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Two people wrestling in 1913.
A folk wrestling style is any traditional style of wrestling, which may or may not be codified as a modern sport. Most cultures have developed regional forms of grappling.
Traditionally wrestling has two main centres in Great Britain: the West Country, where the Devon and Cornwall styles were developed, and in the Northern counties; the home of the Cumberland and Westmorland styles and Catch wrestling.
North Country styles
- Lancashire wrestling is a historic wrestling style from Lancashire in England known for its "Catch-as-catch-can", or no wrestling holds barred, style.
- Catch wrestling, or Catch-as-catch-can, originated from Lancashire wrestling but was further developed during the travelling circus phenomenon of the 19th and early 20th century.
- Backhold Wrestling, whose origin is unknown, was practised in North England and Scotland in the 7th and 8th century but competitions are held in present-day at the Highland and Border Games as well as in France and Italy. Styles of Backhold are distinct from Lancashire Wrestling because they enforce rules designed to minimize injury to the participants by disallowing ground fighting.
- Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, or Cumbrian Wrestling, is practised in the northern counties of England. It is a form of Backhold Wrestling where the wrestlers put the left arm over the opponents right arm and grip behind the opponent's back. Throws and trips are important since the first wrestler to touch the ground or break hold loses. Competitors often wear stockings (long johns), singlet and trunks.
- Scottish Backhold is a form of Backhold practised in Scotland. Almost identical in style to Cumberland & Westmorland style apart from variations in rules. Competitors often wear kilts.
West Country styles
- Cornish wrestling, originating from Cornwall, is a form of jacket wrestling. It does not use groundwork. It is related to Breton Gouren wrestling. From the late middle ages it became very popular throughout Britain and then spread through the world in the 18th and 19th centuries, and with regular tournaments and matches in the USA, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and with less frequent tournaments in Canada, Mexico and Japan.
- Devon wrestling, or Devonshire wrestling, was a style similar to the Cornish style in that jackets were worn. Devonshire wrestlers, however, also wore heavy clogs and were able to kick the opponents. In matches between Cornish and Devon, Devonshire wrestlers might have worn one shoe only. Unlike Cornish wrestling, the style is generally considered to be extinct.
- Barróg was a form of backhold wrestling practiced primarily in the west and north of Ireland. The earliest visual depictions date from the 9th century AD, and matches in the style are recorded to have taken place up until the early decades of the 20th century.
- Collar-and-elbow is a jacket wrestling style native to Ireland that can be traced back to the 17th century. It was introduced to the United States by Irish immigrants, and was one of the most popular wrestling styles practiced nationwide there for much of the 19th century.
- Glíma, the national sport of Iceland, originating from Norway, and traces its history to the Vikings and the Norse. It is a standing style with rules similar to Shuai jiao and Bukh, and consists of three forms: 1) Hryggtök, the Backhold Grip; 2) Brokartök or the Pant-and-belt Grip that utilizes a leather harness around the waist and thighs, which the wrestlers hold (making it a form of belt-wrestling similar to Swiss Schwingen), and 3) Lausatök or Free-Grip is the most aggressive form of glima and contestants can use the holds they wish. It is practiced both outdoors and indoors.
- Kragkast, type of folk wrestling originating from Sweden, similar to Freestyle wrestling
- Western Europe
- Gouren - traditional Breton jacket wrestling. Similar to Cornish wrestling.
- Ranggeln - meaning "to wrangle" in German, Ranggeln is a prominent form of wrestling in Austria. The winner is the man who pins his opponents to the ground
- Schwingen - Swiss style of wrestling considered to be one of the oldest forms of wrestling. Wrestlers wear special canvas trousers.
- Calegon - another form of Swiss folk wrestling, whose techniques were further developed among others into freestyle wrestling
- Southern Europe
- Eastern Europe
- Trântă: Upright wrestling from Romania and Moldova; it can also be practiced from the knees. The victor receives a loaf of bread, a treasured commodity in Moldova.
- Narodno rvanje, is a wrestling style from Serbia, In Narodno Rvanje there are three disciplines, depending on the hold, they can be chest hold, belt hold or back hold.
- Pelivan is a wrestling style practiced in Albania, Serbia and Bulgaria
- Northern Europe
- Coreeda, a modern synthesis that combines traditional Aboriginal dance, mainly in the form of kangaroo mimicry, with a style of wrestling performed around a yellow 4.5m diameter circle with black and red borders similar to the Aboriginal flag. Competitors wear knee length pants, a wide sash belt and a jersey that can be grabbed to assist in throws. It is based on similar games that were played in pre-colonial Australia and is usually performed during NAIDOC in the Western Suburbs of Sydney. Extinct indigenous Australian styles include turdererin from Southern Victoria, partambelin from Southern NSW, goombooboodoo from Western NSW, ami from Southern QLD and donaman/arungga from Northern QLD.
- Epoo korio, a friendly style of wrestling done on Kiwai Island in the Fly River Delta of Western Province of Papua New Guinea, involved one wrestler who had to defend a small mound of sand which his opponent was trying to destroy.
- Boumwane, the national style of Kiribati with a simple toppling victory performed during National Day celebrations, a similar sport is also played in Nauru.
- Fagatua, the indigenous style of Tokelau used mainly to settle regional disputes between villages.
- Hokoko, the indigenous style of the Kanaka Maoli of the Hawaii Islands, first recorded by crew members during HMS Resolution's 1779 visit to the main island as part of the pa'ani'kahiko or 'ancient games', performed during the Makahiki New Year Festival. Along with mokomoko boxing it is a core skill of the bone breaking martial art of lua.
- Rongomamau, the indigenous style of the Maori of New Zealand, mainly used for warrior training and was used to disarm Warriors during battle.
Based on the movements of the
Maori Gods of nature, this art
is still practised by those
trained by Te Whare Ahuru
- Moana, the indigenous style of the Ma'ohi of Tahiti and French Polynesia; along with teka (spear throwing), motora'a (boxing) and amoraa ofae (heavy stone lifting) will be included as part of the Heiva i Tahiti or traditional sports festival held in Papeete every July. A similar sport is also played in the Cook Islands during the Te Maeva Nui national day celebrations.
- Pi'i tauva, the indigenous style of the Kingdom of Tonga was first seen by Europeans in 1777 in which the artist John Webber recorded in lithograph. It combined boxing and wrestling, being performed as entertainment for visitors by both men and women.
- Popoko, the indigenous style of the Maori of the Cook Islands, is an ancient traditional form of wrestling on the island of Pukapuka. The young men don thick belts called maro that are woven from coconut fibre and in a ritualistic procession, annually they march from their villages to a communal meeting ground. When a man wins a match, the entire village sings a tila or a wrestling chant from their village.
- Taupiga, the indigenous style of the Samoan Islands saw the wrestlers greased up with coconut oil before competitions (similar to Turkish yagli gures) and was an important part of the inter-village gatherings.
- Uma, also known as Kulakula'i, is a hand-wrestling game practiced by the indigenous residents of Hawaii. The contestants kneel and grasp each other's elbows on the same side. The object is to force one's opponent's arm to the ground. The game was frequently played by the Hawaiian ruling class (the Ali'i).
- Veibo, the indigenous style of Fiji was mainly used as a method of warrior training but also occasionally as a form of entertainment. In the early 20th century, indentured labourers were brought from India to work the cane fields and their style of wrestling, kushti, was fused with veibo to create a hybrid style similar to freestyle wrestling.