Europe

Bondetag (Sweden)

Name of sport (game): Bondetag
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Sweden

Bosseln (Denmark)

Name of sport (game): Bosseln
Name in native language: Bosseln

Boukatag (Sweden)

Name of sport (game): Boukatag
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Sweden

Boule Bretonne plombée (Brittany, France)

Name of sport (game): Boule Bretonne plombée
Name in native language: Boule Bretonne plombée
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Brittany, France (region of Morlaix)

History:

The origin of the typical game of the Morlaix region is not very well known but boule being a very popular game that was played in sunken lanes, the use of an eccentric weight was surely thought to compensate for the effects of slope of the paths. In 1783, Admiral De GUICHEN (a Comte Morlaisien) is described playing bowls near the Quai de Tréguier where a playground had been set up. He played there every afternoon which seemed to mean that the playing area was covered.
The track of the leaded ball game resembles the billiard tracks of the Middle Ages which is still found in Germany and Belgium (billiards was played on the ground).
The heyday of popular games and particularly boules is at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In the recent past, especially between the two wars, the game of boules has experienced tremendous development and the practice of this game took place in private alleys which were located in the shops (cafes) of each village or municipalities, even neighborhood.

People gathered every Sunday to practice their favorite game and that in formal attire, suit, white shirt and tie. These parties usually took place in the afternoon, which allowed them to meet and talk about daily life, local affairs and community life. These friendly meetings are still perpetuated in many friendly on the municipal alleys.
The game of leaded boules in the Pays de MORLAIX is played mainly in North Finistère in an area stretching from Plouvorn to Locquirec and from the Ile de Batz to Botsorhel.

Source: http://www.falsab.com/fr/boule_plombee_morlaix

Thophile Deyrolle Les joueurs de boules Beuzec Conq 1887
Théophile Deyrolle, Les joueurs de boules (à Beuzec-Conq, 1887)

Description:

This game can be played outdoors or in a covered room on a carpet. The games take place in twelve points, in teams of: 2 - 3 - 4 people or individually.
The game of leaded Breton boules from the country of Morlaix requires two leaded balls in hardwood or resin. They weigh between 1.8 kg and 2.3 kg and are between 12.5 and 13.5 cm in diameter. The more fragile wooden balls are hardly used any more. They are now replaced by resin balls. In order to recognize his boules on the alley, the player puts a colored point in the counter or engraves his initials. In recent years, multicolored balls have appeared.
Formerly, the leaded Morlaisian ball was entirely made by a carpenter, in guaiac wood, a rare, extremely hard and dense species, imported from South America.
The peculiarity of this leaded ball is to turn when it slows down. The ground is flat and groomed and measures approximately 20 m by 5.
This sport is played on alleys that are between sixteen and twenty meters long and between four and five meters wide. It can be outdoors or indoors (bowling alley). It is made of beaten earth covered with a layer of fine sand and is surrounded by wooden planks. Lead balls should be thrown by rolling them and not by throwing them from above to avoid damaging the fairways. Each hole in the aisle deflects the boules from their path and play becomes impossible. In some municipalities where dirt walkways do not exist or when the weather is not favorable, the game takes place on indoor carpet.
The Breton ball as it is practiced in northern Finistère in the region of Morlaix has its particularity and is undoubtedly the most unique of current Breton boules. Its main characteristic is to have five lead cylinders housed perpendicularly in the mass. The first four are arranged on the track. This tread guides the ball to allow it to go straight. But this game of skill is more subtle ... The fifth lead called the "strong" is encrusted on one side of the tread. Its role is essential and characterizes the game. It allows the ball to turn when its speed decreases. This lead unbalances the ball to the left or the right depending on the direction the player wants to get. Opposite the "strong", an unleaded cavity, called "contre fort", is made to accentuate the effect of the opposite lead.
As a general rule, if the bowler wants to send his boule to the right, he will throw it with his fort on the right but to the left. At the start of the course, the ball will move to the left, but its speed decreasing, will describe a curve to move ... to the right.
This game requires a lot of concentration, technique and strategy. The player can choose his placement to play his boule across the width of the fairway as long as one foot touches the back board.
The choice of this placement is essential because depending on it the curve obtained will be different. The measurement consists in positioning the straw between the ball and the ‘’bihen’’ to make it hold. This practice is called "bypass surgery". The straw should fit between the winning boule and the ‘’bihen’’ while it does not fit on the losing boule. In the Morlaix region, every café, both in town and in the countryside, had its path of lead balls.

Source: http://www.falsab.com/fr/boule_plombee_morlaix

BoulesBois

Current status:

Currently, there are twelve structured clubs, eight of which are affiliated with the Federation. Its last can be found in Morlaix, Saint-Martin-des-Champs, Ploujean, Plougasnou, Taulé, Guiclan, Carantec, Lanmeur, Locquénolé, Locquirec, Saint-Jean-du-Doigt.

Contacts:

La Fédération des boules plombées du Pays de Morlaix
Webside: http://www.federation-boule-plombee.fr/
Fb: https://www.facebook.com/bouleplombee/
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.LogoFede

Amicale Plouganiste des Boules Plombées
https://www.facebook.com/APBP29/
Tel.: +33 6 95 70 42 66
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Amicale Plouganiste des Boules Plombee logo

Boule Plombée Bro Gwenrann
https://www.facebook.com/bouleplombeebrogwenrann/Boule Plombee Bro Gwenrann logo

 

Sources of information :

Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhDeZTKc4jw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9672YVZg--M
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2tyeg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=K9-eYesqPd8&feature=emb_logo

Gallery:

Documents:

pdfBoules_plombes.pdf

Boule de fort (France)

Name of sport (game): Boule do fort
Name in native language: Boule de fort
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Val de Loire (neighboring departments), France

History:

The boule de fort is a traditional game of the Pays de la Loire classified in the inventory of French intangible cultural heritage. It appeared in the Anjou region in 1660. Many legends and beliefs are running about it. The most widespread version tells that mariners of the Loire would have taken the habit of playing at the bottom of their boats. This would explain the curved shape of the runway similar to a boat hold. But, this form could also come from ball games made in the moat of the castles of the Loire. Nevertheless, all agree that the appearance of societies or ball circles dates from the early nineteenth century.

The origin of the boule de fort game is rather mysterious. There are a lot of different theories about it. Some say, the game was first brought to the Loire valley by English and Dutch merchants who played a similar game called “boulingrin” (“bowling green” or “lawn bowl” in English as a reference to grass fields) which was popular all over the Commonwealth. In some parts of Belgium and the Netherlands as well as in the North of France (around Tourcoing, Lille, …), people played “bourle” which is also similar to “boule de fort”. In fact, nobody really knows where this sport comes from, but this doesn’t keep people from playing!

Description:

The boule de fort is a game that involves throwing balls to get as close as possible to a pig called master or small (of a size between 80 and 90 mm) in order to score points. The difficulty stems from the fact that one side of the ball is heavier (stronger) and leads them in its direction, and the edges of the runway resemble a gutter section. The balls can take more than a minute to reach their destination from where very long parts, up to three hours. A game is usually played between teams of 2 or 3 players with 2 balls each. Sometimes games are played at 1 to 1 with 3 balls per player and sometimes at 4 to 4 with 1 ball each. The winning team is the one that scored 10 points the first.

Terrain bouleSource: https://www.fedebouledefort.fr/la-boule-de-fort/le-jeu

Current status:

The “boule de fort” clubs or circles are convivial places where people meet to play and train for challenges, but also to have a chat. Maintenance fees are payed with the income of the refreshment bar.
Today, clubs are open to everybody, but it was not always like this: up to the 1970s, women were not allowed in the clubs and newcomers could only be admitted when sponsored by a club member.

La Fédération de Boule de Fort created in 1907 has continued to evolve since then to become la Fédération Française de Boule de Fort.

Contacts:

la Fédération Française de Boule de Fort
4 rue La Bruyère
49100 Angers, Pays de Loire
France
Website: https://www.fedebouledefort.fr/

Federation logo

Sources of information :

Literature:
Marc Leclerc, Notre boule Angevine, Éditions de l'Ouest, 1933
Émile Joulain, La boule de fort, Paquereau Technographis, 1976
Denis Libeau et Émile Joulain, La boule de fort, Éditions Herault, 1986
Joël Guibert, Joueurs de boules en pays nantais, L'Harmattan, 1994
André-Hubert Hérault et Denis Libeau, Voyage au pays de la boule de fort, Éditions Hérault, 1999
Max Ménard, Histoire de la boule de fort: histoire de la société "les Artisans" 1829-1998, M. Ménard (Impr. Copie Boutique), 1999
Jacques Sigot, Les dossiers de la mémoire, La boule de fort, Éditions C.M.D., 2000
André Hubert Hérault et Denis Libeau, Voyage au pays de la boule de fort, Hérault, 1999
Jean-Luc Marais, Histoire d'une sociabilité du 18è siècle à nos jours, Anjou, Maine, Touraine; Éditeur: Jean-Luc Marais Et Éditions Ivan Davy, 1986

Articles:
https://www.anjou-tourisme.com/fr/voir-faire/activites/la-boule-de-fort-en-anjou
https://www.ancienne-ecole.com/en/discoveries/the-boule-de-fort-game/

Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV-zRgTx8cA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9OLHWn6UEA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7aEyldWlv4

 

Photos credits: Guillaume Lanouhe, Association Brev’Art
Lieux : Boule de Fort, Le Soleil Levant, Tours - France

Gallery:

Documents:

pdffedebouledefortfr-Le_rglement_de_la_boule_de_fort.pdf

Caber Toss (Scotland)

Name of sport (game): Caber Toss
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Scotland

Description:

Caber Toss

Sources of information :

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhybD2V30Q4&feature=emb_logo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb0FU8rSisU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj6_JAn5teA

Gallery:

Calva (Spain)

Name of sport (game): Calva
Name in native language: Calva
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Spain, mainly in Castile, Salamanca, Zamora, and Biscay, although also in Madrid, Barcelona, Plasencia and Navarre. Also practiced in the province of León, as in all the ancient Kingdom of León (León, Zamora, Salamanca...), the lands of the shepherds of transhumance.

