Scottish Backhold Wrestling

I love wrestling. I love grappling. I hate it when redneck Yanks boo MMA fights when they go to the ground. Get with the program, fucking wankers!

I grew up watching MMA and the UFC, and particularly enjoyed the grappling aspects of it. Maybe it came from watching Scottish Backhold wrestling events, which are a staple at most Highland Games. Having trained in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Judo for a couple years now, I will attempt to use this post to shed some light on this unique style of folk wrestling and how it differs from the more mainstream grappling styles out there.

Rules

Both contestants start with what is known as an ‘over-under’ clinch, with a right underhook and a body lock, as seen below.

backhold over under

Wrestling begins from here, and a contestant can win by two methods:

  1. Your opponent’s hand-to-hand grip breaks (but you retain your grip).
  2. You force any part of your opponent’s body (with the exception of the feet of course) to touch the ground. In the event that both wrestlers fall to the ground, the one who touches the ground first loses.

Technique differences from Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling

Grappling is grappling, only the rules determine stylistic outcomes. In most wrestling styles, a ‘pin’ is a win; in international styles, one wrestler has to pin both of his opponent’s shoulder blades to the mat for at least 3 seconds. In Scottish Backhold, forcing any contact of your opponent’s body parts to the mat other than the feet is a fall

In freestyle wrestling (and to a certain extent, folkstyle and college wrestling in the USA), ‘shots’ are emphasized.

For those not in the know, shots are basically single legs and double legs in which a wrestler will grab an opponent’s legs with his arms. It is called a ‘shot’ because typically a wrestler will ‘shoot’ to reach his opponent’s legs via an explosive forward lunging motion.

wrestling shot

However, obviously due to the rules that you must maintain your body lock on your opponent at all times in Scottish Backhold, shots don’t apply. Conceptually then, it would appear to be similar to Greco-Roman wrestling, in which attacks to the lower body are not allowed.

While it is true that many Greco-Roman techniques are applicable for Scottish Backhold, under the Greco-Roman ruleset, leg-on-leg attacks, such as trips and footsweeps, are disallowed. In Scottish Backhold, trips and footsweeps are part of the staple techniques.

Backhold3   Anton Doherty & Ryan Dolan    backhold1

Lack of grip fighting and entries

As mentioned, Scottish Backhold wrestlers already start in an over-under clinch position, which means that there is no need to grip fight in order to enter the clinch in the first place. This is a MAJOR difference from the other wrestling styles; if you watch high level Greco-Roman, Judo, or even Freestyle matches, a large portion of the match is spent trying to enter into positions such as the clinch. In addition, the over-under clinch is just one variation of the clinch and is the only one contested in Scottish Backhold whereas in Freestyle and Greco-Roman, there are numerous other clinch options such as double-unders, double-overs, Russian grip, collar-elbow, etc.

So there you have it folks, a quick rundown of Scottish Backhold wrestling and some of its key differences between other internationally recognized grappling styles out there. I hope you found this informative. Check out an example of some matches below.

 

Famous Scottish Actors (That You Didn’t Know Were Scottish)

Every actor and actress nowadays plays a Yank on TV. And they do it convincingly too, what with the accents and all. Barely any Scottish brogue detected, huh. Did you know Batman (not Bat Affleck, but the last one), was Welsh? In fact, some of these actors and actresses even keep their American accents for press tours and promotions to avoid confusing the simpleminded public with their accents. With that said, let’s take a look at 5 Hollywood stars who you may not have known are Scottish.

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  1. Sean Connery – Needing no introduction, Sir Sean Connery, who is still kicking arse at 85 years of age, best known as James Bond and Indiana Jones’ Dad.  He was born in Edinburgh, got into bodybuilding at 18, and got into acting incidentally by helping out a theatre backstage to earn some extra cash. As some stories go, while in Edinburgh, Connery was targeted by the notorious Valdor gang, one of the most ruthless gangs in the city. He was first approached by them in a billiard hall on Lothian Street where he prevented them from stealing from his jacket and was later followed by six gang members to a 15 ft high balcony at the Palais. There Connery launched an attack single-handedly against the gang members, grabbing one by the throat and another by a biceps and cracked their heads together. From then on he was treated with great respect by the gang and gained a reputation as a “hard man”. If that doesn’t scream ‘Ultimate Badass’, I don’t know what does!

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  1. Gerard Butler – THIS IS SCOTTLLANNNDDDDDDD! Best known as King Leonidas from 300 (where he inexplicably kept his Scottish accent) and also the disgraced Secret Service Agent in Olympus Has Fallen (and its upcoming sequel, London Has Fallen), this thespian was born 46 years ago in Renfrewshire. He was also the titular character in the Phantom Of The Opera remake. He also graduated from law school, and rightfully so, left to pursue another career that wouldn’t suck out your soul like a Dementor from Harry Potter. Apparently he also doesn’t drink alcohol (not very Scottish), although he did go into rehab for painkiller abuse (is that more American or Scottish? Hmmmm).

