WIN ARTICLE #127 Naming Wrestling Moves


Naming Wrestling Moves
By: Ben Peterson

Watching the names of wrestling moves through my years in the sport has been very interesting. And with as much travel as I do, I learn new names regularly.

In essence it is like the various dialects of a language that develop in various parts of a large country. Each team may have its own titles and even codes for moves they want to urge their teammates to use. States and regions can develop meaningful names and wrestling words.

The more communication and mixture of people there is, the more we standardize names so we can discuss and explain them. The more we travel to larger events and communicate with other people the more we name things similarly.

How Wrestling Moves are Titled:

1. A wrestler does a move well.

My first year in high school a Granby roll to escape was called “The Peterson Roll”. I guess because senior Don Peterson (no relation of mine) did it well. In my early years of college coaching a freshman named Kellish did that move very well. Our team called it “The Kellish”. For our team it stuck for a long time.

I regularly hear of local names for moves as I am doing a practice, clinic or camp. When I ask why they gave the move that name, they answer that someone memorable or special on their team or in their area did it significantly well. If the move has a standard name, I may tell them. But I seek to avoid discouraging them from crediting their local or area wrestler by using his name.

2. A wrestler does a move often.

In my era men like Peter Galea of Iowa State and Wade Shalles of Clarion College, PA did a lot of cradles. People just expected them to do cradles and maybe even gave one or two cradles their names. Pete’s long arms were made to lock up cradles (he wrote a quality book on cradles) and Wade’s flexibility and foresight made him perfect for seeing how to secure a cradle from many situations.

Today, David Taylor is referred to as, “The Cradle Man.” He has long arms, he is patient and perceptive seeing cradles coming and getting in position for them. So people are using, “The Taylor”, as a name for his best cradles.

3. A wrestler finds their own unique way of doing a move.

Some wrestlers get good and creative at a move. Their names can invoke thoughts of their unique move. Andre Metzger of Oklahoma University did that. He started with a wizzer at the side and coaxed his opponent to pull up. When he did, Andre would take the wizzer arm behind the head to claw the far collar bone and rip it back. I was older but still competing and found that move very useful and always called it “The Metzger.” The name was nation wide because he was an NCAA champion and on the national team.

The “Mills Half” is similar. Gene Mills of Syracuse University did a relentless half nelson. I was coached never to put a half in when my opponent was on his knees. As a young coach I taught the same. But Gene did his half nelsons with galloping legs. Wing rolls were stopped and an opponent could be worn out and turned. It took an energetic man like Gene to teach us that driving legs will beat upper body strength.

4. A move promoted in someone’s name.

I can give personal illustration on this. The history of “The Peterson Roll” has been very interesting to me. In New England a man named Peterson did something similar to today’s “Peterson Roll”, but he grabbed the far leg in doing so. He had good success. With time, men found ways to counter it. I was told in high school not to grab the far leg.

When Billy Martin and his Granby School perfected the gradby roll, he also incorporated controlling the near knee for “The Peterson”. Their finishes can be the same. Around 1970 I was taught that move without the name by an Iowa State teammate named Steve Lampe. Three years later when I graduated, I was known as a roller. Many key matches were won by rolls, but not very often by the Peterson. Many other rolls worked even better for me than that one.

But when I came back from two Olympics many asked to be taught my roll. On nationwide TV Ken Kraft had called the roll, “Ben’s signature move”. At first I was not sure which of the many rolls I did was the one they wanted. With time I figured it out.

I guess I have had the great fortune of a move being titled by a wrestler I never met, perfected by others who meticulously studied the sport, taught to me by a teammate and friend, and promoted in my name just because I had the same name. And that is the truth!

At this year’s NCAA in St. Louis I was reminded of the names that can go nationwide. Dylan Palacio of Penn State used the Peterson Roll to defeat his opponent in a qualifying round. Within minutes I was hearing about it at the NCAA WIN Show. Because my name is on a particular roll, people wanted to let me know they saw it being successfully used in a significant match.

By the way, I do not mind sharing “The Peterson” with others. First, it is not my move. It is America’s move. If someone like Dylan Palasio does it well and often and it motivates and excites others enough to add his name to it, great. Maybe other young wrestlers will be motivated to learn it as well.

So do you want a move named after you? Then do these 4 things:

1. Do it well

2. Do it often

3. Do it in some unique way

4. And pray for promotion of the move in your name

But my personal advice is just work to know the sport well and win first. And let the names come if they will. They can fade as well. And nobody is going to use our name if we can’t do some winning.

And I don’t think I ever prayed for a move to be promoted in my name, but God was gracious and got it done in His unique way. New words are developed each year to better express something. So why not add words and titles to our wrestling language? Some names will stick for a long time; others will discontinue for lack of use. But in the meantime they can serve us a purpose to communicate and motivate.

Find other articles and a new book called “ROAD TO GOLD” by Ben at: Today Ben & John Peterson run Camp of Champs Wrestling Camps. Contact them at: PO Box 222 Watertown, WI 53094 800-505-5099

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