How the wrestlers bridge made a lasting impact in my life

By Travis Patton

Travis Patton was born in the United States and currently resides in Alabama. I’ve been working on the side as a personal trainer since 2011 and would love to one day open my own training facility that can also accommodate grappling. I have worked through programs with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and recently with the Kinesiology Institute for Performance Specialists and am currently preparing for my CPPS with Joe Defranco and Jim Smith. In terms of grappling I’ve spent the last four years training with Scientific Wrestling as I work through the coaching catch curriculum, as well as Snake Pit USA and I also spent some time training at a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu school. I enjoy all kinds of physical culture and strive to stay in a position of constant learning so I can help anyone I work with be a better version of themselves.

Strength. Power. Stability.

These are all things anyone, at almost any fitness level, strives for in one way or another.

What if there was a single movement that could “bridge the gap” so to speak, one movement who’s power helped you more thoroughly make the connection with you and yourself and where exactly your strengths lies and do not. For me that movement was the wrestlers bridge.

Forget stomach crunches, forget hanging an awkward weight from a head apparatus and rocking your head back and forth, how about making your neck and abdomen hold up your body weight. Fully engaged. And just hold it …seems easy, and to be honest it is once you’re used to it but it definitely offers challenges if your trunk is hollow and your neck is more used to looking downward at a phone instead of making eye contact with pride as you roam the streets.

Around 10 years ago I was introduced to the wrestlers bridge when me and my childhood friend pursued a career in professional wrestling. It was part of our warm up routine from the get go along with Hindu squats, push-ups and various conditioning methods, and more than anything it proved to me how not actually strong I was inside. A lot of the conditioning was set up not just to condition us for wrestling matches but also as a way to weed out the weak. If you weren’t able to get through training you clearly wouldn’t be headlining a wrestlemania anytime soon. Now I thought I was pretty strong from my compound movement and what not but I was fooling myself and there was a lot that had been neglected and the wrestlers bridge put a glaring spotlight over it. Something so simple and yet so difficult told me a lot about “core strengths”.

Flash forward to several months down the road and I found myself rehabbing my second neck injury and I was still too young to be saying that sentence. But to be completely honest I was a little lazy with training. I thought I got my compound movements in and they’re heavy so it’s time to let out a whey protein induced belch and declare how strong I am to other bros… something isn’t right though why do I still keep getting hurt in the dumbest ways. Don’t tell me it’s because of how unprepared I am????

It definitely was. Failure to plan is planning to fail!! I don’t know who said that but it rings true. I wasn’t planning properly and it was blowing up in my face. It was time to stop being young and dumb.

So as I stated, I’m rehabbing my neck the second time and I’m watching some old Mitsuharu Misawa matches with my training partner and he brought up the website again to me and was recommending some Karl Gotch stuff, so I went and gave it a thorough gander and almost immediately a lightbulb went off! I was just blown away when I would watch Gotch and Billy Robinson and I kept mentally going back to Gotch saying conditioning is your best hold, and thus the Gotch bible stepped into my life. This is yet another thing that let me know how poorly conditioned I was but it brought the wrestlers bridge back into the picture for me, and slowly but surely I noticed my neck felt relief sometimes and it began to grow stronger and not bother me nearly as much as it had been. I noticed how my core strength was adapting and changing. Then I noticed my posture and breathing changing…things were feeling stronger all over my body from adding this challenging tool into my toolbox. My flexibility was coming back and I just all around felt better.

I no longer wanted to be what I called wrong strong I wanted to be powerful and I wanted to be a well conditioned wrestling machine!! Or at least a close version in my spectrum of capabilities.
I saw how difficult five seconds was and how easy one minute had become. I saw how difficult I make my life when I only fill my belly with cheeseburgers and beers instead of air and energy.

When you’re first sticking your toes in the water, don’t be afraid, it may be uncomfortable or awkward but just practice! Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect but it gets time in and it drills technique and what was hard will be easier. I find some time almost every day to spend some time in a bend. Not only for a sense of deep stretching from my jaw to my belly button but I believe it be to one of the bigger factors in me feeling overall stronger and feeling better and more whole day to day.
In metaphorical and physical sense, if there’s a canyon preventing you from getting from point a to point b, build a bridge and get there and suddenly your miserably travel plans just got easier and better.

I probably should have titled this how the wrestlers bridge saved my neck and spine from deteriorating and vanishing, but that’s a little long winded. A lot of injuries to the spine area and the neck area, especially concussions in regard to the neck, happen because our midsections and necks are weaker than they need to perform and if we paid more attention to those areas we can save our selves. Since becoming a big part of my training routines I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in any injuries to that entire section of my body and my neck has grown a few inches and even if I look miserable I got more room in my gas tank!

We should all train to live healthy. Train with purpose. Train for vitality! This body is a temple and it’s the only we got for now at least, so we need to take care of ourselves and be the strongest versions of ourselves that we can be.


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