Ringen Training: How Training for Sport Assists Understanding of Combative Application

By Tim Hall

Every wrestling must consist of three things. The first one is skill, the second one is speed, and the third one is the proper application of strength.” – Ott Jud, medieval wrestling master

The second Schlosringen (Lock Wrestling) from Fabian von Auerswald. This technique is presented in it's safer "sport" version, but can easily be turned into a vicious elbow break.
A Schlosringen (Lock Wrestling) throw from Fabian von Auerswald. This technique is presented in it’s safer “sport” version, but can easily be turned into a vicious elbow break.

Joint locks. Strikes. Gouges. Slams. These and many other debilitating techniques are found throughout the medieval sources detailing unarmed combat. The brutal yet efficient nature is what draws many people to practice the medieval and Renaissance art of Ringen (the German term for “wrestling”). Historically, many of the techniques were used to maim or kill in both self-defense as well as combat on the battlefield. On the other hand, our martial ancestors also trained techniques that could be used safely against a resisting partner at full speed, often for recreation. Today, practice of these safer “sport” techniques is sometimes criticized by modern practitioners for not reflecting “real life” fighting. This is an unfair criticism, as the combat techniques (i.e. the more destructive actions) require that a partner be cooperative in order to perform safely. This means that a student who focuses purely on the combat technique cannot practice against a fully resisting partner, which leads to an incomplete understanding of the art in terms of speed, timing, Fühlen and required force. Students of Ringen, much like the medieval practitioners, need to practice both combat and sport techniques together in order to develop fully functional fighting ability. Continue reading

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