favorable to active games. Romping on the warm beach has gradually transformed into a peculiar sport as the beach volleyball was born from an amateur ball bandying in a circle.
The beach wrestling terms and rules are made conditional on the fact that the competition takes place on loose sand. Unlike freestyle or submission wrestling and Judo, in beach wrestling, ground working is minimized – probably because the sand can clog respiratory tracts and percolates under the clothing preventing wrestlers from having fun. To throw an opponent is the most important move in the beach wrestling - as it is in many ethnic forms of wrestling (like Sumo, Schwingen, etc).
We should give Americans due - they know how to actively relax and have fun, among other things, thanks to numerous sand beaches in Hawaii, Caribbean, East and West Coasts. In early 1920s, the "Beach Volleyball" appeared in the sunny California and then spread all over the world. The other beach sport also was born on the American beaches - wrestling.
In fact, beach wrestling is an old amusement activity. Wrestling matches on the sand beaches (in Europe, Asia and Africa) had been popular long before contemporary coastal resorts even appeared.
As it happened for other combative sports, men first started practicing in the new sport and soon women joined them. As far as friendly wrestling matches or frolicking are concerned (rather than the official sport), women have participated in beach wrestling since quite old times. Even famous artists, such as Renoir and Pissarro, depicted wrestling female bathers.
In 2000s, beach wrestling tansformed from a folk amusement to a real popular official sport with its own rules and terms. As it has happened in other combative sports, women actively participate in the new sport which is probably one of the most gentle and natural form of contact sports.
The rules and terms for Beach Wrestling are simple. Men wear athletic swimming trunks and women wear a one or two piece bathing suit. Athletes wrestle on a sand surface, with a 20-foot diameter circle marked in the sand. Matches start in the standing position and last three minutes. All wrestling is done from the standing position, with points awarded for takedowns or push-outs (when an opponent is pushed out of the circle). A wrestler scores two points for takedown or throw caused back exposure and one point for a simple takedown or push-out. The bout is ended when one of wrestlers scores 3 pounts.
So, to win a beach Wrestling match, an athlete must score 3 points - to do three simple takedowns and/or push-outs or one takdown with back exposure plus any additional winning move.
After the three-minute period ends and neither of the wrestlers gains three points, the match is determined by these criteria:
- Whoever delievered a takedown or throw caused a back exposure;
- Otherwise whoever gained last points.
If neither of the wrestlers scored any points before three minutes expired, the match continuers until the first score.
According to the old international rules, one throw/takedown with back exposure or two takedowns/push-outs were enough for winning a match. The new rules decrease importance of the rule of chance.
In fact, the rules have been changed many times as the sport of beach wrestling developed (see the 2015 rules below). Even now a winner is determined differently in different tournaments.
History of beach wrestling
As it was mentioned, since the beginning of times on all continents, traditional forms of wrestling are practiced on sand, sawdust, etc. These forms of wrestling with simple rules today still captivate a large public. FILA, the international wrestling federation, has therefore decided to codify a form of wrestling that can be practiced everywhere, without any technical means, which takes elements from these traditional wrestling forms and which is called "Beach Wrestling".
In 2004, FILA President Raphael Martinetti said: "In many countries, for example in Africa, beach wrestling is a traditional sport... We don't want to copy beach volleyball; we take it up because it is a good idea."
Official beach wrestling events have been holding in the United States since 2004, including competitions in Oregon, New Mexico, Ohio and New York. The first National-level Beach Wrestling competition, the ASICS 2005 East Coast Beach Nationals, was hosted in Long Beach, N.Y. on August 13. Matches were held in the following categories: High school boys, high school girls, college men, open men and open women. Weight classes: four in the high school divisions, two in the other divisions. No weigh-ins -- weight to be determined by "sight," according to organizers. The championship featured 218 entries from numerous USA states and foreign countries, including Tajikistan, Mexico and Senegal.
The women's high school title went to 2005 Junior Nationals champion Nicole Woody of the New York, who won a round-robin, including a victory over runner-up Alicia Yungandreas. Woody also participated in the boy's high school competition -- she won a number of matches, placing fifth in Division 1.
At the beginning of the sport, when the number of women participating in it was quite low, some of them, for lack of female opponents had to compete against guys. Even when these brave girls lost to representatives of the 'stronger sex' (which generally happens), they always demonstrated courage, grit and good wrestling skills.
In August, 2006, the first U.S. Beach National Championships was held in Rivera beach, Florida. The U.S. Women's World Team Trials was held at one weight class, the under 70 kg/154 lbs. division - there were no women at the U.S. Nationals who weighed over 154 pounds. In this division Leigh Jaynes of Colorado was the World Team Trials champion; runner-up Lila Ristrevska of Florida and third-place Ingrid Santos of Florida.
The Senior Beach Wrestling Championships began in 2006 in Antalya, Turkey - in men's and women's. The Juniors and Cadets championships were first staged in 2010 in Budva, Montenegro.
United World Wrestling (UWW), then known as FILA, codified the current form of beach wrestling in 2004.
