Wrestling on horseback at Independent European  Horseback Archery School February 06, 2016

Early in the morning on February 06, 2015, I arrived in Stendorf to train with Ms.Pettra Engeländer and Mr. Martin Rutishauser.  It is truly a privilege to have Pettra and Martin as my riding instructors, two riding and horse archery professionals.  I cannot thank enough Pettra for providing me with such an opportunity.  After greeting and brushing the horses Merlin and Bali, we started the training with the riding exercises I had learned in the previous sessions: riding to the left, riding to the right, stopping the horse, walking and trotting the horse.

After that all of us took a horse.  I walked Bali out and we walked the horses outside.  Then we started to ride in the forest for one hour.  What a magnificent experience.  Riding Bali in the German forest was a unique experience.  Martin was riding in front and I was riding behind him followed by Pettra.  Riding on an uneven surface was an excellent training for me. 

Then we rode back to the riding hall.  We started to experiment with wrestling on horseback.  One thing became very clear to me.  My solid wrestling background on foot helped me a lot on horseback wrestling.  Contrary to some claims, if you do not know how to wrestle on foot you can never learn how to wrestle on horseback no matter how much you think you are a good rider.

First I started to train some wrestling techniques with Pettra.  Soon we realized that grip holding played a major role on horseback similar to wrestling on foot.  Additionally a firm seat on the horse helped a lot as well.  Thanks to Pettra's teaching in natural horsemanship, we learn not to rely on saddle and stirrups but on our seat.  So later when we have those additional tools when riding, they will help us further to wrestle and dominate the opponent.

Grabbing the neck in wrestling hold, overhooks, underhooks, belt control (pishqabz or pasqabz techniques) and even placing the hand below the leg or thigh would provide a tremendous advantage in horseback wrestling.

Later Martin and I started to experiment with wrestling techniques.  It was a very fruitful exercise.  We realized if you take someone down between the horses and the speed of the horse does not make him fall and he lands on his feet between the horses, he is in the blind spot at 45 degrees to you and can counter with his weapon or throw you off your horse easily.  This is an important factor to take into consideration when wrestling on horseback.  Once you wrestle on foot, you should always pin your opponent with a technique such as "knee on stomach" as shown in numerous Persian manuscripts.  But this is not possible on horseback of course.  Therefore one should be fast enough to ride away and escape.  This shows that cavalry techniques are always useful in formations.  Otherwise when the infantry soldier gets in the right angle, he could seriously injure you.

That was an excellent training day and in the following sessions, I would try out some wrestling techniques on horseback as described in Persian manuscripts and shown in my books and articles.  I would like to thank Pettra and Martin for their support, dedication and friendship. To see the video of the training click here.


Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani