The small Eurasian country of Georgia has been a hotbed for producing some of the best wrestlers in the world. Georgian wrestling is an incredibly tough sport and we’re going to tell you a little about their style called Chidaoba wrestling.

Here is a quick history lesson on Georgian wrestling and their style of wrestling known as Chidaoba. Going through when this style of Georgian wrestling was developed and the format of the matches.

We’ll also list of the best wrestlers that Georgia has ever produced, who won Olympic medals.

The History of Georgian Wrestling

For centuries, the people of Georgia have been wrestlers. They have been wrestling for thousands of years ever since there were knights in the land. 

The type of wrestling that was developed in Georgia is known as Chidaoba.

What is Chidaoba?

Chidaoba is a blend of jacket wrestling and folk wrestling that dates back to the 9th century. Georgian knights would wrestle one another as a game and to develop their grappling skills.

This style of wrestling became ingrained into the culture of the region. For soldiers in the upper class, it was mandatory for them to go through training in this style of Georgian wrestling.

The name Chidaoba translates to meaning a struggle between a man and a beast. Many that train in Chidaoba jackets today are descendants of the knights that learned the style centuries ago.

It is part of the culture of Georgia and something that the people take pride in. Along with other forms of wrestling, weightlifting, and of course Judo.

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The Match Format of Chidaoba Georgian Wrestling

Chidaoba Georgian wrestling generally takes place in an outdoor arena called a “krug.” Matches will either take place on grass, sand, or sawdust.

The match area is encircled by a group of spectators with some members that play a vital role in the match. Particularly the presence of musicians that play Chidaoba music as the match goes on.

There is actually reserved seating just for the musicians during the wrestling matches. They play traditional Georgian instruments like dolis(drums), zurnas(flutes), and chibonis (flutes).

The mochidave or wrestlers wrestle as the musicians play. They play at the intensity of the match. As the intensity of the match increases, so does the speed at which the musicians play. Creating an exciting atmosphere during the festivities.

The Rules of Chidaoba Wrestling

A Chidaoba match lasts for five minutes, where the wrestlers try to throw their opponents to their backs. Their opponents must land flat on their back in order to win the match. This is similar to an ippon in Judo.

Chidaoba wrestlers are permitted to use any part of the jacket or belt to throw their opponent. Grabbing the pants of an opponent is not permitted.

Mochidaves can do anything from trips, foot sweeps, to hip throws. Just as long as the techniques are done above the waste without grabbing below their opponent’s waist.

During the throws, wrestlers are not allowed to drop to their knees or turn their backs during techniques. Also striking or joint manipulation of any kind is strictly forbidden in Chidaoba.

When there is no winner in the five minute period, a half victory will be awarded to the better wrestler. The competitor, who showed better control and nearly completed their throws.

Chidaoba Wrestling Uniform

In Chidaoba, the uniform consists of a sleeveless jacket and pants(or shorts) with no shoes worn. The jacket in Chidaoba is referred to as a “chokha.”

Originally, the chokha was a long sleeve jacket throughout the history of the wrestling style. But after the 19th century, the sleeves of the chokha began being made shorter. By the 20th century, the chokha was a completely sleeveless jacket.

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These sleeveless jackets would lead to the wrestlers developing their own unique grips called “mochidave.” Unique grips to Chidaoba that are used in throwing techniques.

A belt is also worn around the jacket, which is grabbed much like in Judo.

Georgian Wrestling Training 

Georgian wrestling training is known for being incredibly hard. Since they were part of the Soviet Union, they took many of the principles to their training. Principle that has produced countless world champions in both countries.

They’re conditioning consists of everything from running, kettlebell circuits, pull-ups, and of course hours of technical training.

Chidaoaba’s Influence on Sambo and Judo

When Sambo was being developed, Chidaoba played a pivotal role in the Russian martial art’s creation. The creators of Sambo mixed the wrestling of Chidaoba along with the throws of Judo and the striking of boxing/kickboxing.

Many of the techniques of Chidaoba also translate very well into the art of Judo. Which is why Georgia produces some of the best Judokas along with their quality wrestlers.

Chidaoba vs. Judo

The Georgian wrestling style of Chidaoba meshes really well with Judo, but there are some differences. Here are the main similarities and differences between Chidaoba and Judo.

Similar Techniques

Many of the same throws and footsweeps are used in both styles of grappling. Everything from the o goshi, osoto gari, and uchi mata are all used within Chidaoba, but have different names.

No Takedowns Below The Hips

Judo has many takedowns below the hips like double leg takedowns, but are now not permitted in competitions. Now, just like with Chidaoba, no takedowns where you grab the legs are permitted in Judo competitions.

Finishing Throws

In Judo, you are permitted to turn your back to your opponent or drop to your knees. As previously mentioned in the rules of Chidaoba, these actions are not allowed in Chidaoba matches.


Arm locks and chokes are permitted once the fight hits the ground in Judo. No submissions of any kind are allowed in Chidaoba.

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Match Formats

Matches in both grappling styles consist of a five minute round. Although at the end of regulation in Judo, it goes to overtime where the golden score is enforced. Different from Chidaoba, where a half winner is awarded the match.

Georgian Wrestling Today

Today, the country of Georgia is still producing some of the best wrestlers in the world. Whether it’s Greco Roman, freestyle, or the Georgian wrestling style of Chidaoba.

Wrestling is in the blood of the Georgian people and they will continue to produce elite level wrestlers into the future.

Chidaoba Techniques

To give you more of an insight into this style of Georgian wrestling, we’re going to break down some Chidaoba techniques.

Georgian Wrestling Olympic Champions

Georgian wrestling is known for its illustrious history of producing the world’s best wrestlers. Here are some of the Olympians that Georgia has produced.

David Tsimakurdze

David Tsimakurdze is a Georgian wrestling legend that won the region’s very first Olympic medal. He won gold in freestyle wrestling at the 1952 Olympic games held in Helsinki, Finland. Tsimakurdze is still revered as a hero in Georgia to this day.

Levan Tediashvili

Levan Tediashvili
Levan Tediashvili

Levan Tediashvili was born in the small Georgian town of Sagarejo and is another legend in Georgian wrestling. Tediashvili would win gold medals at the ‘72 and ‘76 Olympic Games. He was also a 4 time world champion during the 1970s.

Leri Khabelovi

Leri Khabelovi was a two-time Olympian that won both a gold and silver medal. Winning silver in the 1988 Olympics in South Korea and then winning gold at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Khabelovi was also a 5 time world champion in freestyle wrestling during the 1980s.

Vladimer Khinchegashvili

Vladimer Khinchegashvili
Vladimer Khinchegashvili

Valdimer Khinchegashvili is one of the best modern Georgian wrestlers. He won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics and a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics. Khinchegashvili also won a world championship in freestyle wrestling in 2015.

A martial artist and former coach for two decades from Houston, Texas. Specializing in the disciplines of kickboxing, karate, MMA, and Jiu Jitsu.