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Ruslan C Pashayev - The Birth of Freestyle Wrestling in Europe and America

The Birth of Freestyle Wrestling in Europe and America – The Wrestling Style of German Gymnastic Society.

Dear Friends,
about a couple of months ago I presented my article called “Pro Wrestling in Munich, 1840s”, today in continuation of this theme, I am happy to share with you the original 1840s rules of German freestyle wrestling (Ringen, aka Kür-Ringen) as practiced by the members of the German Gymnastic Societies, aka GGS (Turnvereins, Turners) in Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria.

The rules appeared in Chapter XIII “Ringen” (Pages 34-36) of the 1849 book called “Turn Regeln nebst Ordnungs” by the GGS instructor named Anton Scheibmaier (1818-1893). According to these rules the GGS wrestling allowed any fair hold of any part of the body and to win the match the wrestler had to pin his adversary to the ground (Festhalten) i.e. restrain him from any movement, and hold him in that immovable position on his back underneath himself until the latter gives up from exhaustion being unable to reverse his locked supine position. The Festhalten conditions of the wrestling game assumed a prolonged struggle on the ground.

The GGS Ringen was strictly based on the historical folkstyle wrestling traditions of the Germanic people, which according to Pietro Monti (1457-1509) a self-defense master and educator from Milan, Italy were described as follows: “They (Germanic people) commonly grab the legs with their hands,” “They consider all things permissible in order to overcome the opponent,” ”They also wrestle with their feet and hands on the ground like quadrupeds.”

Please see below the detailed explanation (in German language) of Festhalten wrestling techniques as appeared in “Lehr- und Handbuch der deutschen Turnkunst” (1860) by W. Lübeck.

“Das Festhalten eines Liegenden. Der Haltende muß die Arme des auf dem Rücken Liegenden auszubreiten suchen, wobei er ent weder Leib auf Leib liegt und mit den Beinen die des Gegners zu fassen strebt, oder so, das er dabei quer – rechtwinklig – über der Brust des Gegners liegt – während die Hände die Arme ausbreiten. Der Liegende muß hingegen. Das Aufkommen versuchen, indem er danach strebt, sich auf den Bauch zu wenden, wodurch er, die Hände und Beine aufstemmend, sich leicht seines Gegners entledigen kann, der dies wieder durch rückw. Ueberwerfen zu hindern sucht. Das Festhalten kann auch von zwei Schwächeren gegen Einen , versucht werden, wobei der eine über der Brust liegend die Arme und der Andere die Beine festzuhalten suchen muß.”

In his “Katechismus der Turnkunst” (1879) Moritz Kloss thus describes the two ways of winning wrestling matches (depending on the mutual agreement between the wrestlers): 1) Niederlegen/Niederwerfen which is throwing (with or without the attacker falling himself) opponent down to the ground from a standing position onto his back (shoulders, hips, buttocks, i.e. whether he landed “sitting” or “lying” he is considered defeated), and 2) Festhalten (previously explained GGS pinfall) and how to escape from being pinned: “Niederlegen des Gegners aus dem Stande, oder nachdem man ihn gehoben hat. Festhalten eines Liegenden am Boden und das Aufkommen aus dem Liegen.”

In 1867, the GGS wrestling manuals were printed in Great Britain. The wrestling portion of the manual under the name of “Loose Wrestling”/”Catch-as-catch-can” was presented by Mr. Schweizer, the GGS wrestling instructor. In 1866, the National Olympian Association (NOA) of Great Britain had a Great Gymnastic Gathering at Crystal Palace, London. Wrestling was represented by two styles, the Cumberland and Westmorland Back-Hold and the Catch-as-catch-can as practiced by the athletes of GGS.

The best English amateur wrestlers of 1890s-early 1900s were The Gruhn Brothers of GGS, London called Ferdinand (5-time Heavyweight English champion in 1897-1901) and Ernst (4-time Light-weight English champion in 1898, 1900, 1901, 1902 and middleweight champion in 1900). Around that time the GGS style of wrestling was taught in all Turners all around the Europe.

Since the 1870s freestyle wrestling of GGS was introduced in the United States and by the early 1890s it has reached the peak of its popularity. Many of the top American amateur and pro wrestlers from the 1890s and early 1900s were trained in local Turners gyms. Among them 2-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner (1904, 1908) George Mehnert (1881-1948). Here in America the GGS freestyle wrestling was known under the common name of “catch as catch can wrestling”.

The rules of the GGS Catch as catch can (in German language) as practiced in the USA to follow below. According to these rules two shoulders touching the ground at the same time constituted a fall, any kind of such falls to count whether the fall was caused by a momentum (flying and rolling falls) or by a slow action (pinning falls). The evolution of historical German Festhalten pinfall into a modern wrestling touch-fall was caused by the desire of the amateur sports organizations to shorten the overall length of the wrestling matches, which under the former conditions could last for a really long time.

FESTORDNUNG DES NORDAMERIKANISCHEN TURNERBUNDES AUF GRUND DER BESCHLÜSSE DER ZWANZIGSTEN TAGSATZUNG IM AUFTRAGE DES
BUNDESVORORTS NEUBEARBEITET UND ERWEITERT VON ROBERT NIX
INDIANAPOLIS. Druck der Hottenbeck Prefs 1903. Pages 53-54

119. Ringen.

a) Die Ringer werden von den Kampfrichtern dem Gewichte
nach in drei Gruppen eingeteilt :

Erste Gruppe Unter 135 Pfund (61.2 Kilo).

Zweite Gruppe 135 bis 158 Pfund.

Dritte Gruppe 158 Pfund (71.7 Kilo) und darüber.

• b) Auf dem Festplatze muss eine zuverlässige Wage vor-
handen sein.

c) Für jede Gruppe muss für je 20 angemeldete Ringer ein
Ringplatz zur Verfügung stehen. Das Ringen findet auf
Matratzen statt, die 16 Fuss (4.9 m) lang und ebensobreit sind.
Zehn Fuss ausserhalb des ganzen Ringplatzes muss sich eine
starke, niedere Umzäunung befinden.

d) Bei jedem Ringplatze fungieren drei Kampfrichter. Zwei
derselben beurteilen und entscheiden den Kampf ; der dritte
Richter führt die Listen und überwacht die Dauer des Kampfes.

e) In jeder Gruppe werden die Gegner durch das Los gepaart
und numeriert. Nachdem alle Paare einen Gang beendet haben,
treten die Besiegten zu einem weiteren Gange an. Die übrig-
bleibenden Ringer werden dann wieder den Nummern nach ge-
paart und ringen weiter, wie oben angedeutet, bis ein endgültiges
Resultat erzielt wird. Bei ungerader Zahl der Ringer sollen
die Richter durch das Los einen der Besiegten des vorherigen
Ganges zum Kampfe mit dem Übriggebliebenen bestimmen.
Sollte dieser Ersatzmann den Sieg davontragen, so ist er da-
durch zur weiteren Teilnahme am Ringen berechtigt.

f) Das Ringen ist ein sogenanntes freies Ringen (catch as
catch can, two points down). Würggriff, Stossen mit der Faust,
Arm-, Finger- und Fussverdrehen und Grifffassen an den Klei-
dern sind verboten und haben nach erfolgter Warnung durch die
Richter Ausschluss vom Wettkampf zur Folge.

Spezialvolksturnen.

g) Ein Schwungwurf (flying fall) vom Stand auf dem Ring-
platz zum Liegen ausserhalb desselben gilt ; doch ist ein Ringen
ausserhalb des Ringplatzes nicht erlaubt. Ringer, welche die
Grenzen des Übungsplatzes überschreiten, müssen auf Geheiss
der Kampfrichter den Gang in der' Mitte desselben wieder auf-
nehmen.

h) Die Kampfrichter sollen sich vor dem Ringen über uner-
laubte Griffe und andere Einzelheiten verständigen.

i) Besiegt ist, wer mit beiden Schultern gleichzeitig den
Boden berührt, gleichviel, ob mit Schwung oder infolge langsamer Gewalt.

j) Ein Gang soll nicht länger als 15 Minuten dauern. Wird
innerhalb dieses Zeitraums ein Sieg im Sinne der Regel i nicht
errungen, so gilt der Ringer, der am meisten angegriffen hat, als
Sieger.

k) Für jeden Sieg wird dem Sieger ein Punkt notiert« Die
Punkte werden zum Schluss zusammengezählt. Sollten dann
die letzten zwei Ringer die gleiche Punktzahl haben, so müssen
dieselben zu einem weiteren Gange antreten, von dessen Ergeb-
nis die Zuerkennung des ersten Ranges abhängt. (Vgl. § 117, a. )

l) In jeder Gruppe sind drei Preise ausgesetzt; sollten sich
jedoch in einer Gruppe weniger als 4 Paare beteiligen, so werden
höchstens zwei Preise erteilt. Jeder erste Preis besteht in einem
Diplom mit Kranz ; die anderen Preise sind Diplome.

Cover Page: Engraving, German Wrestling (Ringen) from the “Gymnastics for Youth” (1793) by Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths (1759-1839).

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

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Pro Wrestling in Munich, 1840s - Ruslan Pashayev

Dear Friends,
I am happy to present the newspaper articles from the 1841 Dr. Franz Wild's “Baierscher Eilbote“, printed in Munich, Germany. These articles which appear on the Pages 46-47 of the newspaper issue № 6 dated on Wednesday Jan 13th, 1841 and Pages 62-63 of the newspaper issue № 8 dated on Sunday Jan 17th, 1841, speak about the famous champion and the pioneer of Greco-Roman (French Style of Wrestling) called Mr. Jean Dupuis who was visiting Munich (Kingdom of Bavaria) and challenging the local champions to a wrestling match. The language of the articles is German. The articles contain unique information about the contemporary German Style of Wrestling. Enjoy the read. Thanks. Ruslan C Pashayev.

Newspaper Cover Page 1

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Olinda keliya - traditional Sri Lanka game

‘Olinda Keliya’ is a board game also known as Mancala games where a wooden board known as “Olinda Kolombuwa” or “Olinda Poruwa” which has several holes is used. The rules can differ from area to area, but the game is normally played by two players seated on either side of the board. On either side of the poruwa there are usually nine holes in which are placed four beads each. The beads are Olinda seeds that can be found in abundance in villages.
The players have to shift the beads from one hole to the other and collect the seeds found in the hole immediately after an empty one. Ultimately the player who could collect the largest amount of olinda beads becomes the winner of the game.
The ‘Olinda Kolumbuwa’ also showcases the creativity of Sri Lankan traditional wood carvers. These boards are usually made of ebony (kaluwara) wood and beautifully carved. Most of these boards that are with families were designed during the Kandyan period. There is also a large collection of these boards in the Colombo Museum indicating how popular the game must have been in those days. ‘Olinda Keliya’ is also special, since it is mainly played by the women of the house while other traditional games are played mainly by men.
However, the most attractive element of this game is the shiny little red and black seed – Olinda. Crab’s eye is its common English name while the seed is also known as Jequirity, Rosary Pea or Indian licorice. The scientific name is Abrus precatorius. Olinda is a slender creeper that can grow large if the conditions are right. The vine has long, pinnate-leafleted leaves.

Ruslan C Pashayev - Rules of Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling

Dear Friends,
I am happy to share with you a unique historical document which is dated July 15th, 1793. It is the original XVIII century ruleset of Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling which goes under the name of "The Laws of Wrestling as established in the North of England." This ruleset appeared in the July 1793 issue of "The Sporting Magazine" on Pages 245-246. Enjoy the read.


© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

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Laws of Wrestling

1790s

cumberland

Fantasia – Guillaume Lanouhe (Association Brev’Art) photographic exhibition

Fantasia – Guillaume Lanouhe (Association Brev’Art) photographic exhibition

We invite you to see the wonderful photos of Fantasia by Guillaume Lanouhe from Association Brev'Art.

In the Maghreb, fantasia is generally called laâb el-baroud («game of powder») or laâb el-kheil (or «horse game»); more local names also exist: tbourida in Morocco
Fantasia is a traditional exhibition of horsemanship in the Maghreb performed during cultural festivals and for Maghrebi wedding celebrations. It is present in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania.
The photos were taken in 2019 on the occasion of the International Festival of Nomads which is a citizen and artistic festival. This festival takes place once a year in M’hamid El Ghizlane, 90 km south of Zagora in the Drâa valley (Morocco). Traditional dances during the festival are held by the women of the village.
More informations about Fantasia: http://www.traditionalsports.org/traditional-sports/africa/fantasia-algeria-morocco-tunisia-libya-mali-niger-mauritania.html

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Sasanian Die

Sasanian Die, Period - Sasanian, Date - ca. 3rd–7th century A.D., Iran, Qasr-i Abu Nasr - Near Shiraz
Cubic dice have been in use in the Near East since the 3rd millennium B.C. with different systems of distributing the points. The numbering of the opposite sides (1-6, 2-5, 3-4) adding up to seven comes into more general use only later, as reflected by this die from Qasr-i Abu Nasr.
The small town and fortress of Qasr-i Abu Nasr is located near Shiraz in southern Iran at a strategic point at the intersection of defensive mountains, available water sources, and along roads entering the Shiraz plain. The site was excavated by archaeologists from The Metropolitan Museum of Art for three seasons from 1932-1935. The town was occupied, at least intermittently, from the Parthian period (3rd century B.C.–3rd century A.D.) to the Muzaffarid period (13th-14th century A.D.). The major occupation, including the extensive fortress, dates to the Late Sasanian period (6th-7th century A.D.).

Sasanian Die Period Sasanian Date ca 3rd7th century AD Geography Iran Qasr i Abu Nasr Near Shiraz 1

OPPORTUNITY Project

OPPORTUNITY: fostering social inclusion and gender equality in formal and nonformal educational contexts through applying traditional sports and games
Start: 01-01-2021 - End: 31-12-2023
Project Reference: 622100-EPP-1-2020-1-ES-SPO-SCP
Programme: Erasmus+
Key Action: Sport
Action Type: Collaborative Partnerships
Partners: National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC). Spain (Coordinator); University of Lleida (UdL). Spain; Asociación de Disminuidos Psíquicos “La paz” (ADISPAZ). Spain; University of Coimbra (UC). Portugal - Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education; Associazione Giochi Antichi (AGA). Italy; Croatian Traditional Games and Sports Association (CTSGA). Croatia; Institute for the Development of Sport and Education (IRSiE). Poland; Tunisian Association for the Safeguarding of Heritage Games and Sports (ATSJSP). Tunisia; European Traditional Sports and Games Association (AEJeST/ETSGA). France

OPPORTUNITY Partners

The project OPPORTUNITY is an initiative of nine organizations representing different sectors (sport, culture and education) aimed at fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality within physical activity via TSG scenarios. Within the project implementation, Project Partners plan to develop a Practical Interventional Methodology including six scenarios of applying TSG as a tool of fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality within formal and nonformal education environments. The Methodology will be disseminated via developed Massive Open Online Course for sport coaches and educators and tested within implementation of TSG Pilot Inclusive actions in seven countries. Social impact of the project will be evaluated and validated by academic project partners and supported by developed digital tool (Mobile App) for collecting evidence and its preliminary analysis. Developed and validated Methodology can be used further by any sport or educational organization interested in applying TSG as a tool for fostering social inclusion and gender equality.

