Wrestling Kuresh is a form of wrestling in which wrestlers grasp each other by the belt (girdle or sash) – a popular sport in Turk and some other nations (the names of this sport in different countries are slightly different: Tatar/Bashkir kores, Uzbek kuras, Turkish gures and Kazakh kures.) Kuresh wrestling is the main event in Tatar and Bashkir summer festival "Sabantuy" (other ethnic groups have their own festivals and events containing belt wrestling competitions). However, kuresh is not just an entertainment; it’s a serious advanced sport which has championships on any level - to the point of World championships. In the international arenas the wrestling style is called just "belt wrestling".
The fist records of Kuresh date from the sixth century. From of old, very few events in nomadic tribes went without belt wrestling. Sometimes a wrestling tournament lasted 5-8 hours until an absolute champion emerged. Kuresh wrestling matches have been always held on the grass.
Belt wrestling was not only an important element of the combat training of belligerent nomads but also a ritual carrying along the warlike spirit. In old times, a hand to hand single combat between two representatives of rival hordes was held before they engage into a battle. The single combat might be armed or unarmed (in the latter case it most likely was belt wrestling). Outcomes of battles between entire armies were sometimes determined by a single combat. After the contest, armies would fight, either emboldened or demoralized by the outcome of the single combat. Sometimes, after the contest even a treaty might be concluded between army commanders.
The essential principle of Kuresh wrestling remains until now – throwing an opponent to his/her back. In order to do that, a wrestler must not just be very strong but be very skillful in wrestling techniques; positions and moves by arms, legs and body worked through for years.
Currently, official tournaments in belt bristling are held in two categories – classic (Alysh) and free style. Women compete just in the free style. The most of modifications in the contemporary belt wrestling are related to competition terms. A winner is determined by the five-point system. Besides, time limitations are introduced – if they wrestle in the old way – "until a pin", a competition could last hours.
Usually, a championship in the absolute category according the rule "three points of touch" follows regular competitions in the weight categories.
Kuresh helps to establish the character. Not everyone has guts to be thrown over an opponent head to experience a backfall. Nobody can be assured against accidents - the basic principal of wrestling says: if you want to learn how to throw an opponent, first learn how to fall properly.
Kuresh is a good sport for all ages and for both genders. Some wrestlers come out into the ring in early childhood and continue wrestling until declining years. Special veteran competitions are held. Currently, kuresh is also a female sport; women participate in regional and world belt wrestling championships. Women wrestle in the freestyle division, in three weight categories: -58 kg, -66 kg and +66 kg.
Until recently, kuresh wrestlers wore casual attire – soft leather shoes, pants and shirts. The garments had to be loose because pulling by clothing was allowed. For making proper mutual holds, wrestlers had to have sashes (belts made of cloth). At present, new special uniform is required, which includes a 180-220 cm x 50-70 cm sash and special regional soft clothing suitable for wrestling. These requirements are given in order to improve wrestling level and to adjust regional terms and rules to the international ones.
The following basic techniques (throws) are utilized in Kuresh wrestling:
- Throws by trips – front leg trips, back trips, ankle trip and back heels.
- Throws by hooks (shin hooks in terms of Sambo).
- Throws by pick-ups – opponent’s leg (legs) are tripped from the front of from inside by the back part of the foot.
- Throws by turns (throws over back in terms of Sambo) – accomplished by a turn back to an opponent followed by a stoop ahead and falling ahead toward the throw.
- Throws by propulsions – accomplished by propulsion from the outside or from the inside with different types of holds.
- Throws by roll-overs – similar to the throws of Russian belt wrestling. Accomplished at mutual hold by the belt. The attacker falls aside carrying the opponent, lays him/her over him/herself and pins him/her.
- Throws by flexures (throws over chest in terms of Sambo).
- Throws by twines. In Sambo these throws are a variety of hooks.
And two groups of "strongmen’s" throws which require tremendous strength.
- Throws by spinning – the toughest techniques, by which a strongman lifted an opponent at the shoulder level and accomplished throws, spinning them around, for instance, a throw over a hip and a back or using outside hooks.
- Throws by tilts. Used mostly as counter techniques accomplishing at the moment when an opponent attempts to hold the belt over the shoulder. At that moment the wrestler accomplishing the technique moves the head back, straightens the body, unbends legs in knees and picks up the opponent and then abruptly bends the body ahead and falls to the knees throwing the opponent to his/her back. These techniques are good only for very strong athletes.
Episodes of the Belt Wrestling European Championships, May 4-7, 2007