Named after Somcar, a legendary general from the War of the Second Shadow Realm, Somcari is a submission based form of wrestling created and used by the Kassites of Korweyn. Practiced for both its practicality in war - a downed horseman can wrestle an armoured opponent to the ground to finish him off - and in peace, as it keeps the body - and the spirit, according to the Kassites - strong.
are a martial people, so it should be no surprise that they have developed
numerous martial arts. It is a surprise, however, to learn that the art they
hold in the highest esteem, is an almost purely grappling based style. Composed
of a collection of takedowns, throws, locks, cranks, chokes, breaks and
techniques that are grouped under the 'spicy moves' (it seems that 'spicy moves'
would be any move that involves gouging, ripping, tearing, biting and other
unpleasant things a soldier may think of) Somcari has the potential to be a
particularly brutal form of fighting.
While the style is considered monolithic by the Kassites, for the sake of convenience for those of us not blessed with a cultural understanding of the art, we will divide Somcari into two styles: Combat and Sport.
Sport Techniques. Below are a list of
techniques used in Sport Somcari. It should be noted that all techniques listed
here are also used in Combat Somcari, though not always practical (and therefore
rarely used) in actual combat.
Basics. Basic techniques are the following:
Shooting (Klipali "guram", lit. "arrow rushing")
This is a technique heavily stressed in both Combat and Sport Somcari. To execute, a wrestler comes in fast, preferably when his opponent is off balance, and steps far forward, so their foot is a few nailsbreadths in front of their opponent's feet. The executor drops the knee of their forward foot forward and brings their back foot up to launch them back to a standing position. This is typically used in single or double leg takedowns, where the executor will grab their opponent (more on these below), though some creative wrestlers have used shooting to directly place an opponent into a joint lock.
Breaking is not a single technique, but a collection of techniques that make up a single skill. Breaking is the skill of breaking out of locks and maneuvering on the ground to an advantageous position. While this sounds rather easy, against an opponent intent on defeating (or killing you) the hours upon hours devoted to practicing these skills makes much more sense.
Sprawling ("Terezpali", lit. "flattening")
The defensive move answerable to the shoot. A sprawl is executed by placing ones hands on the shoulders or head of the offensive wrestler and throwing their body back, so their legs are two far away to grab. When properly executed, their body is fully extended, the opponent crumpled beneath them and unable to move effectively, leaving the wrestler who sprawled in a position to circle around and place their opponent in a hold.
lock ("Medvel zarpali farka", lit. "grabbing as a wolf's jaws")
Also called bear hug. In this, a wrestler simply attains the underguard (that is, his arms are under his opponents) and wraps them around his opponent's waist and squeezes, often accompanied by lifting the opponent up off the ground. It should be noted that this is almost universally used only to set up throws, unless the user is of incredible physical strength, or during simple horse play.
Takedowns and Throws. Takedowns and throws can be summarized as follows:
sweep ("Esorbo lak")
Can be executed in a number of ways, but the most common is to grab the opponent by the shoulders, or in a bear hug from the underguard, and shove or drag him to the side, while simultaneously tripping them with one's leg.
Scissor legs ("Tetrepali esorbo", lit. "pinching leg")
A more complex form of a leg sweep. Usually executed in one of two ways. The first, and most common, is to grab the opponent by the collard of their shirt, their throat or the top of a breastplate, and move yourself to stand shoulder to shoulder with your opponent. From here, one can push their opponent backwards, or forward, or any other way to knock them off balance so that the executor of the move can drop to their hips, twisting their hips so that the leg that had been closest to their opponent's body comes across the opponent's legs just above their knees, while the leg that had been further from them, hits their ankles from behind. From their, the executor merely rolls their opponent onto their back, raising their legs up in a tight lock. Despite the apparent complexity, almost all Kassites learn this move by their late teenage years, and can perform it with alarming speed. The second way, which is slightly less common, is almost the same, save for the opponent is taken down onto their stomach, and leg position is reversed.
leg takedown ("Esorbo ket esik", lit. "two leg knockdown")
A wrestler sets up an opening by shoving or pulling his opponent by the head, shoulders or hands (or, in Combat Somcari, by striking any unprotected area) and then shoots, wrapping their arms around the mid thighs of the opponent, slamming their shoulder into the opponent's hip to further knock them off balance. The wrestler follows through, preferably lifting their opponent into the air, to slam them to the ground.
leg takedown ("Esorbo elg esik", lit. "one leg knockdown")
Similar to the double leg takedown, the single leg differs in grabbing one leg and then standing up, so that the opponent in balancing on one leg. The wrestler with their opponents leg in hand will then perform what is known as 'locking up', where they put the ankle under the armpit and tightly squeeze it, preventing movement. Savvy wrestlers will also tightly grasp the locked up leg to further prevent movement. From here, a wrestler can take an opponent down by many means, whether by tripped, shoving and pulling, or even throwing the poor combatant around by the leg.