History:

Calva is a traditional sport practiced in certain parts of Spain. It has roots going back to pre-Roman times, being developed by the Celtiberians who lived in the modern-day provinces of Ávila, Salamanca, and Zamora. It was a game for shepherds, who threw stones at bull's horns to entertain themselves. With the passing of time, the game was modified: a piece of wood (the calva) came to be substituted for the horn, and the stone was replaced with a cylinder of iron or steel (the marro). The name of calva was derived from the field in which the game came to be played, which was free of obstacles and rocks.

Sources of information :

Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wISnAVwgfK4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok8r8aBJsCk&fbclid=IwAR0pPOqZpsTrYxNnMhadFmc5vKNnTnnaLBSmh30ble4jGLHHacVtceO4y4U

Gallery:

Camogie (Ireland)

Name of sport (game): Camogie
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Ireland, Australia

Contacts:

The Camogie Association
3rd Floor,
Westward House,
Russell Street,
Dublin 1
D01 F300
Phone: 01 865 8651
Webside: https://camogie.ie/
Facebook Facebook.com/OfficialCamogieAssociation 
Twitter: @officialcamogie
Instagram: @officialcamogie
YouTube: @officialcamogie

comogie association

Sources of information :

Articles:
https://gaelicgameseurope.com/games/hurling-camogie/ 
https://www.libertyinsurance.ie/blog/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-camogie 
http://scoilsportg.ie/gallery/category/6-album-6 

Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70ePVvm1tU4 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ3iA0GUSec 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iv_xXmXzQt4 

Gallery:

Documents:

pdfCaman_Get_a_Grip.pdf

pdfOfficial_Games_Rules_2015.pdf

Catch-Hold (England)

Name of sport (game): Catch-Hold
Name in native language: Cath-Hold
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

England

History:

Historically, the greatest wrestlers of England came out of the two “most wrestling regions” of the country, the West Country (Devonshire, Somerset, Dorset and Cornwall) and the North Country (Cumberland, Westmorland, Northumberland, Durham, Lancashire and Yorkshire). Residents of those regions promoted two different wrestling styles. The West Country style which was commonly known as the Cornish-Devon Wrestling was a standing catch-hold of the jackets above the waist, tripping and hooking legs allowed, back fall decided the winner, 3 foils or “go downs” substituted 1 back fall. According to the English wrestling tradition back fall was defined as a combination of shoulders and hips touching the ground simultaneously. The North Country Wrestling which was known as the Cumberland and Westmorland Back-Hold was a fixed hold style, tripping and hooking legs allowed, first down to lose. Representatives of those two wrestling styles usually didn’t compete against each other. But sometimes they challenged one another without being specific regarding the style of wrestling. In that case wrestlers were allowed to “catch any holds of their adversary’s body (not just clothes like in Cornish-Devon) above the waist, tripping and hooking legs being allowed”; sometimes a back fall decided the winner. But since all falls were “flying falls” and many of them were “disputed falls” more often the condition of “3 go downs” decided the match. This style was popular all over the country and was known as the Catch-Hold or a Peasants’ Wrestling. This style for centuries was practiced mostly by the farmers during the revels weeks and other folk and religious festivals. It was themost commonly seen mode of wrestling on the “village greens”everywhere in England.

The “Chap-books of the Eighteenth Century” by John Ashton (published in 1882) features a story based on a folk tale about a “poor labourer in the reign of William The Conqueror called Tom Hickathrift of the Isle of Ely in Cambridgeshire.” Tom Hickathrift was a legendary character of East Anglian English folklore famous for “having more natural strength than twenty common men.” This story provides a good account of the traditional English Catch-Hold wrestling. “…he (Tom) would jump, run, and take delight in young company, and go to fairs and meetings, to see sports and diversions. One day going to the wake, where the young men were met, some went to wrestling, and some to cudgels, some to throwing the hammer and the like… After this Tom joined the wrestlers; and though he had no more skill than an ass, yet by main strength he flung all he grappled with; if once he laid hold, they were gone; some he threw over his head, and others he laid down gently. He did not attempt to lock or strike at their heels, but threw them down two or three yards from him, and sometimes on their heads, ready to break their necks. So that at last none durst enter the ring to wrestle with him; for they took him to be some devil among them.” Interestingly, Tom’s proficiency in strength and his speed allowed him to lay (catch) hold, lift and throw all his opponents with great ease. The choice of this strategy prevailed over other popular wrestling techniques, such as “locking and striking” (hooking legs and tripping). This narrative shows the evolution of English folk wrestling tactics, and how taking the advantageous and fast hold became the dominant wrestling technique.

Famous Egerton Genesis (3rd quarter of the XIVcentury) contains beautiful visualization of such English "Peasants’Wrestling." On the sketch we see three pairs of wrestlers struggling for thepalm. The applied catch-holds techniques are shin kicking at Arm's Length,Close Struggle’s hooking legs and “playing with the hip” (Headlock intoCross-Buttock) at Side Holds Hugging. Notably, the wrestling style towhich greatest English Renaissance author William Shakespeare refers toin his famous "As You Like It" was also a Catch-Hold wrestling.