By achieving this aim, the project will contribute in delivering:
- A new Practical Interventional Methodology of applying TSG for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality within six interventional scenarios. The Methodology will be tested in different European countries.

-Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “TSG as a tool for fostering social inclusion and gender equality” in English, Spanish and French languages.

- A pool of 1400 sport coaches, physical education teachers, undergraduate students of physical activity and education faculties, educators across Europe, trained on the new Practical Intervention Methodology via MOOC.

- A set of indicators (social inclusion and gender equality index) that assess the impact of the project Practical Intervention Methodology on beneficiaries.

- An Evaluation App for measuring the impact of Practical Intervention Methodology.

- A group of 2150 beneficiaries male and female participants of TSG Pilot Inclusive Actions with and without intellectual disabilities) with improved index of social inclusion and gender equality. Around 30% of them are participants with intellectual disabilites. Between 40 and 60% of the total number of beneficiaries are female participants.

- Networking, sharing best practices and knowledge generation among local, national and international organizations promoting TSG as a tool for social inclusion. At least 65 new organizations commit with OPPORTUNITY vision and goals.

- Around 60 sport organizations and 60 educational institutions across Europe, interested in TSG as sport and social practice, will be involved into implementation of TSG Pilot Inclusive actions.

- Informal international community of practice (peer-learning online platform) built by at least 1400 sport coaches, physical education teachers, students of physical activity and education faculties, volunteers and other professionals, interested in TSG as a practical tool for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equallity.

- Practical recommendations for application of TSG methodology into educational sport practice, based on evidence collected within implementation of pilot project activities.

The project creates the opportunity for organizations, representing different sectors (sport, culture and education) to strengthen their joint efforts, aimed on fostering social inclusion and gender equality within physical activity via TSG scenarios by implementing the following set of project objectives:
1. To compile good practices on:
- Applying TSG as a tool for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality in different contexts of learning,
- Existing educational modules and courses about TSG, its nature, educational potential and impact on fostering social inclusion and gender equality,
- Existing tools for measuring impact of TSG on fostering social inclusion and gender equality.

2. To develop Practical Intervention Methodology of applying TSG for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality.

3. To develop an online course (MOOC) for physical education teachers and sport coaches (professionals and students) with a set of recommendations on application of TSG and measuring its impact for fostering social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and gender equality.

4. To implement TSG Pilot Inclusive Actions, that will be implemented by educational institutions (schools, universities, non-formal education entities) and sport organizations in cooperation with centres and associations working with people with intellectual Disabilities and for gender equality within formal and nonformal learning contexts.

5. To develop a digital tool (mobile application) for measuring impact of TSG activities on fostering social inclusion and gender equality:
- To define set of indicators,
- To develop app for recollecting evidence-based data,
- To implement evidence-based data analysis.

6. To promote Networking and peer learning opportunities among specialists and institutions applying TSG as a tool for fostering social inclusion and gender equality.

Therefore, the project creates three main opportunities for organizations and professionals willing to apply TSG as a tool for social inclusion and gender equality:
- TO LEARN about the inclusive character of TSG and its methodology via the Handbook, the MOOC and the online community of practice;
- TO ACT applying TSG inclusive methodology within Pilot Inclusive and Gender Equality Actions;
- TO ANALYSE the impact of TSG Pilot Inclusive and Gender Equality Actions using APP, developed within the project.

OPPORTUNITY objectives

Foot Ball, Kingston-upon-Thames, Shrove Tuesday, Feb. 24th, 1846

Foot Ball, Kingston-upon-Thames, Shrove Tuesday, Feb. 24th, 1846

Ten Giant Warriors

Ten Giant Warriors. Wood Carving of Angampora, the Wrestling-Based Traditional Martial Art of Sri Lanka. (Embekka Devalaya Temple, Sri Lanka)

Ruslan C Pashayev - Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling

Special Thanks To:
My Dear Friends Mr. Sergey Kuzmin of Russia, Mr. Alexey Kostyrev of Latvia, Mr. Gernot Freiberger of Austria and Mr. Cay Fabian of Germany.

 

Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling

Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling was a professional wrestling (circus wrestling) style which in the second half of the XIX century was popular all around the Continental Europe, especially in Russia and Germany.

In the early 1880s this wrestling style was brought to Russia. At first by the troupes of traveling German pro-wrestling performers; in Russian towns at the folk festivals and fairs they challenged local men to a wrestling match in this style for prize-money. Later this wrestling style was taught as the “Russo-Swiss Wrestling” at the Athletic and Cycling Club of Dr. Wladislaw Krajewski aka Vladislav von Krajewski (1841-1901) in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire. The Polish native Krajewski also founded the St. Petersburg Amateur Weightlifting Society in 1885, and occupied a very prestigious position of the physician to the Czar (Emperor) of Russia. In Russia Krajewski is still remembered as the "The Father of Modern Athletics".

The professional belt wrestling matches were regularly performed in Russian circuses as a part of the wrestling entertainment, it was a first Russian Pro Wrestling. In Russia this style of wrestling was seen as an ultimate feat of strength, and was strongly associated with the weight-lifters and circus’ strongmen, it was a powerful men wrestling style. All the best Russian Graeco-Roman (French wrestling style) wrestlers had Russo-Swiss belt wrestling background. The best Russo-Swiss belt-wrestler of Russian Empire was Ivan Poddubny.

Around the world this style of wrestling was known under the different names. In German speaking countries it was known as the “Schweizer Gürtel – Ringkampf” (Swiss Belt Wrestling), in the United States, Canada and Australia as the “Swiss Belt Wrestling”, in England as the “Russian Strap Style”. Among the prominent practitioners of this style in the 1800s was German pro-wrestler Emil Voss of Stettin, Pomerania (back then German Empire, now Szczecin, Poland) who popularized this style of wrestling everywhere in the world.

Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling was an equal fixed hold standing (upright) wrestling. The “crosswise” or above and under holds (right hand over and left hand under) were taken of the two handles attached to the thick leathern belts buckled about the waist of wrestlers. In the front of the belt there were two additional straps attached to it, those straps were tightened around the wrestlers’ legs in the crotch area and buckled to the back side of the belt. It was done to prevent the belt from shifting.

The objective of the match was to throw opponent flat on his back (two shoulder blades touching the ground simultaneously) with or without attacker falling himself. In this style no use of legs or feet for throwing was allowed. The matches were played 2 out of 3 falls. The main techniques of that style were: lifting adversary off his feet and taking him down on his back, or throwing him over the head, or pulling him towards yourself and capsizing him, or simply swaying and swinging opponent from side to side and trying to unbalance him thus causing a fall. The weight of wrestler and his physical strength were decisive factors for winning those contests.

Until now the origin of the Russo-Swiss belt wrestling was obscure. This style of wrestling definitely was not a traditional Russian folk wrestling style but rather a German import, first of all because of the unusual design of the belt (harness-type belt with two handles on the sides) that was unknown in Russian Empire before the arrival of German pro wrestlers.

Russian, Ukrainian and Belarus people in fact did have a traditional belt-wrestling styles of their own. It was called “на поясках“ (in Russian) or “за пояски, поясна боротьба“ (in Ukrainian) and “за паясы“ (in Belarusian) but in those folk wrestling styles the use of legs and feet for throwing was not strictly prohibited and often in order to win the match it was not necessary to put your opponent on his shoulder blades; the matches were decided on “first down to lose” conditions.

Also despite being often called a “Swiss style”, Russo-Swiss Belt Wrestling was unknown in Switzerland either where other two traditional wrestling styles were historically practiced (Schwingen and Suisse Lutte Libre - Swiss freestyle wrestling).

During my intense studies of the various wrestling styles and exercises which were taught in the German Gymnastic Societies, GGS (Turnverein, Turners) in XIX century I came across a book called “Turnschule für die deutsche Iugend” by Dr. Otto Heinrich Jaeger which was published in Leipzig, Germany in 1864.

The “Der Ringkampf” (Wrestling) chapter from that book (which starts on Page 212) provides a detailed description of two kinds of the GGS Ringgurt (ring-strap) wrestling exercises. The picture of the original GGS Ringgurt appears in another book by O. H. Jaeger called “Neue Turnschule” in Chapter “Das Ringspiel” on Page 175 (Stuttgart, 1891 edition). The GGS Ringgurt was a harness-type belt, the two rings attached to it were designed to be worn by the wrestlers around their thighs that prevented belt from shifting during the contest, and taking holds of the rings was allowed in one of the exercises.

The aforementioned two wrestling exercises were described as such:

1. fixed crosswise hold of the belt and of the ring around the thigh; the goal was to unbalance the opponent by lifting and swinging him from side to side

2. fixed crosswise hold of the belt only; the goal was to throw opponent flat on his back, both his buttocks and shoulder blades should be on the ground at the same time (fair back fall)

In that chapter is also mentioned the GGS Back-hold wrestling exercise, it was also a fixed crosswise hold around the body (trunk); the goal was to give opponent a fair back fall.

In all those exercises the fixed hold was performed crosswise (right hand outside/over and left hand inside/under) and no use of legs and feet for throwing allowed. According to the old Germanic wrestling traditions only wrestling with Arms and Hands/Arm-Ringen, Body/Leib-Ringen, and Hips/Hüft-Ringen was considered true and fair trial of strength and skill.

All those three GGS wrestling exercises had their origin in traditional folk wrestling styles of ancient Germanic people, namely breeches-hold (Hosen-Ringen), belt-hold (Gürtel-Ringen), and back-hold (aka Bären-Griff/bear-grip, or Bauern-Griff/farmer-grip) styles.

It appears to me that the original GGS belt wrestling style/exercise (which was taught by the GGS wrestling instructors at least since 1860s if not earlier than that) was at first learned and adopted by the contemporary German pro wrestlers and then turned into a completely new pro wrestling style which they called with a fancy name of “Schweizer Gürtel – Ringkampf.” At some point before 1880 the original GGS Ringgurt was modified by pro wrestlers, the unnecessary thigh-rings were removed from it (since it was a belt-hold only style) and instead the extra crotch-straps were added to it, that made the belt design perfectly suiting the conditions of the game. It was traveling German pro wrestling pioneers who exhibited their Schweizer Gürtel – Ringkampf in different European countries and even on all continents including America.

I summarize my article with this statement - the Russo-Swiss belt wrestling originated from the mentioned above GGS belt-hold wrestling exercise.

The original paragraphs (in German) from “Turnschule für die deutsche Iugend” about the Ringgurt and Back-hold wrestling exercises will follow this article.

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Turnschule für die deutsche Iugend, als Anweisung für die Turnlehrer in Württemberg bearbeitet von Dr. Otto Heinrich Jaeger, vormals a.o. Professor der praktischen Philosophie und Pädagogik an der Hochschule Zürich, derzeit Lehrer an der Turnschule in Stuttgart, Leipzig, 1864.

Gymnastics school for the German youth, as an instruction for the gym instructor in Württemberg, edited by Dr. Otto Heinrich Jaeger, formerly Professor of practical Philosophy and Education at the University of Zurich, currently teacher at the gymnastics school in Stuttgart, Leipzig, 1864

The Articles 6, 7 and 8 on the GGS Belt-Wrestling and Back-Hold Wrestling exercises. Pages 219-220.

„Der jeweils in der Verbindung von Ziehen und Schieben liegende Kampf um den Stand mit Griff links (rechts) innen hinter Gegners Hüfte am Hauptgurt, rechte (links) außen an Gegners Schenkel am Ring; in Schrittstellung erst linksvor, dann je vom selben Paare sofort auch rechtsvor. Der fürss ziehen von Nr. 1 abgeschnallte Ring wird wieder angeschnallt, und beide Ringer ziehen den Ringgurt an, indem sie mit den Füßen in die Ringe schlüpfen und den Hauptgurt gleichmäßig fest um den Leib schnala len . Haben sie sich gefaßt, so legen sie sich mit den linken (rechten) Schultern an einander und suchen einander vom Plaße zu bringen , aufzuheben und herumzuschwingen . Wer den Andern in die Höhe bringt und hochhält und schwingt, hat gesiegt. Wäh rend aber ein Paar jdwingt, zieht das nächste die Ringgurte an und macht sich vollkommen schwingfertig.“

“The struggle for maintaining the standing (upright) position, with the grip on the left (right) inside behind the opponent's hip on the main belt, right (left) outside on the opponent's thigh on the ring; in-step position first left forward, then by the same pair immediately also right forward. The ring that has been unbuckled for pulling from exercise No. 1 is buckled up again, and both wrestlers tighten the ring belt by slipping their feet into the rings and buckling the main belt evenly around their bodies. Once they have composed themselves, they stand body to body, their left (right) shoulders met, and try to get each other off the ground, to pick them up and to swing around. Whoever lifts the other up, holds up and swings, has won. But while one pair is swinging, the next pulls on the ring-straps and gets completely ready to swing. "

“Ringen um Wurf mit gegebenen Griffen am Gurt, in Schrittstellung erst linksvor, dann je vom selben Paare sofort auch rechtsvor. Die Griffe werden aber an den Ringgurten genau genommen, wie bei 6; nur gilt es jeßt eben, den Gegner nicht nur zu schwingen, sondern im Schwunge auch so zu werfen , daß er auf Gesäß und Schulterblätter zu liegen kommt. Dabei gilt die Regel, daß im Ausholen zum Schwunge auch gefniet, hins hinwiederum mit der einen oder anderen Hand der Griff auch gewechselt und beliebig genommen werden darf.”