Shoulder throw ("Dobaspali hepam")
The offensive wrestler grabs his opponents arm by the wrist and armpit. He then turns quickly, slamming his hips into his opponent and throwing him over his head and onto the ground.
throw ("Dobaspali cipso")
Often precipitated by a sudden rush, the offensive wrestler grabs his opponent by the upper arm and waist. He then turns quickly in the direction of the throw, driving his hip into his opponent's stomach, and throws his opponent over his hip.
wheel ("Zonsiv esorbo esik", lit. "spinning leg takedown")
The bread and butter throw, simple and effective. Here, the offensive wrestler grabs his opponent by the upper arm and the opposite shoulder, sometimes neck. At the same time, he twists his body in the direction of the throw, thrusting his opposite leg out and throwing his opponent, tripping him. In Combat Somcari, it is universally accept that one should throw their opponent onto their stomach, so the offensive wrestler may choke or break the neck of his downed opponent with little to no resistance.
throw ("Dobaspali pa")
A spectacular throw, when executed properly. To execute, a wrestler simply gets his opponent in a bear hug and heaves him up and over his head, to slam him to the ground. If the opponent is slammed onto their head, it may break their neck. As such, it is considered a high level throw, only taught to high ranked wrestlers. Despite its ability to kill, it is generally discouraged in actual combat, because getting a good, tight bear hug is often difficult against armored opponents.
Locks, Chokes and Cranks. The following techniques are joint locks, chokes and cranks, generally executed on the ground.
Standing back choke ("Allitpali kojo nan", lit. "standing choke from behind")
This choke is executed by coming from behind any opponent, and wrapping one arm around the neck of the opponent, so the elbow joint is in the centre of the throat. The other arm is brought under the corresponding arm of their opponent (right for right, left for left) locking it up. This hand grasps the forearm of the choking arm and pulls. It takes only a few blinks to cause unconsciousness, and maybe double that to risk death. Of course, Somcari master's have been known to ensure death in astoundingly short amounts of time...
Grounded back choke ("Tunnig kojo nan", lit. "lazy choke from behind")
This choke is executed much the same as a standing back choke, save that both wrestlers are on the ground, with the receiving wrestlers usually being prone on his stomach. It is also possible to executed this choke when on the knees, but this is unsuccessful more often than not.
choke ("Esorbo nan")
A rare move, this is simply where a wrestling chokes his opponent with his leg, tightly clamping the neck between calf and thigh.
leg choke ("Esorbo ket nan")
Another uncommon move, a wrestler chokes his opponent by using both legs in a pincer like fashion. Usually the shins or knees are used to constrict the throat. This technique seems to be more common amongst female wrestlers. The Kassites outright admit to drilling this more frequently and more intensely to women, in honor of the semi-mythical Lanyk, the blind wrestler who defeated Somcar himself with this technique.
Standing arm lock ("Allitpali oga chen", lit. "standing arm hyperextension")
Often a counter against a punch, a wrestler grabs the striking arm with his opposite hand (left for right, right for left) and places his other hand on the shoulder of the striking arm. He moves his hips so the leg closer to his opponent crosses over in front of his opponent's legs. The offensive wrestler then pushes his opponent for, and pulls back on the man's wrist, straightening his arm and putting significant stress on the opponent's joints. A more brutal variant of this arm used only in Combat Somcari, has a strike to the back of the elbow while pulling the wrist back, breaking the arm.
Grounded arm lock ("Tunnig oga chen", lit. "lazy arm hyperextension")
In this version of the arm lock the offensive wrestler pulls his opponents arm between his legs while laying on his back, and lays his legs across the chest of his opponent, also laying on his back. He then tightly grips his opponents arm and bends back, pulling the arm straight and placing stress on the joints. When pulled back suddenly it is possible to break the arm.
