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 6.

Having thus proved that leaning to one side when the men are supposed to be on equal terms, and acquiring a commanding lean after the contest has begun, are two very different things, it remains for us to consider the advantage, or disadvantage, of the lean to the left side, as it regards the efficacy of repelling, or guarding an attack. As this lean, which implies laying an additional weight upon an opponent’s right arm at the commencement of a contest, when the holds are, or ought to be, equally low around the arm and body, cannot be done without detracting from the firmness of the feet upon the ground, must apparently impede the act of guarding, either a judicious stroke, or buttock – for although it may be a preventative to his being turned to the right by an outside stroke of the left leg; yet it must proportionably (sic) facilitate his being turned to the left side, by the left leg inside, or by the right outside, and hanging his weight to the left side, so far from the centre of balance, is certainly the very thing a good buttocker, or slipper from the breast, would desire. It likewise is not as some imagine, any obstacle to his being lifted from the ground, because by hanging his weight downwards, he has not an immediate command of his strength  to counteract the lift  of his opponent; and instead of bearing him forward with his breast and arms, he has one hanging upon him, and the other closely locked around him. His antagonist so far from having an additional weight to lift, has only the same weight in a more favourable position for lifting it; because, having the greater part already, ha has only that part to raise higher, and the other comes by degrees upon him, and the weight he has to sustain is close to him, whereas were his antagonist lifting, or bearing against him, the weight would come upon him at once, and would be farther from him. Again, the weight of a man is so far from being equal to his strength, that if no impediment were thrown in the way by lifting against, or bearing forward with the arms and breast; a man of ten stone weight, would easily lift one of twenty. When lifted,  the lean is an evident advantage, as it tends to throw him from the exact front of his opponent, it must of course be a considerable impediment to clapping the knees, or legs, close upon him to prevent his striking out, and feeling in what manner, and with what leg, he intends to do it. Having discussed this point fully, and we hope satisfactorily to the experienced wrestler, we will offer a few short remarks upon the hold recommended in the third rule. It is surely a most important and desirable thing, that the same method of taking hold should prevail, throughout this and the adjacent counties; because by practising in some places with loose, and in others with tight holds, when they meet for some considerable prize, no hold satisfactory to all parties can be obtained. This evidently compelled the author of any treatise on the subject to lay down some one particular manner to be resorted to as a standard, when any dispute occurred. The one which seemed to us the best adapted to this difficult point, is as we have before remarked in our observations upon it, such as the tight hold wrestler may gather with, or strike from; and at the same time, one which does not prevent the loose hold wrestler from making use of his own peculiar mode. Such a medium between the two extremes, is the thing evidently calculated to compromise the subject of dispute. As the parties are equally standing without inclining either side, exactly fronting each other, at liberty to breathe freely, and feeling each other by the junction of their breasts – all characteristics of a fair, and which cannot exist in an unfair hold; they are at full, and equal liberty to attack with vigour, and every part of the frame may at once be promptly combined to repel, and on the alert to take any advantage which may present itself in consequence of the attack. But still after all that can be said respecting the superiority of any particular method of taking hold, considerable practice, and attachment to almost any, will render a man very dexterous in it . Accordingly we see many acknowledged first rate wrestlers differ as much in their notions of taking hold as in their methods of assault and defence. Thus, Thomas Nicholson and Thomas Todd, two of the best wrestlers in their weight in Cumberland; and saying this we conceive we might safely add the United Kingdom, or the world; are, or were, both upright standers; while William Richardson, of Caldbeck (commonly called Ritson) the winner of more prizes than any other man in the United Kingdom, wads more partial to the lean; and John Louden from the vicinity of Keswick, a first rate, and a most dangerous customer, was never satisfied without it. As these men, and many others will, in our review of wrestling, again come under consideration, the further mention of them in this place would be superfluous.

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