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Wrestler applying the bear hug hold from behind
In general, a bear hug is a strong, hearty embrace, as if being hugged by a bear. A literal bear hug is an undesirable phenomenon in which a bear or another animal able to stand upright, such as a giant anteater or honey badger, claws rapidly with a hugging motion.
As a wrestling term
In wrestling, a bear hug, also known as a bodylock, is a grappling clinch hold and stand-up grappling position where the arms are wrapped around the opponent, either around the opponent's chest, midsection, or thighs; sometimes with one or both of the opponents arms pinned to the opponent's body. The hands are locked around the opponent and the opponent's back is held tightly to the chest. The bear hug is a dominant position, with great control over the opponent, and also allows an easy takedown to the back mount position.
A variation of the bear hug is the inverted bear hug, where one wrestler has his hands locked behind his opponent's mid or lower back and presses his forehead into their sternum, while pulling his locked hands inwards towards himself; forcing his opponent to bend backwards and fall. It is a painful move as much pressure is being exerted onto the opponent's sternum, often hurting the back bones and muscles as well as forcing air out of the lungs. In professional wrestling, this move is most often used by wrestlers known for great upper body strength.
A bear hug is also known as an icebreaker game in which an odd number of people are divided into pairs, leaving one member without a partner. All player sit down in a large circle, one partner in front of the other. The player without a partner calls 2–5 names, depending upon the size of the group, of players sitting in the front. Those player then try to make their way to the player without a partner, while their partners attempt to hold them back. The match ends when a player reaches the player who called the names. Players who were called and failed to reach the caller switch places with their partner so they are now in the back. The game often involves injuries due to the violent struggles between partners.