The word Ringen, technically speaking, refers to Germanic unarmed combat. Kampfringen more directly the war form. I use the term Ringen as a blanket term for all Hema unarmed combat, and some dagger combat. As I seek the wholeness or the art. There are forms from various regions of Renaissance Europe. Most notably the Italian. The reason one can combine nationalities as one form is the simple aspect of technology. The technological tools, swords, armour, etc. are basically the exact same tool regardless of were in Europe you travel, at least in Western Europe. Thus form equals function. There are four combat masters I currently gravitate towards in the study of “Ringen”. Ringeck, Meyer, Auerswald, and Liberi. Each one brings a special aspect to the art. There are many masters and all should be studied. Many will show the same techniques, and here and there something “different” that is extremely effective. As the compass of Hema unarmed combat spins endlessly, I will abstractly point out variations within books, as well as various foreign martial arts styles that are similar. Due to other martial arts having unarmed masters that can be viewed. Within sword fighting the Hema compass points North. The skill level is well established. I speak of the foreign arts very generally, looking at specific aspects that apply to specific aspects of Hema. Although I speak of the foreign forms regarding different masters, they apply to all masters. Just as each master should be viewed as a whole to form an understanding of Ringen. The human body is only capable of moving soundly in certain ways. The styles will have aspects similar in movement and body mechanics, yet of course these styles are not Hema. As Hema stands alone.
The teachings of Ringeck are almost “barbaric”, in a very good way. He travels straight into maiming. His techniques are simple, combative and visceral. Eye gouges, stomps, finger breaks, testical destruction, knee breaks, ripping ears off (maybe I added that one). On and on, you can make a huge list of all the maiming dirty things one can do in combat, it becomes redundant. While a form of grappling, his is extremely “combative” in approach, to the extent he puts modern combatives to shame. As these modern styles are disconnected because of technology when you compare them to the understanding of such a man living during such times. These modern styles grasping straws from martial arts and sports that are weakening to combatives. He should be deeply studied my the men seeking to form such training crurriculims. The important aspect of Ringeck is he speaks how to kill quickly.
Meyer is interesting. His form offers many interesting throws. Once again grappling, yet not wrestling. Often using only the foot to obstruct anothers legs/feet, and force one off balance. Some of the throws will simply break your neck as executed, you will be dead before you hit the ground, his form is not sport. He offers precision, obstruction of limbs and throws in a way were there is no room for contestation when technique is done. A somewhat similar appearance can be found viewed in Muay Boran. Muay Boran displaying the leg sweeps using arms, with extremely harsh castings of ones opponents to the ground. Calling it an art of “striking” is a narrow approach. It is truly refereed to as an art of binding, understand this. Muay Boran I took up thirteen years ago. My intent to always keep “striking” strong in body far into old age (60+), God willing. Through diet, fitness and training. It is important to view techniques used against forceful and capable opponents in motion…Again, Ringen, it is unique to Hema and neither of these styles.
Auerswald, as said before is the beginning of sportification, what one would call renaissance wrestling. Modern wrestling has no place in Hema, stay away from this. While many of his techniques are not deadly, they offer you the position to quickly become so. The scope of his work offers many options and body mechanics that are important to understand. Arts that stands out in similarity are Sumo and Jujutsu. Yes, Sumo. Forget about the large men who have low levels of true fitness, were weight makes one greater only under rules. The Art of Sumo. There are practitioners of fit and “normal” physiques. Watch these men. Watch the flurry of open palm strikes as one seeks dominance of the arms. The “strikes” can quickly become deadly in approach if rules are lifted. Watch the mechanics, and men who are vastly outweighed gain control and dominance.
Liberi, the Beautiful Flower, is of excessive importance. His art is the most precise. He often maintains as much distance as possible from his opponent during techniques. In an abstract way, it is almost similar to many Bujutsu techniques. Budo is something I am very friendly with, yet keep to myself. The style of dislocations, the distance maintained, the erect form, etc. He offers a variety of joint dislocations, especially to the arms. The simple illustrations are extremely clear. Easily understood. It is one of the most important perspectives handed down to us from the old masters.
The unification of these four masters offers a large scope in the perspective of combat. While there are others, all of which are to be studied. These are four that stand out to me. The ones I currently study most. In the entirety, unarmed Hema is both unique and deadly.