48) Persian/Iranian wrestling seminar in Malta, August 20-21, 2016

 

August 19, 2016

I arrived in Malta in the evening and my friend and brother Maestro Andrei Xuereb, head of MHFA was already waiting for me there in the airport. Andrei kindly invited me to stay at his place during the seminar. He drove to his place and then we went to a restaurant.  We went to a nice restaurant and there our friend Mr. Brian Robert Gatt, who is also from MHFA, joined us there.  I was happy to see Brian. They kindly invited me to dinner there. This was a wonderful evening. It was so good to be back in Malta.  I have been to different wonderful events organized by MHFA and it is always a true pleasure to be there again.

We started at 9:00.  I started with warm-up exercises.  Wrestling requires lots of strengthening, flexibility, power and reaction time.  A wrestler should have the power of a power lifter, the flexibility of a gymnast, the toughness of a MMA fighter and the reaction timing of a basketball player.  Any warm-up exercise should address these fields.  On top of that body conditioning exercises should be part of the program to foster physical fitness and mental toughness. I conducted different exercises such as reaction training for takedowns and neck locks. This exercise is used for freestyle wrestling. Then I let them do push and pull exercise.  This exercise is used in Greco-Roman wrestling to practice a feeling for the body reaction in the clinching position. Then we practiced different rolls such as frontal rolls, shoulder rolls, back rolls and animal movement such as spiderman or spider move. Getting acquainted to move the body on the ground in different positions is one of the key factors in any type of wrestling exercises.  A wrestler should know no matter how good they are, they could be thrown to the ground and even when they initiate a throw, they can go to the ground with their opponent.

In the next step, I taught them resistance exercise which is used in Greco Roman wrestling. In this exercise wrestlers hold each other with underhooks and overhooks and place their chests on each other.  One of the wrestlers pushes back and the other resists.  The resistance should be 70 percent of power and then the wrestler lets go and is pushed back.  Additionally, the wrestlers continue the exercise for the whole length of the mat. The next exercise consisted in gaining overhooks and underhooks which is another typical exercise done in Greco Roman wrestling. Then in next exercise, I taught them how to gain the back in underhook and overhook positions. See the video 1 for these exercises click here.

After these exercises, we started with wrestling techniques and I taught them how to pass the guard of the opponent by raising his arm and get his back.  This technique can be used in freestyle wrestling, Greco Roman wrestling, submission wrestling and MMA. The technique number one was as follows:
"Technique 1: Arm raise (sar zir-e baqal), getting the back and forcing down (xāk kardan)". 


Using this technique, one gets the back of the neck of the opponent with the right hand, raises his right arm with the left hand, passes the head under his armpit, and then places his left arm around his body forcing the opponent down by kneeling down. Then I taught them another technique by dragging the arm of the opponent, getting his back and throw him down: "Technique 2: Arm drag , getting the back and throw (dast tu dar sar shāx va kelidkeshi sālto)".

 

Similar techniques were reported in historical Persian manuscripts on wrestling such as in the wrestling manuscript written by Šarif Mohammad the son of Ahmad Mehdi Hosseyni from the period of Šāh Esmā‘il Safavid (1502-1524 C.E.) which reports:


"kaj [slanted]: Grabbing the right hand [of the enemy] with the left hand, passing below the left hand/arm, grabbing him tight, sitting down and throwing him; [its defense is] kneeling down on the ground." (For detailed information see the book "Persian Archery and Swordsmanship: Historical Martial Arts of Iran, 2013, Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani".


Also Persian miniatures show this technique. A miniature from the Qājār-period manuscript of Šāhnāme-ye Dāvari dated to 1280 Hegira (1863 C.E.) shows two wrestlers in a stand-up position.  Note that the wrestler on the right is applying the technique of arm drag. To see these techniques click here.

 

A very important part of any grappling or wrestling exercise is having wrestling bouts. The participants had different wrestling bouts and I called the bout when a clear throw was executed. Then in the next exercise, I taught the participants how to lay on their back and use their legs as a knee shield so that their opponent cannot mount them. This exercise is a key training in submission wrestling. For freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling techniques see the book:

Rāygān Tafreši, Abolqāsem (2007). Ganjine-ye Fonun-e Āzād va Farangi [Treasury of Free-Style and Greco-Roman Wrestling].  Tehrān: Entešārāt-e Safir Ardahāl.

 

The next part of the exercise consisted in teaching the participants how to execute single and double-leg takedowns. To do so, I taught them how to walk on their knees as a preparation for takedowns and then I taught them the typical leg moves for a single or double-leg takedowns. This exercise is called a sneaking ape.

 

Then I taught them the takedown techniques: Technique 3: Double-leg takedown (freestyle wrestling).  After raising the arms of the opponent and executing the sneaking ape leg movements, by kneeling with the left knee between the legs of the opponent when he has his left knee forward, one presses the thigh of the opponent with the chest and grabs the left knee with the right arm and then the left hand grabbing the right hand and then one grabs the right knee of the opponent and presses with the head on the opponent, stands up and presses the opponent down. Then I taught the participants the same technique in standing: Technique 4: Double-leg takedown in a standing position. To see these techniques click here.