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  1. Ewan MacGregor- Born 44 years ago in Perth, the wise Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi first had his breakthrough role as a heroin addict in Trainspotting. A far cry, from what most Americans know him as. Fun fact: although he does not drink alcohol currently, this was due to a  period in his life where he was effectively a functioning alcoholic (aka being true to his Scottish routes).

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  1. James McAvoy – First introduced to global audiences as a creepy satyr in The Chronicles of Narnia, the 36 year old Glasgow born actor would soon move on to way cooler roles, namely starring opposite Angelina Jolie in 2008’s Wanted. His role as a bullet-bending, physics-defying assassin was so awesomely badass he soon got a role in X-Men: First Class and its sequel, and his star looks to keep on rising. I recommend checking out his role in Filth as a bad cop in Scotland; I won’t spoil the twist for you, but it’s totally worth it.

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  1. Brian Cox – The epitome of ‘that guy’ in the movies. You know, that guy? The one you see in many movies but you don’t know his name? Well, it’s Brian Cox, born 69 years ago in Dundee. Got his break as the first Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter (directed by one of my favourite directors of all time, Michael Mann). Fun fact, he’s connected to James McAvoy as he voiced Aslan the Lion in The Chronicles of Narnia, and he was the antagonist in the second X-men movie as Col. William Stryker. Oh, and he was the baddie in The Bourne Supremacy too.

 

The Highland Games: The Manliest Scottish Export (Part 2)

More Highland Games events aka Badassery Part 2

Weight Over the Bar

Another variation of a hammer throw. Us Scots sure love throwing hammers huh. Rather than measuring horizontal distance thrown however, this one measures how high you can throw it over a bar. Sort of like a high jump, except it’s a fucking metal weight! No doubt Scottish warriors used it to lob heavy rocks over enemy fortifications to crush the heads of the oppressors. Also, I made that up entirely.

In the Highland games there are two separate categories for this event, the light weight and heavy weight. For males, the light weight weighs 2 stone (28lbs) for males and 1 stone (14lbs) for females. The heavy weight stones are double that of the light weight.

Oh, and you think you can use two hands for this? Think again, bitch! You can only use one hand for this throw motherfucker! Better take your whey protein, fool! The guy below may be throwing a weight, or summoning the Gods of Thunder (he should also check out http://theproteininvestor.com/ for the best prices on his whey protein).

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Sheaf Toss

Some say this isn’t a real Highland Games event. Well, some people love to eat feces too. The sheaf is a bundle of straw (the sheaf) weighing 9kg (20 pounds)  for the men and 4.5kg (10 pounds) for the women. The sheaf is wrapped in a burlap bag is tossed vertically with a pitchfork over a raised bar much like that used in pole vaulting. The progression and scoring of this event is similar to the Weight Over The Bar.

Again, some say this is a ‘country fair’ event, rather than a true Highland Games event, but I say HOW MANY ATHLETIC EVENTS ALLOW YOU TO USE A FUCKING PITCHFORK? HUH?! HOW MANY? THAT’S RIGHT.

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FUCK YOU HAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Maide Leisg

Remember when you and your sibling were sitting at the couch watching TV and you decided to put the soles of your feet together and push? Well guess what? We made it into a real event bitch! That’s right, in Maide Leisg, which means ‘Lazy Stick’ in Scots Gaelic. In addition to pressing the soles of your feet of each other, both contestants grab a stick positioned over the middle and pull until one of them (the loser), gets his arse lifted off the ground.

Dirty tactics for this event consists of glancing underneath your opponent’s kilt and saying “You’re not wearing any underwear, bro!” And when he’s distracted, just yank his arse off the ground!

Well, that sums up the ‘standard’ Highland Games events. Basically a collection of fun and cool feats of strength and power. Interestingly, many school track and field athletes use the Highland Games as a way to continue their athletic career, maybe on a recreational basis, after they have graduated from school or college.

maide-laisg

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.

Of course, I would be remiss to mention all the throwing of heavy shit around without mentioning the….

Music and Bagpipes!

Love them or hate them, when there’s Scots, there’s bagpipes. Normally done at the beginning and closing ceremonies of the games, as many as 20 or more pipe bands will march and play together, either playing Scotland the Brave or Amazing Grace.

In addition to the massed bands,  nearly all Highland games gatherings feature a wide range of piping and drumming competition, including solo piping and drumming, small group ensembles and, of course, the pipe bands themselves.

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The British imperialists used to fear this sound….

In the next post, we will take a look at another athletic sport of badassery: Gaelic Wrestling! Stay tuned, folks!

The Highland Games: The Manliest Scottish Export (Part 1)

All right folks, it’s time to talk about Scotland’s most manly export; the fucking Scottish Highland games!

Have you ever walked into an open field and seen large strongmen, wearing kilts and throwing heavy shit around?  Shit such as long poles, stones, metal balls, and even bundles of straw?

Well guess what? You probably just wandered into the greatest contest of all time, a true test of manly strength, fortitude, and big brass balls!