“Wrestling for a throw with holds applied to the belt, in-step position first left forward, then by the same pair immediately right forward. The holds are taken directly of the ring-straps, as with Article 6; But it is always important not only to swing the opponent, but also to throw him while swinging so that it comes down on the buttocks and shoulder blades. The rule here is that when backing out to swing, the grip can also be changed and taken at will with one hand or the other. “

“Ringen um Wurf mit gegebenen Griffen um den Leib, links (rechts) innen , rechts (links) außen , in Schrittstellung erst linksvor , dann je vom selben Paare sofort auch rechtsvor. Die Gegner liegen Leib an Leib, halten sich möglichst tief fest um schlungen, und suchen nun einander zu werfen, wie oben bei 7. Die Ringgurte sind dabei ausgezogen und bei Seite gethan.

„Wrestling for a throw with holds around the body, left (right) inside, right (left) outside, in-step position first left forward, then by the same pair immediately also right forward. The opponents stand body to body, hug each other as tightly as possible, and now try to throw each other, as in Article 7 above. The ring straps are pulled out and put to one side. “

Articles 678
© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Russo Swiss Reference

Russian Folk

swiss belt1

Swiss Wrestle

swiss belt 2

Russo Swiss Belt Wrestling Rules

Wrestling Belt

Wrestling Match 1

1912 Reference

Grtelringkampf

1902 Russian Wrestling in London

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Russo Swiss Belt Wrestling Belt Design

Schweizer Grtelringkampf

Ruslan C Pashayev - Ranggeln

Dear Friends,
I am happy to present the article on Ranggeln traditional style of wrestling from the 1908 book by Karl Adrian called "Salzburger Volksspiele Aufzüge und Tänze"

Beautiful pic and article in English to follow.
Source: "Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Austrians: Illustrated in Fifty Coloured Engravings, with Descriptions". Author: William Alexander, 1814
Enjoy the read.

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Tyrol Wrestler

DEVONSHIRE WRESTLERS

Devonshire Characters and Strange Events
by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924)
First published in 1908
Pages 514-528

 

WRESTLING was the favourite sport in former days in Devonshire and Cornwall.

Evelyn, in his Diary, speaks of Westcountrymen in London contesting in London against men of the North, and in all cases the former were the victors. And Ben Jonson, in his Bartholomew Fair, 1614, introduces a Western wrestler, who performed before the Lord Mayor of London.

If we may judge by As You Like It, wrestling in the Elizabethan period was a murderous sport. Charles, the wrestler, plays with an old man's three sons. "The eldest of the three wrestled with Charles—which Charles in a moment threw him, and broke three of his ribs, and there is little hope of life in him, so he served the second, and so the third." When Le Beau laments that Rosalind and Celia had not seen the sport, Touchstone wisely remarks, "Thus men grow wiser every day! It is the first time that ever I heard breaking of ribs was sport for ladies."

At Marytavy, in the churchyard, is the tombstone of John Hawkins, blacksmith, 1721:—

Here buried were some years before,
His two wives and five children more:
One Thomas named, whose fate was such
To lose his life by wrestling much.
Which may a warning be to all
How they into such pastimes fall.

There is a Cornish ballad of a wrestling match between Will Trefry and "Little Jan" that ends thus:—

Then with a desperate toss
Will showed the flying hoss,
And little Jan fell on the tan,
And never more he spake.
Oh! little Jan, alack!
The ladies say, O woe's the day
O little Jan, alack.

And it concludes with a verse stating that Little Jan was to have been married that day.

Of the "flying hoss" or "flying mare" more presently. The wrestling dress peculiar to the West Country consisted of breeches or trousers and a wrestling jacket, the only part of the dress by which a hold, or as it was technically called a hitch, could be got by the rules of the play. The jacket was short and loose, made of untearable linen stuff, and had short loose sleeves, reaching nearly to the wrist. Wrestlers wore nothing else, except worsted stockings, and in Devonshire shoes, soaked in bullock's blood and baked at a fire, making them hard as iron. Three men were appointed as sticklers to watch the players and act as umpires, and decide, in the case of a fall, whether it was fair back or not. For a fair back both shoulders and one hip must touch the ground at the same time, or both hips and one shoulder. Such a fall was called a Threepoint Fall.

The men having stepped into the ring, shook hands, and then separated, and the play began by trying for a hitch. This led to much dodging.

A player who gave his adversary a fall remained in the ring for the next antagonist, and when he had given two falls he was reckoned as a standard. Supposing there were twenty standards left in, the double play would begin by the sticklers matching them with each other, and ten would then be left for the treble play. The players would then be reduced to five, then to three, and finally the two best would be matched against one another.

The play in Devonshire and Cornwall was different in this, that in the former county there was kicking, but this was not allowed above the knee. In some cases skillibegs were worn in Devon, that is, haybands wound about the calves and shins as a protection. In the Cornish play there is hugging and heaving; in the Devonshire play, kicking and tripping. It might be thus defined: in Cornwall, the shoulders and arms were mainly relied on; in Devonshire, the legs.

A player, having got his hitch, would proceed to very close quarters, and taking his man round the body, not lower than the waist, would throw him over his shoulder, giving him the Flying Mare, and turning him over on his back when falling, give him the Back Fall.

Besides the Flying Mare, there was the Cross-buttock fall in shoulder play, the Back-heave, and others. In the leg play there were the Fore-lock, the Back-lock, Heaving-toe, Back-heel, and others. The Cornish player would, when he had secured his hitch, endeavour to drag his man in for the hug and the fling; whereas the Devonshire man would play for his hitch to keep him off, till he had disabled him.[1]

Sir Thomas Parkyns, about whom more in the sequel, thus describes the cast of the Flying Mare: "Take him by the right hand with your left, your palm being upwards as if you designed only to shake him by the hand in a friendly manner in the beginning, and twist it outwards, and lift it upwards to make way for your head, and put your head under his left armpit, and hold his head stiff backwards, to hold him out of his strength; then put your right arm up to the shoulder between his grainings, and let your hand appear behind, past his breech; but if you suspect they will cavil at that arm, as a breeching, lay your arm across his belly, and lift him up as high as your head, and in either hold, when so high, lean backwards and throw him over your head."

Sir Thomas insists that a good wrestler must be temperate. "Whoever would be a complete wrestler must avoid being overtaken in drink, which very much enervates, or, being in a passion at the sight of his adversary, or having received a fall, in such cases he is bereaved of his senses; not being master of himself is less of his art, but showeth too much play, or none at all, or either pulleth, kicketh, and ventureth beyond all reason and his judgment when himself."

Wrestling matches usually began at Whitsuntide, but were most in practice at the period between the hay and corn harvests, when the cereals were assuming a golden hue, and the orchards were bending under their burden of fruit. There was hardly a village in the West that did not offer a prize and enjoy the time-honoured spectacle of a game of wrestling. The prize was either a silver-plated belt or a gold-laced hat. The wearing of the latter was held to free the wearers from liability to be pressed for the Navy.

The wrestling ground was laid with tan. At Moreton Hampstead the games took place in the Sentry or Sanctuary field. At Sheepstor in the still well-preserved Bull-ring, and the spectators sat on the churchyard wall to watch the sport. At Liskeard, matches took place in the Ploy, or Play-field from Lady Day to Michaelmas.
In the kicking, usual in Devonshire play, the wrestler about to administer a kick had but one foot on the ground, and having an off-hitch was liable to be thrown by a quick player with a trip or a lock. The kick could be prevented by bending the knee so as to bring the heel up to the buttock, and projecting it, when the knee caught the administering player on the leg-bone above the knee with such force as to paralyse it for a while, and it has even been known to break it. This was entitled the stop.

Several of the Devonshire wrestlers became famous beyond the confines of the county; and matches between Devonians and Cornishmen were not uncommon; and the latter do not seem to have been at all afraid of the kick, for by closing on their antagonists for the hug, they could prevent them from kicking with toe or heel, at all events with full force.

Thorne was a man of Widdecombe-on-the-Moor, a man of splendid build and muscular development. He had made his name as a wrestler, when he was induced to join the Life Guards, and in the battle of Waterloo took part in the famous charge against the French cuirassiers; as he was cutting down his tenth victim a shot laid him low, at the age of twenty-three.

Then two young Devonian giants took the lead in the ring, Johnny Jordan and Flower, each six feet high and weighing a trifle over eighteen stone apiece. Jordan was a redoubted kicker, and the bravest wrestlers shrank from challenging him. On one occasion Flower and Jordan were opposed to one another, and after a struggle of seventeen minutes, Flower gave way.

In 1816, Flower was confronted with Polkinghorne, a St. Columb taverner, and the champion of Cornwall. The latter was too much for Flower, and he was thrown amidst enthusiastic cheering and hat-tossing and kerchief-waving of the Cornishmen.

THE WRESTLING CHAMPION OF ENGLAND Abraham CannTHE WRESTLING CHAMPION OF ENGLAND
ABRAHAM CANN

Jackman, another Devonshire man, confronted Polkinghorne next day, and he was cast over the head of the Cornubian, describing the "flying mare." William Wreford, at the age of eighteen, achieved reputation by throwing Jordan over his head with such force that Jordan came down with a "crash similar to that produced by felling an oak tree." But Wreford met his match in a wrestle with "the little Elephant," James Stone. Simultaneously the men grappled each other; and although Wreford had the advantage at the outset, he was hurled into the air, and fell with such violence on his back that for a time he was incapacitated from taking part in a similar contest. Eventually the return match came off at Southmolton, and Stone was again victorious. Nevertheless Wreford remained a prominent figure in the ring, and threw Francis Olver, a Cornishman, although he came out of the contest with several of his ribs crushed by the deadly "hug." But a greater than Wreford and Jordan arose in the person of Abraham Cann. He was born in December, 1794, and was the son of Robert Cann, a farmer and maltster at Colebrook. His father had been a wrestler before him, and Abraham inherited the old man's skill, and learned by his experience, and soon defeated Jordan, Flower, Wreford, Simon Webber, and other redoubtable Devon champions. He was above the middle height as a man, with long legs, and was endowed with surprising strength of limb. He was a kicker. Abraham had a brother James, also a well-known wrestler, but he did not acquire the celebrity of Abraham. In his later years he was an under-gamekeeper, respected for his fearlessness when poachers were to the fore.

There were other mighty men in the ring, as Bawden the Mole-catcher, and Frost, of Aveton Gifford; but these were no match for Cann.

At Totnes, in 1825, Jordan had thrown a fine player, of the name of Huxtable, in one minute, and the liveliest interest was felt in a match that was to be played between him and Abraham Cann, who boasted that he could kick to rags the legs of his antagonist in "vive minutes."

When his turn arrived Cann awaited Jordan in the ring, upright, undaunted, with a smile of conscious superiority on his face. Jordan eyed the tall, athletic, and muscular form of Abraham, and withdrew without trying for a hitch. This caused lively disappointment, and loud cries of anger broke forth. But Jordan felt that he was not in good form at the time. Two days later he was roughly handled by a young Cornishman named Hook, and was too much injured to resume the contest.

On 21 September, 1826, at the Eagle Tavern, City Road, London, Cann contended without shoes for the first prize with James Warren of Redruth, and although the latter made a gallant struggle and Cann was at a disadvantage playing without his proper and accustomed weapons, the indurated boots, Abraham Cann came off the victor.

He now challenged Polkinghorne, the champion of Cornwall. James Polkinghorne was 6 ft. 2 in. high, weighed 320 lb., and had not wrestled for some years, but had carried on business as landlord of the "Red Lion" in St. Columb Major. Cann was but 5 ft. 8 1/2 in. high, and weighed 175 lb. This match was for £200 a side, for the best of three back-falls; and it took place on Tamar Green, Morice Town, Plymouth, on 23 October, 1826, in presence of 17,000 spectators. According to some accounts, Abraham on this occasion was allowed only one shoe. There had been much previous correspondence between the champions; Polkinghorne had postponed meeting Cann as long as was possible.

Finally a meeting was arranged, as said, on the 23rd October, 1826.

"Tamar Green, Devonport, was chosen for this purpose, and the West was alive with speculation when it was known that the backers meant business. On the evening before the contest the town was inundated, and the resources of its hotels and inns were taxed to the utmost. Truculent and redoubtable gladiators flocked to the scene—kickers from Dartmoor, the recruiting-ground of the Devonshire system, and bear-like huggers from the land of Tre, Pol, and Pen—a wonderful company of tried and stalwart experts. Ten thousand persons bought tickets at a premium for seats, and the hills around swarmed with spectators. The excitement was at the highest possible pitch, and overwhelming volumes of cheering relieved the tension as the rivals entered the ring—Polkinghorne in his stockings, and Cann with a monstrous pair of shoes whose toes had been baked into flints. As the men peeled for action such a shout ascended as awed the nerves of all present. Polkinghorne had been discounted as fat and unwieldy, but the Devonians were dismayed to find that, great as was his girth, his arms were longer, and his shoulders immensely powerful. Three stone lighter in weight, Cann displayed a more sinewy form, and his figure was knit for strength, and as statuesquely proportioned. His grip, like Polkinghorne's, was well known. No man had ever shaken it off when once he had clinched; and each enjoyed a reputation for presence of mind and resource in extremity beyond those of other masters of the art. The match was for the best of three back-falls, the men to catch what hold they could; and two experts from each county were selected as sticklers. The feeling was in favour of Cann at the outset, but it receded as the Cornishman impressed the multitude with his muscular superiority. Repeatedly shifting their positions, the combatants sought their favourite ’holts.' As soon as Cann caught his adversary by the collar after a contending display of shifty and evasive form, Polkinghorne released himself by a feint; and, amid 'terrible shouts from the Cornishmen,' he drove his foe to his knees.

"Nothing daunted, the Devonian accepted the Cornish hug, and the efforts of the rivals were superb. Cann depended on his science to save him; but Polkinghorne gathered his head under his arm, and lifting him from the ground, threw him clean over his shoulder, and planted him upon his back. 'The very earth groaned with the uproar that followed; the Cornishmen jumped by hundreds into the ring; there they embraced their champion till he begged to be released; and, amid cheers and execrations, the fall was announced to have complied with the conditions. Bets to the amount of hundreds of pounds were decided by this event.’

