An excerpt from William Litt's journal 'Wrestliana' published in 1823, in which he describes the different wrestling throws in Cumberland and Westmorland style wrestling,and the difficulties in establishing rules for 'taking hold' prior to commencement of a bout.

Page 4.

It sometimes happens that the assailant, by turning in quickly with very loose holds, gets into a position exactly before, or with his back to his opponent; in that case if he  do not, by keeping his hands fast, and stooping forward throw him over his head and shoulders, his situation is a dangerous one for losing the fall.  In short the modes of assault and defence in this most manly of all exercises, are so diversified, that a volume might be filled by illustrating that part of our subject only. The act of buttocking, slipping from the side, or breast, and in fact, of everything that constitutes the science of wrestling, depends much upon the different situations which may occur in a contest; and the judgement formed by feeling with the chest and breast, what kind of assault is most likely to prove effective; and generally speaking, quickness in assault, and promptitude in judiciously availing himself of any circumstances that may arise during the struggle, may be called the distinguished characteristics of a good and scientific wrestler.

Opinions respecting the best mode of standing when taking hold are no doubt various, and the particular method of wrestling usually adopted by the antagonist to be encountered, in order to counter attack the intention as well as keeping in view, the method he himself excels in, will always some influence on every judicious wrestler. In the Rule solely devoted to the purpose of obliging those to take hold who cannot themselves agree upon it, we found it absolutely necessary to fix some standard for regulating the hold. Any wrestler need not be told that the subject is the most difficult one that could arise; and that one certain standard was indispensable. Making proper allowance for any man’s mode of wrestling, except it be an extreme of tight (the usual epithet for a close or fast hold) or slack; we are fully prepared to maintain that the standard we have fixed upon, is the best and most judicious that can be adopted. It is usual for men wishing to make more than a fair hold, to shrink their own breast underneath their opponent’s, and pin his arm to his side, close to the elbow – the merest novice in the art will not permit this and yet the shorter man will sometimes argue they ought to stand straight up! Knee to knee is sometimes with equal absurdity proposed; for unless the men are of exactly the same dimensions upwards, it does not in the least alter the subject of dispute. A hat, or a stick, is often laid down, and the men are required to bring their toes up to the mark.

The monstrous absurdity of the ridiculous position this will place men of different sizes in, with their feet close together, and what is sometime jocosely (sic) termed the seat of honour of the taller man hung back, needs no comment. No certain distance between the toes can be equally applicable to all; and therefore the distance which will admit of both feeling themselves at ease and firmly on the ground, may soon be settled between them with the assistance of the umpire, as breast to breast, is the only mode of placing them on an equal footing. Many wrestlers are fond of leaning to the left side, a habit acquired in their novitiate by the desire of seeing their opponent’s feet, or at least his right foot.

This latter circumstance is of no material advantage of itself, as it is the feel and not the sight which generally regulates the movements of  a good wrestler, especially at the commencement of a contest, as is sufficiently evident from the fact, that one man decidedly the master of another, will throw him blindfolded. This lean to the left, as with many it is a supposed advantage, and therefore a considerable obstacle to their getting hold, is worthy of some consideration in regard to its utility, both in assaulting and defending; and therefore, though a dry and complex subject to some of our readers, yet as many wrestlers will deem it both important, and interesting, it is our duty to attempt some elucidation on the subject.

Page1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7

Disclaimer ©2008 Webmaster