Traditional English Catch-hold was a product of evolution of the folk and professional English wrestling styles which predated it. In the pre-Renaissance England there were 3 such styles of wrestling. There were no jackets or garments of any kind worn by pro wrestlers of that era, instead the wrestlers were wearing the “wrestling tools” which they used for “taking holds by” during matches. One of those “tools” was a “wrestling collar” and another was a “wrestling belt.” Besides wearing those special “tools” wrestlers usually had only a loin clothes (or shorts) on them, so they basically they were half-nude, often no shoes were worn. The Medieval English wrestling styles were:

1) The Collar Wrestling (wrastelynge by the coler). The “Collar”' was a simple rope or a shawl tied either around the neck or around the torso (over one shoulder and under the other). It was a catch-hold wrestling style, one hand to the collar and with another hand wrestlers usually would grab the wrist or the elbow of their opponent. In this style wrestlers had each other on a distance, at arms’ length, so all their efforts were focused on the footwork. Tripping, hooking/crooking opponent's leg with your own leg, and yes of course kicking, or striking was important part of it. Only “fair” kicking below the knee was allowed. The best collar wrestlers of England came from the Norfolk County. Notably, the crest of the local noble family of Norman origin De Gournay (modern spelling Gurney) of West Barsham and Keswick was a wrestling collar in an enameled ring.

2) The Belt Wrestling (wrastelynge by holdster). The “Belt” was usually also a rope or a stout leather belt girdled around the waist. It was also a catch-hold style, one hand to the belt and with another hand wrestlers usually would grasp the wrist or elbow of their opponent. In this style wrestlers would try to get in a close quarters, and the cross-buttock would be the main way of throwing, they called it a hip-lift techniques, tripping and hooking also were important at that style. In this style there was less kicking since it was not as productive as when you have your man at arms’ length.

3) The Hug (hugg wrastelynge). In this style both men equally grabbed each other “above and under the shoulder” and from that hold (fixed hold wrestling) were supposed to give a fall. The only legit methods of throwing were: tugging, swaying and lifting. Neither use of legs or feet for throwing nor any other wrestling technique was allowed. The physical strength was a decisive factor for winning those contests.

Both the “collar” and “belt” wrestling styles were of Norman origin and the “hug” was of Norse or Scandinavian (North Germanic) heritage. Grabbing “tools” with both hands was allowed. In English folk and pro wrestling matches the noble art of tripping was a number one skill. Back falls governed wrestling contests very rare, since from a standing position (it was a Standing Wrestling) to achieve a back fall is pretty hard (depending on the definition of the back fall of course), and no one needed to waste time on further argumentation whether there was or wasn't a fall (aka disputed falls). Back fall had different definitions (various combinations of shoulders, hips and heels) but perfect back fall was a complete flat horizontal position – perfectly aligned neck, shoulders, hips, buttocks, heels striking the ground at the same time. Though most of the wrestling matches were “3 go downs” to lose meaning that it was enough to take opponent down on any part of his body (including knees, or hands), basically it was enough to cause any kind of fall by a simple take-down.

As it was previously mentioned any holds below the waist were strictly prohibited, yet the catch-holds of the legs and feet were known in English folk wrestling but solely and only as a reaction on the unfair kicking, i.e. kicking of the knee or kicking above the knee. The great depictions of these kind of holds are present in the form of Medieval misericords’ wood carvings such as those in the Abbey of St Mary the Virgin, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire (XIV century) and in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle (XV century).

Kicking Leg Hold

The pro wrestlers of that era were entertaining crowds during the religious or folk festivals which were held downtown, usually on the erected wooden stage, or they would go and perform on the special occasions at the castles which belonged to the local nobility. It was a paid job. In England unlike in many other European countries profession of wrestling entertainer was well established during the Middle Ages. Usually it was a travelling troupe of performers (just like acrobats, or artists) with a “manager” (veteran pro wrestler) who was trying to book his men making sure that they always have a job. The wrestlers just like other professionals (craftsmen) of that era had their own guilds (unions).

Medieval English Wrestling

Nottinghamshire's Sir Thomas Parkyns (1662-1741), who was known as the “Wrestling Baronet” of Bunny and master of self-defense Zachary Wylde of Yorkshire both promoted Catch-Hold wrestling in the early 1700s. Parkyns "taketh what he pleaseth of him" and Wylde suggests to "take hold wherever he pleases" even including the dangerous full-nelson hold. In both cases only holds taken above the waist were considered fair.

Parkyns became famous all around the country as an author of wrestling manuals. These include, “Inn Play or Cornish Hugg Wrestler” as well as a set of “General Rules of English Wrestling,” the fullest edition of which was published in 1727. His wrestling style was the Catch-Hold, in which an initial hold doesn't exist; neither does any applied hold needed to be maintained during the match. Holds were not restricted to any sort of garments (as in Cornish/Devon) but also could be applied directly to the parts of the person’s body above the waist (neck, arms, and torso). The fair back fall was counted when two joints simultaneously hit the ground, and 3 foils (if either of two wrestlers fell upon any part of the body) were a substitute for one fair back fall. All matches were 3 out of 5 fair back falls. The wrestler would wear a waistcoat and shirt. The definition of “two joints” differed from place to place. Generally it stood for the combination of shoulder and hip on the opposite side.

