Irish Scuffling

Irish Scuffling (Irish: Caraoicht Coiler Agus Uile)

The beginning stance is the foundation of the style as well as the origin of its name. The wrestlers face each other, grabbing the elbow with the left hand and the collar area with the right hand. This very stance forced the scufflers to use technique rather than a bull rush on their opponent. The initial “Collar-and-Elbow” grip/tie up could not be intentionally broken and instead must be broken by the opponent.

Once/if the grip is broken, the competitors were then allowed to catch any grip possible. The collar-and-elbow grip also varied depending on the competitors. Which hand gripped which area was strictly preference caused by the competitors dominant side. The beginning of the match was often a test of strategy and balance. The scufflers would try to circle each other clockwise while a series of unbalancing maneuvers, including kicking and tripping, would be played-out by both combatants. This stage of the match could last a very long time, indeed, there are accounts where the standing portion of the match had lasted over an hour.

Inevitably a take-down would occur. A flying mare or a snap mare was a common takedown. A mare was a throw in which the feet of the thrown opponent actually were higher than his head. Ground wrestling began after one or both of the scufflers hit the ground. Half-nelsons and various grapevines and other ground control techniques were then employed. A match was originally won only when all four points of the body were pinned to the ground for the count of five. Four points meaning both shoulders and both points of the hips. In the late 19th century, the requirement to win was lessened to a three point touch.

The Modern Colonial-Irish style of Collar-and-Elbow has evolveded to feature a wide array of pinning techniques and submissions performed with and without a jacket. A whistle is used to commence and halt a match, victory is gained by a five second pin or surrender by one Scuffler. Victory is awarded by the centre referee only, matches end only in Victory or a Draw, no minor points are given or awarded during the match. Types of Holds (submissions) allowed are decided by agreement on the day of the event according to the skill level of the field.

Many of the techniques had names derived from things found in their work environments. Mares, Windmills, Grapevines, etc.

Common Terms

  • “Scuffler”/”Tripper” – title given to practitioners of Collar-and-Elbow.
  • “Mare” – refers to any throw which causes the opponents feet to go over his head.
  • “Grapevine” – refers to any type of technique which “entangles” the limbs of an opponent.
  • “Grass Down” – refers to an opponent being thrown to the ground.
  • “Points Down” – refers to an opponent being pinned to the ground.

Common Techniques


  • The Trippett – similar to ko uchi gari.
  • The Loose Leg – similar to o uchi gari.
  • Howard’s Hank – similar to ko soto gake.
  • The Flying Hobby – similar to harai tsurikomi ashi.
  • The Buttock – Also called the “Cross Buttock”. Similar to o goshi.
  • Flying Mare – Similar to ippon seoinage
  • Snap Mare – Similar to Flying Mare, only grasping the opponents head rather than arm. Sometimes done on one knee.
  • The Double Touch – Speculated to be a method of blocking an attempted leg sweep.
  • The Blackguard Snatch – Speculated to be more than likely a means of unbalancing than an actual takedown.
  • The Whip (or Irish Whip) – Used alone, it is an unbalancing technique. Also used in combination with a quick leg trip.


  • Collar Sleeper – similar to cross lapel choke.
  • Sleeper Hold – similar to rear naked choke.
  • Nelson and Crotch – Similar to cradle pin.
  • The Bridge – “Bridging Up” refers to being on your back, and pushing yourself up on elbows and feet to prevent pinning and to quickly rise back to feet.
  • The Hip Bump –  a means of rolling an opponent off of you.


Video of some throws here:

Scuffling Throws


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