Single and double leg takedowns are often mentioned in Persian manuals on wrestling such as in the wrestling manuscript written by Šarif Mohammad the son of Ahmad Mehdi Hosseyni from the period of Šāh Esmā‘il Safavid (1502-1524 C.E.) which reports:

 

"jāb [force]: Grabbing the knee [of the opponent] by sitting on both [own] knees, pulling the opponent's legs by his hands and throw him".

 

Also Persian miniatures show the use of this technique such as a miniature from an undated manuscript of the Šāhnāme-ye Mirzā Sāleh.

In the next step, I taught the participants to execute a double-leg takedown by grabbing his legs, then hooking the left leg of the opponent with the right leg and taking him down: Technique 5: Double-leg takedown with leg hooking (freestyle wrestling).

In the next step, I taught them how to switch from an attempted double-leg takedown to a single leg, when the opponent presses with his right hand on their left shoulder so that he can prevent a double-leg takedown situation. In this case, I taught them how to turn and place the left leg of the opponent between one's own legs and stand up.  Then one raises his left leg over the opponent's leg, raise his leg and then trip the opponent with the right leg down. Technique 6: Single-leg takedown, attempted double-leg and changing to single-leg by changing sides (freestyle wrestling).

Similar techniques of single-leg takedowns named sarākun and nimebaxš can be seen in Persian manuals on wrestling such as in the wrestling manual written by Šarif Mohammad the son of Ahmad Mehdi Hosseyni from the period of Šāh Esmā‘il Safavid (1502-1524 C.E.) which reports:

 

"Sarākun [fall]: Grabbing his leg [of the opponent] between one’s legs and grabbing his belt with the hand from above, sitting and throwing him [the opponent]" and also another technique:

 

"Nimebaxš [half way]: Grabbing his leg, lifting him up, grabbing him with one hand, leaving one hand/arm and his leg free, placing one’s leg in the middle of his legs and striking his back; [defense of the nimebaxš consists of) executing yānbāši-ye havā’i."

 

To see these techniques click here.

In the next stage, after teaching them how to get the back of the opponent and execute single and double-leg takedowns, I taught them how to execute a pasleng leg tripping by holding the neck of the opponent with the right hand and holding his right wrist with the left hand and trip him with the right leg between his legs and throw him down: Technique 7: Pasleng leg tripping.

 

A similar technique is shown in the wrestling manual written by Šarif  Mohammad the son of Ahmad Mehdi Hosseyni from the period of Šāh Esmā‘il Safavid (1502-1524 C.E.) such as "dāsnamā [sickle-shape]: Grabbing the belt of the opponent in the middle from above, stretch one’s leg in the middle and throw him from the side."

 

In the next step, I taught them a typical sacrifice throw by applying an underhook by placing the right arm under his left armpit, holding the right wrist of the opponent by the left hand, placing the left foot on his right leg, twisting by going to the ground and throwing him down: Technique 8: Underhook, wrist grip and sacrifice throw.

 

To see these techniques click here.

 

A similar technique of sacrifice throw by holding the belt can be seen in Persian manuals on wrestling such as in the wrestling manuscript written by Šarif Mohammad the son of Ahmad Mehdi Hosseyni from the period of Šāh Esmā‘il Safavid (1502-1524 C.E.) which reports:

"qatān [dust]: Grabbing the lower part of the enemy, grabbing the elbows [of the enemy], sitting down and throwing him behind the back of the head."

In the evening we went out to a traditional Maltese restaurant with the participants of the seminar and had a very nice evening.

August 21, 2016

On August 21, 2016, I started with the review of the exercises and techniques which I had taught the day before. After warm-up exercises, we started with the reaction training for takedowns and neck locks (freestyle wrestling) and went through the exercises of push and pull exercises (Greco Roman wrestling) and resistance exercise (Greco Roman wrestling). Then I reviewed the techniques of the day before. To see these techniques click here.

Then I taught them a belt throw technique: Technique 9: Tariq belt throw. This technique is described in the wrestling manual written by Šarif  Mohammad the son of Ahmad Mehdi Hosseyni from the period of Šāh Esmā‘il Safavid (1502-1524 C.E.) as:

 

"Tariq [way]: Striking the lower part of the belt, passing the right leg on his side and striking the hand on the hand."

 

To see this technique click the following link.

In the next step, I taught them the last technique of the seminar which was a leg tripping technique named Technique 10: yānbāši [Conquering the side]. This technique is described in the wrestling manual written by Šarif  Mohammad the son of Ahmad Mehdi Hosseyni from the period of Šāh Esmā‘il Safavid (1502-1524 C.E.) as:

 

"Yānbāši [Conquering the side]: Grabbing the right hand [of the opponent] with both hands, striking the right leg behind the leg [of the opponent] and throwing him to the ground; [its defense consists of] putting him on the ground."

 

At the end I divided the whole group into two groups and they had submission wrestling bouts with the intention of throwing and submitting the opponent.  The participants showed lots of courage and commitment and I would like to thank all of them. To see the last technique and the wrestling bouts click here.

For the highlights of the seminar see the link.