"Polkinghorne now went to work with caution, and Cann was conscious that he had an awkward customer to tackle. After heavy kicking and attempted hugging, the Cornishman tried once more to lift his opponent; but Cann caught his opponent's leg in his descent, and threw him to the ground first. In the ensuing rounds both men played for wind. Polkinghorne was the more distressed, his knees quite raw with punishment, and the betting veered in Cann's favour. Then the play changed, and Cann was apparently at the mercy of his foe, when he upset Polkinghorne's balance by a consummate effort, and threw him on his back by sheer strength—the first that the sticklers allowed him. Cann next kicked tremendously; but, although the Cornishman suffered severely, he remained 'dead game,' and twice saved himself by falling on his chest.

"Disputes now disturbed the umpires, and their number was reduced to two. In the eighth round Polkinghorne's strength began to fail, and a dispute was improvised which occasioned another hour's delay. With wind regained and strength revived, the tenth round was contested with absolute fury; and, taking kicking with fine contempt, Polkinghorne gripped Cann with leonine majesty, lifted him from the earthin his arms, turned him over his head, and dashed him to the ground with stunning force. As the Cornishman dropped on his knee the fall was disputed, and the turn was disallowed. Polkinghorne then left the ring amid a mighty clamour, and, by reason of his default, the stakes were awarded to Cann. The victor emerged from the terrific hugs of his opponent with a mass of bruises, which proved that kicking was only one degree more effective than hugging.

"A more unsatisfactory issue could hardly have been conceived, and the rival backers forthwith endeavoured to arrange another encounter. Polkinghorne refused to meet Cann, however, unless he discarded his shoes."

Various devices were attempted to bring them together again, but they failed. Each had a wholesome dread of the other.

But Cann went on as a mighty wrestler. He tried a fall with "Irish Gaffney." It ended in Cann throwing Gaffney over his back and dislocating his left shoulder, besides cutting his shins to pieces with his boots.

His next famous encounter was with Frost, a moorman of Aveton Gifford, and after a most desperate contest, Cann landed him on his back.[2]

There were other mighty men of the ring, such as a blind wrestler mentioned in the ballad of "Dick Simmins." In Cornwall wrestling continues, especially at S. Columb and S. Austell, but in Devon it is extinct: it was thought brutal to hack the shins, and after the hobnailed boot, or boot hardened in blood and at the fire, was discarded, it lost its interest.

Sir Thomas Parkyns has been quoted. He published a curious work entitled The Inn Play, or Cornish Hugg Wrestler, and died in 1741. He was an enthusiast for the noble science—the Cornish, and not the Devonshire mode—and would only take into his service men who were good wrestlers. His coachman was one who had shown him the Flying Mare.

Sir Thomas, by his will, left a guinea to be wrestled for at Bradmore, Nottinghamshire, every Midsummer Day, and had his monument carved for him during his lifetime, representing him in wrestling costume, sculptured in marble by his chaplain, prepared for either the Cornish Hug or the Flying Mare. On one side is a well-limbed figure lying above the scythe of Time, the sun rising and shining on him as a wrestler in the prime of life; on the other side is the same figure stretched in a coffin, with Time triumphant above him brandishing his scythe, and the sun setting. There are Latin verses appended, that may be thus translated:—

Here lies, O Time! the victim of thy hand,
The noblest wrestler on the British strand,
His nervous arm each bold opposer quell'd,
In feats of strength by none but thee excell'd,
Till, springing up, at the last trumpet's call,
He conquers thee, who will have conquer'd all.

At the time of the European war, it sometimes happened that a wrestling match was interrupted in an unpleasant manner to some of the parties by the appearance on the scene of the press-gang. There is a favourite song relative to Dick Simmins, published in Mr. Collier's memoir of Hicks of Bodmin. I will give it here:—

Come Vaither, Mother and Brothers all,
And Zistur too, I pray,
I'll tell ee a power o' the strangest thing's
As happen'd to me at say.
I'll tell ee a parcel o' the strangest things
About the winds and tide,
How by compass us steer'd, and o' naught was afear'd,
An' a thousand things beside.

'Tes true I lived i' ole Plymouth town,
My trade it were ostling,
Dick Simmins and I went to Maker Green
To turn at wrasteling.
The prize o' buckskin breeches a pair,
And ne'er the wuss for wear,
Dick and I us tried two vails apiece,
The blind man got his share.

Bevoor the play was o'er half way,
'Tes true upon my word,
There came a set o' press-gang chaps
Each armed wi' stick and sword.
Dick Simmins swore a dreadful oath
I didn't like to hear,
But when King ca'd blind man a fule,
That—darn't—I couldn't bear.

I went to t' chap wi' upcock'd hat,
"No odds where you may be,
But if thou thinks thyself a man
Come wi'out the ring wi' me."
So he did stand, his sword in hand,
I knocked it from his hand,
Then three or vour gurt toads came up
And knocked me down on t' land.

Along came one of Plymouth town,
Prentice to Uncle Cross,
Wot run away 'bout a bastard child,
A terrible lad he wos.
Said he, "Don't sarve the young man so,
'Tes an onmanly thing;
Pick up the lad, put him on board
That he may sarve the King."

They took me up by neck and heels,
They dra'ed me to the boat,
The master came 'longside of me
Wi', "Send the lubber afloat."
They took me up by neck and heels,
They dra'ed me to the say,
But Providence a-ordered it
I shuldn't be killed that way.

They picked me out, put me aboard
A ship then in the Sound,
The waves and winds did blow and roar,
I thought I shu'd be drown'd.
Then one called " Tack!" another "Ship!"
A third cried "Helm a lee!"
Lor' bless'y, I dun knaw Tack from Ship,
An' Helm to me's Chinee.

The Master ordered I aloft,
'Twas blawin' cruel hard,
And there was three or vour gurt chaps
A grizzlin' in the yard.
When down came mast and down came yard,
Then down came I likewise.
Lor' bless'y! if the church tower vaall'd,
'Twouldn't make half the noise.

Some vaall'd o'erboard, and some on deck,
Some had a thundrin' thump,
The Master ordered all hands up
For pumpin' at the pump.
Us pumped at the pump, my boys,
And no one dared to squeak,
The Master ordered all below
To stop a thunderin' leak.

When us had stoppéd up that leak
A French ship us spied comin',
The Master orders all to fight
And the drummer to be drummin'.
So when the French ship came 'longside,
A broadside us let flee,
Lor' bless'y! what for smoke and vire
Us couldn't smell nor see.
The Master wi' his cocked-up hat
He flourishéd his sword,
Wi' "Come and follow me, brave boys,
I warn't we'll try to board."
I vollowed he thro' thick and thin,
Tho' bless'y I culdn't see'n;
The gurt French chap was on to he
Wi' sword both long" and keen.

I rinn'd up to the Master's help,
I niver rinn'd no vaster,
I zed unto the gurt French chap,
"Now don't ee hurt the Master!"
Then "Wee, wee, wee, parlez vous Frenchee!"
He zed—I reck'n he cuss'd—
But "Darny," sez I, "if that's your game,
I reck'n I must kill ee fust."

The Master jumped 'bout the French ship
And tore down all her colours,
And us jumped 'bout the French ship, too,
A whoppin' them foreign fellers.
As for the chap as Master threat'n'd
I beat that Parley-vous,
From the niddick down his lanky back,
Till he squeaked out "Mortbleu!"

Now here's a lesson to volks ashore,
And sich as ostlers be,
Don't never say Die, and Tain't my trade,
But listen, and mark of me.
There's nobody knaws wot ee can do,
Till tried—now trust me well,
Why—us wos ostlers and ort beside,
Yet kicked the Frenchies to——Torpoint.

Carew gives us an account of the way in which wrestling was conducted in the West of England in the days of Charles I. "The beholders cast or form themselves into a ring, in the empty space whereof the two champions step forth, stripped into their dublets and hosen, and untrussed, that they may so the better command the use of their lymmes; and first, shaking hands, in token of friendship, they fall presently to the effects of anger; for each striveth how to take hold of the other with his best advantage, and to bear his adverse party downe; whereas, whosoever overthroweth his mate, in such sort, as that either his backe, or the one shoulder, and contrary heele do touch the ground, is accounted to give the fall. If he be only endangered, and makes a narrow escape, it is called a foyle."

He then adds: "This pastime also hath his laws, for instance; of taking hold above the girdle—wearing a girdle to take hold by—playing three pulls for trial of the mastery, the fall-giver to be exempted from playing again with the taker, but bound to answer his successor. Silver prizes for this and other activities, were wont to be carried about, by certain circumforanei, or set up at bride-ales, but time or their abuse hath now worn them out of use." Double play was when two who had flung the rest contested at the close for the prize.

If wrestling was declining in Carew's time, it certainly revived in vigour in the reign of Charles II, and continued till the beginning of the nineteenth century, when again it declined, and is now in Devon a thing of the past.

Blackmore has given an excellent description of a Devonshire wrestling match in his early novel of Clara Vaughan.

1. ↑ See W. F. Collier, " Wrestling," in the Cornish Magazine, Vol. I, 1898.
2. ↑ For a full account, most graphically written, and from which I have quoted, see Mr. Whitfeld's Plymouth and Devonport, in War and Peace, Plymouth, 1900; also the Sporting Magazine for 1826-7; the Annual Register, 1826.

Buzkashi competition, January 31,2021

01/31/2021 Buzkashi competition in Balkh province, Mazar Sharif, Bozkshi Square, Azadi Town, Afghanistan.
National Buzkashi and Local Sports Federation, Afghanistan is a member of the Traditional Sports Partners Team. It's great that we can work together to promote Buzkashi.

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Iván Sánchez Monroy, Saving the Legacy: The Prehispanic Ballgame

SAVING THE LEGACY: THE PREHISPANIC BALLGAME

Arturo Iván Sánchez Monroy
Archeologist from the National School of Anthropology and History from Mexico
Member of Mexican Federation of Traditional Sports and Games.

In recent years, the practice of a sport that has its origins more than 3000 years ago has caused interest in several groups of enthusiastic young people in Mexico; it is the ball game, today called Ulama.
Its main characteristic, which is at the same time its greatest attraction, is that it is played by hitting a rubber ball that ranges from 3 to 5 kg and in its most popular version, this hit is made exclusively with the hip (in the other two, people uses the forearm or a mallet) and some records such as ceramic figures found in the area of El Opeño, in the state of Nayarit, show that it was not an exclusive practice of men, but also women played it.

Brenda okadka

The beginnings of the Ulama date back, according to the most recent archaeological studies, to approximately 1650 BC, in the Paso de la Amada region in the Mexican state of Chiapas. There, archaeologists found the remains of what would be the first space built for their practice, the oldest court so far.
Another important discovery about the age of the game is the one made in 1988 in the Manatí region, in the state of Veracruz. There, along with some offerings, rubber balls were found with which the game is carried out, as well as other elements related to it. All this material was dated to 1100 BC, during the preclassic period of Mesoamerica.
The courts in which it was practiced had different shapes, since some have the shape of an "I", others the shape of a joined double "T"; on some occasions they were closed at all four ends while on others one or two of their edges were open. However, the most common pattern in them is the presence of a deck in the lower part, a slope with a variable inclination and height in the middle and another deck in the upper part.

IMG 20151219 154110

It was during the Mayan apogee in the classical period that different figures began to appear on the upper part of the slopes, such as bird heads, which serve as markers and which will continue to be appreciated until the epiclassic period in courts such as that of Xochicalco in the state of Morelos. These markers later gave way to the rings, sculptures that were placed in the middle of the slopes and in their highest part. Many of them were decorated with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures, various symbols and calendar dates, and a few were simply plain.

The largest court that is registered today is the one located in Chichen Itzá, in the state of Yucatán. Its measurements are 120 by 30 meters. In contrast, the smallest field is located in Cantona, in the state of Puebla and measures 14 by 6 meters.
This game is recorded as something more than a simple sport, but as a very important ritual since in the various cultures that inhabited the Mesoamerican region (made up of Mexico and part of Central America) it is part of their mythology.
An example of this is found in the Mayan culture, who developed in the south of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, because according to the Popol Vuh, the main book that tells their myths of origin, the sun and the moon are two brothers Hun Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué, who earned their place in the sky after defeating the gods of the Mayan underworld one by one in various ball game encounters.

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The Aztecs, correctly called Mexica, used it in different ways, either as part of a divinatory ritual dedicated to specific gods or ceremonies, in some occasions for recreational purposes and in some cases, as an alternative to avoid war (in those cases, the governor became one more player, making a greater effort because the game was inclined in favor of his cause), and it is precisely of this culture that we have more records, since the Spanish conquerors kept in their chronicles the record of all the activities they saw when they arrived in the new world, including the ball game.
It is from these writings that a few rules that applied to the game are known, such as the one that mentions that the game ends if any player managed to pass the hoop with the ball.
According to oral tradition, it is also from this culture that its current name comes from, since the Mexica called the game Tlachtli or Ulamaliztli; however, and over the years, this last name was gradually deformed and shortened to give way to the name by which it is known today: Ulama
For the Spanish, the ball game was such a spectacular event that Hernán Cortés took a couple of players from the state of Tlaxcala in 1528 to demonstrate in front of King Charles V and Pope Clement VII. This moment was recorded by the artist Christoph Weiditz, who made an illustration of that presentation annexing his interpretation: “In this way the Indians play with the inflated ball, with their backside, without touching it with their hands, on the ground; they also have a hard leather on the butt, so that it receives the blow of the ball, they also wear a leather glove"
Unfortunately, its spectacularity was not enough to save it from the judgment of the Holy Inquisition, as it was consider a blasphemous exercise that only heretics practiced.

