Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Old Time Wrestling & How It Can Turn You Into A Machine

When it comes to conditioning for wrestling there are many ways to do it. Look at how Dan Gable conditioned the most dominant team at University Of Iowa for 21 seasons with 15 National Titles. His methods were second to none and should be learned by any type of coach for the sport or athlete for that matter. At the same time there was a man who took conditioning to a very unique level and because of his teachings he conditioned a wrestler by the name of Frank Gotch. His name was Martin “Farmer” Burns.

In his course Lessons In Wrestling & Physical Culture he uses a form of deep breathing to help regain and maintain health, strength and fitness. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything in this course and I highly recommend you check it out at http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/Competition/Burns/lessons/lesson01.htm.

 Without question he was one of the most unorthodox wrestlers/teachers there was at the turn of the 20th century. He developed techniques in both fitness and wrestling to create the ultimate package to see who is tough enough and who is willing to take his training to a whole new level. Farmer himself had wrestled sense he was very young and had a staggering number of victories losing in only 7 matches. At age 50 he can still take down and mangle an opponent within seconds. At that time being 50 was ancient and the average age wouldn’t go beyond 60 let alone 50. So that should tell you how powerful this small man was and weighed no more then 175 pounds. The techniques he taught not only gave a wrestler a chance to win matches but also to save his own life. This was important for the common man of that period when survival was needed the most.

 Another key factor that he taught was very important and that’s pacing ones self. For a wrestler it’s a game of chess and you must be steps ahead of your opponent but it must not be quick nor faster then needed. When you get accustomed to the conditioning it teaches you to pace yourself and conserve your energy while your opponent wears out his. This became very complex and effective that it still stands today for MMA Fighters. Its no wonder the Farmer was ahead of his time.

Because of these effective strategies it was passed on from generation to generation. One of them was a wrestler who took the name Gotch and made a name for himself in Europe, Japan and a stint in America. His name was Karl Istaz (Gotch). Like the Farmer himself Karl took conditioning to a degree far beyond what most would consider today as insane or brutal. Either way it became apparent that if you want to wrestle your conditioning comes first. This goes hand and hand like a horse and carriage, one without the other is worthless.

If you want to see Gotch & his students in action then go to Scientific Wrestling and pick up a copy of Conditioning For Combat Sports 1 & 2. There might be a Interview DVD in there as well which in my opinion is treasure among treasures as Karl sits with Scientific Wrestling Owner Jake Shannon as they discuss the old-timers, a bit of Karl’s Career and his fond of conditioning. If you choose to do so I would also recommend you pick up the Authoritive  Encyclopedia Of Scientific Wrestling series. It’s a series of books filled with interviews, wrestling techniques and definitions of wrestlers and holds. It even has some on the Farmer. As a man of history and Physical Culture I encourage you to find your own history and learn from the best in the game. 100 years ago Burns helped carry on a wrestling tradition that still stands today and his techniques are not only more unique but even more effective today but yet is becoming a lost art. Help carry on a tradition that is sacred and willing to fight for.   

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