Medieval Grappling

Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by Louie, May 5, 2011.

  1. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Medieval grappling techniques based on Fabian von Auerswald's descriptions and illustrations are shown in this short clip...

    [ame=""]YouTube - ringschule - fabian von auerswald[/ame]

  2. Moi

    Moi Warriors live forever x

    I'm impressed! Would this training be for an armed combatant?
  3. StevieB8363

    StevieB8363 Valued Member

    Those were some nice moves!
  4. Nojon

    Nojon Tha mo bhàta-foluaimein

    That was cool!, Please forgive the comparison, to me a few moves looked like sambo. Only in appearance, not application.
  5. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    I'm pretty sure it's a sambo school. The mats, the shoes, the jackets, the shorts, the techniques, and even the rack on the wall all scream sambo.
    Even the portions of techniques they're emphasizing and the adjustments to standard judo or wrestling are staples of sambo practice.

    Now I'm sure the native styles that contributed to sambo's creation alongside the judo will have some similarities in distinct techniques to medieval western martial arts, but I'd be very amazed to find that the vast majority of what's happening in the video isn't just straight up sambo learned in a straight up sambo gym.
  6. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    Ringschule Wroclaw is (or was) an ARMA group. Whether some of their members have a background in Sambo I have no idea. HEMA groups certainly are not above using gear from other MA if t works for their purposes, so those that do a lot of grappling will use judo or sambo gear if they feel it works.

    However, here is the manual being interpreted in the video, complete with an English translation (click the "show" button near the bottom):

    Best regards,


    N.B. I'd be more surprised if it DIDN'T bear a resemblance to Sambo, actually. Edit: I'm not familiar with this manual, but there's a lot from Talhoffer in there I recognize, FWIW. I do know that it's making the rounds in HEMA circles and there was quite a buzz about it last year.
    Last edited: May 5, 2011
  7. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    I don't dispute that the techniques may have been chosen from a manual, I'm simply thinking that it appears as if they read through it and selected techniques from their style (which I assume from quirks of movement and otherwise rare equipment even alone appearing all together to be sambo) which happen to match. I'm not terribly familiar with much of anything in the western MA reconstruction scene so there may be something I'm missing but it would seem to me that this particular video is just "these techniques also appear here", rather than anything with regards to the distinct execution the writer may have presented.
  8. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    Most WMA reconstructionists have experience in other martial arts first. It is also common for WMA reconstructionists to use other martial arts which they are familiar with as points of reference when doing reconstruction work.

    Peace favor your sword,
  9. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    But to a certain degree, isn't wrestling going to look like wrestling, whether it's from Russia, Okinawa, Iowa, or Medieval Europe? The human body's the same; the leverage needed to control it is going to lead to similar techniques.

    Like the Gutenberg printing press and the Korean printing press, I'm not sure that similarities in the final product means that one borrowed from the other. Instead, it may just mean that utility makes the final product look a certain way.
  10. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    I agree, but you can still pick out differences between russian judo and japanese judo. There is going to be a certain amount of difference and when you reconstruct something but it ends up sharing the majority of its distinctive quirks with your background style, my first thought would be that there's a good bit of bias affecting your interpretation of the techniques. I'm just a bit skeptical that it'd be a great representation of what really was intended.
    If there were more technical quirks shared with other styles it'd be less striking to me. Of course again, being that sambo does incorporate a certain amount of european wrestling there are going to be some shared executions.

    It helps that I skipped the first two techniques when I clicked ahead to the execution but again, I'm not sure that it's possible to represent relatively common techniques as a part of a given style without also understanding and incorporating the little quirks that make it different from another style.
    I mean if you loved seoi nage as a judoka but primarily used entries on the standard seoi and drop seoi but never made much use of the cross body, single jacket grip seoi, wrong-arm seoi and entangled leg transitions would it be quite honest to say what you're doing is also sambo? You may be using techniques which appear in both styles, but you're doing nothing which would set you apart from someone who only ever did judo.