Weiditz

It was thus that after several years of tolerating its practice, it was banned by Fray Fray Juan de Torquemada a few years after the conquest in order to facilitate the work of evangelization of the natives, being destroyed the vast majority of the fields used to play it.
However, and in an effort to preserve it, the game continued to be played secretly from the friars and the Spaniards; its rules changed as well as the places where it was practiced. The large courts were exchanged for areas of land hidden among the planting bushes and it was no longer practiced in the big cities to be played in small towns far away from the conquerors. All this while in New Spain (as Mexico was called during the colonial era) the new religion, customs and traditions made the people forget, step by step, the practices of the past.
There is little information about the game in those centuries, and it was after the independence being consummated on 1821 when some news talked about that in the north of Mexico, more specifically in the region of Sinaloa, a game of pre-Hispanic reminiscences was played and was called Ulama.
It is well into the twentieth century when news of it are heard again, since in the mid-1930s the Mexican government again tried to ban it, this time considering it absorbing and dangerous, this being a low blow that would cause the game to be losing players until in the mid-80s it was close to disappearance due to lack of practitioners, to which the local government created programs that motivated its return to practice among the descendants of those players of yesteryear.
That is why in 2010, the document that declares Ulama as Cultural Patrimony of the State of Sinaloa was created, serving this to promote its practice again, this time in more regions.
Currently Ulama is already played in more than half of the states of Mexico and also in some regions of Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. The number of practitioners increases every day and for most of them, this is a great opportunity to connect with their roots, learn about their history and be part of social groups within their communities and live with other people outside their environment, all this without neglecting that this game It is also an excellent physical activity that encourages sports and healthy coexistence among its practitioners since, being in the process of growth, it also allows new players to have enough time to familiarize themselves with the rules and techniques and obtain a good competitive level.
At the end, and all of them seek a common goal, not only that the game does not disappear, but also to return the greatness and importance that it had more than 500 years ago.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
Mc Kenzie Satterfield A., The assimilation of the marvelous other: Reading Christoph Weiditz’sTrachtenbuch (1529) as an ethnographic document, Department of Art and Art History, College of Visual and Performing Arts, University of South Florida, 2007
De la Garza Mercedes, El juego de pelota según las fuentes escritas, Arqueología Mexicana 44, pp. 50-53, 2000
Whittington E. Michael, The sport of life and death. The mesoamerican ballgame, Ed. Mint Museum of Art, 2002
Sahagún Fray Bernardino, Historia General de las cosas de la Nueva España, Ed. Porrúa, 1956

DOVER'S MEETING - WHITSUN SPORTS

DOVER'S MEETING.-WHITSUN SPORTS.
(To the Editor of the Mirror.)

The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Volume 7 Edited by John Timbs, London, 1828 Pages 354-355

Sir in the No. CXCVII. of the MIRROR I was much pleased to see a slight notice taken of the games practised on the Coteswold Hills, especially of Dover's Meeting, of which you seem uncertain whether it is still kept up; I assure you it is, and although it is not countenanced by persons of such rank and consequence as it was some half century ago, it is still a great holiday for all the lads and lasses within 10 or 15 miles of the place, and is attended by great numbers of gentry and people of respectability in the neighbourhood. Being a native of the Coteswold Hills where these games are practised, I feel happy in giving you an account of them, as I have with thousands more spent many a happy hour there. Dover's Hill (so called from a Mr. Robert Dover, who instituted those games about the year 1600) is about half a mile from Chipping Campden, and a mile and a half north of the London and Worcester road, it may very properly be called a second Olympus; on the top of the hill is a beautiful level turf about a mile and a half long from north to south, and half a mile from east to west. In walking across the hill towards the west, you seem to be going over an interminable space bounded only by the horizon, when on a sudden you come to the brink of a very steep precipice, and one of the finest views in the world bursts upon the sight; nearly the whole of the counties of Worcester, Gloucester, Warwick, and Hereford lie spread before you like a carpet, and on a clear day some of the mountains in Wales may be distinctly seen; on the south, Brecon and the Malvern mountains cut a fine figure in this beautiful landscape. Many, a pleasant hour have I spent on Dover's Hill (when a schoolboy in the neighbourhood) it was a favourite amusement of mine to sit on the brink of the precipice, yiewing the beautiful scenery, and counting the spires that shoot up among the trees, even now “When I think on boyhood’s glowing years, How soft how sweet the scene appears; How calm, how cloudless pass'd away, The long, long, summer holiday.” At the southern extremity of the hill is a thick wood, called Weston Park; under the shade of the trees on the borders of this wood the booths are built, and the principal sports are carried on, (on the Thursday and Friday in Whitsun-week) they consist of single-stick, (in Gloucestershire called backsword) wrestling, running, jingling, morris-dancing, and other sports of a minor importance. On Friday the sports conclude with a horse-race for £50. Backsword is looked upon by the cockneys, and those living in counties where it is rarely practised, as a most barbarous and bloodthirsty piece of business; but I think there is no game that shows the courage, hardihood, and manliness of the British character like it : on Dover’s Hill, it is practised in its greatest perfection, I have seen two scientific men play nearly an hour and a half before one could break the other's head, and when it was over, it could not be seen that more than one blow had been struck on either side. Certainly when two novices contend it is thrashing work, and the blows fall heavily, then they are not obliged to enter the ring, but there it is they show their courage. There are generally about twelve couple play at backsword, the prize is a guinea each couple, eighteen shillings goes to the victor and three shillings to the vanquished. The prize for wrestling is a handsome silver cup, and is generally contested be. tween the lads of two rival villages, great numbers of musical gipsies attend, who strike up some lively airs, while the flymphs and swains foot it not exactly on the Tlight fantastic toe. The morris dancers are not like what I saw in the London streets a few days back—country fellows in their dirty working dresses scratching the pavement to pieces, but they are spruce lads sprigged up in their Sunday clothes, with ribbons round their hats and arms, and bells on their legs; they are attended by a jester called the Tom Fool. He carries a large stick with a bladder tied to one end, with which he buffets about and makes room for the dancers; one of the finest looking fellows among them is generally selected to carry a large plum cake with a long sword run through the middle of it, the cake resting on the hilt, on the point of the sword is a large bunch of ribbons with about a dozen streamers flying, of divers colours, a large knife is stuck in the cake, and when the young man who carries it sees a favourite lass or any one that is rather bountiful towards them he treats them with a slice. Jingling is by about eight men entering a large ring all blindfolded but one, who has bells in his hands which he keeps ringing and running about the ring, if he is caught within a certain time by one of the others who is blindfolded, the man that catches him gains the prize, but if he escapes them all till the time is expired, he wins the prize. I believe those sports are partly supported by subscription, and partly by a sum of money that was bequeathed for the purpose. That they are very ancient may be adduced from its being asserted in an old work which I have read, that the immortal Shakespeare was sometimes a spectator of those games (being celebrated about ten miles from the place of his nativity) and that many of the scenes in his comedies were taken from Dover's meeting, especially the wrestling scene in As you like it. I am certain if any of our rigid mirth-destroying moralists, possessing the least sensibility or liberality of feeling towards the youth of both sexes, were to witness the innocent mirth and happy countenances at Dover's meeting, and at our country wakes and revels they would not strive as they do to the utmost of their power to cramp the amusements of the humbler classes, but would regret with every generous mind that the old English pastimes are so much upon the decline. At Dover's meeting there is no bull-baiting, badger-baiting, or any cruel diversion whatever allowed, unless horseracing may be considered so, everythin is conducted with the greatest order and decorum. I am afraid, Mr. Editor, I am encroaching too much, therefore I'll subscribe myself your humble servant, A REAL LOVER OF OLD ENGLISH May 30, 1826. PASTIMES.

Bagchal from Nepal

Bagchal is probably the most popular traditional board game from Nepal. Bagchal literally means "Tiger's Move" in Nepali. Four tigers and 20 goats compete to win the game. Tigers want to hunt all goats; goats want to trap all the tigers.

Ruslan C Pashayev, Devon Style of Wrestling

Dear Friends,
I am happy to present a 1822 "Sporting Magazine" article about the traditional Devon Style of Wrestling called "Wrestling In The West".
Enjoy the read.

Sources: :"Sporting Magazine Or, Monthly Calendar of the Transactions of the Turf, the Chase and Every Other Diversion Interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprize, and Spirit" Volume 9, 1822, Pages 161-164

Thanks.
Ruslan C Pashayev

Devon1

Devon2

Devon3

Boxer at rest

‘Boxer at Rest’ - a rare Hellenistic bronze sculpture from 330 BC to 50 BC.
The bronze statue of the Pugile delle Terme or Pugile del Quirinale, is a 128 cm high Greek sculpture, attributed to Lisippo or his circle. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of Hellenistic bronze sculptures, due to its realism, and the vivid emotions that it displays.
He is an athlete in a moment of rest that powerfully transmits all the effort of the fight; the realism of the scars on the face, the flattened nasal septum and the ears deformed by the blows suffered in who knows how many fights (this man was almost certainly deaf from the trauma suffered) tell the story of the hard life of the Pankration wrestlers. The statue, found at the foot of the Quirinale in 1885, was probably part of the thermal complex of Constantine, was intentionally and carefully taken in and placed on a large capital. Some parts are shiny, a sign of the contact of the hands that for centuries have shown devotion for this Hercules bent by fatigue and suffering, but superhuman, and therefore revered as a God.

Ruslan C Pashayev, Traditional Wrestling Games in West Flanders

Special Thanks To:
Hannelore Franck of Yper Museum, Geert Souvereyns of Musea Brugge, Bernard Pauwels of Kortrijk Erfgoed en Musea, Stephane Debonne, Claude Vandewoestyne of Stedelijke Oudheidkundige Commissie Wervik – Geluwe, the staff of Kortrijk 1302 Museum, Wervik, Beernem and Geluwe Libraries and to my dear friends Bernard Vandamme of Bruges (Belgium) and Paul Lengkeek of Utrecht (Netherlands).

 

Laat Ons Ne Keer Ommeleggerke Doen, Durf-je?
Let’s Try A Fall (Wrestle), Would You Dare?
Traditional Wrestling Games in West Flanders (Belgium).

 

In his “Canterbury Tales”, the Father of English literature Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) calls the Flemish knight Sir Thopas of Poperinge (West Flanders, Belgium) an undefeated wrestler: “In wrestling, there was no one his peer.” Why did the author choose a Flemish man to idolize? This is explained by the fact that in Medieval Europe the Flemings were well known for their strength and skill in the ancient art of their traditional freestyle wrestling which featured wrestling on the ground and had no restrictions regarding the holds.

According to the 1905 “Children’s Games in the Flemish Belgium” a book which was released by the Royal Flemish Academy of Language and Literature there were two kinds of traditional free-for-all wrestling games (Vechten, Man Tegen Man, aka Worstelen/Worstelinge, Lijf Tegen Lijf which is a kind of wrestling combat in which everything is allowed but without intentionally hurting each other) in the rural areas of West Flanders, Belgium (the “Land of Chaucer’s Sir Thopas”).

1) Ommeleggen. In the 1892 “Westvlaamsch Idioticon” the word “Ommeleggen” is defined as such “Omkeeren en nederleggen langs den grond”, which means “to flip over (to turn around, to turn upside down) and lay down on the ground.” Ommeleggen was a standing (upright) wrestling style in which to win the wrestler had to give his opponent a “complete somersault” on his back (a throw in which “heels go over the head”, and back of the head and neck, and the shoulders come to the ground first) with or without falling down himself. The modern international wrestling terminology refers to such falls as the grand amplitude throws, or the five-point throws.

In this mode of wrestling lifting and throwing techniques played the decisive role. The most commonly used throwing techniques were:

a) Buttocks/Throws over the back (for example headlock into buttock throw) and Crossbuttocks/Throws over the hip (arm-swing hold, headlock/arm around the neck hold, arm around the waist hold),
b) Flying Horse/Fireman Lift,
c) Standing Half-Nelson and Crotch (flip over the head),
d) Flying Mare/Throw over the shoulder,
e) Bear-hug Lift (hold around the waist) which is followed by having opponent on the shoulder and throwing him backwards over his head,

as well as various spectacular pro-wrestling kind of throws such as the “Monkey Flip” (flip over the head, upper arms hold and foot is placed against the abdomen), “Back Body Drop” (flip over the head, hold behind the knees and head is placed between the legs).

The execution of such powerful and artistic throws required certain mastery, deep knowledge and understanding of the game of wrestling which could only be achieved in regular training. This style was a very dangerous form of wrestling and often the outcome of such contests were serious injuries or even the death of one of the participants due to spinal fractures sustained by the wrestlers who landed badly on their backs or heads.

2) Haantje Spelen (Cockfighting Game), an up and down wrestling in which to win the wrestler had at first to take his opponent down, and achieve the “on top” position either by landing on top of him or by placing him on his back during the struggle on the ground, after that he had to maintain this dominant uppermost position (his opponent is underneath him on his back) on the ground for 3 (three) minutes.

Haantje Spelen wrestling game was very similar to the Dutch folk wrestling style called Stoeijen (modern spelling Stoeien). According to the information kindly presented by Mr. Paul Lengkeek the Chairman of the KNKF (Koninklijke Nederlandse Krachtsport en Fitnessfederatie/Royal Dutch Strength Sport and Fitness Federation) the rules of Stoeien wrestling which were passed down through generations as an oral tradition didn’t change much over the centuries. The upper body techniques, grabbing legs and tripping is allowed. The joint-locks and chokes are prohibited due to the jocose nature of the contests (vechten/worstelen uit de grap). The objective is to pin the opponent down with his back flat on the ground until a verbal submission (“Genade – “Mercy” or “Ik geef me over” – “I surrender”).

The wrestling game (stoei) called Ondergooi which was popular among the Dutch people of South Africa (Boers) was similar to Flemish game Haantje Spelen. The description of that game was given by Ernst Jacobus du Plessis in his book called Gister Keer Terug (Return of Yesterday), 1994 and it also appeared in Tydskrif vir volkskunde en volkstaal (Journal of Folklore and Vernacular), Volumes 46-49, 1990. In that game two boys were taking holds of each other and then by using various feinting maneuvers trying to take the opponent down, get on top of him and manage to maintain the uppermost position for as long as possible.

Traditionally the challenge matches in both styles were held in the field in a circle formed by villagers who would cheer their champions on and bet on the winner. The wrestlers were referred to as “fighters” – vechters and the challenge matches were to determine who is the “better man” (probeeren wie het sterkst is). Both games were still played by the local men in the XIX century.

According to the article written in the 1920s and called “Een Wrongsje Maken” (“Making A Curd”), by Edward Vermeulen (1861-1934) of Hooglede (West Flanders, Belgium), which gives a great account of the Ommeleggen wrestling match from the 1870s-90s, in the local slang this kind of wrestling was referred to as – making the curd. This descriptive expression stood for the vigorous up and down stirring movement which is required in making the curd, just like in the real wrestling match when the bodies of the two are intensely intertwined. The author claims that the best fighters came from the vicinity of Houthulst (West Flanders, Belgium), especially from the village of Klerken.

The original articles (in Flemish) from the 1905 book on Flemish children’s games and the English translation thereof will follow this article. These articles provide an expressive, vivid description of the two traditional Flemish wrestling styles.

