Mongolian wrestling has rules and ceremonies that make it not only a test of physical strength but also a matter of tradition. There are rules that govern the ceremonies to be done before and after wrestling, the actual wrestling, and the special clothes to be worn. The clothes worn for wrestling are the hat, tight jacket, briefs and boots.
In the Mongolian national festival, 256, 512 or 1024 wrestlers wrestle; in provincial or local festivals, 32, 64, 128 or 256 wrestlers wrestle.
While the wrestling opponents are chosen by draw in the first two rounds of the competition, in the third and following rounds, they choose their own opponents, beginning with the highest-titled wrestlers. When Mongolian wrestlers wrestle, differences in weight and age are not taken into account; and, if the elbow, knee or either side of the body touches the ground, it is considered a fall.
Before wrestling, the famous, titled wrestlers stand on the left side, and those with lower titles stand on the right side. When a wrestler’s second takes the wrestler’s hat and calls his name, the wrestler struts in the manner of a flying eagle and enters the wrestling area. He enters and takes the stance of a strong animal, like a lion or elephant. At this time, the second gives his wrestler advice–speaking of the other wrestler’s weaknesses and what techniques will make him fall. The seconds must have been wrestlers, know wrestling techniques well, and call the wrestling titles well. When the wrestling match is completed, the winning wrestler performs the ceremony of strutting and claiming victory over the fallen wrestler. The fallen wrestler knows that he has lost, and unties the belt of his jacket. After the winner does the ceremony of claiming victory, he takes his hat from his second, puts it on, and struts around the flag in front of the ceremony’s big tent.
Wrestlers who win more than five rounds of the competition receive titles. If they win five rounds, they are titled “falcon,” seven rounds, “elephant,” if they win, “lion,” “champion,” etc.
In every odd-numbered round, beginning with the third, the titles of the wrestlers standing on the right and left sides are called. The announcement includes that wrestler’s home territory, all the titles he’s won, and finally which wrestler he will wrestle next. When the second calls the title, he sings it. At the very end, however, the titles of the final two wrestlers are not called. When they go out to wrestle, all the seconds of the left and right sides line up behind them and lean over as the wrestlers walk past. This is to show that these two wrestlers are very strong and have defeated many wrestlers; so it looks as if, when they strut, the strength of the wind is knocking the seconds down.