Standing leg lock ("Allitpali esorbo chen")
This move is taught largely as a counter to a kick, but it is also used as a joint lock following a single leg takedown. A wrestler will kick his opponent's standing leg out from under him, bring him to his knees, while dropping to his own. The captured leg is twisted painfully, and a physically powerful wrestler will often end a match with this move, keeping his opponent immobile. The combat version of this move culminates in breaking the leg at the knee joint, where it is twisted around painfully and then snapped over the wrestlers thigh.
crank ("Kagya min")
The neck crank is executed by an offensive wrestler sitting on the back of his prone opponent, grabbing the head. Then it is a simple matter of pulling the head back or twisting it painfully, cranking the neck. Rather obviously, in combat the crank is simplified to a fast twisting motion, breaking the neck.
crank ("Kagya lesh")
The Kassites call this technique a eszite, or supplemental, technique. It can only be done in conjunction with a grounded back choke, by pulling back with the choking arm and driving a knee into the lower back of an opponent, bending the spine backwards painfully. The Kassites often playfull call a combination of scissor leg takedown, grounded back choke and spinal crank as nalgaya fadag benikpali azadan, that is, 'grandfather's way of saying shut up!'
Grounded leg lock ("Tunnig esorbo chen")
Identical to a grounded arm lock, except executed on the opponent's leg. To execute, a wrestler lays with his opponent's leg between his, holding it by the ankle and calf, with the knee facing his belly. The executing wrestler leans back, bending the leg against the motion of the joint. It is taught, though not always implemented, to twist the ankle as well during the execution of this move.
arm lock ("Korishpali oga chen")
Regarded as the most advanced technique of Somcari, and a mark of a true master. The flying arm lock, as its name implies, is an arm lock executed from the air. To executed, the offensive wrestler grabs the arm of his opponent by the wrist and jumps, swinging his body around the outside of his opponent's body. The upper leg is supposed to come around over the top of the opponent's head and then knock back against the throat, while the other hits the back of his thighs, forcing him to fall over backwards. Once on the ground, the executing wrestler performs a grounded arm lock, while pulling his opponents legs up towards their chest with their own leg. This is the move Somcar defeated the Avil, the Murmillion general, with.
Combat Techniques. The following are combat specific moves. The list is short because there simply aren't that many codified techniques, most are simply made up on the spot during combat, but masters lecture extensively about these, and explain to students that combat is a dirty business, and that even if a specific way isn't taught in training, it could save a life in combat.
Spicy Moves. I would like all readers to note that this list only touches on the basics of what is taught. Students are showed a single technique, and are encouraged to do whatever is most practical in a situation.
gouge ("Anekpali yeg", lit. "destroying the eye")
Straightforward and simple, the fighter gouges his opponent's eyes, preferably with his thumbs in a scooping motion.
Fishhooking ("Barragapali kipa", lit. "ripping flesh")
This is considered a desperation move, where a fighter inserts a finger into the opponent's mouth and tears at the cheek. Reports of the effectiveness of this technique are gruesome, and one grizzled soldier recounted how she tore a strip of flesh from a bandits mouth up to his ear.
rip ("Barragapali ikli hewa", lit. "ripping the male genitalia")
Considered the dirtiest (for several reasons) move a soldier could possibly have to use. One grabs the male genitalia, squeezes and yanks. Simple, though sex specific, it's proven effective in combat. (It should be noted, however, that we have been unable to get any Kassites to confirm using it...)
Interestingly, biting is the only 'spicy' move to have an actually codified technique. Said technique is called the ear nip, and as it implies, is a bit to the ear. Like most 'spicy' moves, it isn't meant as an active offensive technique, but a move to use when in a bad position.
throwing, spitting, eye poking ("Junnupali yeg", lit. "tampering with the eye")
The Kassites group these together under one heading because they all focus on tampering with the opponent's ability to see. These are lectured on extensive, and masters often have extensive debates on what works the best, and even how best to throw sand or dirt.