Parkyns was a founder of the first annually held professional wrestling championship tournament in Bunny, Nottinghamshire. This championship existed for many years after his death and the last such tourney was held in 1809. Also it was Parkyns who in the 1700s established a basic pro wrestling promotion. At his place, he had several men whom he employed for the purpose of doing wrestling exhibitions (matches) for his friends and himself for entertainment.

For centuries there were always two champions of England those of the West and of the North. One of the famous attempts to get in the ring both champions happened in 1817. About three miles from Pinner in London, West and North finally clashed for the Championship of England. The match was for 10 guineas (gold coin worth 21 shillings) a-side. A Somersetshire man named Sam Harber wrestled Isaac Nicholson of Thirsk (North Yorkshire). Both men weighed 13st. It was a dramatic struggle that lasted 12 minutes. Westerner won by giving his opponent a “sweeping cross-buttock.” The news reports weren't specific regarding the style used in that particular contest. But it’s obvious that it was Catch-Hold since it was a one fall match and Catch-Hold was the only existing compromised style. As it was said before back then wrestlers usually competed only in their own style and there was no competitions open to the representatives
of both styles. Often Catch-Hold was called the as the “wrestling according to the London Prize Ring Rules”, which was a standing catchhold of the body above the waist, tripping and hooking legs allowed, back fall decided the victor, sometimes 3 foils substituted 1 back fall. This style was easy to learn and it didn't require any “specific knowledge”, unlike the Cumberland Back-hold (fixed hold style) or Cornish/Devon style (jacket holds only). In 1851, there was an attempt to make a “match of the century” between the two best wrestlers of their time in England. The Cumberland and Westmorland Back-hold Champion Robert Atkinson was supposed to wrestle against the Champion of Cornish/Devon Ring, Thomas Gundry. The conditions were supposed to be 2 falls in Back-hold, 2 falls in Cornish/Devon, and the odd fall in Catch-as-catch-can (more likely according to the London Prize Ring Rules). Unfortunately this match never happened.

The Astley Championship Belt.

The Astley Championship Belt

In the early 1870s the “new style of wrestling” was introduced among the London amateurs, it was called the Catch-Hold. This style became extremely popular in metropolis especially after the brilliant performances of French pro wrestlers in England. Graeco-Roman style which was advertised as the French national wrestling style impressed local sporting circles a lot. And English reply to that was the “invention” of Catch-Hold, which was designed to represent the English national wrestling traditions. That style was “invented” in London by famous bone setter Prof. J.
Atkinson of 12A Park Lane in conjunction with Mr. Moses Rigg. In the early 1870s annual Catch Hold amateur tournaments along with boxing (under the patronage of Marquise Queensbury) and bicyclist championships were held at Lillie Bridge, London. Organizer of those championships was J.G. Chambers of Amateur Athletic Club (AAC) a London based amateur sports organization. First champion in 1871 was Walter Armstrong the wrestler who in 1890 wrote the famous book on wrestling called “Wrestling (Styles and Systems).” Despite the Catch-Hold wrestling being a “new invention”, it has to be acknowledged that in fact this style of wrestling can be considered the most historical English wrestling style since it basically was the old folk English wrestling style known as the Peasants’ Wrestling.
Before the invention of Catch-Hold there was no such a thing as a unified English Pro Wrestling Championship. Instead there were championships of the West Country and North Country rings. During the Golden Era of Lancashire Catch-as-catch-can (1860s) the Lancashire Wrestling Ring was established as a third pro wrestling ring of England. Historically, it was acceptable to have multiple champions of England in different styles. In 1873 took place the greatest pro wrestling gathering in English history, it was the Catch-Hold Easter Tournament which was held at Lillie Bridge, London. It was the first time in history of English wrestling when representatives of all schools participated. Both Northerners and Western men were pleased with the conditions of the “new” style. Westerners were happy that it was a catch-hold style. Northern men were pleased that first down to lose condition signified victory. Both parties were satisfied that tripping and hooking legs were allowed, but the leg holds and ground wrestling, the main features of Lancashire catch were strictly prohibited. Northerners, represented by many great pro wrestlers including their long time champion Richard Wright and a rising star champion George Steadman, were expecting an easy victory (simply because they outweighed all West Country men), but it was a Lancashire man who became entitled to honors of the first unified championship of English Wrestling Ring. William Snape, aka “Dipper”, a blacksmith from Bolton, Lancashire who was known as the “Lancashire Giant” (he was 6ft2in tall and 18st weight) outwrestled them all. Organizers were trying to make that championship for professionals annual, but their initiative failed, no one would want to compete against the “Lancashire Powerhouse” Snape who soon retired from wrestling undefeated, never being able to find a worthy opponent for himself at either London Catch-Hold or at his native Lancashire Catch-as-catch-can.
Catch Hold
Description:

