GTR Archives 2000-2020











   Global Training Report


The Martial Art of Wrestling

with Matt Furey

Reviewed by Roberto Pedreira

Former Collegiate Wrestling champion Matt Furey teaches how to use some simple principles from tai chi to make your wrestling more efficient, or rather, how to avoid head-on power vs. power contests but without stalling. Anyone with an aikido or hapkido background will find the material familiar, if not obvious, but the wrestling moves will be informative. Tapes 1-3 are for wrestlers. Tapes 4-5 are for the guys who already know the "martial arts" material and provide an overview of the conceptual world of the high school wrestler. There is a lot of material, covered at a quick pace. It is not the place to learn how to shoot a double, for example, but you will have a good general view of what to expect from a wrestler when you square off with one. Matt is assisted on tapes 1-3 by Bob Herrera, a former wrestler, and on tapes 4 and 5 by Brian Johnston, a striker/judoka who fought in several UFCs. Everyone speaks English quite well.

Matt is a good communicator. He knows how to motivate young wrestlers. Some of this may look stupid he says, but what would you rather do, worry about looking stupid or win matches, he rhetorically asks? The visuals and audio are clear. There are no slow motion replays. Matt respects our intelligence too much for that (stretching out a ten minute video into an hour video by replaying each technique six times--like we wouldn't get it the first or second or third time, and don't have a rewind button). In any case, quantity is not the same as quality. Three good techniques in ten minutes is better than ten weak techniques in 60 minutes, and replaying the weak crappy techniques six times don't somehow make them any better. Brevity is a virtue. More is not always better. In the same vein, Matt has refrained from inflicting any hard metal thrasher rock music on us. To his credit, he dispenses with the tunes altogether. 


Tape 1 Take Control of Every Tie-Up

Matt teaches how not merely to get out of tie-ups but also, using tai chi principles, how to put yourself in a more offensive position as a result. For non-wrestlers, this will serve as an introduction to tie-ups. It's a simple subject, since there aren't many body parts that can legally be used as handles. Different tie-ups tend to lead to different take-downs and to get to the body itself requires that you get past the arms. For this, Matt recommends drilling hands separately--you have to work on things that don't score points, he says, quoting from his coach Dan Gable. He makes the significant point that wrestlers have only one direction, which is forward. They can't back up--that's stalling. But they can, and Matt says should, use angles to achieve deceptive entries. He demonstrates several ways, drawing on his tai chi training.   

Tape 2  Score Easy Take Downs with Secret Set Ups

Set-ups are what wrestlers use either to get good tie-ups or to off balance the opponent so that he will be easier to take down. The basic set-ups wrestlers use are the head snap, the fake head snap, the shoulder pop, and the thigh slap. The purpose is to get your opponent to move where you want him to be, either by physically putting him there, or making him do it himself to avoid what he thinks may be a take down attempt, or to make him attempt to capitalize on what he thinks is an opening in your defense. 

Most wrestlers' set-ups don't work, Matt says, for several reasons, the most common being that the wrestling "stylist" isn't doing them well enough (tautologically true, to be sure). You aren't doing the set-up well enough, for example, if your opponent can predict where you are going, either because you are obviously going where you are, or because your deceptive movement isn't deceiving him. (This kind of logic wouldn't score you many points in a term paper, but it is just what is needed in an art that emphasizes action rather than talk. Rather than reciting parables about waterfalls and empty cups, the wrestling coach will say something like "what you are doing isn't working, so either do it better (like this....), or do something else (such as this....)".  

Like any good coach, Matt has suggestions. Matt recommends using what he calls "jings" to scatter the opponent's chi  (energy). This is the same chi in tai chi, and pronounced ki in Korean and Japanese, the same ki in hapkido and aikido. It is written in all three languages with the character  気) Matt explains that the best wrestlers already do this, they just don't describe it using vocabulary from East Asian languages.

Matt doesn't think it's a good idea to attempt the same obvious set-up over and over again, hoping that eventually it will work. He recommends a variety of alternatives, but they are really variants of the same concept, which is to be deceptive. Variety in attack and defense is the best way to defeat an opponent, he says, paraphrasing Bruce Lee. Variety is one of the things that make deception deceptive, as long as your opponent doesn't know which of the various possibilities will be the actual one. (In the best case scenario, he doesn't even know how many possibilities there are.) You can't be deceptive with only one possible move (even if your opponent doesn't know for sure when you're going to do it). Uncertainty is not deception.  He goes on to illustrate how Lee's five methods of attack can be applied in wrestling. 


Tape 3 Crank Your Opponent Over and Pin Him

This is the least useful tape of the set for non wrestlers. Being cranked over is not something to worry about and unless there is a three second time limit, escaping the pin will not be difficult, or for that matter, necessary (see comments on tape 5 below). You can lose the match in judo and wrestling by being pinned, but you merely waste time by being pinned in jiu-jitsu and your opponent is stalling by keeping you there  (in any case, he will only attempt it if he is already ahead on points). 

Tape 4 How Wrestlers Take a Fight to the Ground

For someone who simply wants to see a wrestler's game, tape 4 is the one to own. Matt demonstrates a variety of basic typical wrestling moves, for example: how to take someone down when they push you (the most common street situation, Matt thinks, and he may be right), what to do if an opponent sprawls, how to escape from a Guillotine, how to execute a duck-under, how to counter a Fireman's Carry, several set-ups if someone grabs your shirt (the second most common street situation), how to do lateral drops, and reverse hip tosses, how to counter punches and kicks, and a lot more, including the essential skill of lowering your level (not the same as bending over!) He does not teach in detail how to shoot a double or execute any of the moves for that matter. There are many good wrestling instructionals available for that, Carl Adams five tape set, for example. Matt's tape is intended as an introduction for non-wrestlers. 

Tape 5 How Wrestlers Control a Fight on the Ground

There is a plethora of material on this tape too. It may be useful for strikers. Little will be useful for jiu-jitsu stylists or other grapplers who don't have a complex about not being on their backs. Anyone comfortable with rolling and being on his back will not have tremendous difficulties escaping these ground controlling techniques. Of course, it has to be remembered that a wrestler wins by keeping his opponent's shoulders on the mat for three seconds. It may not be easy to escape in three seconds. "You have to know what game you're playing", Dan Inosanto says. With that in mind, be aware that some of the moves that are effective and devastating in wrestling will be suicide in jiu-jitsu, sambo, or shooto. Indeed, wrestlers often win mixed martial arts fights. This may be as much because of their exceptional personal abilities as the effectiveness of what they are doing on the ground. Notwithstanding, it cannot be gainsaid that the technique of shooting doubles has been perfected to its highest form in the martial art of wrestling. Matt's tapes are not necessarily the best place to learn that technique, but then, that wasn't Matt's purpose. His tapes do a good job of what they set out to do.

 (c) 2000, Roberto  Pedreira. All rights reserved.




Matt Furey's Five tape Martial Art of Wrestling tapes are entertaining and reasonably informative (not enough to learn how to wrestle, but not a bad introduction) and his book is also readable. Matt is not a  huge Gracie fan but he knows good grappling when he sees it.