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Schwingen: Swiss Style Wrestling

The Swiss form of wrestling called 'Schwingen' has been part of Swiss culture for centuries. Competitions in Schwingen were first described in the 13th century and are still held throughout the year these days. Many Swiss practice this interesting sport and the national competitions are sure to draw a big crowd every year.

The important competitions of this sport are called 'Schwingfeste' or 'Schwinget' in Swiss German. This basically translates to 'Swiss wrestling festivals'. These can be regional, cantonal and national competitions with higher honors and prestige given to winners of the national events.

The most important Swiss wrestling competition is the Eidgenössische Schwing- und Älplerfest ('Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival') which takes place once every three years in changing locations. The champion of this festival receives a young bull and is crowned 'Schwingerkönig' ('Swiss wrestling king').

Other important competitions are the Unspunnen-Schwinget, Kilchberg-Schwinget and the Brünig-Schwinget. All of these festivals are held outdoors during the summer months in Switzerland. Most of these festivals also include Swiss folk music, yodel, folk dancing and other Swiss traditions.

How to Wrestle in Schwingen Style

What makes Schwingen different from other styles of wrestling? Swiss wrestling shares common elements to other forms of wrestling. One example: the aim of a Schwingen fight is to force the opponent on his back just like in other wrestling matches. Other rules, e.g. which body parts you're allowed to grab, push or pull, are probably slightly different. The official Swiss wrestling rule book can give more detailed insight into this matter.

The most obvious difference between Schwingen and other wrestling forms lies in what meets the eye. Instead of mats, Swiss wrestlers fight on a circular field that is filled with sawdust. Instead of wearing wrestling singlets, Schwinger wear normal clothes - jeans and a plaid shirt are common - and a special pair of baggy shorts made of jute over their pants. This short is one of the places the opponent is allowed to pull to bring his opponent to fall.
If you'd like to get a better understanding of Swiss wrestling, I recommend you check out this short documentary about Schwingen that produced. It which will give you an excellent overview over the sport, its rules and traditions.

Wikipedia site on Schwingen




  1. I was there yesterday. I pretty much stumbled upon it. Pretty hilarious, but so entertaining! The crowds really got into it, and believe it or not, so did I!


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