The London Catch-Hold of the 1870s-80s was a standing catch-as-catchcan in which only holds of the body above the waist were considered legal. Of course the essence of English wrestling, the use of feet (tripping) and legs (hooking) for throwing opponent was allowed. The conditions of the matches were “first down (on any part of the body) to lose.” Regular matches were one fall affairs, and the final bout was 2 out of 3 falls. No kicking, hitting, or biting, or any other act of deliberate brutality was legal. Wrestlers had to appear in the ring wearing tight jerseys, drawers and socks. This wrestling style utilized the best of techniques which were for centuries part of various English folk wrestling modes, namely the tactics and skills in wrestling at Arm’s Length, at Closed Struggle and of course at the equal above and under hug (Back-Hold). The London Catch-Hold was widely promoted and the competitions for both amateurs and professionals were regularly held in the biggest cities all around the country.

Painting: “The Wrestlers”, manner of Francis Hayman (1708-1776), previously attributed to Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788).

The Wrestlers Francis Hayman

Current status:

The London Catch-hold never found support of the managers and directors of competitions (“bosses”) who were running the pro wrestling (Cornish/Devon, Cumberland/Westmorland and, Lancashire styles) and the amateur wrestling (in case with Cumbrian Back-Hold) rings in the country. That is why in the mid 1870s popularity of Catch-Hold dropped and at the annual gatherings of Amateur Athletic Club of London at Lillie Bridge it was even replaced with Loose Wrestling or Catch-as-catch-can (German Gymnastic Society version, aka the German Ringen). In 1880, 1881 and 1882 under the patronage of Sir John Astley at Lillie Bridge was held the tournament called “The Astley Belt”. That title will remain the most unique pro wrestling championship in English history and the most prominent gathering of English pro wrestlers of all times, it was that title and that sterling silver belt (symbolic of the undisputed wrestling championship of England) which the most famous Back-Holder of all times George Steadman of Drybeck (winner of all 3 tourneys) cherished and was the most proud of winning. The London Catch-Hold ceased to exist by 1900s, but it still was taught by the best pound for pound Catch-Hold wrestler of England, middleweight champion John Wannop of Carlisle. Even in 1907 Wannop had "Catch-Hold Championships" at his own school in London.

Sources of information :

This article is based on “The Story of Catch” (2019), by Ruslan C Pashayev.

Cesta Punta or Jai Alai (Basque Country, Spain)

Name of sport (game): Cesta Punta or Jai Alai
Name in native language: Cesta Punta or Jai Alai
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Basque Country, Spain

Sources of information :

Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRVh_fatHBs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSn5cAXx1rY

Closh (Belgium, Flanders)

Name of sport (game): Closh
Name in native language: Closh

Cornish Wrestling (England)

Name of sport (game): Cornish Wrestling
Name in native language: Cornish Wrestling
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

England

History:

Source: http://www.cornishwrestling.co.uk/category/history/
Wrestling is a distinct Cornish tradition that survives to the present day.
The history of Cornish Wrestling goes back so far it is lost in the midst of time. The first mention of Celtic Wrestling appears in the ancient book of Leinster, referring to the sport being included in the Tailteann Games which date back to at least 1829 BC. We know Wrestling was established in Cornwall before the Roman invasion and that the Cornish meetings on Halvager Moor were held during the dark-ages.
The Cornish contingent with Henry V at Agincourt (1415) marched under a banner depicting two Wrestlers “in a hitch”. The banner needed no words; the pictures of the wrestlers was enough to let anyone know the men of Cornwall were behind it.
During the famous meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France (on the Field of the Cloth of Gold) a team of wrestlers representing the English king defeated the champions of France. This contingent, which humbled the French team, consisted entirely of men from Cornwall. Godolphin the chief wrestler had received the Royal command direct to bring his men to uphold the king’s honour at Calais.
Wrestling is national sport in Cornwall, a direct living link with our ancestors handed down through an un-broken chain, from father to son, brother to brother and friend to friend for over 3,000 years.
Many times, Cornish Wrestlers have displayed their prowess before a royal audience. King Charles II believed that the Cornish were “masters in the art of wrestling” after attending a tournament at Bodmin while on his way to the Isles of Silly. It was during his reign that Tomas Hawken of Cubert threw Lyttleton Weynorth, who claimed to be the champion wrestler of “all England”.
Richard Carew, famous for his survey of Cornwall (1602) said that at about 1590 even their Breton neighbours did not match the Cornish in the art of Wrestling. Men from all walks of life took part in the sport. One of the best known wrestlers of the 17th century was Richard Stevens, the head master of Truro Grammar school; inventor Richard Trevithick was another. In the 18th and 19th centuries for which information is more readily available, we see records of tournaments that ran for a week to find the standing men to contest the semi-finals and finals on the Saturday and Sunday. With crowds of upwards of 10,000 for such finals or big name challenge matches, large sums of money often changed hands.

