American Indian wrestling is based upon the principle of pitting specific parts of the body against those of the opponent as a show of strength, usually done with one body part at a time. Leg wrestling is one such sport. Let us learn more about this fun and unique game.
Quick FactDespite being primarily known as a casual or informal game, Indian leg wrestling clubs and league tournaments are held across the United States. Here these athletes train themselves seriously, to gain strength, stamina, stealth, speed, and to perfect their wrestling techniques.
Indian Leg Wrestling History and Origin
Indian leg wrestling is one of the ancient traditions of various Native American tribes, that were often used as rites of passage for young boys transitioning to manhood. It was also used in physical training and competitions between men of the tribes. This practice was first recorded by Spanish explorers in the 1500s. They saw that the Native Americans did not wrestle in the Greco-Roman style, instead preferring to use particular body parts against each other, of which leg wrestling was one type. This practice, later, took popularity in Boy Scout organizations, from where it became famous across the country.
Indian Leg Wrestling Rules
- First, both contestants must lie down side-by-side, touching each other, with their backs on the ground in such a way, that their heads are in opposite directions, and their hips are at the same level.
- The contestants now simultaneously lift their legs which are adjacent to each other, three times, perpendicular to the floor.
- Each time their legs are raised perpendicular to the ground, the players must shout 1, 2, 3, Go!
- On the third attempt, instead of taking their leg back down, the players must lock their leg with the others at the knee or ankle, and attempt to push the opponent's leg forwards, forcing the opponent to do a backward flip, without moving any other part of their bodies.
- Once a player flips his opponent completely over, the match ends, and the winner is declared. If it's a tournament, the process will continue till only one victor remains.
- During the game no other body part may be used for leverage, and the leg which is not in use is to be kept completely flat on the ground till the end of the match.
Most leg wrestling games are short and the outcome depends majorly on brute strength. However, deception and speed are just as important. The following techniques are used by players in most official tournaments.
- Using Angles: Abductor muscles, present at the back of your thighs, usually take the brunt of the force exerted by the opponent. However, it has one major weakness of not being able to handle pressure that is applied at an angle. To take advantage of this, instead of pushing your opponent's leg back in a straight line, push the leg towards the outer hip region. You can achieve victory with lesser effort with this technique.
- Performing Fakes: In this technique, you must first, push hard on your opponent's leg then suddenly release the pressure you are applying. When your opponent's leg suddenly moves forward, it will be followed by a reflex action to move itself backwards for a tiny amount of time. You must exploit this instant to push back on the reflex action, and with correct speed and timing, your opponent will have to flip over and make you a victor. This technique requires some practice to perfect.
- Pulsing Fakes: In this technique, you repeatedly perform small fakes, and when you sense your opponent weakening, stop pulsing, and push with all your strength to find victory.
- Utilizing Power Effectively: While applying pressure on your opponent's leg, try to push the heel of your playing leg towards the hip of the other leg. This will make sure that the gluteal muscles are working to the best of their capacity. Since this muscle group is the most used in this sport, practicing this technique will increase your chances of winning.
- Make proper plans to hold leg wrestling matches, and make appropriate announcements, to everyone involved in the event, whether it is family or a Boy Scouts meeting. This will create an atmosphere of excitement in anticipation of the matches.
- During tournaments, set groups of people who are similar in height and weight to compete against each other, this will create an atmosphere of fairness and equality, despite the fact that size does not matter as much as lower body strength.
- Playing this game in a arena filled with mud slush, will double the excitement and difficulty for the players and audience.
- Warmups are to be mandatory for all players before the game to avoid injury.
- Be sure that you have medically competent people around to treat muscle pulls and strains, as these injuries are quite common, especially with amateurs.
- Create rules where the match stops in case there is any indication of pain from any of the contestants. This will help the players in avoiding injury.
With the passage of time, many variations of leg wrestling have been formed, many of which have been started by the Boy Scouts. All the following games can be played with your friends anytime and anywhere.
- Arm Wrestling: This is the most popular version of the game, that has been played by almost every man on the planet. However, in the highly unlikely case, that you have never heard of it, the instructions are as follows: Both players grasp their opponent's palms firmly, and place their elbows on a table or any other flat surface. On a previously decided signal, the players try to force the hand of the opponent flat on the table.
- Indian Staff Wrestling: In this game, both opponents stand opposite each other, and firmly hold a staff or any other such item between them. When the game starts, the players attempt to wrest the staff from the other's grip. When a player loses the grip of both hands on the staff, he/she loses and the match ends.
- One-legged Elbow Wrestling: This is a fun game that requires good stamina and balance from the players. Both players will stand next to each other while interlocking their elbows. With their free hand, they will hold one foot up in the air for as long as they can. The player who loses his balance first and rests his foot on the ground will lose. Elbows should be locked together throughout the duration of the match.
- Elbow Wrestling: In this variation, both players stand facing each other, with their right knees touching, while the left leg is placed a little behind to a strong stance. The players now keep their left hand behind their backs, while holding the other elbow of the opponent with the right hand firmly. Now the opponents attempt to push the other off balance, whoever manages to do so wins.
- Back Wrestling: This game will test the strength in your back and arms. To start, both opponents sit on the ground with their backs to each other and their knees raised to the height of their chest. Now the players must interlock both their elbows with their opponent's. On the start signal, both players try to force their opponent's right shoulder to the ground. The player to do so wins.
- Standing Arm Wrestling: This is a tougher version of the arm wrestling mentioned above. The players must stand facing each other with their right knees touching, with one hand behind their back, while the other grasps the opponent's palm firmly. The player who forces his opponent's arm all the way down is the winner. The important part of this game is that only the strength of the arm can be used.
- Foot Fighting: Another great game to test a person's balance and stamina. The players hold one leg with both hands under the knee, and raise the leg in the air. Now, the toes have to placed against the opponent's. The players try to push against each other with their toes and try to push the other off balance. The player who loses his grasp on the leg first is the loser.
- Pull Wrestling: The opponents sit on the ground facing each other with their toes touching the others'. Now the opponents must grasp each others hands, and on the start signal, they must try to lift the opponent's butt from the ground by pulling back. The person who gets lifted first, loses.