    Although as a whole I like it and it does show a couple of techniques that aren't terribly common to any of the styles today. I don't have much to gripe about, it's just something that stuck out to me.
  11. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    Yeah, we call it "Frog DNA" when using things from your previous background to fill in the blanks. The key is to reduce the amount Frog DNA as more information comes to light. One doesn't simply say "This is the same as such and such from Sambo" and call it good. That should be your starting point. The key is to cross-reference with other texts that cover the same general techniques (ideally from the same time period and culture) and see if either one fills in the blanks in a way that contradicts the Frog DNA. If it does, then you've gotta change it, or at least be honest that you're doing a hybrid.

    Just to satisfy my curiosity, here are some other vids from the same group. How much Sambo do you think is in there? I certainly don't know, but I'd like to benefit from your experience since you're here. Might as well pick your brain as much as I can! :)

    [ame=""]YouTube - ringschule Wroclaw[/ame]
    [ame=""]YouTube - Medieval Wrestling[/ame]

    Best regards,

  12. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    That first of the two videos is exactly what I'm talking about. The techniques cross over but even some of the practices particular to a given style (like hopping or skipping from well out of range into a throw) are done in a way that is distinct from the base style. Dunno if the changes came from a manual but that video has a variety of executions and "flavor" that's not particular to what I'm used to seeing from modern submission wrestling.

    The second one is also a lot more varied, although most of it is technique I'm not familiar enough with to comment on. The stuff I am familiar with looks pretty standard except for a coupld interesting changes. The low fireman's carry near the end (2.57) is a lot different to me and there's a lot of variety in the sukui nage that I don't see elsewhere.

    I've got none of the issues of the first video with these.

    EDIT: As for visible overlap, there's a good bit of sambo in there that I recognize, but not much more than I'd expect from a western grappling art. For the first video:
    The drill at .24 is fairly distinct but might also appear in high school/collegiate/olympic styles. .58 is something you don't see outside of Sambo much these days but that's mostly because it's banned in judo and while catch wrestlers do do it, they tend to prefer the shot, I think. The kettlebell is another little touch but hardly restricted to sambo. The throw with the knife at 1.10 is not terribly common outside of sambo but wrestlers do it, and I usually see the arm hooking under the crotch instead of a hand grip. The reverse side seoi at 1.18 isn't particular to sambo but it's rare to see it actually drilled and used in motion elsewhere. One of the founders had a crippled arm but used lots of shoulder throws so there's a ton of ridiculous one handed ones and backwards entries. I don't know if that's something that is likely to come much from elsewhere. Everything else is either too common among styles to comment on or is something I'm not terribly familiar with.
    Video 2:
    The arm drag at the beginning of the technique section is something I've only ever seen in catch as catch can. It's a lever on the elbow instead of the regular circular drag which relies on grips, balance and momentum. The same-side-double underhooked osoto is something that happens elsewhere but I see it mostly in sambo since those grips are restricted in judo. The sliding-in back tani otoshi at 1.34 is something that looks sambo to me but not something I see terribly often and it's not something I can say doesn't appear at least as much elsewhere. The only other thing I see is that anytime there's a shot or sukui nage where one could opt to pass guard, they always attack the ankle if it presents itself. Could be sambo influence, could be an option that keeps you from getting bound up in guard passing when weapons and other people are around.
    Last edited: May 10, 2011
  13. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    Tangent alert: what IS the purpose of hopping in on one leg for a throw. Was it a competition rule? A drill meant to practice balance? A drill meant to simulate prior injury? Etc.
  14. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    Well in sambo we walk or run past people from behind or towards people to practice some uchikomi. The idea being that you have to do your movement dynamically, rather than just waiting until you feel ready. You do your throw when the time comes, not once you've stood and prepared for a moment. Dunno the purpose if it exists in the manuals but I'd say it's similar.
  15. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    One-handed and one-armed throws are common in HEMA. Much of the study in Medieval grappling styles centers around armed fighting. Though daggers are often a starting place, grappling involving two-handed swords (longswords), spears, and pole-axes are common. Many throws which involve these weapons, particularly (obviously) the knife, but also to a lesser degree the longer weapons, include elements of controlling the opponent's weapon with one hand while executing the throw with the other. Leverage throws are common with the longer weapons as well.

