Military Review

Battle Profile-7: German Medieval Wrestling

Europeans are known for disregarding their own stories and traditions. At the end of the 19 century, the entire civilized world began to admire the exotic jujutsu, forgetting about European - in particular, the German wrestling traditions. And this is taking into account the martial arts textbooks that appeared in Europe already in the 15 century. But nowadays enthusiasts have emerged who take on the revival of medieval military traditions. One of them is Sergey Viktorovich Mishenev: General Director of the International Academy of Fencing Arts, senior teacher of fencing at St. Petersburg State University.

Battle Profile-7: German Medieval Wrestling

General questions

1. Characteristic style (school, direction) in one sentence

The medieval German school of unarmed combat, based on the treatise of 1539, by the master Fabian von Auerswald, with the involvement of the techniques of Talgofer, Dürer (Ott), Lichtenauer, Meyer.

2. Style motto (schools, directions)

Our school is, first of all, a reconstruction, and it is interesting to us as an ancient martial art. Therefore, we chose the statement of Auerswald himself as his motto, which he quoted in his textbook: “Do not betray a good comrade with courage or struggle!”

3. The origins (beginning) of the direction (when and who founded)

The origins of the German medieval struggle should be sought in the urban traditions of the common people. It is known that already in the XIII century, in the German lands, tournaments of citizens were held, in which the unarmed struggle was very popular. Subsequently, this art began to spread among the knightly class. Auerswald himself, who served as a master of wrestling at the court of the Elector of Saxony, Johann-Friedrich, writes that he studied under various masters, whom his predecessor Johann-Friedrich, Duke Ernst of Saxony, invited to his court.

Since the 14th century, practically in all German fencing treatises such disciplines as the longsword, dusack and dagger necessarily coexist with unarmed self-defense against an armed opponent and struggle.

Our Academy specializes in classical and historical fencing. And since, in the historical tradition, medieval fencing and wrestling went hand in hand, I decided to introduce this discipline into our training classes.

For the reconstruction of medieval wrestling, I drew one of the teachers of the Academy Roman Forostovsky. The novel is not by hearsay familiar with the subject - in his youth he was a free-style wrestling champion of Leningrad. That is why his experience, his vision and methodological equipment are key in the process of recovering techniques.

Actually, this very process of recovery is not something simultaneous. We are now collecting a group of the first year of study, not so much as a group of students, but as a group of like-minded people. Our class of medieval wrestling will be a kind of workshop, a creative laboratory in which all students will become co-authors of a unique and interesting process - the process of recreating the ancient single combat.

Fabian von Auerswald

4. The ultimate goal of the class (the ideal to which the student is going), the physical and mental qualities that he must acquire

All the activities of our Academy are not focused on the idea of ​​a goal, but on the idea of ​​a path. That is, the process of occupation, the process of initiation, cognition, disclosure and, ultimately, the filling of life with interest, for us is paramount. However, of course, the struggle, as well as any single combat, implies the ideals of victory and, consequently, the desire for sport battles. Therefore, each student, in principle, can choose their own goal, their own meaning of employment. For some, victories on the carpet will be such a meaning, and for others - the individual path of a medieval warrior and the pleasure of a sense of communion with a historical rarity.

5. Teaching methods

As I said, for the reconstruction of the medieval struggle, I drew our specialist Roman Forostovsky. Roman devoted many years to the art of wrestling, training in the Soviet sports school. Therefore, the main methodology for our wrestlers will be the Soviet free-style method. We will use the entire traditional arsenal of our wrestlers - gymnastics, special acrobatics, exercises in pairs, game training. But, besides this, we are looking for exercises from antiquity, which can diversify our approaches and give the greatest color to the lessons. For example, Fabian von Auerswald shows an exercise in which a wrestler with one foot is standing in a hole, and the task of the enemy is to push him out of this hole. Historical chronicles have saved quite a few such exercises, and we will search and use them.

Illustrations from the treatise von Auerswald

6. Used equipment (shock, wrestling, zalomnaya, etc.)

For medieval unarmed martial arts are characterized, above all, wrestling techniques, with a large number of grips for the legs and leverage. At the same time, very harsh melee techniques were used in the most tough forms of combat - effects on the eyes and nose, finger fractures ... Textbooks do not lead to such tricks, but their descriptions are often found in various medieval texts.

7. Direction tactics

According to my observations, tactics in medieval martial arts (as with weapons, and without it) was not very developed. Most authors (including Auerswald) do not write about it at all. The main tactical motive in those days was the motive of continuous dominant initiative. This simple move is mentioned in the fencing textbooks of that time.

