Although many might consider shin-kicking to simply be an action that occurs accidentally on the football field, between scorned women or feisty grade-twoers, for others it is a very serious competitive sport that resembles an English form of martial arts.

History of Shin-Kicking

With origins dating back to 1612, shin-kicking is an age-old pastime that has entertained many a spectator and broken many a leg. The game was originally one of the prominent features of the Cotswold Olimpick Games, held in the small English village of Chipping Camden. This annual fair and competition aimed to honour the ancient Greek Olympic Games and many believe that it was largely responsible for the creation of the modern Olympics.

Throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries, the olimpick shin-kicking sport was popular in England, Wales and parts of America and involved serious and brutal battles between men wearing shepherd coats, who were not afraid to draw blood… and a lot of it. Although some people died from the severity of their shin injuries, this period actually marked the tame era of shin-kicking, which only worsened in intensity over the following century.

During the 1800s, shin-kicking was drowned in overt drunkenness, unnecessary squabble and corrupt forms of game-play. The sport fuelled violence between neighbouring villages and was played between drunken, nude men, who often wore metal-trimmed clogs or metal toe caps to cause even more brutal injuries. Keen competitors would even attempt to harden their shins with coal hammers.

This savageness and indecency meant the sport was abandoned in the early 1850s, only to be resurrected in 2012. The sport was once again played at the 400th Anniversary of Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games last year. As well as bringing back the sport, they also revived many strict rules to ensure a fair and clean game.

Rules of the Gameshin-kicking-2

The basic structure of the game involves competitors holding their opponents by their shoulders with straight arms and then swinging at their shins to weaken, unbalance or overthrow them to the ground, whilst retaining their grasp on the opponent’s shoulders.

Competitors usually wear trainers or shoes and long trousers or tracksuit pants, which are allowed to be stuffed with straw for extra padding. Shins must be kicked at least once before a throw is granted (always below the knee) and the thrower must be in the process of a kick with one foot off the ground when they fall, to ensure it is not achieved by an intentional trip. The contest is decided on the best of three rounds, and an arbiter has the final call on all decisions and outcomes.

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