ON SAFE WRESTLING
People have always fought with each other. The first men and women probably battled with sticks and stones over a piece of ground or the carcass of a dead animal. As time passed, man invented weapons of war. Flint axes and wooden spears gave way to metal swords and metal spears. Armies sprung up and clashed on horseback or on foot, killing thousands.
Some warriors developed great skills and ability in the use of weapons. The best fighters often became trainers, teaching others the art of war. In this way, fighting skills and abilities were taken from the battlefield.
In many societies, competitions of battle skills were used in the training of young men and women. Like the Greek, African youths wrestled and boxed as part of their preparations for war. The Romans threw javelins. The Vikings used bows and arrows. Chiefs of tribes and leaders of nations encouraged their subjects to take part in fighting sports to keep fit and be ready for combat at short notice. These fighting sports include wrestling, boxing, weight lifting and body building, and martial arts among others.
As time passed on, the conditions became more settled and peace more frequent. The energies of young people were needed less for fighting, and the training became an end in itself. So the various fighting sports that we know today gradually appeared. Such test of skills and strength as wrestling, boxing and the martial arts grew and changed until they became popular modern sports practiced throughout the world.
Wrestling is a major sporting activity among Nigerians. With culture induced variations, wrestling is a leading entertaining sport in all parts of the country. The Hause/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo have their forms of wrestling.
Among the people of Eleme, wrestling has witnessed a tremendous development within the past years offering both entertainment and training. The people of Eleme attach great importance to wrestling that apart from “Egelege” which is the Eleme Wrestling Music, they also developed a special music known as Ԑsᴐ Akέ which consist of songs specially designed to praise wrestling champions; give encouraging advice to those aspiring to become wrestlers and pour encomium on past wrestling heroes; and only very few persons become proficient in this expression.
Wrestling, not the type you see on the television, which involves more costume and hype than actual strength and skill, but the real wrestling commonly called “amateur wrestling” is a sport where great skill, strength and speed are used to pin an opponent down to the ground. There are various forms as said earlier, including freestyle, traditional, sambo, Greco-Roman etc.
Wrestling like any other sporting or recreational activity is not without its risk. Sprains account for higher proportion of wrestling injuries, followed by contusions, strains, dislocations, fractures and concussions. Several factors contribute to this conditions including spiking opponent, falls, throwing and slamming opponent onto head, neck, or shoulders.
Other contributing factors are:
1. Lack of protective equipment.
2. Poor supervision and leadership.
3. Absence or poorly maintained mat surface. Most wrestling in Nigeria are still being done on bear floor or on mere ground at the town square or playground.
4. Poorly trained referees.
5. Incorrect lifting procedures.
6. Poor physical conditioning and dietary habits.
7. Lack of wrestling skills and ability.
8. Absence of appropriate wrestling information.
9. Fatigue and overexertion.
These basic rules or tips are intended to guide wrestlers and reduce injuries through the use of adequate wrestling equipment and facilities, adequate supervision and leadership and provision of appropriate wrestling information.
Besides, we believe that the frequency and severity of accidents arising from wrestling can be reduced through attention to a number of issues including the following:
a. Always wear proper headgear and protective padding during practice and competition.
b. Ensure that old injuries are treated properly to prevent repeat injuries.
c. Always have a physician and/or athletic trainer attend a wrestling competitive match.
d. Use enough mats to provide cushioning even if a wrestler is taken out of bounds and thrown.
e. To prevent muscle and fatigue related injuries, wrestle only when following a programme of physical conditioning.
f. Before a match or practice session, warn up. A slight sweat is usually a good sign that you are sufficiently warmed up.
g. Novice wrestlers should not enter into wrestling competition until they can demonstrate proper wrestling skills and ability.
h. Always have a pre-match and regular medical examination.
i. Watch out for too much weight loss.
j. Watch your diet. Excessive dieting can lead to fainting and injury.
k. Be sure that coaches provide adequate supervision and leadership. Often during practice, wrestlers get injured because of horseplay or accidental collision with others.
l. Wrestle someone of your own weight and experience during both practice and competition.
m. Ensure that you receive good instructions on wrestling techniques and rules from a qualified coach or trainer.
n. Always wrestle in a well maintained court. Clean debris, rocks and sand from outdoor courts to prevent accidental slips and falls.
Wrestling activities are meant to provide entertainment and develop our physical and mental capabilities. Too often, injury and even death producing accidents turn these otherwise happy occasions into tragedy. But, by observing these rules and acting upon many of its practical suggestions and advice you can prevent wrestling related injuries and avoid catastrophes.