Q - What are we looking for in the application of a back bow?
A - There seems to be some confusion on what constitutes the application of a back bow throughout the state. We do not want to overreact and needlessly punish a wrestler for aggressive wrestling and pursuing a fall. We as officials need to be able to identify a back bow when applied and must be able to determine when actual application begins. We need to realize that a simple lifting and securing of the ankle does not make it a back bow. And finally, how does a turk differ from a back bow, and whether (at times) it could be considered a form of back bow.
Consider that a back bow is applied when a foot is taken toward the head or in the direction parallel to the long axis. It is not applied by simply grabbing the foot or lower leg. There no longer has to be pressure, but you still must take the foot/ankle in the direction that makes it illegal. Refer to illustration 83 on page 77 of the rulebook. Notice the crossface is being applied. This is one of the keys in making the illustration a back bow. The head or torso must be secured in some fashion and the foot or lower leg must be lifted at the same time.
When the head or torso is secured and there is lifting toward the head (long axis of body) it is a back bow and is illegal. However, if it is taken diagonally across the body, it would not be considered illegal. No pressure need be applied to make it illegal. If there is no crossface being applied, or the head or torso is not secured in some fashion, then it could be considered potentially dangerous or illegal if taken beyond its normal range of motion. The same illegal application occurs if the foot is secured and the head is taken in a direction toward the foot parallel to the long axis. And finally, sometimes both are brought together in a similar motion.
The key to a back bow is the securing of the head or torso in some fashion along with the foot or lower leg and bringing either in the direction of the other.
The simple action of grabbing or lifting the foot or leg does not constitute a back bow. Taking it in the direction toward the head should be considered in determination. Here the head or torso is not secured. The foot / leg are taken diagonally across the body. This is legal.
One common maneuver is to lift an ankle to secure a figure four on a single leg. Just lifting an ankle upward in this manner or attempting to move the heel toward the buttocks does not constitute a back bow. However, if when lifting, the athlete takes the foot in a direction toward the head, and the head or torso is secured in some fashion, then they have applied a back bow. If they do not have the head or torso secured, again it could be considered potentially dangerous or illegal if taken beyond normal range.
Another common position occurs when a figure four is secured on a single leg. The normal motion is to rotate the hip over, taking the man to his back and turk or walk an ankle outward. Here again, if the direction of the ankle is taken to the side, this is a turk, not a back bow, and is perfectly legal. But if the athlete pulls the ankle toward the head when the head or torso is secured in some fashion, you have the application of a back bow.
The torso is secured by the mat, if the foot is being taken toward the head; it is illegal as soon as the foot is taken in that direction.
It would be legal to take the foot back or outward to attempt to secure a fall. Taking the leg toward the head would be an illegal application of a back bow. This is illegal.
The final position that a back bow is sometimes applied is when the athlete is actually put on his back. The offensive man may legally take the foot outward to bring the far shoulder down. Keep in mind that the hip is a center point and the ankle will follow a radius, so as moved outward it will also come up. If the ankle is taken outward it is legal, however, if the ankle is taken toward the head, a back bow has been applied. This is also the position where the offensive man may lock on the foot and try to take the head toward it or bring both together at once. Both situations would be illegal as soon as they go in the direction parallel to the long axis. No pressure is needed to be illegal, just the direction constitutes the application of a back bow.
Illegal back bow in near fall position. Either the foot was taken toward the head, the head toward the foot, or both brought together at the same time.
Legal, the defensive man is bridging. No foot secured.