MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI -- It is a sport that very few participate in and even less master. It is one-on-one competition that matches each individual against another in the heat of battle until one can no longer continue.
Wrestling, whether it is in the style of Greco-Roman, Free-style or collegiate, is a sport for those who are determined and motivated to succeed in all aspects of life.
Thirty Marines stationed in Iwakuni have a fire and passion for the sport, and have joined the Iwakuni Wrestling Team.
"I think wrestling is a great way to stay in shape and maybe learn something I can use in a combat situation someday," said Lance Cpl. Tony Darling, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 fuels specialist.
The Iwakuni Wrestling Team was founded two years ago with 20 members. Iwakuni was without a team for the past 12 years, but with help from Rusty Reeseman, former outdoor recreation worker, and Bobby Brown, Semper Fit athletic director, the team was started up again last year.
Under a watchful eye from their coach, Staff Sgt. William Dixon, MWSS-171 truck master, the wrestlers go through an intense practice every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30 a.m. The wrestlers train against and with each other, learning new moves and polishing old ones.
"At first I want to teach the Marines the collegiate style of wrestling and get them proficient in it," said Dixon. "Then I'll teach them Free-style, a more open style with more throws, and the Greco-Roman style, which is similar to judo in that it uses the upper body to perform throws and relies less on the legs."
The majority of bases have teams, but if not they will send Marines to the closest place to train. Though there are 30 Marines out for the wrestling team, Dixon still encourages people to come out and participate. Even civilians are allowed to participate if they are 16 and older and fill out a permission form.
Dixon has been wrestling for more than 20 years, and says his greatest accomplishments has been training with the All-Marine Team and also being able to teach other Marines what it takes to be successful on the wrestling mat.
"I enjoy training and helping these Marines succeed," said Dixon. "I want them to leave everything they have on the mat, and to feel that no matter what the outcome of an event, that they walk away knowing they gave their best effort."
For some Marines, the desire to win is overshadowed by the love of the sport.
"I've been wrestling for 13 years," said Lance Cpl. Philip Hendrickson, MWSS-171 publications noncommissioned officer. "Wrestling is my life, my whole family is involved in wrestling. I'm so thankful that Iwakuni has a wrestling program again. It's a great sport, and it deserves to be here."
Others want to hone their skills in Iwakuni to prepare for college wrestling careers.
"I came out to better myself as a wrestler" said Cpl. Scott Blackson, Provost Marshal's Office K-9 handler. "There are some good wrestlers in Iwakuni that wouldn't be able to train if the program hadn't been brought back. My future goal is to be a collegiate All-American, and without the program here it would set me back a lot."
As the only female on the Iwakuni Wrestling Team, Lance Cpl. Carolina Andrade, Marine Aircraft Group 12 ground supply specialist, joined for another reason.
"I wrestled in high school, and I just wanted to come out and have fun," said Andrade. "I just love wrestling, plus it's better practice against the guys."
The team is scheduled to face off against the Okinawa team on the mat at the Main Gym Dec. 15.
"There's nothing like wrestling," said Dixon. "It's the greatest sport in the world."