Also known as 'schwingen' to the German-speaking Swiss. It means 'wrestling' and is one of the traditional sports in this country.

The Swiss have a number of pastimes which are unusual and not a little incomprehensible to the casual observer. Yodelling is widely known ...

(I shifted position when taking this photo to get as neutral a background as I could. It's not perfect, but was the best possible under the circumstances.)

Then there is steintossen, which involves flinging a huge lump of rock as far as possible (usually about 2 metres) and hornussen, an eccentric mixture of cricket and golf which is like no other sport in the world.

Last summer I went to a festival of lutte - the Swiss version of sumo wrestling. Unlike sumo wrestlers the Swiss appear to be somewhat over-dressed. Competitors wear an (almost obligatory) blue-striped shirt, trousers and over the top, a pair of hessian shorts. Bouts are fiercely fought in a sawdust ring, and the object is to press your opponent's shoulders into the sawdust. Each bout begins with the contestants formally shaking hands and ends with the winner brushing the sawdust off the loser's back.

I used a high shutter speed with this image, to freeze the action, and an on-camera flash to fill in the lighting (I was shooting into the sun as you can see from their shadows). I also tried to get down low to increase the drama.

One of the great things about these sports is that they are small-scale, local and friendly. Very often they are just played out in a field somewhere, between neighbouring villages, with copious supplies of white wine and cervelas (a Swiss sausage). You can see from the image above, the crowd of spectators is not exactly gigantic.

Now 'sumer is icumen in' ... time to get out into the fields and find some bouts of steintossen or hornussen to photograph.

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