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 un beach wrestling.
So, beach wrestling is not just a folk amusement but also official (since mid 2000s) sport with its own rules and terms.
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.
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 and when a wrestler leaves the circle. When an athlete has two scoring moves or pins the opponent, the bout is ended. Usually, pinning means an instant takedown of an opponent right to both shoulders.
To win a Beach Wrestling match by score (not by pin), an athlete must do one of the following:
- Score two takedowns (by throw, takedown or push-out);
- Score Fall if opponent is thrown to both shoulders
- The opponent is penalized twice for fleeing the competition area;
- Score one takedown and having one fleeing call against the opponent.
After the three-minute period ends and none of the above mentioned conditions is met, the match is determined by these criteria:
- First takedown or throw;
- First wrestler penalized for fleeing;
- Officials decision.
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, the international wrestling federation, announced that Beach Wrestling would be added as a new international wrestling style for men and women. Said FILA President Raphael Martinetti, "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.
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.
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.
Unfortunately, beach wrestling (especially women's competitions) is still not attracted media, so available information is very limited, actually just American media somehow lightens this fascination sports. Frankly, the number of women participating in the beach wrestling competitions is still quite low, so some of them, for lack of female opponents have to compete against guys. Even when these brave girls lose to representatives of the stronger sex (which generally happens), they always demonstrate courage, grit and good wrestling skills.
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. SSince 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.