A painting created by the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance genius artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569) in 1560 titled “Children's Games” depicts Haantje Spelen wrestling among other games which were popular in Flanders during the Middle Ages. It shows two men grappling with each other on the ground, one trying to maintain the dominant uppermost position utilizing a basic pro wrestling pin the Cover (lateral or cross press). Another famous painting by an artist of the same school called Jan Gossaert (1478–1532), the 1523 “Hercules Wrestling With Antaeus”, shows the Ommeleggen throw which in this case is the most classic pro wrestling Crotch Hold and Bodyslam.

Flemish Wrestling Games

Notably, in the XIV century both Flemish wrestling games were brought to the Salford and Blackburn Hundreds of Lancashire County, England by the Flemish immigrants who were invited to England by King Edward III (1312-1377), who was married to Princess Philippa of Hainault with Flemish ancestry since 1328. Arrival of the Flemings largely influenced the growth and rise of the textile industry in that region of England. The textile workers from Flanders (aka Flemish weavers) at first settled in the vicinity of the town of Bolton, Lancs, that happened in 1337.

Thus for a very long time in East Lancashire Flemish Haantje Spelen wrestling game was known as the “Bolton Method”, or “feightin after the Lancashire fashion, up and down feightin”. Just like in Medieval Flanders in East Lancashire the wrestlers were often called “fighters”, or to be more precise the “up and down fighters.”

On the coat of arms for the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, we still see the “Black Lion of Flanders” as one of the shield supporters. The heraldic lion holds a banner with an image of a shuttle on it which represented the weaving industry.

Flanders and Bolton

In 1363 the community of Flemish weavers was established in the city of Manchester, Lancs. Even in the early 1850s in England outside East Lancashire the Lancashire style of wrestling was still known as the “Manchester wrostlin.”

Flemish Weavers in Manchester

For centuries Lancashire wrestling just like its direct ancestor Flemish freestyle wrestling existed in two modes: standing (upright) wrestling for a throw (“Well, awl just have thee one thrut/throw for love”, 1827 wrestling challenge in Crompton, Borough of Oldham, Lancs), and up and down wrestling for dominance and control on the ground (“There’s not a man in the room who can hold me down on the floor for five minutes”, 1836 wrestling challenge at the “Golden Lion” pub, Middle Hillgate, Stockport, historically in Cheshire, now in Greater Manchester).

In the first half of the XIX century these two wrestling games were united into one wrestling style - the Lancashire catch-as-catch-can wrestling - which is an up and down freestyle wrestling for the fair back fall. According to the first official written ruleset of Lancashire catch-as-catch-can issued in 1856 by the proprietor of Snipe Inn Grounds (Audenshaw, Lancs), Mr. Nelson Warren, the fair back fall was defined as “two shoulders striking the ground together (simultaneously) no matter how quickly it may occur (even for a brief instant) to the satisfaction of the referee.” The modern international wrestling terminology refers to such falls as the touch-falls.

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Koninklijke Vlaamsche Academie voor Taal- en Letterkunde

KINDERSPELEN UIT VLAAMSCH BELGIE

Gent, 1905

Ommeleggen, Game № 81 (Pages 64-65)

Pier is een kloeke, streusche jongen, die vóór en na de school menigen maat, in het zand heeft doen bijten. Jan is van eenen en denzelfden deeg gekneed. Elk loft en stoft op zijne macht en vechterskracht. Wij zullen eens meten wie dat er de meeste macht heeft, zeggen ze alzoo, en ze vliegen malkaar in 't haar en werken en wroeten, elk van zijnen kant, om den tegenstrever «omme te leggen», d. i. op den grond te werpen ; alles in vriendschap en minne, zonder nijd of veete, zonder malkaar pijn te doen, zuiver uit leute, om te weten wie meest macht heeft. Men stekt (1) malkaar bij het hoofd, bij de schouders, in de lenden; men werkt met handen en voeten, met hoofd en armen en beenen ; men plooit en wordt geplooid; dwingt en wordt gedwongen; men krult en wringt, men zwoegt en pijnt, totdat een der twee op den grond ligt uitgestrekt en overwonnen is. Onnoodig te zeggen, dat de andere kinders eenen juichenden en joelenden kring vormen rond de «ommeleggers», welke ze met woorden en gebaren ophitsen.

Te Gheluwe : «Ommeleggerke doen ».

(1) Stekken = vast nemen.

Pier is a stout, sturdy boy, who before and after school made many of his mates bite the dust in wrestling matches. Jan, on the other hand, has been cast in the same mould. Both are always bluffing and boasting about their physical strength, and fighting capabilities. “Let us meet and arrange a contest to see who is the strongest”, they say. Immediately they attack one another and wrestle hard, trying to flip the other over on his back i.e. to throw him on the ground; all in a friendly way of course; without hatred or malice, without hurting each other. They grasp each other by the head, the shoulders, in the loins area. They are working with their hands and feet, with head and arms and legs, they force, push, even wrap themselves round the other, leaning over, pulling backward and forward, toiling and paining one another until one of them is lying stretched out on the ground and is defeated. It is needless to say that the other children, the bystanders, make a circle around the fighters and tease them gesticulating, cheering, screaming and roaring.

Haantje spelen, Game № 15 (Page 14)

«Haantje spelen» is eenvoudiglijk eene nabootsing van de welgekende hanegevechten of hanekampen. De knapen staan in eene ronde. Twee van hen kiezen hunne vechters uit. Deze dragen in 't spel den naam van «hanen»; zij treden in den kring, en man tegen man vechtende, trachten ze malkaar «omme te leggen (zie dit spel). De «vechter» die drie minuten onder ligt, is verloren. Evenals op de peerdeloopen en de hanekampen, wordt er op de «vechters» in den kring door de omstaande kinders gewed.

This game (Haantje spelen) is simply an imitation of the well-known game of “cockfighting”. The boys are making a circle. Two of them are selected to be the fighters. They are the “cocks”. They enter the ring and in a man-to-man fight they try to throw the other on his back (see Ommeleggen game). The one who is kept underneath on his back for 3 minutes loses the game. Like in horse-racing and cock- fighting, the bystanders can bet on one of the fighters.

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Article’s Cover Image: Stained Glass window depicting the Flemish Lion and the text Vlaanderen (Flanders) in the Cathedral of Saint Bavo in Ghent Flanders Belgium, XVI c.

Ruslan C Pashayev - Wrestling For The Boar’s Head. 1800’s Hornchurch, Essex, England.

Wrestling For The Boar’s Head. 1800’s Hornchurch, Essex, England.

Foreword.

This article is dedicated to my dear friend, the four-time British Heavyweight Pro Wrestling Champion, Mr. Tony St. Clair.

Dear Friends,
I am happy to share materials from my “English Folk Wrestling Collection” related to the old English Christmas tradition of having an annual knock-out wrestling tournament with the prize of a boar’s head. That Medieval custom survived till the XIX century and was still actively practiced in the village of Hornchurch, Essex till 1869. Unfortunately, the newspaper reports and the memoirs of the witnesses (both these credible evidences will follow the foreword) of those wrestling matches don’t provide details regarding the style of wrestling which was practiced by the local peasants. But most likely it was old English “Hugg Wrastelynge” a folkstyle wrestling of Norse Viking & Norman origin and which was commonly known in Britain as the “Cornish Hug” trial of strength. Below I am giving the “Rules of The Hugg Wrastelynge”.

THE TABLE BOOK; BY WILLIAM HONE.
VOLUME I. WITH SEVENTY ENGRAVINGS, 1827
Pages 501-502.

“The Cornish hug is a tremendous struggle for victory. Both grasp alike, and not much science is required. It only takes place where each conceives himself to be the stronger of the two. It is either right or left. If right, each man has his right hand on the other's loins on the left side, and his left hand on the right shoulder; they stand face to face, and each strives to draw his adversary towards him, and grasp him round the waist, till the hug becomes close, and the weakest man is forced backward - the other falling heavily upon him. This is a very sure and hard fall”. By Sam Sam's Son, October 8, 1827.

There’s a chance that the “Hornchurch Wrestling” could have been less peaceful traditional English “Coler Wrastelynge” with its tripping and brutal shin kicking. The beautiful 1400s watching loft’s wood carving from the St. Alban's Cathedral and Abbey Church at St. Albans in the neighbor Hertfordshire shows such wrestling match between the two local peasants.

Enjoy the read.
Thanks, Ruslan C Pashayev.

© 2020 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

1842 Hornchurch Winner James Kent

Boars Head 1

English Hug

Boars Head Wrossle

Hornchurch Wrestling

Hugg Wrestlers

Medieval English Wrestling

St Albans and hearts

trophy boars head

Roots of Modern Wrestling

THE ROOTS OF MODERN WRESTLING

 

Evolution of the Catch-Hold Wrestling on the Continent.
Folk wrestling styles of Frankish heritage.

By Ruslan C Pashayev

Frankish Wrestling Chart 18062020

There has always been a great deal of discussion about the origins and evolution of the modern internationally recognized wrestling styles such as Graeco-Roman, Freestyle and Pro wrestling. The certainty regarding the historical interrelationship between those wrestling styles (if there was such of course) was never fully established.

My fifteen-year long studies of the Western European Catch-Hold styles of wrestling which resulted in the book “The Story of Catch” helped me to answer the question regarding the interrelationship between modern wrestling styles for myself. Based on the factual historical material which I have collected, documented and thoroughly studied I came to a certain conclusion that all three mentioned above wrestling styles share historical and ethnic background. I trace the origin of modern wrestling to the Frankish folk wrestling traditions. The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes that was originally composed of a mix of groups settled between the Rhine and the Weser Rivers and whose name was first mentioned in 3rd century Roman sources. Throughout the Middle Ages the wrestling styles of the Franks were mainly practiced by the French, German and Dutch/Flemish people.

The core of the Frankish wrestling customs was that it was a catch-hold style of wrestling and it featured wrestling on the ground. Another important details was that according to the Frankish traditions the use of legs and feet for throwing (hooking and tripping respectively) wasn’t favored and often wasn’t even considered as a “fair wrestling” and instead the “only true wrestling” was fought utilizing the strength of hands, arms, torso, hips, buttocks and back. By any other word the “Lift and Throw” techniques dominated wrestling styles of ancient Franks and the “noble art of tripping” which was a key wrestling skill in let’s say English traditional wrestling styles was neglected. The falls (preferably falls on the back, or even fair back falls) given from the standing position all were quick flying falls.

The strongest men preferred competing in a standing position with only catch-holds above the waist being allowed. They thought that those who do consider themselves to be the strongest in order to throw a man don’t need holds below the waist, hooking, tripping nor they need wrestling on the ground.

But if the Frankish men decided to compete on a “free-for-all” conditions (catch-as-catch-can, or catch-holds of any part of the person’s body being allowed) then back fall (or a fall) wasn’t enough to win the struggle and the victor had to continue the match on the ground until his adversary quits any resistance and verbally confesses his defeat because of being “captured” (restrained in the movement and kept underneath).

Historically, according to the Western European tradition the game of wrestling was always about giving falls – throwing/taking an opponent down off his feet on his back (flying falls), or any part of his body above the knees, meaning that it was a standing wrestling.

That wasn’t an easy goal to accomplish and over the course of time this objection was simplified and the system of substituting one back fall with 3 foils (fall on any part of the body) was introduced in England and to some extent on the Continent.

This definitely put an end to the so-called “disputed falls”, which was a major issue in the standing wrestling contests for a very long time. But this innovation didn’t really fix the whole situation because under the conditions of flying falls being allowed which remained unchanged, wrestling still wasn’t a safe game, due to the nature of those falls which were violent and usually caused multiple injuries and even death.

That led to the evolution of the perception and understanding of the throw/fall itself. At some point in history the principle of ”throwing” on the back was replaced with a more progressive idea of placing on the back, pressing shoulders down, and maintaining this submissive position for certain amount of time. That was achievable only when both wrestlers were down on the ground. That is how the pinning fall was invented.

This revolutionary introduction was the birth of a new Western European tradition of ground wrestling which found its climax in the concept of a pinning fall being the only true real fall. The game is over when it’s over and one of the two is kept immovable flat on his back (controlling).

But even after the popularization of pinfalls the flying falls weren’t abolished and were still widely practiced and even preferred, it was happening first of all because of the strong association between the terms of “wrestling” and “throwing.” For centuries wrestling was thought of as throwing.

With introduction of the ground wrestling another kind of quick fall was invented the rolling fall. For a very long time in the modern styles of wrestling (amateur and pro) all three kinds of back falls (flying, rolling and pinning) were considered legit.

Jacob and Angel

The given chart shows comparative analyses of three Western European catch-hold wrestling styles of the Frankish heritage: Lutte Provencales (France), Ringen (Germany) and Worstelen (Netherlands/Flanders). Each of those extinct wrestling styles existed in two modes:

1) The standing catch-hold above the waist (use of legs and feet for throwing being prohibited)

2) The up and down catch-as-catch-can

The objective in the former style was to give opponent a quick (flying) fall from a standing position with or without attacker falling himself; such fall was either a fair back fall (two shoulders striking the ground simultaneously), or a fall on the back side of the body (including or being limited to buttocks, back, shoulders, neck), or a fall on any part of the adversary’s body except hands, knees and feet.

In the latter style the goal was to overcome opponent on the ground, and submit him into a verbal acknowledgement of his defeat by placing him flat on his back and keeping him “captured” underneath in the restricted immovable position.

In France the Lutte Provencales was still around even in the 1860s until it was completely replaced with the modern French or Graeco-Roman style aka the “flat hand” wrestling (la lutte à main plates), That newborn style was an evolved combination of both Provencal modes of wrestling (Lucho de la centure en aut and Lucho Libro). The Graeco-Roman wrestling was an up and down catch-hold above the waist, use of legs and feet for throwing being not allowed. The objective was to give opponent a fair back fall. Originally all kinds of such falls counted, i.e. flying, rolling and pinning. Now this style of wrestling is one of the two international Olympic wrestling styles.

Meanwhile, in Germany since early 1800s and throughout the whole XIX century the evolved and refined variation of the Bauern-Art Ringen Rangeln (wrestling after the peasants fashion) folk wrestling style was taught at the German Gymnastic Societies (GGS). That style of wrestling was known as a Free Wrestling (Kür-Ringen). The objective in that style was to give opponent a fair back fall. Originally all kinds of such falls counted, i.e. flying, rolling and pinning. GGS or Turners popularized their style of wrestling in England as well as in the North America. Nowadays the evolved version of the GGS style of wrestling is known as Freestyle and is the second of the two international Olympic wrestling styles.