Strikes. The Kassites teach to strike with an open hand, using either the heel or the blade, with the elbows and knees. They openly ridicule strikes with the shins and feet (unless stomping the toes, knees or neck and head of a downed opponent) and almost religiously preach to impracticality of trying to beat an opponent using kicks. These strikes are not all encompassing - fighters are expected to strike wherever is convenient, but these strikes are regarded as the most common:
blow ("Onol pilka")
A simple strike with the blade of the hand to the temple of an opponent, often resulting in unconsciousness, or at least severely stunning the victim.
blow ("Jewa pilka")
A powerful upward strike to the nose. With enough force and good placement it is possible to break the bones in such a way to kill.
rib blow ("Ushre pilka reka", lit. "low blow to the ribs")
As the name implies, this is a blow with the heel of the palm to the lower ribs. The Kassites call these baby ribs, because they are relatively easy to break.
elbow blow ("Hulurpali pilka heshia", lit. "arcing blow with the elbow")
An arced elbow to the head, neck, or collar bone. This is called and Murmillion strike by Kassites because of the perceived tendency of Murmillions to attack the head, neck or collar bone with their axes. It is not an insult, rather a rare example of the Kassites showing respect to the martial prowess of another people.
There are two ways of training, one that every military serving
Kassite goes through and one that
only the Isodebbim (masters of the art) go through. The differences are very
stark and will be described separately below, after we tackle the similarities.
Physical conditioning is highly emphasised in both forms of training, and every generation it seems a new form of exercise circulates amongst the clans and becomes well established and accepted. In addition to running, pushups, situps, squats, horseman squats, scissor kicks, jumping jacks, pullups, leg raises and arm dips are heavily utilized in training. Of particular importance in conditioning is Mozgasakpali, another martial art composed of a vast collection of movements and stretches designed to increase flexibility and muscular endurance.
Kassite military training begins at age four, and Somcari begins in time with it. As all able bodied Kassites go through this, all practitioners of Somcari first learn the art through the military training style. Here a single Isodebbim leads the group - ranging from five to twelve individuals - in the art. Everything is highly regimented, children are taught the history of the art, and participate in coordinated physical conditioning and drills.
The first full year is spent entirely with physical conditioning and drilling the basics of shooting, sprawling, bear locks and, most importantly, breaking. Sessions on breaking can last upwards of two hours at times, switching partners every so often. Several hour long lectures are common during this year, where the trainees are taught the origin of the art, famous practitioners and religious legends.
By the second year, the young squad begins learning techniques, with each day dedicated to a certain set of moves that are decided by the Isodebbim (one day they could focus on standing back choke, grounded back choke, scissor leg and single leg takedown, and on the next double leg takedown, grounded arm lock, standing leg lock, etc.). During this time breaking, drills and physical conditioning are still heavily stress, and live sparring is added to the curriculum. Also the squad begins to learn Mozgasakpali, which is taught in custom routines devised by the Isodebbim.
The rest of the years follow as such, only varying in intensity, which generally increases until the seventh year of training, when focus is moved towards weaponry and away from Somcari. The seventh year is often the last time young Kassites see their Isodebbim, as they are considered well enough practiced in the art that the need for a specialized trainer is negligible.
The Isodebbim are the masters of Somcari wrestling, and are best described as ascetics mystics, almost fanatical in their devotion to Ghal and Paeri above all other Aseyan gods. Their training pushes the limit - intense fasts, long vigils, hours of prayer and meditation in uncomfortable positions, self flagellation. They learn to overcome pain, to push their bodies beyond what most consider the limit. It is not a decision to the be taken lightly.
Unlike the secular training that all able bodied Kassites go through, which takes place in a controlled setting (and is quite tame in comparison!) the ascetic path required to master the art takes place in the wilderness. Those who wish to take this path fast for three days, remaining in near constant prayer, before setting out to find a menag Isobeddim - menag meaning elder - living in the wilderness. Should he succeed in even locating one (though accordding to the Kassites themselves, the menagim tend to stay in a general area) he then has to pass their unique tests, which range from extreme tests of endurance, devotion or even a full contact fight against the menag himself.
The training is said to be brutal, as the scars on the body of the Isodebbim prove. Self flagellation, intense fasts, long periods of full contact sparring, striking stone, tests of endurance and long periods of prayer are the hallmarks of the trainee's life. We haven't been able to glean much information on the specifics, however, for the masters are highly secretive, and rarely speak of what they endured to tame their body and spirit. The only words of advice they had to offer those contemplating their path was "Check your devotion."