History of the Highland Games

The origins of the Highland Games are mired in legend and story, much like the origin of Highlander. According to the Scottish Highland Games Association:

Some say that Highland Games originated as a clan chieftain’s way of choosing the best bodyguards and the fittest fighters. Not all the chief’s requirements were warlike – musicians and dancers were important for the prestige of his household. Choosing staff and supporters was done by holding competitions – good runners for couriers, strong men for defence and a range of entertainers to amuse them during the winter evenings.

Well personally, if I was a clan chieftain, I can’t think of a better way to choose the biggest, baddest, and strongest bodyguard I can. Take a look at the list of events that comprise the modern games today in order to fully appreciate its total badssery.

Caber Toss

Caber? Don’t you mean Saber? Nope! A caber is a large tapered pole, typically made from a Larch tree which is typically 5.94m long (19 feet and 6 inches for you Yanks) and weighing 79kg (175 pounds). The word itself is derived from the Gaelic word ‘cabar’ or ‘kaber’ which refers to a wooden beam. According to folklore, there are two origins of this event; from lumberjacks challenging each other in manly feats of strength or the need to toss logs across narrow chasms in order to cross them.

caberlarger

Damn, my testosterone levels just shot up listening to that.

How is the event scored?

The objective of the event is to toss the caber so that in turns end over end, falling away from the thrower (known as a ‘tosser’, heh heh). In an ideal throw, the caber should land directly behind the tosser, or in the 12 o’ clock position. The distance thrown is actually not important, but rather the position the caber lands in. So it’s really a unique blend of strength, balance, and accuracy.

Stone Put

Like a shot put, except it’s a goddamned rock. Why use a rock when perfectly spherical, standard weight steel balls have been invented? Because fuck you, that’s why! The stone varies from 7 to 12kg for men (18 – 26lbs) for men and 4 to 8kg for women (8 – 18lbs). Check out this badass below, with his kilt flying in the wind like Marilyn Monroe.

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Scottish Hammer Throw 

Same as a modern hammer throw (another super badass event), but it’s done in kilts. One hopes the spinning action doesn’t give too much away. I like to imagine my hero William Wallace picking up a giant ball and chain and swinging around and cleaving some British heads off. The guy below’s face says it all: “DEATH TO THE OPPRESSORS!”

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I’m tired for now.  To be continued in Part 2……

Scottish Stereotypes

Ok guys, I get it! No really, I get it, okay?

Yes, I am in fact from Scotland, and yes, I am in fact also wearing pants (it’s Tuesday).

Wow, yes, I’m sure you’re amazed that you can understand my accent, even though we’re both speaking English and it’s both our native tongues….. Goddamned wanker!

No thanks, I prefer to stay sober, yes, that’s right, I don’t drink. Yes, for the last time, I am in fact Scottish! GRRRRRRRR! Just kidding, I love drinking!

All right. Stream of consciousness rant over. Let’s take a look at the most common and prevalent stereotypes about us Scots and the true reality of living in Scotland amongst all these weird hard-drinking, haggis-eating, and kilt-wearing, foul-mouthed bastards.

Number One: Alcohol

Well, honestly I can’t really refute this one. I and my fellow Scotsmen really do love to drink. For me personally it’s a large pint (or rather a few pints) of lager after a long hard day of work at the steel mill. Just kidding, the steel industry’s dead and I could never do manual labour. So much for my William Wallace fantasy. I wonder if he would have had any use for IT programmers? I could work for his propaganda department I imagine.

Number Two: Kilts

Guys, when you are out and about, how many ways do you know to discreetly adjust your balls in public? Don’t lie to me, you do it, I do it, all guys do it! Well guess what? If you wear a kilt you will NEVER have to worry about adjusting your balls in public again! Because your family jewels hang loose, free, free from the tyranny of underwear and pants!

Basically what I’m saying is that if you hate freedom, you wear pants. If you truly embody the qualities of freedom, you wear a goddamned kilt! As William Wallace said: FREEDDOOOMMMMMMM!

So yes, I wear my kilts often, and I wear it proudly. COME AT ME BRO!

Number Three: Haggis

What is haggis made of? Blood? Bladder? Liver? Well here’s the truth: IT DOESN’T MATTER!

What are you, some lame-assed vegetarian? Or some sissy health freak who only eats chicken breast?

Rock says haggis

This just in: Haggis tastes great! It makes me feel like a super caveman from the paleo era! Do you think our badass ancestors had the luxury of only eating the lean cuts of the animals they hunted and killed? No, they had to eat every damn part they could, and some of those animal parts go into haggis!

So eat your goddamned haggis people! Any tourists coming to Scotland, come try some, it’ll make you mighty and strong like our Scottish ancestors!

Number Four: Rampant Obesity

Yeahhhhhh, unfortunately true. According to the BBC:

“According to 2013 figures, almost two thirds of adults were overweight, with 27.1% classed as being obese.”

Can’t beat around the bush on this one, if you are coming to Scotland to look for some fit birds for shagging, I recommend you head to good old Londontown. Despite my high level of Scottish patriotism, I might just move to the big city for that reason alone.

Well, that about sums it up. Any Scottish folks, drop me a message!