Source: https://thatsmycornwall.com/cornish-wrestling/
Wrestlers from those times are still remembered today. Thomas Treleaven and Benjamin Samble both stood 6’ 2”, while from St Mawgan came six-footer Richard Parkyn; at 16½ stone he competed until his 50s. Parkyn was born at Parkyn’s Shop, at the point of three parish boundaries: St Columb Major, St Columb Minor and St Mawgan. From 1806 he enjoyed a staggering 20 years undefeated and became known as The Great Parkyn, celebrated from Saltash to St Just.
Richard Parkyn was followed by James Polkinghorne, a truly huge man. At 5’ 11” and just under 20 stone – according to some reports he weighed 320 lb – he was an intimidating prospect for any opposition. He duly became Cornish champion and was also landlord of St Columb Major’s Red Lion public house, which must have been handy on Saturday nights if anyone dared become playful.
During 1826, late in the season on 23October, Morris (or Morice) Town at Devonport saw the last great wrestling battle between Cornwall and Devon. Watched by as many as 17,000 people, the purse was a staggering £200. For Cornwall appeared the giant 38-year old Polkinghorne, while Devon fielded their champion, Abraham Cann, at 32 a mere 5’ 8½” and weighing around 12½ stone.
At first sight the outcome might have been felt a foregone conclusion, but the bout was fought under Devonian rules. Polkinghorne’s upper body attacks were pitched against the kicking, with boots, of his opponent; Cann was reportedly strong in the leg, and nimble. Today the result of the encounter isn’t clear to us, but it seems the contest was a long one and finally ended in a draw.
Nearly 20 years following their retirement from wrestling the two old adversaries worked together, acting as sticklers at the Inter-County Wrestling Championships at Camden in London. They officiated at the clash between Thomas Gundry and Chapple of Devon, which ended in victory for Cornwall. A sour Exeter newspaper correspondent accused Gundry of winning through bribery but when challenged by the Sithney man, his accuser melted away.
In hard times at home, as Cornish miners emigrated they took Cornish wrestling with them. Competitions sprang up across America, Australia, and also South Africa where the renowned Sam Ham, originally from Condurrow near Camborne, became Middleweight Champion. Finally, in 1923 the Cornish Wrestling Association was formed at Bodmin, to provide a uniform set of rules under which all could compete. Wrestlers became registered, and an annual Cornish championship was held.
During the 1930s and ‘40s, several members of the Chapman family achieved great wrestling success; grandfathers, fathers and sons all fought. Many Cornish towns and villages held tournaments, and hundreds would turn out to watch the contests. Other well-known wrestling families were the Hawkeys and the Warnes, but the most famous competitor of his day was heavyweight champion Francis Gregory of St Wenn.
Gregory had his first match at the age of 13, and was youngest of the Cornishmen who showed their skills at London’s Palladium threatre in 1927. Seven times from 1928 he represented Cornwall at the official Cornu-Breton Championships: seven times he won, on four occasions in Brittany. Later he moved north, changing his sport to play rugby league for Wigan and Warrington, and was capped for England. Taking up professional wrestling he became known as Francis St Clair Gregory, and during November 1955 appeared in the first wrestling match shown on British television.
More recently though, in the face of fierce competition and promotion of other sports, interest in Cornish wrestling waned until just a small band of stalwarts were left. To put a stop to the decline, help raise awareness and secure funding, during 2004 the Cornish Wrestling Association became affiliated to the British Wrestling Association. Publicity was increased, while training sessions for would-be wrestlers were established in Helston, Truro and Wadebridge.
The measures have helped ‘wrasslin’ make a strong comeback. Based at St Columb Major, today Ashley Cawley is Cornwall’s current Heavyweight Champion; he’s also the CWA’s PR officer, while his uncle Mike Cawley is the Association’s Chairman. Last year, Ashley’s father Gerry came out of his wrestling retirement to win two championships.
Over the summer months the CWA runs tournaments in villages and towns across the Duchy, and also features at the Royal Cornwall Show. All ages are welcome to try the sport; categories include under-18s, under-16s, under-14s, under-12s, even under-10s. Today too there’s a tablet on the frontage of the Red Lion, commemorating St Columb Major’s James Polkinghorne and his mighty 1826 contest against Abraham Cann.

Description:

