Kampfringen: Medieval Combat Grappling
by Keith P. Myersversion 1/28/2001Introduction:
The following is meant as a way to organize the material and jog one’s memory of what a particular technique
consists of. It is not meant to be a detaileddescription of the techniques nor a replacement for the original sourcematerials. It is a supplement and guide for training only. As such, it is subject to continuing evolution and change.It draws primarily on the 15
century works of Hans Talhofferand uses the method presented in his writings as the
basis or foundation for the rest. Hence the use of the terminology….”kampfringen.” “Ringen” is the German word
for wrestling/grappling, but was generally meant to refer to any fighting performed without a weapon. Thus,
striking and kicking methods were also included. “Kampf” is the German word for fight/combat. Therefore theterm “Kampfringen” can be translated as “combat grappling” to distinguish it from the less deadly sportive forms.
The medieval version resembles the more modern-day World War II Combatives approach. Many of the historic
“fechtbuchs” or fighting manuals state that grappling is the foundation of all the weapons skills. Battlefield combat
usually ended up at close-quarters wheregrappling skills were imperative, even with the weapon still in hand.Lots of overlap is seen when comparing the grappling methods with close-in fighting with the longsword,and especially when fighting with the dagger. In fact, working through the techniques in my previously written
“Dolchfechten Primer: Medieval Use of the Dagger” makes an excellent introduction to the kampfringen methods.Talhoffer’s material is supplemented with input from the grappling sections of the Codex Wallerstein, the Goli
Fechtbuch, and Marozzo’s “Opera Nova.”
A Note on the References:
The main source for this work is Mark Rector’s translation of Talhoffer’s 1467 text published as “MedievalCombat.” References cited in the form of “P190” refer to plates from thi
s work. The other Talhoffer source is histext of 1459 as made available on-
line by the Royal Library Denmark. References cited in the form of “49R” or“51V” refer to this source (R for “recto” and V for “verso”, or the front and back of the original pa
ge). The other
major source is the Codex Wallerstein/Vom Bauman’s Fechtbuch written in the late 1300’s/early 1400’s.References in the form of “CW39L” or “CW39R” refer to this source (L and R for the left and right sides of the
plate). Two other source
s offered some minor supplementation. First is the Goliath Fechtbuch of the early 1500’s.
It has lavish illustrations, but of the 130 plates devoted to grappling, only ¼ of them are illustrated. The rest is text.This will undoubtedly become a major source for medieval grappling once it is translated from the Old German.
References in the form of “G231” refer to this source. And finally, Achille Marrozo’s work of 1536 as translatedand interpreted by Pete Kautz in his book “Mani Contra il Coltillo:Hands Against the Knife”, though not a Germanwork, is used as well. References in the form of “M15” refer to this source. Including all of the reference notations
for each technique may seem a bit tedious, but it is meant to show how prevalent these techniques were across
several different sources. This really was not just Talhoffer’s own style, but a common fighting method of the era.
The references will also allow you to check the different sources in the event that something is not clear. Thesesources are all available on-line at the AEMMA webpage by going to:http://www.aemma.org/onlineResources/library_H.htmI can be reached for questions or comment at: email@example.com