by Dr Debonair, Esq.
There’s a chance that you’ve seen wrestling training schools and thought you’d like to go, but been a bit worried about what it’d be like on the other side of the doors. British wrestling has never been in better hands with a fantastic combination of respectable schools led by some of today’s best talent as well as some of the most respected names from British wrestling’s illustrious history. Training schools across the country run seminars from the best minds in the business, giving those who want to learn a chance that few would otherwise have. The knowledge is out there for the taking and New Generation Wrestling, a wrestling promotion that is based in Hull and runs shows in the North of England, helps fulfil that need in the North East.
New Generation Wrestling operate two academies in the North of England – one in Kingston upon Hull and one in Chester-Le-Street – that attract those interested in learning to wrestle from across the region. There’s no minimum personal requirement, aside from a willingness to learn and the desire to succeed. In exchange, a trainee will receive training from some of the best in wrestling – El Ligero or Nathan Cruz in Hull and Rampage Brown at the NGW North East Academy are the head trainers.
At Hull, I attended the beginners’ session as an observer, interested to see just what is involved in a wrestling training session. The beginners’ session was taken by Caz Crash, one half of The Proven and an accomplished singles wrestler. A regular roster member for both Tidal Wrestling in Leeds and NGW, Crash is a prime example of the talent that the NGW Academy has been able to foster – a talented, charismatic, versatile wrestler who continues to develop with every match. With Caz Crash as their trainer, any trainee at the Hull NGW Academy is already off to a good start.
After a brief warm up, Caz Crash gets the trainee group to start with twenty push ups and twenty burpees. Though Crash keeps a watchful eye over what is happening, his approach is casual – he’s training people to become ring workers, not fitness freaks! He doesn’t rush the trainees, nor does he push them over the edge. By the end of this work out session, all the trainees have achieved the goal set by Crash, with everyone pushing those who may start to struggle.
Moving onto ring basics – shoulder rolls – Caz divides his time between advising on safely conducting moves, praising good technique and offering general advice on ring work. He has a natural flair for getting the best out of the guys at training, which boasts varied ages and ability, even for a beginners’ class. The term ‘beginners’ is probably a misnomer, some of the guys in attendance have some experience in ringwork and use this time to enhance their ability, whilst others have only just started and feed off the guidance offered by Crash and the support of the other trainees. It’s a fantastic mix that puts everyone at ease.
The next section is the bump drill and sees the trainees hit a ring that isn’t as forgiving as the NGW ring and echoes in the training space – it may sound painful, but with Caz’s guidance, everyone is working safely. With each trainee expecting to bump twice to the back and twice to the front, the trainees are asked to focus on the way the move looks and sounds – hence the echoing crash. Caz gives instruction as it’s needed, taking feedback from the trainees as he goes along. He’s careful to push them without breaking them and injects his advice with humour.
Next, Caz reinforces something that all the returning trainees know practically off by heart – the seven steps of a wrestling match. This will help them with the spot work section and also to understand how things fit together and why a wrestling match is told in the way it is.
Caz’s approach is one of teaching variety, he doesn’t take away from the other NGW trainers – aware that Cruz and Ligero have their techniques of training and ring work borne of years of experience. He wants the trainees to take it all in, see the ring work from all sides as long as they work to their best, make it look good and are safe.
The spot work gives the trainees a chance to chain together a sequence of moves, with Caz narrating and demonstrating. They each start with a ‘test of strength’, working on positioning, awareness of balance, whilst one of the trainees – who is learning to wrestle to become a referee – hones his skills as the ref. Ultimately, they’ll be working towards a monkey flip, a move that Caz demonstrates with intricacy – it’s a simple looking move, but there’s a lot that goes into it from both wrestler. Watching a trainee who is much smaller than Caz and physically less imposing launch Caz into a monkey flip was a standout moment and a sign of the trainee’s growing confidence. As each trainee worked together towards the flip, Caz offered advice on different ways to make the sequence look natural and why certain aspects are done in the way they are for presentation, safety and athletic purposes. This technique works and there’s a palpable rush when two of the younger trainees pull it off.
Caz freely drops anecdotes into his training style – always respectful of the business, he highlights what works and why it works – covering character and technique. When he demonstrates in ring work, locking up with a trainee, you see the intensity that is part of his usual ring work. It’s this that drives the trainees to take in what they’re being asked to do. The trainees ask questions freely and, like all great teachers, Caz has an answer straight away. He’s happy to let the more experienced trainees offer advice, and this certainly helps newer guys understand more, but it’s the trainer that all the trainees gravitate towards for guidance.
Training, as demonstrated here, isn’t a case of doing everything as quickly as possible, but more about seeing how it all comes together. The pace is steady but relaxed, enough for everyone to see that they can do what they’re asked and to witness their own evolution in the ring in a space of mere hours. By the end of the session, everyone has made progress and is eager to do more, but the session is at an end and everyone must get home.
This training session showed the hard work that the trainees put into their training and the level of support that the NGW Academy can offer. With regular sessions at both of NGW Academies, there’s an opportunity for trainees of all ages and wrestlers of all abilities to get involved. Further details can be found here.
Our thanks to Dr Debonair, Esq (@dynamicthinking) for contributing this feature to the Wrestle Ropes website.