The most serious question of tactics, or, more correctly, some tactical and psychological qualities was worked out by the Italian author Fiore dei Liberi. In his treatise at the turn of the 14th - 15th centuries, there are images of four animals, the qualities of which were to serve the master of battle as a basis for imitation. These animals are the elephant, personifying power; the lynx is a symbol of quickness, the lion is courage and the wolf is an exact calculation. It is around these "four whales" that we will build our work.

8. The presence of training battles (sparring). In what form, according to what rules are held?

Free fights are an important part of training a fighter. At the heart of the rules we will use the rules of wrestling. But in the future, perhaps, we will develop our own, taking into account medieval traditions.

9. Physical training (general and special) - including work with weights, free weights, your weight

Physical training (the elephant motif of Fiore de Liberi) is the most important basis for the development of a wrestler. Basically, we practice exercises with our weight, as well as with the weight of a partner. Weights are a good tool for training all muscle groups. In the future, we plan to use burdens that are close to the authentic old ones. For example, sandbags.

10. Work against the group

Work against the group is not included in Fabian's treatise. However, this is a very good exercise for the development of spatial vision, orientation and other important qualities for wrestlers. It is in the form of an additional exercise that such an element can be used in our workouts.

11. Work against weapons / with weapons

But this section is very popular in medieval treatises. Fabian has no such methods, but they are widely represented in many other fencing wrestling atlases. The main weapon of the attacker, in this case, is a dagger. And opposition to a fighter with a dagger for a medieval fighter and swordsman was the most common skill.

12. Work on the ground (in the stalls)

Directly among medieval authors such a motive is poorly represented.

13. Work in non-standard conditions, from non-standard opponents (in water, in darkness, confined space, from a dog, etc.)

All of the above, I would refer to additional exercises (as well as work against the group). Exercises in the dark, for example, and even with closed eyes, we have been using for a long time in the process of learning fencing. But the dog is probably not our case. After reading this question, I remembered just one medieval battle that went down in history as the Dog of Montargis ... It happened on October 8 of the year 1371. It was then that a certain Macher was convicted of the murder of the knight Orbi de Mondidier. Since de Mondidier himself could not take part in the duel, the judges put his dog named Hercules instead. In a short duel, Hercules defeated his opponent, who finally admitted that he had really killed de Mondidier.

14. Psychological training

The psychological preparation of a fighter in the Middle Ages was different from modern sports methods. The main spiritual tool in those days was faith. To reproduce a full-fledged medieval religious ecstasy in our day is hardly possible, however, we plan, at least in theory, to tell our students about the spiritual practices and exercises of those centuries. Who has enough enthusiasm and leisure, will be able to endure and use something for themselves.

15. Other effects from occupations (improving, developing and etc.)

I repeat - the main goal and the main intended effect of our classes is to join the historical phenomenon, filling life with interest. That is, as it is not banal sounds - the organization of leisure. But we all understand that if this leisure consists of medieval wrestling, then other positive components of these activities will not take long to wait: strong muscles, dexterity, courage, applied skills of effective self-defense - these are our expected effects. But there is something that distinguishes our school from school, for example, sambo. Namely - the historical basis. This means that as an additional effect, we expect our students to be fascinated by history, literature, and even the visual arts. That is, those sources on which our reconstruction is built.

16. Unique features of the direction (style, school)

The main distinguishing feature of our school is authenticity. Not to say that the full, one hundred percent. Still, we did not take it directly from Auerswald, but we restore it by textbooks. But our claims for accuracy in relation to original sources are very serious. It is in the exact restoration of the German medieval struggle that I see our mission.

17. Use in life (a case of self-defense, when the student was able to protect himself in this area)

Not yet!

Add. questions

18. Did the Germans themselves remember about their methods of struggle in this or past centuries?

- It is known that in the 1943 year, special purpose SS units were created in Germany. These special forces were headed by SS Hauptschturmführer Otto Skorzeny, who, by the way, was himself a well-known swordsman (in his youth he spent 15 duels on cold weapons). So, hand-to-hand combat, including with the use of a dagger, these units were trained in medieval German treatises. According to Peter Kozy, the order to use the treatises was given personally by Adolf Hitler.

