Paschen Primer: Ring-Buch of 1659

by Keith P. Myers 12/24/2000 Introduction: The following is my summation of the unarmed fighting method illustrated in J. G. Paschen’s “Ring Buch” written in 1659. It is meant as a way to organize the material for ease of learning. The written descriptions that follow should help jog your memory of the methods involved as long as you have worked through them while studying the original illustrations. A big thanks goes to Eli Steenput for translating the text of the original and making it available on his website at: Also thanks to Ken Pfrenger. I believe he scanned in the first jpegs of Paschen’s illustrations and made them available on his website at: I recommend printing out both versions. Eli’s has the English translation, while Ken’s has larger and clearer illustrations. The techniques covered by Paschen make a good compliment to the Kampfringen method shown in Talhoffer’s manuals some 200 years earlier. They tend to have more of a civilian/kicking-butt-over-ale-at-the-localtavern feel to me compared to Talhoffer which seems more battlefield oriented. Just my opinion. I haven’t attempted to follow along with the original sequence in Paschen’s Ringbuch. I have organized it in a way that helps me learn and remember the techniques. The references in the form of “N12” refer to the original illustrations. I. General Orientation:

Paschen divides the human body into three parts: the Strong, the Half-Strong, and the Weak. He organizes it in the following fashion: (N1) 1. Head: Top/Crown = Weak Below the Crown = Strong 2. Arms: Upper Arm = Strong Forearms = Half-Strong Wrist/Hands = Weak 3. Torso & Legs: Trunk = Strong Upper Legs/Thighs = Half-Strong Lower Legs & Feet = Weak The general principle involved states that when you attempt to break free from a hold, you will usually apply the Half-Strong (typically forearm) of your body against the Weak (typically wrist or hand) of the opponent. Not much elaboration beyond that. But one could take that general principle and find multiple applications.

II. Basic Defenses: Like most of the manuals of this era, the majority of the unarmed methods shown center around grappling, with little to no striking involved. But Paschen does show more striking than most and offers a few defenses against same. 1. Duck & Cover: (N9) Here’s a good common-sense one for you. You’re in the local tavern and one of the rowdys takes offense at something you’ve said and decides to toss his tankard of ale at you. Move in while shielding your head and face with your arms. 2. Finger Lock: (N8) This is actually described as a follow-up after you have freed yourself from a grab by one of the many methods that will be described shortly. But it will work equally well against someone sticking their finger in your face or jabbing you in the chest. Get your fingers between those of the opponent and press them back to take him to his knees, or turn them outward to sprain them. As a follow-up after breaking a two-handed grab or hold, try to apply it to both of his hands at the same time. 3. Double Downward Grab: (N36) This one is also in Talhoffer. It is used against any kind of thrusting attack to your abdomen or rising attack from below your waist. Grab downward onto his wrist/forearm from above with both of your hands; pull down and headbutt him. You may have to hike your body back depending on the depth of his thrust. 4. Forearm Parries/Parades: (N30, N31) This portion is rather unclear. These seem to be intended as defenses against strikes, but the descriptions are very short and do not explain anything. The illustrations are rather ambiguous because it is unclear who is doing the striking and who is doing the parrying. So, depending on how you interpret the illustrations, four parries can be seen: a. Outward Rising Forearm Parry: (N30) Moving from your inside outward (Rt to Lft with the Lft arm); contacting with the outside surface of the arm; elbow down; like the stereotypical Karate block. b. Outward Horizontal Forearm Parry: (N30) Also moving from the inside outward, but on a more horizontal line that sweeps across with the elbow pointed outward. c. Outward Dropping Forearm Parry: (N31) Dropping and moving from the inside outward to block on the low line with the outside surface of the forearm. Again, rather like a stereotypical Karate block. d. Scooping Parry: (N31) Moving from the inside outward but contacting with the inside surface of your forearm just above the wrist to catch and scoop; your elbow points forward and up. 5. The Basic Double Arm Tie-up Or Clinch: (N48, N49) This can be used to set-up many of the techniques that will be described in subsequent sections. You have grabbed both of the opponent’s upper arms from the inside and he has grabbed both of yours from the outside or vice versa. Alternatively you could each grab one on the inside and one on the outside, though this is not illustrated. From here you would each try to off-balance the other by pushing and pulling back and forth to gain advantage. This forms the core of a good training drill by using this back and forth play to set up any of the throws, takedowns, armlocks, etc. that will be described. Your partner can provide just enough resistance to keep you honest while you are learning to apply the techniques. Since he doesn’t know exactly when you are going to apply the move, he is less likely to just “play along.”

