Swiss Life

All you need to know about the Swiss sport Schwingen

Updated 24th August 2022

What is the Swiss sport of Schwingen?

Schwingen is a type of wrestling found in Switzerland and has been a part of the Swiss cultural scene since the 13th century. Wrestlers wearing shirts of Edelweiss battle it out in perfectly formed sawdust-filled circles to be the first to flip their opponents onto their backs. This sport is as Swiss as it gets. 

Over the past twenty years, thanks to my Swiss nephews, I’ve become a bit of an armchair spectator of the sport of Schwingen. And with their help, I’ve put together a list of basic terms to help you become an armchair expert too. This is all you need to know to keep up with all the Schwingen chat as the pinicle of the Swiss Schwingen, the ESAF, approaches this weekend.


The Basics of Schwingen (Swiss Wrestling)


In the Sägemehl or the sawdust, is where all the action happens. Matches happens within the 14-meter diameter saw dust filled ring, of which there are seven rings placed around the arena. As a ritual of respect, the winner will end a match by brushing the sawdust off the losers back.


Each competitor must wear a pair of Schwinghosen (shorts), provided by the organisers, made of either dark or light thick brown material and secured with a leather belt. Competitors must with at least one hand, always hold onto the Schwinghosen of his opponent. Letting go will reset the match.


The (mostly) edelweiss-shirt wearing athletes called Sennenschwinger, traditionally came from more rural and mountain regions of Switzerland, and today make up the majority of the field. However, an Edelweiss-shirt is not compulsory, with the rules stipulating for the Schwinger’s only a subtly coloured durable shirt.

The type and colour of the shirt become the Schwinger’s trademark, like Reichmut Pimin and his light blue shirt and Wicki Jöel’s dark-coloured Edelweiss shirt. 

For the award ceremony, Sennenschwingers wear a traditional Sennenkutteli over a white shirt with black pants.


The athletes dressed all in white, Turnschwinger, are traditionally from the cities’ Turnverein or sports groups and also participate in Nationalturnen (National sports). The Schwingfest is just part of disciplines including wrestling (Ringen), weightlifting and throwing stones and jumping high as long (Hochweitsprung).

Last Name First

When referring to a competitor, the Last Name is used before the First. Hopp Reichmutt, Pirmin!


Hosenlupf is a nickname for Schwingen – literally translated to Short/Pant (Hosen) lifting (Lupf)


Einteilung is the german word for allocation and is when the competition judges divide the wrestlers into matches before each round. Unlike other sports, only the first round is determined before the competition begins. After the first round has taken place the new match pairings are then allocated based on results of that first round. 


A gang, of which there usually are six (but an Eidgenössischer has 8), is one round of wrestling. The first two rounds are called Anschwingen, the third and fourth Ausschwingen each allocated 6 minutes. The final two rounds in a regular competition are called Ausstich and are like the playoffs (time allocated 7 minutes). 

However, at the Eidgenössische, there are two additional rounds called Kranz-Ausstich. These 8-minute rounds determine who wins a Kranz (see below) including the Schlussgang (see below) and eventually the title of Schwingerkönig.


There are numerous techniques that a Schwinger learns to help win over his opponent with the most popular being the Kurz.

Check out the following links to videos for each of these techniques:


Gestellt is the term used when neither Schwinger is successful in grounding those two shoulder blades, but will still result in points.


Both winners and losers are awarded points, as are those matches that go undecided. The quality and effort of the wrestling also make a difference in the score allocated.

Winners, who in one movement ground their opponent onto his back, are rewarded with 10.00 points. Otherwise, a winning score of 9.75 is standard or a rare 9.50 if the winner is given a behavioural warning.

Losers are also awarded points between 8.25 and 8.75 as well as matches that end with no result 8.50 – 9.00.


The pinnacle of competition at any Schwingfest is the Schlussgang, the final round, where the two athletes with the highest points compete. This match if resulting in a win, will usually decide the winner of the competition. In the case of the Eidgenössische Schwingfest, the winner will be named Schwingerkönig.

However, if the match goes undecided, the winner will be the one with the highest points, which could be someone who didn’t participate in the Schlussgang.


The athlete who has successfully grounded both shoulder blades of his opponent, all the while keeping at least one hand holding on to those Schwinghosen, will be declared the winner. The winner will then politely dust off the saw dust off his opponents back as a sign of respect.

Kranz & Kranzschwinger

The best wrestlers will receive a Kranz (crown) which are given at our cantonal and national competitions throughout the regular season. However, like stars from the football world cup, the ultimate goal of any Schwinger is to collect an Eidgenössischer crown at the Eidgnössische Schwing and Älplerfest (see below). None is as coveted. Win an Eidgnössischer Kranz, and you will be referred to as an Eidgenoss for the rest of your life.

The Kranz, or crown, to be won at the Eidgenössischer Schwingfest in Zug



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