After some time, the same idea was adopted by British sabotage special forces.
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  1. VeryBravePiggy
    VeryBravePiggy 30 November 2015 07: 28
    Gentlemen, it is enough to look at who conquered whom, and the understanding comes that ninja-samurai-kung fu and other exotic methods of massacre and carving on the enemy did not help their owners in any way (I mean defending the Motherland from European invaders). And it's not just about "firearms." For the sake of interest, you can familiarize yourself with the practices of some of the best swordsmen in the world - the Spaniards (duel to death) and Italians (to first blood). That is, no one was able to surpass European soldiers in efficiency - neither the Chinese, nor the Japanese, nor the Indians, nor the Papuans, nor the Indians, nor the Africans (there were, it seems, exceptions, in Africa, when the Negro armies heroically and very effectively resisted the invaders - in Ethiopia, it seems, but this is the exception to the rule).
    I won’t say anything about the Russian school of hand-to-hand combat and distance combat - it’s enough to recall our generals and look at the world map. Only the clinical idiot will not be able to determine who is the most skilled in battle, big and scary (in a good sense). For practice shows that it is not so difficult to capture. The main thing is to hold on. Moreover, for half a millennium.
    1. avt
      avt 30 November 2015 09: 38
      Quote: VeryBravePiggy
      Gentlemen, it’s enough to see who won whom, and the understanding comes that the Ninja-Samurai-kungfu and other exotic methods of massacre and carving on the enemy did not help their owners (I mean the defense of the Motherland from European invaders).

      laughing good I tried to explain something like that to one comrade, well, of those who piously believe in the flying monks of Shao Lin and with a wave of their hand making a clearing in the forest, nothing helped, but in the end he fell into a stupor after I asked him to tell where exactly, according to current historiography , came the same "invincible martial arts" well in the same Japan, here he was stupid and visited, after he found the wiring only from India from the West to the East. Then he didn't feel like looking for something - he was afraid for the mental state of his brain. laughing
      1. Riv
        Riv 30 November 2015 11: 06
        Well this is no exception. Rather: the rule. A template break always occurs if a person seriously begins to study hand-to-hand combat. If in India iron weapons, according to some sources, have been known since the beginning of the second millennium BC, when the Japanese were still walking in the skins and tribes were slaughtered with Ainu, then it’s clear who, what and where did they borrow from. And in China, no one ever denied that the glory of the Shaolin monasteries began with Bodhidharma, a native of India.

        But the fact is that in India it is still considered unworthy for a kshatriya to demonstrate his skill for the amusement of the crowd. This effectively excludes ads. Such a popular style of karate as Kyokushinkai is considered rude ("kanka") not because it uses some very dangerous technique. It's just that Oyama advertised it in stadiums. And Bruce Lee is generally considered a clown and they try not to remember him despite the fact that he really achieved a lot.

        ... and besides jokes: in India, sometimes visitors come across things that are really inexplicable from a European point of view.
        1. avt
          avt 30 November 2015 11: 16
          Quote: Riv
          ..and besides jokes: sometimes in India visitors come across things

          Aha - a guy was studying at school in the USSR, he lived with his father in India, so he showed slides with a yogi lying on nails on his chest who was throwing money, and on the second slide the yogi raised his finger in warning. I asked - what is he? And the answer was simple - But I did not throw him money for the photo. laughing
          Quote: Riv
          and things that are truly inexplicable from a European perspective.

          1. Riv
            Riv 30 November 2015 11: 50
            Well, these are just tricks. But yoga and martial arts were created by Shiva, so the source is the same. In fact, there are, for example, breathing techniques that allow you to achieve fantastic results. The Japanese nogare and ibuki are just a pale reflection of another reflection. But even they are extremely useful.
        2. Ziksura
          Ziksura 30 November 2015 22: 18
          Quote: avt
          A template break always occurs if a person seriously begins to study hand-to-hand combat.

          Judging by what you write here, the seriousness of your study of all ...... (insert necessary) rushing. In the world of martial arts, since the beginning of the 90s, people with such views have been called "young pioneers".
          Quote: Riv
          A popular style of karate like Kyokushin is considered rude ("kanka")

          Have you seen kalaripayattu yourself? The Kalaripayattu fight against the Kyokushin fighter is a Gazmyas-Barcelona football match.
          Quote: Riv
          It’s just that Oyama advertised it in stadiums.

          The demonstrations of the Kalaripayattu are a dime a dozen.
          Quote: Riv
          for a kshatriya, it is still considered unworthy to demonstrate his skill in the amusement of the crowd

