Strategy is Key for USA Grappling's Morgan

By Marc Berman

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (September 6th) --  John MORGAN (USA) was only 9 years old when he started traveling the world to compete in speed chess tournaments. He learned to think quick, problem solve and prepare strategically from his chess experience.

For Morgan, who will be representing Team USA at 71kg, Grappling is no different than those early days of chess. He’s forced to make decisions quickly, accessing a database of grappling knowledge while under duress. In his hunt for a world title at this week’s Grappling World Championships Morgan says he’s ready to utilize experiences in chess, folkstyle wrestling, and even surfing if it helps him capture gold.

“Running, surfing, stance motion drills, working defense from the feet, using the labels for reversals and whatever else. I am always focusing on how to integrate it all in a strategy to win against any type of opponent.”

Grappling presents a number of challenges: understanding how to successfully navigate the transitions from top to bottom, takedowns and the groundwork, leglocks and different opponents. It’s a new game for many competitors, but one Morgan says he’s tailored to his training in preparation for the world championships.

“Strategy is everything,” says Morgan. “The inner moment of realizing your not good at something sucks but, you have to go through it to get to the next level.”

Catch Morgan and the rest of Team USA this week on in the United States and internationally on United World Wrestling.



Future is Bright for Grappling in Kazakhstan

By Marc Berman

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (September 9th) -- The Kazakhstani grappling team may not have won a bevy of gold medals, but the Central Asian nation showed great improvement at the 2018 Grappling World Championships.

After four tough days of competition the host nation walked away with a 3rd place finish in the women’s senior division and fifth place in the men’s senior division. The nation also boasted finalists in the women’s 53kg and 58kg division and scored a bronze and silver on the men’s side.

In preparation for the World Championships Kazakhstan hosted qualifying events in multiple cities before the national qualifier earlier this year.

Head grappling coach Renat SITNAZAROV was pleased with the process of forming the team. “We were able to gather our strongest athletes together and bring them here for the championships.”

In preparation for the event the team brought together athletes from around the country to train together and work on new techniques. In preparation for Grappling events team members compete in various other styles, freestyle, Greco-Roman, judo, sambo and jiu-jitsu.

When it came time for the actual competition Sitnazarov and his coaching staff worked with each athlete before each round to develop a winning strategy.

Since 2010 Coach Renat has seen grappling take off in Kazakhstan, becoming more popular every year. “I see Grappling growing every year and is now very popular with many athletes taking part of events here in Kazakhstan. Now with athletes such as Miyao coming from other styles to compete in Grappling, I see it becoming a big event.”

Catch up on all the action you miss on in the United States and internationally on United World Wrestling.