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Resources for the Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) student, with a particular focus on the ars gladiatoris of Paulus Hector Mair.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

HEMA Grappling Belts

Renaissance German ringen, or wrestling, is unquestionably a jacket-and-belt wrestling style (much like modern judo and sambo). Recognizing this, I have spent the last few months testing designs for a practical grappling uniform that is distinctly Western and appropriately historical, but also durable and athletic (i.e. not a costume). My ultimate goal is to create a design that the HEMA world adopts as universally as the Asian MA world has adopted the gi. Needless to say, I haven't nailed it... yet.

At the same time, there is no need to reinvent the wheel where Asian-oriented equipment can be modified to suit our needs. This is particularly the case with belts.

Many of the fechtbucher clearly depict techniques that involve belt grabs (Talhoffer and Mair come to mind). Some of the belts in those manuals are worn over a gambeson or tunic, just like a cloth belt is worn over a gi. This is a typical example of a reproduction late medieval belt, like those depicted in historical artwork such as this 14th century effigy of a Welsh nobleman.

In the interests of safety, cost effectiveness, and mat-friendliness, a traditional medieval belt with a metal buckle must be avoided. However, one can easily tie an Asian MA belt to function in the same manner, like this:

I took some time today to make an instructional video showing how to tie a karate belt into this medieval-style knot. It takes about 15 seconds and should never need to be tightened (I have submitted mine to heavy abuse on the mat for two straight hours without having to make any adjustments). Check it out and let me know how it works for you:


Mike Cartier said...

I'm gonna start wearing my BJJ gi like that, they are gonna hate me.

Dave was that a Ninja suit your were in there? that explains why you didn't show your face, it was masked!!! NINJA!!!

Skiritai said...

You have revealed my secret identity! My astral spies shall destroy you!

Actually, it was just a black gi that I had bought for testing purposes when I was trying to develop an ARMA grappling uniform (I also bought a red one).

Let me know how it holds up in BJJ.

Cerkuenik said...

Great post, I´ve been thinking about this also.

I run a group in Brazil and there aren´t any ren groups, which lead to funny comments when people see us wearing medieval clothing, event more when we say that we practice HEMA.

We decided to use a gambeson as our training uniform, to me, it seems that works as a good equipment for longsword and grappling training and it´s historically accurate, which is great for us who wants to learn this forgotten art and to show to public in general what we practice.

When someone who doesn´t know anything about HEMA, we say "this is the european Gi". which clarifies very much what we practice.

Bruno Cerkuenik