Companion Class 12/11/2012

Tonight, inspired by my friends in the Fabian von Auerswald Ringen (German medieval wrestling) group, I thought it was high time to start our own wrestling rotation – a curriculum I’ve been working on for some time, in an attempt to both delineate the canon, what is essential in terms of fundamental, underlying knowledge, what is implicit (allowing for interpolation) and what I can fill from other sources (extrapolation.)

I’ll admit that I find wrestling extremely hard to teach, given a few factors. The first is that I like to teach principles. This is all well and good, but students need concrete examples from which to work, and so I have to whittle down exemplars of what I want to teach. Wrestling also allows for an astounding array of tactical choices in any given situation. Given any combination of positions and situations, there are many responses available to you – and allowing strikes and weapons only makes this all the more difficult to teach, because you have to take that into consideration and distil it further, or else make the distinction that some drills are for drilling basic skills, and may not represent a valid tactical choice in actual combat. Not easy. Not one bit.

That said, I drew up a simple class outline, because I wanted to get in on the ground floor. Simple technical things like breaking grips, getting to the outside, etc. were my goal for the day. so away we go.

We began with a series of simple drills meant to practise breaking grips, but also doing so in a manner that is technically and tactically sound, giving several options once you get to a certain point. The first exercise was simple:

  1. Your partner grips you by the wrist over the top from the outside.
  2. Using dente di cinghiale, exchange the grip from the inside by first raising your right hand towards your left shoulder, moving into the aforementioned posta, then regaining a grip on your partner’s wrist.
  3. do the same for the other wrist.

Note that raising your arm into boar’s tooth breaks the grip by opening the hand towards its weakest point. A number of techniques could be attempted here, but we restricted ourselves to simply breaking the grips.

The next exercise had students doing the same thing, but from the outside. Proper use of boar’s tooth makes the partner either chicken wing (posta alla di pollo) or extend their arm into a  longa-like position, depending on relative distance to your partner. Reverse the grip, and grab his wrist from the outside. Do this back and forth.

We then moved up the measure ladder, to a grip at the elbows, and practised breaking these grips from the outside and inside. Remember: dente di cinghiale is your friend.

The exercises progressed to gaining the outside by passing the arm with an arm drag. The first set of exercises focused on the arm drag from a wrist grip, first from the inside, then to the outside, and moved up to elbow distance to do the same thing. An example exercise follows:

  1. Designate an attacker.
  2. From a wrist grip, establish a rythm of breaking and exchanging the grips from the outside.
  3. Without cueing your partner, quickly break his grip, regaining a wrist grip of your own and shift it to your off-hand, gaining his outside.
  4. Briskly pull your partner with your off-hand, pulling down and to your outside (to porta di ferro) while taking a step towards his back/outside line.
  5. Repeat to either side and with both partners.

I took this opportunity to point out that there are any number of techniques that can derive from this tactical setup, depending on how deep you penetrate, which leg is forward, etc, and these options come from either the remedy of abrazare (full nelson, for instance) or the third remedy of dagger, which places you to the outside.

The above drill was repeated, breaking from the inside, outside, at the elbows, and using tricep control rather than wrist control to pass the arm through to the outside (at step 3).

We also worked one instance of getting to the outside by passing under your partner’s arm. By tugging forcefully on his wrist as you take a step towards the outside, you force his weight into the direction of the pull. You also open up a hole under his arm, under which you can “duck” by dropping your weight somewhat and passing through the opening. Once under the arm, you can apply pressure and stand up to prevent your partner’s response, and his arm gets “jammed up” over his head somewhat. From this position, you can exert control and perform a variety of takedowns – which we did not practise at this juncture.

Finally, we examined a collar and elbow hold – a “clinch” and how Fiore’s wrestling is derived from Greco-Roman wrestling – with caveats. We visited the remedy master of abrazare, specifically the standing arm bar, from this clinch, and will continue this exploration next week.