How long they spend in the wilderness is unknown, they are unwilling to say, and they leave the area of their birth clan, so the family and friends cannot shed any light on this either. It can be assumed, however, to last several years.
Originally, perhaps, the institution of the Isodebbim was purely secular, but it has certainly evolved into a religious order of ascetics. Striving to purify, unify and perfectly control the body and soul through physical and mental hardship, the Isodebbim consider their sacrifices extremely beneficial in pushing the world towards Helon. Whether by their own actions or by serving as an inspiration to others, they hope to instill the drive to be disciplined and just in others.
Somcari has earned an enduring 'mystique' across eastern
Korweynite children, with a
romantic image of the fearless Kassite
rider, have placed this martial art above even their own tribe's fighting
styles. A general rule of thumb is that any tribe that has sworn allegiance to
the Empire of Korweyn has the
oppurtunity to learn Somcari under the tutelage of Isodebbim, provided they
willingly submit to learning under the harsh ascetics that the
Kassites themselves do. However,
there is heavy discrimination amongst even them. Anyone deemed to be dishonest,
dishonorable, or known to reject Ghal or Paeri is not allowed to learn the art.
As such, practical knowledge of the art is mostly unknown outside of
Naturally, there are exceptions - Kassite exiles have been known to share Somcari with foreigners, some even having made it as far as New-Santhala. It is unknown to what extent these international practitioners have been taught. It is likely that some have an incredible in depth knowledge of the art, while others have only rudimentary knowledge, and others still, perhaps, knowing basic grappling and submissions.
Uniform Somcari is unique amongst many combat arts in that it has a uniform for training and tournaments. This uniform is simple (and perhaps a bit risque to Tharian sensibilities) allowing maximum movement and little clothing to be grasped. For men it is simple a pair of short, tight briefs that reach maybe to mid thigh called ruha. For women, it is the same, but for the addition of a similarly tight, sleeveless top called ruhaga. In many tournaments - especially those that accompany festivals - wrestlers will wear a knee length, highly decorated skirt known as a zonkaya. The zonkaya will often have the Kassite coat of arms, with the Korweyn eagle rising behind, stitched lovingly on it. Higher ranked wrestlers (excluding Isodebbim, who rarely even possess a zonkaya, let alone a decorative one) will often include horse hair tassles and even beads, though this practice is often frowned upon if the wrestlers is currently serving in the military.
Origin/History. Before the Kassites' migration into Korweyn each clan practiced their own distinct form of martial arts. Some focused more on strikes, others on throws, some were entirely concerned with breaks and chokes. It wasn't until the twilight of Korweyn, when their war against the Second Shadow Realm was sucking the life out of the Empire, that the art we now refer to as Somcari was codified into a single, monolithic form.
The great Kassite general Somcar is said to have taken the greatest soldiers from several clans to learn what they used, and compared the emphasis that they placed on the moves, to the success of the individual clans. From this, he is said to have taken the most effective moves and strikes to create a better art.
Soon after discerning the most effective techniques, he forcibly recruited a group of 33 young Kassites to teach the art to. (32 of these would go on to become the famous Kurkesh Somcar, Somcar's Vanguard. The rejected Kassite was none other than the legendary, blind warrior woman Lanyk, considered the greatest wrestler in history.) These 33 were taught personally by Somcar for a year.
They made their debut at the ill fated Battle of the Eypesh river. Here, Somcar and his Vanguard, after realizing the battle was lost, charged into the Murmillion army. Even after losing horse and being completely surrounded the Kurkesh Somcar fought on, taking several times their number before finally falling with the rest of the Korweyn Empire.
Whether or not Somcari really was made by general Somcar (who is known from both Korweyn, Kassite and Murmillion sources) is unknown. It seems unlikely that the art form was codified in such a short time, and it is more likely Somcar laid down the groundwork during his entire life. The reason he is credited with the entire formation of the art likely stems from a cultural pride in his actions during the battle of the Eypesh, and as a convenient explanation for his success in battle.
 In accordance with tradition, the Kassites believe that only the Isodebbim, by warrant of their intense spiritually, can adequately teach the art. Because of this, they do not acknowledge that those taught by exiles truly know and practice Somcari. Asking a Kassite if any non-Kassites know the art will elicit a different response than, say, asking a Centouraurian practitioner in New-Santhala. For our purposes, we will include even those who've been taught by secular users as legitimate practitioners. [Back]