Swiss wrestling (German " _de. Schwingen", colloquially " _gs. Hoselupf") is the Swiss variant of
folk wrestling.It is considered a Swiss national sport, even more prominent than Hornussenand Steinstossen.
The roots of Schwingen in
Switzerlandcannot be determined. A picture from the 13th century (in the Cathedralof Lausanne) shows the typical way of gripping the opponent. In central Switzerlandand in the Swiss plateau, mainly on the northern rim of the Alps, the " _gs. Hosenlupf" (literally: "trouser lifting") was common in public festivities. The prize at many alp festivals was a piece of trouser cloth, a sheep or other natural prizes.
The first alp herder's festival in Unspunnen (
Unspunnenfest) 1805 brought a revival of Schwingen. At that time, Switzerland had been invaded by France. The goal of this festival was to reinforce the Swiss national consciousness.
In the last third of the 19th century, memorable Schwing festivals and a lively activity of educated
gymnasticsteachers brought Schwingen to the big cities. Thus the original fight of the herders and farmers became a national sport that reached all social levels. The associations, headed by the "Eidgenössischer Schwingerverband" (founded 1895), organised the sport by integrating regional peculiarities, improving the abilities of the fighters with teaching books and practices, and creating modern tournament rules.
Despite this extension to urban areas Schwingen is still most popular in the traditional rural areas of the northern alps.
The match takes place on the ring, a circular area with a diameter of 12 meters that is covered with saw dust. The two opponents wear short pants made of
juteover their clothes. The wrestlers hold each other at these pants (the back where the belt meets.) and try to throw each other onto their backs. There are several main throws, with names like "kurz", "übersprung" or "wyberhaagge", some of them very similar to judo techniques - "hüfter" is almost identical to Koshi Guruma, "brienzer" is basically uchi mata. These throws are found in many wrestling systems with even the slightest emphasis on throwing the opponent, and can also been in shuaijiao. A match is won when the winner holds the opponent's pants with at least one hand and both the opponent's shoulders touch the ground. By tradition the winner brushes the saw dust off the loser's back after the match.
The match is judged by three
referees, one of which stands in the ring. The referees give points, with a maximum of ten points for a winning throw. If the match ends without a clear win, the more active Schwinger is awarded the higher number of points.
At a Schwing festival, every Schwinger wrestles six opponents, or eight at the Eidgenössische. The two Schwingers with the highest number of points after five (seven at the Eidgenössische) matches get to the Schlussgang (last round). The matching of the Schwingers is done by the "fight court" according to arcane rules. Often there are suspicions that the matchings have not been fair, to favor one contestant.
There are no weight classes nor any other categories. Usually, though, Schwingers are big men with a size above 180 cm and a weight above 100 kg, mostly craftsmen from a traditional profession which requires some physical force like
carpenter, butcher, foresteror cheesemaker.
The Schwing venues, regional and cantonal Schwing festivals, are held outdoors, between early summer and autumn.
The most important Schwing festival is the "
Eidgenössisches Schwing- und Älplerfest", that takes place every three years. The winner of this tournament is proclaimed "Schwingerkönig" and receives a bull as his prize.
List of tournaments and winners
A list of "Eidgenössische" tournaments with "Schwingerkönig":
Traditionally, Schwingen is a male sport. Women have only been schwinging for few years, the Frauenschwingverband, women's Schwing association, having been founded in 1992.
The Sennenschwinger (members of a "pure" Schwing club) wear dark trousers and a colored shirt, mostly bright blue, while the Turnerschwinger (members of a sports club dedicated to other sports as well) wear white pants and a white t-shirt.
Advertising and sponsoring is shunned at Schwingen. Successful Schwingers do not receive cash prizes but natural prizes, like cow bells, furniture or live stock. These prizes may be sold for money.
The best Schwingers at a festival are given a wreath, the winner of the Eidgenössische is given the title of Schwingerkönig (schwinger king).
* [http://www.schwingerverband.ch Schwingerverband - Matches and Results]
* [http://www.esv.ch Eidgenössischer Schwingerverband]
*http://www.jabderhalden.ch/ (J. Abderhalden, "Schwingerkönig" 1998, 2004, 2007)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.