The earliest known immigration of the Flemish textile workers (aka Flemish weavers) to East Lancashire, England goes back to the 1300s. They brought to their new place their traditional rough-and-tumble wrestling style called the Stoeijen which over the time evolved there into the professional Lancashire up and down wrestling/fighting, a combative style which predated Lancashire catch-as-catch-can wrestling. In the XVI-XVII centuries French and German “weaving” Protestants who along with the Flemish fled religious persecutions on the Continent brought their old Frankish catch-hold wrestling customs to East Lancashire and West Yorkshire where they merged with the traditional English catch-hold wrestling style and over the course of centuries this combination evolved there into a new culturally unique style of wrestling the Lancashire Catch-as-catch-can. This style went through the various stages of evolution and gave birth to the modern day pro wrestling (catch) as well as it strongly influenced the current international Freestyle wrestling and different grappling styles.

Pieter van Lint

Ruslan C Pashayev - The rules of the traditional Austrian Ranggeln Wrestling competitions from the 1870s

Dear Friends, I am happy to present this historical document which contains very important information regarding the rules of the traditional Austrian Ranggeln Wrestling competitions from the 1870s. The document is an extract from the story called “Der Kernschuss” written by Dr. A. Silberstein. The language of the document is German. Enjoy the read! Thanks. Ruslan C Pashayev

Verlag von Leopold Sommer & Comp. in Wien.
Desterreichischer Wolkekalender 1875.

Zur Geschichte: „Der Kernschuss“ von August Silberstein.

Einunddreißigster Jahrgang des Österreichischen Vortskalender:
Pulksbud zur Unterhaltung und Belehrung.

Gegründet und herausgegeben von Leopold Sommer.

Redigiert: 1845 bis 1857 von Dr. J. N. Vogl (gestorben 1866).

Die Jahrgänge 1858 u. s. w. redigiert von Dr. August Silberstein. Wien.

Der Kernschuss.
Eine Geschichte aus den Alpen von August Silberstein.

“Bis zu einem St. Jacobstage vor zwei Jahren waren sie es. Da galt's auf die Spielwiese zu ziehen und zu rangeln . Die Burschen und Männer, welche fich mit Kraft brüsten, sollten zeigen wer der Stärkere ! Das ist ein Spiel und ernstlich Thun zum Aufmerken aller Leute ringsumher! Männer, welche ein reichlicht Gehöft und eine Alm mit nicht kleinem Viehstand haben, schämen sich nicht, ihren Burschen aufzumußen, wenn er gerade einer ist , der fich im Rangeln (Ringen) zeigen könnte. Sie haben vielleicht selbst einmal mitgethan und waren eines Jahres Hagmaier – das heißt Burschen- Oberhaupt für’s Jahr. Vielleicht ist jener Alte dort auch einmal mit strammen Sehnen und nerviger Faust hinübergegangen in’s nächste Dorf oder Chal und hat gerungen zum Jubel der Seinen und zum Aerger der von einem Fremden von drüben Besiegten. Kann ein Bursche sich mit Ringen und Rangeln zeigen, so thut er es sicherlich. Er läßt sich weder den Rang ablaufen , noch das Rangeln abkanfen und ab wehren. Von allen Seiten ziehen sie herbei zum grünen Plaß, wo gerangelt wird, Alt und Jung. Mannleut und Weibeleut' . Es war auch an jenem St. Jakobstag so. Der Loni hatte schon am St. Johannitag beim Sonnenwendfeuer nächst dem See und als die Flammen von oben sich in dem glatten und klaren Wasser spiegelten , gerangelt. Da hatte er es einem kräftigen Burschen abgewonnen . Das war aber nur nebenhin. Zufällig und gerade zu Spiel und Kurzweil bei dem Feuerräderwälzen , Holzschüren und Pechfaßbrennen. Der Sieger that sich zu gute darauf und nicht wenig . Die lustige Gesellschaft feierte ihn , und der Gegner hatte nach kräftigster Gegenwehr doch die Beine in die Lüfte gestreckt, während die Schulterblätter und der ganze Rücken auf dem Boden fast dumpfen Hall gaben. Da dúnkte Sich Loni, als ob er das Thal zu eigen hätte ! Aber am spätern St. Jakobstage sollte sich’8 nochmals zeigen. Das Rangeln war beschlossen, und ehe Einer an Loni herankommen durfte, mußte dieser die Courage haben und einen noch nicht Besiegten oder ehemal fiegbaften Burs schen fragen : Was kost' dein' Feder? So schritt eines Abends der Zieler - Franzl vom Felde heim. Er war ein lustiger Bursche, wenn's Lustig keit galt; sonst aber stil , fest bei der Arbeit und kein Anbahnler, fein Raufer und muthwilliger Rangler. Er hatte sich schon auf manchen Fleck gestellt und den Gegner gelupft, geschußt , daß dieser auf dem Rücken lag nach Regel und Recht, dean Franz war ein kräftiger Bursch und mußte, da er's konnte, sich zuweilen sehen lassen. Er dachte nicht daran, zunächst mitzuthun.”

“Die beiden Männer, die Rangler, die mit einem ausges stemmten Knie, an den Leib gedrückten Ellbogen und ausge breiteten Fingern gestanden, jeder als wäre er nureine eiserne Sprungfeder, dienoch einen Augenblick mit all ihrer furchts baren Schnellgewalt am Boden haftet ... stürzen fich einander entgegen ... fie prallen an, daßman die Brustkörbe und Knos chen förmlich dumpf hallen hört ... und jeßt sind die Armewie Schlangen bald dort, bald da. Die Finger drücken wie Sisen klammern in des Gegners Arme und Handknöchel, da löft sich eine Umschlingung, dort wird eine gemacht. Die Ober leiber schwanken undwiegen, neigen und beugen sich hers über, hinüver, die Füße stehen wie Eisenpfeiler auf dem Boden ... und Keiner hat den Andern noch um eines Haares Breite vom Grunde gehoben.
Die Gesichter und Hälse find roth, förmlich blutig unterlaufen , die Adern an dem False des Loni gleichen blauen Strähnen, die darüber, längs desselben liegen, und die Augen funkeln, treten beinahe aus ihren Höhlen, das Weiß erscheint völlig zweimal so groß und weit. Schlagen, in's Fleisch kneifen und derlei , darf Keiner ; im Augenblicke würden die Altermänner Halt gebieten und dem unrechten Kampfe sofort ein Ende machen. Jebt hat Loni des Franzls Hosengurt erwischt, er krampft seine Fäufte ein und hält das Leder mit seinen zehn Fingerzangen ...ein Augenblick noch und er wird den Franz beben. ... da stößt dieser den einen Ellbogen durch Lonis gebogenen Arm und reißt den festhaltenden Mann mit diesem Rud um feine Achse herum. Er muß nun nachgeben. Dabei sucht Franzl auch nach Loni's Gurt, der zu solchem Zwed doppelt fest ist, und es gelingt ihm in diesem Augenblide, was er früher vergeblich angestrebt, seine beiden Hände einzuklammern.

Jeßt haben sie sich , fie müssen einen Augenblick ver schnaufen, fie halten sich förmlich Brust an Brust, und ein wenig gekreuzt. Man sieht förmlich die kräftigen Brust körbe fich Eeben und senken vom Athem . Ein gutes Auge merkt die Hemdfalten förmlich beben , sich schütteln vom gewaltigen Herzschlage. Der ganze Leib eines Jeden ist in Aufregung und dennoch in besonnenster überwachter Hal tung. Sie drüden sich nun mit den Oberleibern hin und her , sie müssen vom Flede herüber , hinüber ... ießt versucht Franz plößlich einen Anstoß, vergeblich, Loni deos gleichen, einen zweiten rasch darauf ... aber er beugt den Franzl ...dieser drückt schon den Fuß nieder ... er wird im nächsten Augenblice liegen ... nein, er drückt und stößt förmlich empor, der loni muß noch einmal weichen, ja , der Gegenstoß ist so gewaltig, daß Loni wieder vom Flede muß und zu ziehen beginnt. Sie drehen sich um sich selbst, um den Schwung zur eigenen Kraft zu gesellen. Ihr Glück, ihr Geschick, ihre Stärke wechseln sichtbar megre Male. Da benüßt Franžl den Augenblic, in welchem loni eine Kniebeuge zum Werfen stemmend macht ... redt fich empor und läßt sein ganzes Gewicht auf den Gegner förm lich fallen ... dieser wird erschüttert ... Franzl drückt ... und läßt nicht nach, es ist, als ob ein Zittern durch seinen Körper ginge und er denselben vergrößern, bis zum Zerbersten spannen würde, loni ist nach rückwärts gebeugt ... einen Augenblid noch, Franzl reißt mit einer geschic ten Fußwendung Loni's Fuß von der Erde, dieser - stürzt dumpf baut die Grasflåde ...er liegt ! Ju ! juh ! schreit es aus der Menge. Loni jedoch läßt nicht nad ... er ist eingekrampft mit seinen Fäusten , er zieht den Obern an fich ... er läßt fich nicht fällen. Die Männer eilen hinzu, um die Beiden zu lösen . Während sie hinzueilen , steht Loni wieder, denn er hat sich an dem nicht Gesunkenen unlöslich geklammert und so emporziehen lassen, indem er mit einem Beine sich süßend entgegenhob. Die Männer erklären ihn für besiegt. Ja, ja, so ist’s ! schrien Viele. Zornglühend, schäumend war er, er wollte es nicht gelten lassen. Ein gewaltiger Lärm erhob sich nun. Der Kreis schloß sich enger und dichter. Die Disputirenden überschrien fich. Die Weiber nahmen Partei und Freischten darein , mit: unter schrill und keifend. Die Kinder mengten ihre grellen Stimmen in den Lärm . Man jab viele Hände in den Lüften, viel Plagwechseln der einzelnen Erregten . Fast Ale, wenigstens die meisten nahmen Partei für Franz. Loni segte Fehler auseinander, er wäre unrichtig behandelt worden und nicht zuerst gelegen, nicht ganz mit dem Rücken. Er besiegt!“

Er wollt's nicht haben und gelten lassen. Geht's noch einmal, so will ich Euch den Rechten zeigen ! rief er. Mich vom Franz so werfen lassen, das gibt's nit ! Noch einmal recht und richtig, wenn Du Kus rasche bast ! Franz ! schwieg. Er sah ruhig und ernst, nicht hochmüthig und freudig d'rein . » Muß es sein ? sagte er. Esmuß nit sein , sagte Der, welcher das Zeichen gegeben, »wir halten zu Dir. Aber wenn Du magst ... Einen Augenblick folgte Stille. Franz schrie nun auf : Aber gleich ! Gleich ! sagte Loni wild, fast röchelnd. Der Schneider fing zu knallen an und hätte bei einem Haar den Rücken des Loni mit der langen Peitsche getroffen. Da standen die Kämpfer sich schon gegenüber. Sie warteten nicht erst ein Zeichen ab. Sie sahen sich bereits an wie die erzärnten Hähne, glutängig wie solche, roth wie deren Kämme.

Sie drangen auf einander los. Die Blicke und die Uebung hatten ihnen gesagt, der erste Griff gelte den Hüften . . . sie hatten sich da schon im Nu ... sie stampf ten den Boden, sie gerrten, sie drüdten ... Alles ging jeßt viel rascher, viel wilder, wie mit entfesselten Mäch ten. — Loni's Wildheit beraubte ihn des ruhigen, sichern Waltens ... der kühlere Franz merkte dessen Schwächen und Fehler ... er lupfte ihn ... er schußte ihn zum zweiten Male, als der entgleitete Fuß Boden suchte ... er hatte ihn ... ein Ruck , ein Heben ... er schleuderte sich selbst mit der geschleuderten Last cin wenig zur Seite ... und jeßt hatte sie den Grund verloren ... drehte fich auf einer Ferse schwach einen Augenblik ... Loni lank... Loni fiel dumpf und der ganzen Länge nach rüdlings zu Boden. Juhe ! und Hurrah ! und Lärmen und Soben und Dreinstürzen der Bauern, die selbst schon ganz kampfbe rauscht schienen ! Es war entschieden, Franzl hatte den lonigeschußt, gelupft Franzl hieß der Sieger und Hagmaier!“

© 2021 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Wrestling in the Salzburg Mountains, Ruslan C Pashayev

Wrestling in the Salzburg Mountains

(THE OLD RULES OF RANGGELN WRESTLING)

 

Special thanks to my dear friends Rosi Hörhager, Günther Heim and Eva-Maria Schweiger.

Foreword by Ruslan C Pashayev

Though practiced in the various parts of the Alpine region (such as South Tyrol, North Tyrol, East Tyrol, Upper Carinthia, Salzburg, in the Bavarian Oberland and in Chiemgau), the Province of Salzburg is considered the home of the traditional wrestling style which is known as Ranggeln. The great arena for this sport is the principal valley of Land Salzburg, the Salzachthal, whose upper part is called Ober Pinzgau and Unter Pinzgau. In that beautiful place wrestling contests have been held for centuries, for in a XIV century chronicle there is a mention of the famous Pinzgau wrestlers. The splendidly muscular and brawny fellows, the peasants from the neighborhood of Zell am See are particularly fond of Ranggeln.

Today I am happy to share my most recent discoveries related to the old rules of the Austrian traditional style of Ranggeln wrestling. The original text of the reference material is in German. According to the presented document historically there were two distinct forms of folk freestyle wrestling (loose wrestling) in Salzburg: Ranggeln (Wrestling) and Stieren (Bulls).

In the former style of wrestling (Ranggeln) the objection was to overcome the opponent twice in the match which consisted of three bouts by throwing him down and keeping him underneath until he admits his defeat verbally by saying “I give up”, then the winner had to let him get up. The decisive final stage of these contests was wrestling par terre/on the ground. Only the fair wrestling grips were allowed, and such brutal acts as “kicking, striking and throttling” were strictly forbidden. That was done for the purpose of not turning wrestling match into the Raufen (all-in wrestling or fighting) match.

And in the latter style (Stieren) the objection was to give opponent a fall on his back from the standing position by throwing him backwards “heels over head” in imitation of the wild bull’s attack. This required enormous strength and skill and was accompanied by the considerable danger for the loser of the match who could suffer the broken legs, arms or even neck. The popular throws in that particular style were: head between legs, lift and throw backwards (the actual Stieren), Kreuzwurf (Fireman’s Lift), Bear-Hug lift and throw (Heaving), and Hufen (throw over the hip or Cross-Buttock).