          Precisely, that for fun. Better not to show, they will laugh. I worked with such. Their brown eyes are goggling as if they are pooping, but they are jerking with their arms and legs, they are trying to do it hard, but to no avail ... In the defense of the hole, at least take a trolleybus ... Here are Koreans, Chinese and Africa - yes. I had a clubmate from Kenya - plastic, the sharpness and endurance are just crazy. Another friend with a rare surname, Lee, did impressive "things". In short, practice is a criterion of truth, not a fairy tale hi
    2. Pissarro
      Pissarro 30 November 2015 15: 51
      These are generally different things, the European army beat the Asian one due to organization and technological superiority, the first being much more important than the second. And martial arts in the modern world are studied for personal physical and spiritual practice, and not for massacre. These skills, by the way, do not help much in a street fight either, no art can save art from a bottle on the back of a head or a knife in the back of a kidney, the gopniks try to surround the victim with a crowd, and are not inclined to fight.
      Napoleon's words, in my opinion, characterize well the value of single combat and organization in military affairs "one Turk will always defeat one Frenchman, and a thousand Frenchmen will always defeat a thousand Turks"
      1. Ziksura
        Ziksura 30 November 2015 22: 22
        Quote: Pissarro
        These are generally different things, the European army beat the Asian one due to organization and technological superiority, the first being much more important than the second.

        EXACTLY !!!!!!
        Quote: Pissarro
        "one Turkish will always defeat one French, and a thousand French will always defeat a thousand Turks"

        Better not say.
  2. Riv
    Riv 30 November 2015 10: 53
    In Germany, such reconstructions are also popular. But they can be understood. National color and all that. And ours apparently has nothing to do. All things are done, we can’t reach the eggs - we’ll deal with the German medieval struggle. :)))

    By the way, I had to see demos. Well, judo - it is also judo. In principle, any technique designed to confront without a weapon to a person in armor is very similar.
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 30 November 2015 11: 49
      And the savatt fight of the French homeless?
      1. Riv
        Riv 30 November 2015 11: 51
        And the fight of the Nanai boys? :)))
      2. The comment was deleted.
  3. AID.S
    AID.S 30 November 2015 11: 09
    Article-net jeans. For the sake of making a profit, this international academy of fencing arts can begin to train those who wish not only the German wrestling, but also anything, even fencing with bath brooms or washcloths ..
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 30 November 2015 11: 47
      What is it? And with a baseball bat you can now only go through with "oblique", suspicious glances, and with a washcloth, or a broom, without suspicion ..... here is the "secret weapon"!
      1. sub307
        sub307 30 November 2015 16: 30
        I personally prefer Russian hand-to-hand combat ... and the Kadochnikov system ... as the most universal "things" for practical use.
      2. The comment was deleted.
  4. Razvedka_Boem
    Razvedka_Boem 30 November 2015 17: 54
    These or other battle styles were formed on the basis of the prevailing realities at that time. For example, the Japanese, having a small weight for a powerful blow, should have invested in it, this is the basis of karate. And for the Slavs, for the Europeans, with an average weight of 70-90 kg, a blow with a carry is enough to knock down or stun. And the technique is completely different from karate and other martial arts. I would have watched the battle of a samurai with a katana and our Cossack with a saber .. I think it’s not at all obvious who will win ..)
    1. Riv
      Riv 30 November 2015 18: 18
      Why try to cross a snake and a hedgehog? Checker and katana - designed for completely different techniques. A checker is a cavalryman’s weapon (infantry and gunners in Russia wore exclusively sabers). Katana is the weapon of the last chance of infantry. The samurai will have only one chance: to climb a tree and higher. :)
      In general, to paraphrase Kadochnikov: in order to enter into such a duel with a samurai, a Cossack must somewhere lose a horse, a rifle, a revolver, a pike, find a clean field, find a samurai in this field, who also lost a horse, spear, musket and armor, expose a saber and fight against a katana.
      1. erg
        erg 30 November 2015 20: 10
        Not at all. Checkers were armed with infantry. So the officers of the guard regiments entered the First World War armed with checkers, which they were unhappy with. The saber was worn on a sling and was uncomfortable to wear because of this. And the saber was attached to the belt, the belt was used to maintain the belt. So the staff captain of the Semenovsky regiment Makarov, who left behind his memoirs about service in the guard, recalled that they were jealous of army officers who received sabers. However, in the cavalry it was not so simple. Not without reason, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Russian gunsmith Fedorov received a task from the government to develop a saber for equipping cavalry. Studies have been conducted that reveal the best curvature of the blade. Samples were created, but it seems that they did not go into the series. In general, many researchers do not share a saber and a saber, like different types of weapons. Both are classified as crooked swords.
        1. Riv
          Riv 30 November 2015 23: 05
          Aha ... Well, when you see a Cossack with a saber, just tell him: "You have a curved sword on your side."
          1. erg
            erg 1 December 2015 07: 32
            So what? At best, shrug - a sword, so a sword. I know this from my own experience. Most are simply not interested in what how and where and why. Like, there are experts - even if they understand.
  5. tochila
    tochila 30 November 2015 19: 50
    Be condescending! Let people study for their own health! Even if the combat KALINKA - the MALINKA would only be beneficial!