Wrestling is one of the most difficult martial arts to master, but Ben Askren has excelled in the sport at the highest level. In fact, he is the most decorated wrestler in professional martial arts competition.
The 32-year-old is a two-time NCAA Division I Champion, and represented the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. A year later, he flawlessly brought his elite grappling to the cage, where he holds both a 15-0 (1 NC) professional record and the ONE Welterweight World Championship.
Now, alongside his younger brother Max, the wrestling phenom runs the Askren Wrestling Academy in his native Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he teaches a new generation of aspiring wrestlers the ancient grappling art.
Armed with Olympic experience and massive success as a coach, Askren dispenses three gems of advice to those who want to get started in wrestling.
#1 Find A Good Coach And Team
Wrestling may be a one-on-one sport, but having a terrific coach to lend direction, and teammates who are hungry for success to train with, is of the utmost importance for your own personal growth.
The first thing Askren, who also trains with world champions from multiple disciplines at Evolve MMA in Singapore, recommends beginners to do is find a reputable gym that teaches the grappling art.
This can be done either with referrals from friends, or a quick Google search to find the best one in the area that fits your needs. If there isn’t a wrestling gym in the area, he suggests a martial arts gym where there is at least a wrestling coach would be a great start.
“It is important to be part of a good team and have a good coach, because if you are a beginner, you need a lot of guidance and people around you who want to train and get better,” he explains. “So it is very important to be part of a good team.”
#2 Be Willing To Work Hard
If you want to be a good wrestler, then you must spend a lot of hours on the mats and possess an impeccable worth ethic. That is crucial for success. In fact, that is the cornerstone to all of Askren’s success, and it is something he preaches to all of his students.
“I do not care what you do, hard work is important because nothing worthwhile gets done without a lot of effort. That is a point I reinforce to my athletes all the time. It is a must,” the champion says.
“Nothing good in life — whether it is a relationship, a job, an activity, or a hobby — gets done without a great amount of effort. You have to be willing and ready to work hard. If you are not, you are not going to be good or successful at anything.”
#3 Prepare For The Ups, And Power Through The Downs
Based on talent alone, many may find early success on the wrestling mats, but there will probably be more failures. That is inevitable. Unfortunately, some youngsters’ have their confidence shaken and give up rather easily, but Askren encourages people to persevere. As he says, “it is vital.”
“I have seen many kids who quit on the downs. They have some success, and as soon as they start failing, they pack their bags and they go home. All of us are going to fail at some point, and lots of times, it is right away,” he states.
“A lot of times, it is just getting started. Be ready to fail, be okay with some of the early failures, and just be ready to bounce back, work hard, and keep a positive attitude.”