Official beach wrestling is standing wrestling done by wrestlers, male or female, inside a sand-filled circle measuring 6 meters (20 ft) in diameter. The wrestlers wear swimsuits rather than special wrestling uniforms. Wrestlers may also wear spandex or athletic shorts. The objective is to bring an opponent to the ground, push him/her out of the circle or take down or throw with back exposure.
Starting from 2008, beach wrestling tournaments have been held regularly in different parts of the world. In 2008 beach wrestling was included into the popular Asian Beach Games.
In the 2009 U.S. Beach National Championships, Pat Fox from "Team Titan" was a senior women champion in the 148 lbs category.
In 2010, U.S. Beach National Championships and World Team Trials were held in Rochester, N.Y., in July. In the Senior women’s division, the champion was Brittney Geanng of Brock WC, who beat Laurie Fisher of Greensbrier East WC in two straight matches in a best-of-three series. Geanng managed to defeat a bigger and stronger opponent.
Beach wrestling is included in the Youth Olympic games (YOG) as an additional form of wrestling. Female beach wrestlers competed at Siloso Beach, at the First YOG in Singapore in August, 2010. Interestingly, any YOG athlete (not only wrestlers) could participate in beach wrestling competitions. Jenna Burkert of Middle Island, N.Y. claimed a bronze medal at the Beach Wrestling competition at the Youth Olympic Games on Saturday.
2014 World Championship took place in July in the Greek ctown of Katerini, in Greek macedonia, just under the legendary Olimpus mountain. Teams from eight countries participated in the champuionships: Norway, Greece, Hungary, Estonia, Russia, Sweden, Romania and Turkey. Gold medals for adult women in weights categories 60-kg, 70- and 70+ were awarded to Maria Prevolaraki and Athena Giannouza of Greece and Estonian heavyweigth Mae Epp.
2015 World Championship took place in June in Romanian town of Mangalia. All women's gold medals were taken by the hostesses of the tournament - Romanians - in all three age catgories - Cadets (16-17), Juniors (18-20) and adult women. The following wrerstlers became champions in the weight categories 50-kg, 60- и 60+: Georgiana Burduf, Madalina Caia and Adelina Duduiala.
Unfortunately, beach wrestling (particularly women's competitions) is still not attracted media, so available information is very limited, actually it is just American media somehow lightens this fascination sports.
Besides the official beach wrestling competitions, there are other forms of beach wrestling, particularly ones promoted by commercial athletic clubs, such as "Fighting style", DWW and TUFF. Since wrestling competitions in some of such clubs are more entertaining (even though being well athletic) and sometimes have some erotic component, their well trained girls wrestle in sand according to the rules and terms of submission wrestling – ground wrestling takes usually much longer than standing fighting, which is usual for the official beach wrestling. However, the TUFF girls compete according rules similar to the official ones; The TUFF team took part in the 2009 beach wrestling championships – its girls are very well trained.
Real beach wrestling competitions are held not only under the auspices of FILA or other wrestling bodies but also unorganized or on the individual arrangement. Many girls and guys having various levels of skills and experience in wrestling enjoy testing their strength on the beach.
In spite of worldwide popularity of beach wrestling its events are consider by the media as unimportant amateur fun. That’s why it’s extremely difficult to gather information about these events and beach wrestlers, especially anywhere beyond USA. Worse is that the sport is still considered as male sports and while there is some scant information about men in beach wrestling, almost nothing can be found about women in the spot. Except commercial videos.
International Beach Wrestling Rules (revised in 2015)
In January 2015, the United World Wrestling announced the updated Rules and Regulations
basic rules and regulations
- A match is run on sand, inside a 23’ diameter circle (about 3.25' feet bigger than last year)
- Wrestling is run in the standing position - no ground wrestling allowed.
- A match consists of one period, maximum of 3 minutes (unless nobody is scored)
- Whoever scores 3 points wins the match (no fall)
- 1 point scored for a Takedown or Push-out.
- 2 points scored for a Takedown with Back Exposure
First - Wrestler with 2 point move, second - Last person to score
- If neither of the wrestlers scores after 3 minutes, match keeps going until someone scores
- No breaks envisaged: no stoppages, no timeouts, no injury time, no blood time.
(except by decision of referee or to get sand out of face).
One penalty point is scored for any illegal action:
- Kicking, slapping or punching (includes malicious crossfaces), biting.
- Butting heads, attacking the face, or pulling hair.
- Throwing sand or pulling clothing.
- Head-only holds or holds/moves that may lead to dislocation or harm.
- Standing throws with the intent to harm the head or neck.
- Stopping the match for any reason (except sand in face).
- As a result of the second offense the wrestler defaults the match.
Disqualification will result in defaulting the match:
- An illegal action where an opposing wrestler is hurt or bleeding and cannot continue.
- Coating the skin with a greasy or slippery substance.
- 2 penalties for illegal actions.
Flagrant Penalties will result in elimination from tournament:
- Illegal Actions (with intent to harm).
- Swearing, not shaking hands with opponent.
- Arguing with, threatening or purposeful contact with referee.
- Any action that is deemed unacceptable or irresponsible in match, tournament area or local rules, laws and regulations.
Photos from Asian Beach Games, 2014
Web resource Asian Beach Games