Dear Friends, Enjoy the read!

Tiroler Volkstypen, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sitten und Kleinindustrie in den Alpen

By Ludwig von Hörmann, 1877, Pages 14-17

“Für weit größeren Ruhm aber gilt es, sich im eigentlichen Robeln oder Rangkeln (von Rank, ranggen, sich strecken, wenden, krümmen) hervorzuthun. Es ist dies ein förmliches Ringen, wobei ein Gegner den andern zu Boden zu werfen und unter sich zu erhalten sucht. Und zwar muß dies dem Betreffenden im dreimaligen Gange wenigstens zweimal ge
lingen, ehe er als Sieger anerkannt wird. Liegt Einer, so fragt der Obenliegende: „Gibst di'?“ Die Antwort ist ent weder: „I' gib mi'“ oder „I' gib mi' nit“. „Nu! Nacher wehrst Di'“, ruft dann der Andere und die Balgerei geht von Neuem los. Sagt aber der Untenliegende: „La' mi' geh'n“, so erklärt er sich damit für besiegt und der Andere muß ihn aufstehen lassen.

Gefährlicher als das eigentliche Rangkeln ist das so genannte Stieren, das besonders in Jochberg und am Hundsstein in Pinzgau am Jakobitag geübt wurde. Man sucht den Gegner an den Armen zu fassen und mit einem kräftigen Schwung über den Kopf zu schleudern, so daß er auf den Rücken zu liegen kommt. Der Andere, der sich bei dieser Procedur niederläßt und meist selbst fällt, springt schnell auf. Ist der Angreifer ein kleiner, aber gedrungener Mann, so springt er dem Gegner mit dem Kopf zwischen die Füße und wirft ihn so über sich. Diese Variation des Robelns, deren Name von der Kampfweise des Stieres genommen ist, ist begreiflicherweise sehr gefährlich, und mancher hat sich hiebei schon Hals und Bein gebrochen.

Das Gleiche gilt vom Hufen oder Hüefen, so genannt von der Hüfte, weil man hiebei den Gegner über die rechte oder linke Hüfte hinauswirft, und zwar mit einer Hand. Man sucht demselben nämlich mittelst des sogenannten Kreuzsprung es mit der einen Hand über's Kreuz unter die Achsel zu kommen. Daher muß der Angegriffene die Arme fest schließen und an die Brust drücken, was oft etwas sagen will; denn der Angreifer faßt oft den Arm des Andern und preßt ihn so mit der Hand, daß er den „Kram“ (Krampf) kriegt. Freilich muß er bei diesem Bestreben, dem Gegner die Arme vom Leibe zu bringen und ihm unter die Achsel zu kommen, selbst auf der Hut sein, daß der so Angegriffene nicht einen günstigen Moment erspäht und dem Andern das Schicksal bereitet, was er ihm zugedacht hat, d. h. ihn „huft“. Es kommt hiebei, wie leicht denkbar, vor züglich auf Kraft an. Sind beide Kämpfer gleich stark, so bricht leicht ein Arm.

Alle diese genannten Arten des Rangkelns gehen übrigens bei einem Ringkampfe ineinander über und kommen bald die eine oder andere, bald alle zur Ausführung. Ehe die Gegner „zusammenschießen“, werden alle nur möglichen „Finten“ und „Faxen“ gemacht. Mancher schleicht wie eine Katze um den beobachtenden Gegner, neckt ihn und ermattet ihn durch Scheinangriffe, bis er end lich mit einem blitzschnellen Sprung ihn faßt, dreht oder hebt und „schmeißt“. Einige haben den Vortheil, daß sie während des Falles obenauf kommen und Sieger werden. Ein Anderer fingirt sogar ein Stolpern, um den Gegner zu täuschen und aus seiner zuwartenden Stellung zu locken, be sonders wenn Letzterer eine schwerwiegende Herkulesgestalt ist, die sich mehr auf Kraft und erdrückendes Gewicht, denn auf Beweglichkeit und Raschheit verlassen muß*).

Die Robler sind nur in Hemd und Hose. Hut und Joppe wird beim Ringspiel weggeworfen. Oft binden sie sich noch Sacktücher unten um die Hose, um dem Gegner weniger Fassung zu geben.”

© 2020 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

Ranggeln1

Ranggeln2

Ranggeln3

Greek marble relief of a man with a ball on his knee (400 BCE).

Around 800 BCE the Greeks played a game called ‘episkyros’ with some coincidental similarities to US football. The game was played between two teams of usually 12 - 14 players each, with one ball and the rules of the game allowed using hands. There was a white line between the teams and another white line behind each team. Teams would change the ball often until one of the team was forced behind the line at their end. The ball was made of leather pieces sewn together and painted with vivid colors and geometric shapes.

Photo: Greek marble relief of a man with a ball on his knee (400 BCE). Athens Archeological Museum.

Patolli game

Illustration of the patolli game from the book Historia universal de nuova España Bernardino de Sahaguna from 1545

INTRODUCTION OF PRO WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS AT NIMES, FRANCE, XIV CENTURY, Ruslan C Pashayev

INTRODUCTION OF PRO WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS AT NIMES, FRANCE, XIV CENTURY

Foreword by Ruslan C Pashayev

Dear Friends, few months ago I wrote an article called Lutte Provencales. This article featured several historical French styles of wrestling which predated the French Greco-Roman wrestling, such as Lutte Provencales (Provencal Wrestling) and Lutte Bourguignonne (Burgundian Wrestling). I trace the origin of French folk wrestling to the wrestling traditions of ancient Franks which were represented by two styles: Bras-le-Corps (standing catch hold wrestling above the waist, tripping prohibited) and Corps-a-Corps (up and down freestyle, lutte libre).

Today I am happy to share my most recent finds related to the introduction of Pro Wrestling Championships at Nimes, France. The authors give a detailed account of annual pro wrestling championship tournaments in Nimes, France and trace its origin back to the XIV century.
According to the presented material pro wrestling in the form of public prize wrestling matches was first introduced in Nimes by the consuls of the city in 1351 and regular annual championships were held on the day of Nativity of Virgin (September 8th): “Les exercices du corps, la gymnastique grecque, la lutte, y sont recommandés et encouragés spécialement par les consuls.”

The style of wrestling was referred to as the “ancient Greek wrestling” or “lutte à la manière antique, entre deux adversaires armés du gantelet, ou tout luisants d'huile”. This old tradition of having such contests continued till 1800s, and usually featured wrestling matches between the best men of two neighbor villages. The rules of the Nimes’ pro wrestling which appeared to be a freestyle, or pancratial (lutte libre) required “the back and the head to be placed flat on the ground” or “cherchent à se renverser sur le dos ; on n'est vaincu que si le dos et la tête ont touché contre terre”. Originally in the Middle Ages according to the ‘Antique’ tradition the two wrestling gladiators appeared stark naked (often having their bodies besmeared with an oil) in the ring, later the rules were changed and the loincloth became the only attire of the fighters. In this sport taking opponent down wasn’t enough to win the match, in fact takedown was just a beginning of it and the most of the struggle was going on the ground which basically was rolling for achieving the dominant uppermost position, par-terre wrestling: Quand l'un des deux lutteurs est renversé, tout es poir n'est pas encore perdu ; si sa tête n'a pas touché, tout son village crie : « A pas touca ! a pas touca ! (il n'a pas touché) ! » La lutte continue alors, et la fortune peut changer. Quelquefois il y a doute; alors des deux côtés opposés s'élèvent des cris confus: « A toucal a pas touca! (il a touché, il n'a pas touché ) ! » Des arbitres du choix des deux partis décident le point.”

The text is in French. Enjoy the read. The great interest represents the collection of pro wrestling material of the Archive of the City of Nimes. This information is based strictly on historical documents in French the original clippings of which to follow the text.

STATISTIQUE DU DÉPARTEMENT DU GARD
PAR M . HECTOR RIVOIRE ,
Vol 1, 1842

By Jacques Nicolas Hector Rivoire

(1)

“…Le lendemain les danses recommencent de fort bonne heure , et on ne les inter rompt que pendant le temps nécessaire aux repas , ou à la délivrance des prix . Ces prix consistent dans les grandes communes :

Pour la lutte , en une tasse d 'argent, une montre d ' argent et quelquefois d 'or .

Pour la course à pied , en une tasse d'argent, ou simplement une écharpe.

Pour le saut, en une paire de boucles d 'argent, ou une écharpe .

Pour la course des chevaux , en une bride. Pour la course dans le sac , ou pour la course des femmes avec un vase plein d 'eau sur la tête , le prix ne se compose que de quelques mouchoirs , et d'un chapeau pour les joutes sur l' eau…”

(2)

“L'exercice de la lutte était autorisé à Nimes , dès l'année 1351 , on mettait même beaucoup de soin à cette époque à exciter la jeunesse aux combats et aux jeux gymnastiques . La lutte se faisait en public , un seul jour de l'année , le 8 septembre , jour de la nativité de la Vierge. Les consuls décernaient un prix au vainqueur; en 1351 ,ce fut une pièce d 'étoffe. L 'usage de cet exercice à jour fixe, dut varier , puisque nous voyons qu'en 1373 , la lutte se fit en public , au mois d 'août , le jour de la fête de St-Laurent , et que les consuls donnèrent un mouton pour prix . Quelques années après , le jour de la St-Louis fut choisi pour une lutte solennelle ; l'historien de Nimes ' nous apprend que les consuls accordèrent, en 1399 , une pièce de drap au vainqueur. Il ajoute que l'usage de cet exercice dura longtemps , puisqu'en 1483 , malgré la pauvreté générale , on luttait , à Nimes , au mois d 'août, et l'intervalle d ' un exercice à l'autre n ' était plus que d 'une semaine. On avait toujours choisi les dimanches pendant les mois d 'août et septembre ; les consuls y assistaient chaque fois précédés de deux ménétriers qui jouaient du tympanon et de la flûte. Le prix était habituellement une pièce de drap , et une collation pour les lutteurs ; toutes les dépenses étaient supportées par la ville .

Cet exercice fut encore favorisé pendant un grand nombre d 'années , ainsi que les jeux de l' arbalète et de l'arc. Des jeux dontnous venons de parler , il n 'y a que la lutte qui se soit maintenue dansnos meurs. En arrivant jusqu 'à nous , cet exercice a changé de caractère. Ce n 'est plus aujourd 'hui, et surtout dans la ville de Nimes , une réjouissauce préparée par l'auto rité elle -même, et appliquée gratuitement aux jours de réjouissance publique. L 'esprit du commerce s'en est emparé, et l'on est parvenu à exploiter la curiosité des habitans au profit des entrepreneurs qui prennent la haute direction de ces jeux . Dans la campagne , la lutte a mieux conservé les marques de son ancienne origine ; les fêtes votives s'y passent rarement sans que l'autorité municipale ne décerne un prix à l'athlète qui sort vainqueur du combat. Ce prix se compose ordinairement d'une tasse d'argent, d 'une écharpe ou d 'un caleçon d 'honneur ,. quelquefois même d 'une somme d 'argent”.

NOTES

Histoire civile, ecclesiastique et litteraire de la ville de Nimes, texte et notes, suivie de dissertations historiques. Volumes 2, 3, 1874

Histoire abrégée de la ville de Nîmes avec la description de ses antiquités. Part 1, By Jean-François-Dieudonné Maucomble, 1767

Nîmes, By Désiré Nisard, 1855
Text also appeared in ‘Dictionnaire de la Conversation et de la Lecture’, Vol 40, 1832

Inventaire-sommaire des Archives communales de Nîmes antérieures à 1790, Volumes 1-2, By Archives communales de Nîmes, Alexandre Lamothe , 1877

© 2020 Ruslan C Pashayev All Rights Reserved.

 

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Roman mosaic with boxing match

Roman mosaic with boxing match. Athletes wear one of the dangerous variations of the ancient boxing "gloves", the myrmekes, which with their lethal spikes, could cause permanent damage or a fatal outcome; the boxer on the left bleeds from the abdomen, while the one on the right raises his knee to keep his distance.
The use of such offensive "boxing gloves" in some events organized in the imperial age led to the violent and brutal extremeization of Greek boxing competitive competitions. We know little of the changes and technical developments and regulations, which the use of this kind of tool required to comply with the logic of these athletic events; The mosaic is dated to 300-350 AD. and is located in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Trier, Germany.

Joutes Languedociennes – Guillaume Lanouhe (Association Brev’Art) photographic exhibition

Joutes Languedociennes – Guillaume Lanouhe (Association Brev’Art) photographic exhibition
Two heavy boats, one red and the other blue, were propelled by eight to ten oarsmen and guided by two coxswains, the "helmsmen". The gamers are positioned on a platform about three metres from the water at the end of each boat. This platform bears the name of tinaine. On the lower part of the tinaine, stand the jousts of the next duels. The two boats then face each other, propelling each other until the final impact. At the time of the assault, the two boats graze on the right to allow the jousts to carry out "the pass". Equipped with their spear and a bulwark, the aim of the gamer is to bring down his opponent in the water.
We invite you to see the wonderful photos of Joutes Languedociennes by Guillaume Lanouhe from Association Brev'Art.
More informations about Joutes Languedociennes: https://www.traditionalsports.org/traditional-sports/europe/joutes-languedociennes-france.html

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Game Of Hounds And Jackals, 1814-1805 BC

Game Of Hounds And Jackals, 1814-1805 BC
Period : Middle Kingdom
Dynasty : 12
Reign : Amenemhat IV
Geography : Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Assasif, Birabi, pit tomb CC 25, debis, Canavations / Carter excavation ,1910
Medium: Ebony, Ivory
Discovered By: Howard Carter in the tomb of Reniseneb
Credit Line : Edward S. Harkness Gift 1926
The Egyptian Game is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York

Roman mosaic with scene of Pankration

Roman mosaic with scene of Pankration (total combat sport, a mixture of wrestling and boxing with minimum rules) in the gym, on the sand, dated to 200-220 AD.
The two mature athletes, with powerful and vigorous physique, probably carry out the combat training phase while standing, the one we nowadays refer to as the term sparring, using striking techniques (the use of percussion, such as punches).
The mosaic was found in Salzburg (ancient Iuvavum), in Austria, when the Mozart monument was erected (in modern Mozartplatz). The series of mosaics that formed the floor bore the Latin inscription "hic habitat felicitas, nihil intret mali", "happiness lives here, nothing that is bad enters it", now visible at the Salzburg Museum.

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