Laren Grey Umphlett
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Bridging is the king of exercises for wrestling.


It can add flexibility and strength to the legs, back and neck. It is important for the prevention of injuries as well as being a mat maneuver for escaping positions and submissions. It is also a great back arch for throwing, sprawling and for putting on holds such as leg locks and arm bars. Another important aspect trained is kinesthetic awareness (your body's awareness to itself) and vestibular sense (your body's awareness in it's spatial environment). Bridging is a form of inverted training. Many people think it is a neck exercise, but it is truly a leg and lower back exercise with the neck acting as an assistant.

The Back Bridge


It is important to get your nose to the mat, but don't rush it. Many people make the mistake of trying to drive their nose to the mat. Your nose will naturally go to the mat without hyperextension by driving the hips higher. The chest should drive forward over the head. It could be dangerous to drive the nose to the mat while leaving the chest behind and the hips low. A good method for stretching the body further would be to reach the hands as far above the head as possible. Reverse pushups will create a further stretch as well. This is done by pressing into a bridge on the hands only. After time an advanced man can bridge to his chin. A perfect bridge would be flat footed, chest forward, hips high, no hands with the chin to the mat. Strive for 3 to 5 minutes in this position. A forward bend or front bridge in the opposite direction after bridging is wise. Victory goes over a bridge!


Bridge on head and hands
Bridge on head only
Bridge on hands only
Bridge on balls of feet
Bridge flat footed
Leg raises while bridging
Round the world walking in the bridge

Falling back into a bridge

It is necessary to first have a good bridge before attempting to learn to fall back into a bridge. Once a good bridge is mastered, a good place to start is walking backwards down a wall with the hands. Start by standing 2 to 3 feet from a wall with your back to the wall, arch back putting your hands on the wall and walk down into the bridge. Once in a bridge try to touch your chest to the wall. This can be done for repetitions.

Another thing to try is to fall back into a bridge while holding a partners hand. It is also a good exercise to have a partner stand behind you and catch your head for a gentle landing. You can even hang on to a climbing rope if a partner is not available. Once you feel brave, try it on a crash pad. Then after time, attempt to fall back into a bridge alone.

When falling back into a bridge it is important to keep the hips high and driving forward, without driving the knees too far forward. You must look at the wall behind you and commit to the movement. Use your hands to catch you. Go over in a controlled manner, like a waterfall. Very graceful. An advanced man can train falling back while throwing a bag, dummy or partner.

Kicking over in a bridge

There are three ways to kick over in a bridge. The first is on the head and hands, the second is on the head only, and the third is on the hands only. Here we will focus on the head and hands kick over.

Number one is to have a very high and good bridge with the nose in the mat and the chest and hips high. It is important to have the hands far back behind the location of your head so they do not stop you. Now you must kick one leg over while driving off with the other. You must get the hips over your head. A slight rocking motion in the bridge may help you spring over or take off.

If you are unable to do this you can start with you feet at a higher elevation. Stack up four or five mats, put your feet on the stack and your head on the mat. This will make the kick over much easier. Now remove one mat from the stack and do it again, then remove another and on and on. Soon you will be kicking over from a stack of just one mat, and if you can do that try without any stack at all.

Once you can kick over you must kick the opposite way, which is easier to execute. From a front bridge, kick yourself up smoothly into a headstand, then arch you back and gently let your feet land on the ground in a back bridge.

Back Arch supplemental training


There is a pose in Yoga called "Bhujangasana" or The Cobra (after all the bridge is also a Yoga hold). It can be of benefit to the back arch required for the bridge. Start with laying on your stomach with the palms on the floor directly beneath your shoulders. Now press up while leaving your hips on the ground and arching your back. Look at the ceiling. Now move you hands forward a little. It is important to press your hands down into the floor while pressing and drawing your shoulder back. To add to the full stretch, you should now curl your legs back like you are trying to touch the back of your head with your toes.

For the extremely infirm and inflexible an exercise ball can be used by laying on it in a back arch. One could also hang off an elevated surface (such as a high bench or boxing ring) in a back arch letting the body hang with a partner holding the legs.


For the adventurous a Yoga pose called "Vrscikasana" or The Scorpion can be used. It is an inverted hold like a handstand but balancing on the hands, forearms and elbows. The back is arched and the eyes are looking to the ground.

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