The object is to throw your challenger, from a standing-up position; no grappling or holding on the ground is allowed, a measure intended to bring out skill and technique rather than relying on strength alone. A bout begins when the competitors grasp each other’s jackets by collar, lapel or sleeves in what’s called a ‘hitch’. To win you must score a ‘back’, throwing your opponent onto his shoulders and hips – his four ‘pins’; at least three pins must touch the ground at once. Once a back’s scored the contest is over, but single-pin scores can accumulate toward a points win if no back is achieved.
Sound’s easy? In fact there are many different techniques and throws you can use to defeat your challenger. Crooks and heaves are among the most popular, crooks being variations of trip to catch your adversary unawares, while heaves are often used by heavier, more powerful wrestlers to lift the opposition up in the air and fling him down on his back. If any part of the body except the feet touches the ground, the hitch ends and the bout must restart. And always there’s the traditional courtesy of the handshake, before the bout, prior to each hitch, and at the end of the contest.
Cornish wrestlers go barefoot or wear socks, together with simple shorts. Their most important piece of clothing is the canvas jacket, in past times sometimes made of sailcloth or even sacking, laced at the front and with baggy half-sleeves. It’s an indispensable item which must also be durable; contenders are only allowed to grip each other by the jacket. Specialist moves such as the ‘flying mare’ involve grabbing your opponent’s jacket strings, swinging him off-balance and onto the ground.
As they gain experience, Cornish wrestlers develop their own moves and counters, but some methods aren’t allowed. Finger- or wrist-twisting is forbidden; throat-holds, using your foot above your opponent’s knee or gripping his jacket below the waist are also out, as is touching the ground with your hand or knee to avoid being flung through the air.
Wrestling matches take place mainly in the summer, outdoors on grass; a 6-metre radius ring is marked out, together with an outer ‘no-man’s land’ into which spectators may not enter. Typically, for senior competitors one 10-minute round is allowed, overseen by three ‘sticklers’. These umpires are usually ex-wrestlers themselves; they carry walking-sticks traditionally used to enforce the rules if needed. The sticklers score the bouts, watch for illegal moves and their decisions are absolute – there’s no right of appeal for feeling hard-done-by and the wrestlers accept judgements with good grace.
(Source: https://thatsmycornwall.com/cornish-wrestling/)

Current status:

Practiced

Contacts:

The Cornish Wrestling Association
http://www.cornishwrestling.co.uk/ 

Sources of information :

Books:
- Sir Thomas Parkyns, The Inn-Play or Cornish Hugg Wrestler, London 1727
- Michael Tripp, The Socio-Genesis of Cornish Wrestling, A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc in the sociology of sport and sports management, University of Leicester 1995
- Graeme Kent, A Pictorial History of Wrestling, Spring Books, Middlesex 1968
- Dickson G., The Origins of Cornish Wrestling. Sydney. 1999
- Kendall B., The Art of Cornish Wrestling. Federation of Old Cornwall Societies. 1990
- Willams M., Curiosities of Cornwall. Bossiney books, Bodmin, Cornwall. 1983
- Gregory C., Historic Inns of Cornwall. Bossiney books, Bodmin, Cornwall. 1986
- Johns, C., Cheer Like Mad for Cornwall: the story of Cornish wrestling, the author, St Stephen-in-Brannel, 1995

Articles:
- The Wrestling Championship Of Cornwall in The Cornishman (258). 21 June 1883. p. 6
- Holmes, R., Cornish-style wrestling, in Jaouen, G. (ed.) Celtic Wrestling Our Culture! International Federation of Celtic Wrestling, Lesneven, 1990, pp. 14-15
- Hooper W.T., The Story of Cornish Wrestling and its Relations with Brittany in Royal Institution of Cornwall Journal, N.S.II, II (1954), 88-97
- Hooper, W.T., Cornish Wrestling, in Cornish Review, vol. 1, no. 5, Summer 1950, pp. 30-32
- Hooper, W. T., Cornish Wrestling, in Old Cornwall, vol. 5, no. 1, 1951, pp. 13-15
- Hooper, W.T., Cornish Wrestling, in Cornish Magazine, vol. 1, no. 4, 1958, pp. 28-29
- Johns, C., The story of Cornish wrestling, in Canadian Wrestler, 10, (1), Fall 1986
- Jolly, Rev. L.V., Cornish Wrestling, in The Scillonian, no 13, March 1928, pp. 10-18
- Noall, C., A Cornish Champion Wrestler: James Polkinghorne, The Cornish Magazine, vol. 7, no. 6, 1964, pp. 183-188
- Pascoe, H., Cornish Wrestling, in Old Cornwall, vol. 1, no. 5, 1925, pp. 8-14
- Pascoe, H., Cornish wrestling, The Cornish Annual, 1928, p. 63-69
- Rowe, L.M.G., Cornish Wrestling in Nevada County, in Nevada County Historical Society, vol. 23, no. 4, 1969, pp. 1-6
- Sam Sam‘s Son, Wrestling in Cornwall and Devonshire, in The Table Book, 1827, William Tegg and Co., London, pp. 499-502
- Collier, W.F. Wrestling: The Cornish and Devonshire Styles, Cornish Magazine, vol. 1, 1898, pp. 193-201
- About Cornish Wrestlin, https://ejmas.com/jwma/articles/2000/jwmaart_roberts_0400.htm
- Ken Pfrenfer, Early Cornish Wrestling, Journal of Western Martial Art, March 2000, https://ejmas.com/jwma/articles/2000/jwmaart_pfrenger_0300.htm
- David Stone, Cornish Wrestling, http://www.the-exiles.org/Article%20cornish%20wrestling.htm

Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aebW82Epp8Q 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JdrPOQ4L1Q 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzXvTQIr6kQ 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=607VV-JIBWg 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fRgjwylTLo 

Gallery:

Documents:

pdfA_HISTORY_OF_CORNISH.pdf

pdfCornish-Wrestling-Rule-Book.pdf

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