«Schwingen” is a special variant of wrestling and probably the most traditional sport in Switzerland. Even more typical than skiing. “Schwingen” is also called “Hoselupf”, which means literally translated trouser-lift, which comes from the fact that you used to grab your opponent by his trousers and tried to knock him out until he gave up.

“Schwingen” is a big part of the Swiss culture

The origin of “Schwingen”

The roots of “Schwingen” are not clear. In the 13th century, a representation of the wrestling was first found in the cathedral in Lausanne. In Central Switzerland and the Central Plateau, “Schwingen” has been an integral part of festive culture for many hundreds of years. At numerous alpine festivals, people used to wrestle for a piece of trouser-cloth, a sheep or other natural objects. The fame of victory counted for far more than the actual price. And that is still the case today.

In the 19th century, “Schwinger festivals” and sports teachers brought “Schwingen” from the countryside to the cities. Thus, a national sport developed from the original game of the shepherds and farmers, which was and is popular within all social classes.

The main techniques

To become a successful wrestler or “Schwinger”, you need good body control and the right technique. By now, “Schwingen” knows about 100 different movements with five main swings:

  • Brienz (like the village)
  • Bur (farmer)
  • Hüfter (hip)
  • Kurz (short)
  • Übersprung (skip)

The Federal Wrestling Festival

In recent years, “Schwingen” has become very popular with a wide audience and the Federal Wrestling Festivals (Eidgenössischen Schwingfestes) have developed into major events. “Schwingen” is a traditional competition, and it is not without reason that it is also called the fight of the colossuses. Anyone who wins at the Federal Wrestling Festival is entitled to a very special title: he may call himself king.

Traditional Swiss sport – hornussen

The Federal Wrestling Festival is held every 3 years. The next major event takes place in August 2022, but in between there are many regional tournaments. Exact event dates can be viewed here. If you have never been to a wrestling festival before, you should definitely make up for it. The fighting spirit and atmosphere are unique.

The athletes’ equipment

The participants’ equipment plays a very special role at the Federal Wrestling Festival. The wrestlers wear so-called Zwilchhosen, and these must be specially made. Zwilch is a robust and strong fabric made of cotton, which is very absorbent. In the past, this fabric could never be missing from a grandmother’s underwear. The fabric is specially made and only three or four places in Switzerland still sell it.

The rules and procedure of the Federal Wrestling Festival

No aids are allowed during the fight. Only with bare hands the athletes may try to turn the other on his back. “Schwinger” are impressive guys, 105 kilograms is the average weight of the fighters. They compete against each other with their muscular shoulders and arms. In seven rounds the athletes compete against each other, and whoever “survives” all seven rounds without landing on his back and gets the highest score, the final round, respectively the final, awaits him.

The final final round 

The final round of the Federal Wrestling Festival is the crowning glory and always takes place on a Sunday afternoon. The athlete who wins the final course is then king. But not only for one season or until the next Schwingfest. No, the royal title is for life.

Swiss children practicing at an early age

The glorious price

The prize for the winner of the Federal Wrestling Festival is not a cup or a prize money. No, the King of Wrestling receives a live bull as a prize. What the king does with it is up to him. Some have started breeding, others have sold the bull. More lucrative are the advertising contracts that the Wrestling King gets. Because wrestlers, and especially wrestling kings, enjoy a high reputation in Switzerland and have a large fan community. This is also extremely interesting for advertisers.


Leran Swiss German now

If you plan on going to such a typical Swiss event, it’s almost mandatory you speak Swiss German. Sing up now for our online course, and by 2022 you will speak it fluently. www.learn-swiss-german.ch

«Schwingen»: the Swiss answer to wrestling
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