I’m always fascinated by British martial arts, because, well, it’s where I’m from. Some of them have survived in small communities – mainly wrestling – and a lot more of it has been recreated from old manuals, which is mainly the weapons systems, which HEMA has promoted.

The most famous one is Catch Wrestling, which thanks to the famous Billy Robinson has an actual unbroken lineage from today that reaches back into the past. Billy Robinson trained in the famous Snake Pit in Wigan under Billy Riley. You can see them at the Snake Pit in this famous documentary:

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Full documentary on Catch Wrestling: Catch the hold not taken:

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The historical combat systems of Britain

I’d recommend giving the latest episode of the Strenuous Life Podcast featuring Oz Austwick of English martial arts a listen. It’s about the subject of British martial arts, and what we have left. Here are the show notes:

“In episode 395 of The Strenuous Life Podcast I talk to Oz Austwick, who has extensively studied armed and unarmed combat systems in England and Europe. Today we focus on the historical wrestling systems of England…

  • Cornish, Lancashire, Devonshire, Cumberland and Westmoreland wrestling and catchwrestling
  • The influence of Japanese Judo and Jiu-Jitsu on English Wrestling
  • The great Billy Robinson and his influence on Kazushi Sakuraba
  • Satoro Sayama and the birth of Shootwrestling
  • American vs British catchwrestling
  • The blending of jiu-jitsu with catchwrestling
  • Leglocks and traditional BJJ
  • And much more.”
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