III. Releases/Escapes from Holds: A. Single-hand Grab to the Upper Arm: 1. Forearm Smash: (N2, N3) Swing your arm up either from the inside outward or the outside inward to smash your forearm across his wrist/forearm and release his grip. (your Lft arm to his Rt arm or vice versa) 2. Elbow Bend: (N4) Swing your arm up from the inside outward to strike into the bend of his elbow with your forearm and force his arm to bend and weaken his grip. I would follow this with scooping his elbow down and inward to turn his body and off-balance him. You could even reach under and grab your own wrist for added leverage…kind of the mirror image of the next technique. 3. Arm Pull: (N5) Swing your arm up from the outside and over his wrist/forearm; grab your own wrist/forearm with your other hand and pull downward to lever against his arm and break his grip. B. Grab to both Upper Arms at the same time: 1. Double Forearm Smash: (N6) As above, applied to both sides at once either inward or outward. 2. Double Elbow Bend: (N7) As above, applied to both sides at once. If you scoop both of his elbows inward and towards you as a follow-up, you can pull him right into a headbutt. C. Double Grab to your Single Upper Arm: 1. Forearm Smash: (N12) As above, applied from the inside outward against one of his forearms/wrists. 2. Elbow Deflection: (N11) Place your hand on your hip; pivot inward and strike from the outside inward against his forearm with your elbow. D. Cross Grab to your Shirt or Lapels (opponent crossing his forearms to grab with both hands) 1. Double Forearm Smash: (N10) As above, just as if he had grabbed your upper arms; moving from the outside inward. The text also states that you can apply this from the inside outwards, but this seems to be a poor choice to me. E. Single-hand Wrist Grab from Above: 1. Outward Release: (N13, N14) Turn your elbow up and your palm outward to rotate your arm and break his leverage; pull outward to free yourself from his grip 2. Inward Release: (stated, but not illustrated) Drop your elbow and turn your arm palm inward; step either into him or straight back as you bend your elbow and pull inward to free yourself from his grip. F. Both Wrists Grabbed from above at the same time:

1. Double Outward Release: (N15) As above, with both arms at the same time.

2. Double Inward Release: (stated, but not illustrated) The text simply states “The same inwards.” As with D-1 above, I don’t think I would try this one. Maybe Paschen was just trying to cover all the bases here. G. Single-hand Grab to your Waist/Flank: 1. Downward Forearm Smash: (N16, N17) Circle your arm either inward or outward from above his in order to strike against his wrist/forearm with the portion of your forearm closest to the elbow. The outward smash ends up knocking his arm away, while the inward version ends up being more of an elbow wrench. 2. Chop to Elbow: (N20) With your same-side arm strike down and outward with your hand/forearm into the inside of his elbow to bend his arm and destroy his leverage/break his grip. 3. Elbow Wrench: (N22) With your same-side arm strike from the outside inward with your forearm across his elbow to wrench his joint and break his balance. H. Double-grab to your Waist/Flanks (both sides at once): 1. Downward Forearm Smash: (N18, N19) As above, with either both hands at once or with either arm alone. 2. Double Chop to Elbows: (N21, N24) As above, with both arms at once. N24 is a bit confusing. It is actually placed with the descriptions of the elbow wrench, which doesn’t make sense. The illustration looks to me like the double chop applied closer to your body against his wrist/forearms rather than his elbows. 3. Elbow Wrench: (N23) As above, with either both arms at once or with either arm alone. 4. Double Elbow Strike: (N29) Strike downward against each of his wrists from the inside and then bear downward and outward to break his grip. I. Single-hand Grab to your Throat:

1. Forearm Smash: (N25, N26) Swing your arm up from either the inside outward or outside inward to strike against his forearm with yours and break his grip. (your Rt arm to his Lft arm or vice versa) 2. Elbow Deflection: (N28) Place your hand on your hip; pivot inward and strike against his forearm with your elbow. (your Rt to his Lft or vice versa) J. Double-hand Grab to your Throat:

1. Double Forearm Smash: (N27) As above, with both arms at the same time.

IV. Offensive Techniques and Counters The following section includes attacking/offensive methods, counters to some of those methods, as well as counters to some holds. The tone of this section changes somewhat, because now the methods are designed to damage the opponent rather than just remove yourself from his grip. 1. Chopping Strike: (N32) The illustration makes this look like a finger-jab, but the text states that you “hit with the blade/edge of the hand.” Strike outward to the nose, mouth, or throat on a horizontal or diagonal line. 2. Hair Pull & Uppercut: (N33) Grab a handful of his hair from behind and yank his head back as you strike upward to his chin with your fist. 3. Fish-hook: (N34) Shown as a counter to a front bear-hug. Stick your thumbs into his cheeks on both sides and rip outwards. 4. Elbow Strike: (N35) This is another one that is open to interpretation. The text simply says to strike with your elbow to his face or ribs. The illustration shows the aggressor with his elbow in his opponent’s face and his hand close to his chest. How did he get there? Based on the position of his hand at a level slightly lower than his shoulder, my interpretation is that his strike has traveled on a horizontal plane to its target. This could have gone either from the inside outward, or the outside inward. He could also have done a forward strike simply by putting his elbow up as he stepped in. 5. Throat Grab: (N37) Grab him by the throat with either hand and strongly push it. Shown with arm extended. Not described as a choke, but could be used that way depending on the strength of your grip. 6. Front Kick: (N38) Hard to say whether this is meant as an actual kick, or more as a strong push with your leg. Eli translates it as “kick”, so I’ll take his word for it. Either way, it is applied to the front of the opponent’s knee/upper shin with the intention of hyperextending/breaking his knee. In the illustration the aggressor appears to be contacting with the heel of his foot just behind the arch. In my opinion I think that this was probably meant more as a “leg push” than a kick because a…. it is clearly meant to hyperextend the knee, which a sharp kick would not necessarily do without lots of forward pressure, and b….it shows contact with the heel rather than the point of the shoe. 7. Counter to the Front Kick: (N39) Move your leg backwards to avoid his attack; catch/grab his foot with both hands and throw him. Exactly how you are to throw him is not stated. It could be straight backwards simply by lifting his leg and moving in. Or it could be to one side or the other by grabbing his heel and twisting as you pivot your body. 8. Double-leg Takedown with Head Ram: (N40, N54) This is described as a follow-up after freeing yourself from a double waist or lapel grab with the double elbow strike (N29) as well as an independent attack upon the opponent. It could follow almost any of the releases/escapes covered previously. Grab both of his legs just above the backs of his knees; surge forward to ram the top of your head into his abdomen as you lift his legs to throw him over onto his back. 9. Inward Wrist Lock & Elbow Wrench: (N41) Grab the opponent’s hand (your Rt to his Rt or vice versa); twist/rotate it so that he is palm outward; strike against his extended arm with your other arm to hyperextend his elbow. This could flow into a straight armbar or a downward bent armbar, neither of which Paschen covers. 10. Counter to Inward Wrist Lock: (N42) Bend your elbow and step in quickly to drive the point of your elbow into his face.