    Many concepts are universal. I was just commenting last night at Judo, to a Judo instructor who cross-trains FMA, the similarity of concept and movement of some forms of Triangle Stepping and some Judo footwork to the classical Inquartata. Certain elements of it such as range and timing change depending on which weapon is being applied (if any at all), but the basics of the footwork and the purpose thereof are the same.

    Peace favor your sword,
  16. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    Most often, in my experience, it harkens back to either footwear, terrain, or both. Often these things find their way into an art and then just stay there and people forget why.

    I suspect, however, in this case, it is an artifact of the Frog DNA. Hopping is a good way to reposition yourself and build energy during a dynamic throw. A classic example is Uchi Mata that doesn't hit just right from the entry and uke tries to move out of the way. You can usually hop on your supporting leg once or even twice to "find" the right place while uke tries to avoid being thrown.

    Peace favor your sword,
  17. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    I admit that I haven't made any particular special study of Medieval grappling though I have read through the majority of the texts. I don't recall any texts which specifically state to hop, at least not in a way which I would have interpreted as what was illustrated in the clips.

    There were a few mentions here and there of paying particular attention to your footwork as it relates to your terrain. However, I believe that hopping in this manner is particularly well suited to a training hall where the footing is smooth and even. I wouldn't dare try it on wet grass, rocky ground, or any landscape of even modest irregularity. Maybe sand.

    I might be wrong, but (as I mentioned), I'm betting Frog DNA.

    Peace favor your sword,
  18. Freeform

    Freeform Fully operational War-Pig Supporter

    Ken Ken Uchi Mata. It sounds silly, but that's it's name. There is also Ken Ken Harai Goshi, Ken Ken O Soto Gari, etc, etc.

    A lot of times in practice it's less about finding the right 'spot' and more about building momentum as you haven't 'quite' broken his balance. An example would be tipping a car over (you rock it an get momentum going then power through).
  19. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    Interesting observations, Ratty.

    Here's a vid I just stumbled upon with another group interpreting Talhoffer, whose work was derived from that of Ott the Jew (Ott was to grappling what Liechtenauer was to Longsword, having been wrestling master to the Dukes of Austria). Ott is the primary textual influence of the previous vids, apparently, though I see as much Talhoffer in there as I do Ott. The guy doing the interpretations here has a background in BJJ:

    [ame=""]YouTube - Hans Talhoffer 1459 Ringen[/ame]

    Best regards,

  20. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    Thanks for the link!

    IMO most wma-practitioners who have a background in some other ma will be influenced by their former training. If sambo-people pick up talhoffer wrestling, it will probably look like sambo-talhoffer. My teacher was into Aikido, and his Fiore-wrestling was very influenced by his Aikido-background. It was fun to go to seminars with other fiore-instructors, that had a background from Kick-boxing; fiore with another flavour entirely. There is a polish group doing Talhoffer, with a bacground from olympic wrestling, at their take on Talhoffer have a distinct olympic-wrestling-flavor, IMO

    WMA is (mostly) a group of resurrected martial arts, that IMO can be compared with how mammuths would be ressurected; according to some scientists: Put some dna from a mammoth into an elephants egg. In this alogory, the manuals represent the dna, and any given modern MA would represent the egg :D

    The wma-community as I know it is very aware of this, and thus, most wma'ers are willing to descuss theories, and let themselves be convinced if others present better theories. I agree completely with Langenschwert's example, that if you fill in a blank with a technique from -say sambo, that should not be presented as Liechtenauer, but rather like "it could have worked that way", and keep looking for confirmation or other theories to fill the blank.
    Last edited: May 12, 2011

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