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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.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Grabbing the opponent's clothing in Mair's Ringen

I have long argued that certain Ringen techniques require you to grip your opponent's clothing.

Roger Norling of Gothenburg Historical Fencing School agrees, and has compiled a series of images from the Ringen chapter of Mair's Vienna manuscript that clearly show belt, sleeve and crotch(!) grabs.

Check it out here.

This is proof-positive that the Ringen community should be training in a BJJ gi or similarly simple, durable, function-over-form grappling jacket, regardless of whether it looks "too Asian."

[Edit: To clarify, we should be training in gi/kurtka unless and until a ringen jacket appears on the market that is equally durable, comparably priced (under US$100), easily adjusted to fit different body types, and appropriate for competition in events that have an open "gi" category. I have yet to see a product that meets those specifications].


Peter S said...

It's not that gis look Asian - it's that they don't provide the same grips. We have a belt grip, a hem grip at the natural waist, and a crotch grip. Of these, a gi (or rather, a belt) would provide the belt grip. It would also provide wide sleeve and cuff grips, and much wider lapel and collar grips than we see used in KdF ringen.

In other words, I think that gis change things away from the set up we're aiming for a lot more than they improve them.

Skiritai said...

I understand your concerns but disagree.

First, your argument is based only on the three clothing grips that are overtly illustrated. There are other clothing grips, express and implied, that are not illustrated.

For instance, in the fifth plate of his Ringen chapter, Mair writes: "In the clinch, ... bring [your] right hand around the opponent’s neck, and be sure to seize the collar of his cuirass, in which the masters of the Art of Athletics are accustomed to being clothed[.]"

Second, the doublets pictured in the manuals were made of a thick quilted fabric. Surely, a thick, quilted doublet would give your opponent's hands much more purchase in the clinch than if you were wearing a t-shirt or rashguard. As it is not practical for us to train in thick quilted doublets, a gi is an expedient way to achieve that same degree of purchase.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, I am of the opinion that we should not limit ourselves to period-specific equipment. Our art should be adaptable to modern contexts, not only for the purpose of self-defense, but also so that we can compete in open grappling tournaments against Aikido/Judo/Jiu-jitsu/BJJ/Sambo practitioners.