11. Upward Elbow Wrench: (N43) Grab his hand (Rt to Rt or vice versa); pull sharply to off-balance him as you strike upward with your other forearm to hyperextend his elbow. This is also a good counter to a handshake that is just a bit too forceful for comfort. 12. Counter to the Upward Elbow Wrench: Same as for the Inward Wrist Lock (N42), or “turn your arm and free it” (N44). That’s all the text says, and the picture is not very clear either. You could interpret it as simple yanking upward quickly to free yourself from his grab, but that does not involve turning your arm. Another interpretation is that you have turned your arm elbow upward to avoid being hyperextended and yanked down and inward to free yourself from his grab. 13. Over-The-Shoulder Armbar: (N45a) Grab his arm near the wrist with both of your hands; pivot 180 degrees and place his elbow across the top of your shoulder; press upward with your body as you pull down on his arm to hyperextend/break his elbow. In the illustration the aggressor has the opponent’s right arm across his own right shoulder so that he is standing directly in front of the opponent. An alternative is to pivot so that his right arm is across your left shoulder and you are standing slightly off to one side. I feel that the version illustrated is more easily countered than its alternative, as we shall see in entry #15. 14. Counter to the OTS Armbar #1: Rear Leg Takedown (N45b) This one has to be the poorest illustration in Paschen’s whole manual. He has executed the technique so that he is standing directly in front of you. From what I can surmise, quickly bend your elbow and turn your arm to avoid hyperextension; grab his same side ankle/foot with your other arm; pivot as you lift his leg and pull with your grabbed arm so that he is forced backwards over your leg that is on the same side as the arm he grabbed. 15. Counter to the OTS Armbar #2: Pull Down (N46) If he has executed the technique so that he is standing directly in front of you as before, quickly bend your arm so that your hand is against his chest to avoid hyperextension; step backwards and pull him off balance to the rear. The illustration is that simple, the text includes instruction to place your knee in the opponent’s back for extra leverage as you pull him over onto his back. 16. Hip Throw: (N47) This one is pretty standard. It is described as a follow-up after freeing yourself from a double arm grab, but could follow many of the releases/escapes previously described. It would also make another good counter to the OTS Armbar. It is illustrated with the opponent in the face-forward position, but can be applied with him in the facebackwards position as well. Throw your arm around his body under his arm; pivot 180 degrees and place your hip against his body; toss him onto the ground in front of you. 17. Head Ram: (N50) Bend over and rush forward to strike him in the abdomen with the top of your head. In the illustration the aggressor appears to be grabbing the opponent at the waist on both sides as he does the ram. 18. Counter to the Head Ram #1: Push Down (N51) As he comes in, push his head downward; grab him by the back of the pants and pull so that he falls forward onto his head. Also counters the Double-leg Takedown (N40) & the Double-leg Throw (N53). 19. Counter to the Head Ram #2: Upward Knee Strike (N52) Lift your leg quickly to strike him in the face with the top of your knee as he comes in. Also counters the Doubleleg Takedown & the Double-leg Throw. 20. Double Leg Throw: (N53) Insert your head between the opponent’s legs as you grab him around both of this upper legs/thighs; stand upright and lift him up to throw him over you onto the ground behind you.

Final Remarks: I find Paschen’s method to be relatively simple and straight-forward. I think the real meat of medieval-era unarmed fighting is to be found in the works of Talhoffer and Dei Liberi. But since it is relatively simple, Paschen’s Ringbuch makes an excellent starting point for studying medieval wrestling/grappling before going on to the more rounded method found in the manuals by the others. So print out Paschen’s Ringbuch, find a willing partner, and work through this primer with the original illustrations in front of you. Work on mixing and matching the various offensive follow-ups with different escapes/releases from the various holds. Use the tie-up drill as a form of controlled sparring to work into the many techniques described. Play with this, and I’m sure you will be able to take it beyond what is found in Paschen’s illustrations, while still being “period” and historically accurate.

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