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    chriscrudelli
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  • Ssireum

    Ssireum

    Ssireum is a form of traditional Korean wrestling dating back five thousand years.
    It is a competition based martial art that pits two contestants against each other in a circular sandpit.
    In order to win a player must force his opponent to the ground. Unlike other combat sports such as Judo or wrestling, if a player can force any part of his opponent’s body above the knee to touch the ground, he is declared a winner. It is thought that it was originally practiced as a tribal ritual. Now a widely practiced and much loved traditional Korean sport. Although not generating the same amount of publicity and prize funds as Sumo in Japan, professional teams are now attracting sponsorship from some of the larger Korean companies. It is not unusual for Ssireum players to compete in other wrestling matches and many participate in mixed martial art UFC, Pride and K1 bouts.

    One unique aspect of this wrestling form is that players wear a satba which forms an important part in the strategy of fighting. The sash worn around the waist and the right thigh of the wrestlers, is a primary gripping point to execute throwing techniques.

    The start of the match is signalled when wrestlers stand in ready position locked together and holding each other’s sash. The rules are simple: in a three minute match the first to score three out of five falls advances to the next round as the winner. If a fall is not scored in three minutes, a three minute overtime is started, and during that time if a fall is still not scored the lighter wrestler wins.

    As it is a pure wrestling system, kicking, head butting and striking are prohibited. Although it is a little known sport outside Korea, it is fast gaining popularity because it is both simple to learn and easy to understand. It requires no special training gear and as a martial art it provides a good, safe structure for students to understand the principles of leverage and redirection of force.

    Linguists are divided as to the origin of the word ssireum but one theory is that the word originates from the verb ssirunda, meaning to struggle against others in the hope of achieving power. However, it is more probable that the word evolved from ‘silum’ referring to Mongolian wrestling. Murals found in tombs in Manchuria dating to the forth century AD show ssireum players battling in exactly the same way as they do today.
    We do know that kicking arts of Korea were practiced alongside ssireum and although the various arts are fragmented today, it would make perfect sense that warriors of old would want to practice both fighting arts and grappling arts alongside each other in order to create well rounded skills for battle.

    Although deaths were rare in the ring, in keeping with the chivalrous nature and code of Korean martial arts, if a competitor killed his opponent in the ring, he was not prosecuted and no ill will was bore against him. He would however be expected to pay the funeral expenses incurred.

    Share your thoughts or experiences here
    Ssireum - Chris Crudelli Martial IQ Forums


    Author of this article Chris Crudelli is a Graduate of London University’s SOAS & Beijing Shi Fan University. He is also a Kung Fu & Taiji Master, Author & TV Host best known for his self-penned BBC TV series 'Mind Body Kick Ass Moves' broadcast in over 180 countries worldwide.

    • chriscrudelli
      #1
      chriscrudelli
      Administrator
      chriscrudelli commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes indeed, I will be adding my research on English, Scottish and Irish wrestling forms over the next few months
    Posting comments is disabled.

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