David Taylor has a penchant for the spectacular. In four years of competing for Penn State, the nation’s top wrestling program, he has only lost three official matches to two opponents. During this time, he has made the NCAA finals on three occasions, winning a national championship and a Hodge Trophy, college wrestling’s equivalent of football’s Heisman Trophy.
For the most part Taylor utterly dominates his opponents with a fun, constantly-offensive style. If every wrestler competed like him, than college wrestling would enjoy far more popularity. Taylor, more than any other combatant on the mat for the last four years, has shown the propensity to truly amaze a wrestling audience.
Previously, my favorite bit of Taylor’s wrestling came in the 2012 national finals against Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett. Taylor, already winning by a large margin, ankle picks Hatchett and converts the takedown on the edge of the circle. Instead of letting the action proceed completely out of bounds for a restart, as most wrestlers would, Taylor cuts Hatchett loose, allowing him to return to his feet. Then, with his opponent almost completely out of bounds, Taylor takes Hatchett down again with a stunning super duck.
That was my favorite bit of Taylor’s wrestling, before finals of the 2014 Big Ten Championships where Taylor produced the above gem. Here, against Iowa’s 165 pounder Nick Moore, Taylor avoids a takedown, and earns one of his own, using a stunningly performed standing Granby. The Granby has been a part of wrestling for quite a while, but rarely are standing Granbys hit with such perfection and ideal results, while in the midst of such a high profile match. The inventor of the Granby technique could not have drawn is up any better.
As it so happens, we know very well who, in fact, invented the move. The late father of wrestling in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Billy Martin Sr., first developed the Granby, a rolling maneuver used for his wrestlers to score points while in the bottom position, sometime around 1950 while coaching at Norfolk’s Granby High School. From its humble beginnings in the now wrestling crazed southeastern corner of Virginia, the Granby (specifically the shoulder Granby) now is a common sight at wrestling tournaments from coast to coast. High-level, athletic wrestlers, like David Taylor, will even occasionally hit a standing Granby: a Granby roll executed directly from the feet.
(Note: As a high schooler I had the honor of receiving instruction from Billy Martin, at least in passing. I attended the Martin’s Granby School of Wrestling summer camp a number of times during those years, and Martin, then close to 80 years old, would still lead sessions. My attendance at these camps first introduced me to a truly systematic approach to the sport of wrestling.)
Above you see a standing Granby demonstrated by NCAA All American Jon Sioredas on Chris Brown, another All American. The instructor’s voice you hear is actually Martin’s son Steve, a Virginia coaching legend in his own right, and the current head coach of Old Dominion University.Though some minor differences exist between the technique employed by Taylor against Moore, and that shown above, the central concept remains the same in both.
Standing Granbys, simply stated, start from the belly to back position with the wrestler in front within the grasp of the adversary behind him. In an effort to escape, or even reverse, his opponent, the front wrestler obtains hand control and initiates a dramatic sideways roll over his own shoulder blades. To this day, in a sport that preaches avoidance of exposing one’s back at all costs, many coaches find the roll across the shoulder blades unsettling. In fact, the famous, and now ubiquitous, Peterson roll came into being as a means of achieving the same effects as the Granby, without the roller’s shoulders contacting the mat. Despite this, the Granby still appear with much greater frequency at the upper ends of college wrestling than the Peterson, though usually as a means of escape, not as a method for obtaining control, as is the case with Taylor’s use of the move.
Speaking of Taylor’s standing Granby on Moore, let’s take another look at it, this time from a different angle. To better explain what transpires in the sequence, take time to observe the special instructive animation below.
An additional point not observed by the above animation is the fact that Taylor gets a slight push off his left foot just as he enters into the Granby, when Moore returns him to the mat. All told, this Standing Granby represents the very finest, and most innovative, that folkstyle wrestling technique has to offer.
With apparent demand, this sort of post might become a regular feature on Bloody Elbow, so share your thoughts with the author.
Update: A reader, posting on another site, made an observation that Billy Marin Sr. did not technically invent the Granby, and he sounds like he knows what he is talking about, so I’m inclined to believe him.
In the very least however, Martin popularized the move on the high school level, which led to the proliferation of the move throughout the United States.
If the aforementioned reader reads this, I invite him to email me so that I can find out a way to transfer all the knowledge in his head into mine. I have impressed my audience with my wrestling knowledge, but have, at the same time, always attempted to make it clear that there are people who have been around far longer than I, and who can make me look foolish with what they know.
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