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Gouren is a style of wrestling which has been established in Brittany for several centuries. In France, gouren is overseen by the Fédération Française de Lutte (French Wrestling Federation).

Gouren arrived on the Armorican peninsula in the 4th century with the large influx of Bretons. Initially, it was just the nobles who took part in it, but its practice spread through to the rest of the people. It keeps it nobleness by its chivalry between fighters, who must say an oath [1] before the bout.

It was still popular in Brittany towards the beginning of the 20th century, with competitions every Sunday in some small villages. These were threatened with the arrival of new sports such as football and cycling.

In 1930, in order to avoid the practice of gouren falling into oblivion, Charles Cottonec of Quimperlé (Finistère) breathed new life into the sport with the creation of a set of rules and the sport’s first federation, which is still active today.

Today gouren is well-organised. It has its own federation, clubs (skoliou), and its own European Championships which take place every two years.

Gouren has also kept its cultural ties, and displays of the martial art can be seen alongside traditional Breton music and dance.

The wrestlers, required to fight barefoot, wear a special white shirt (roched) tied with a belt and black trousers (bragoù), and try to bring each other to the ground by grappling the other’s roched. A victory (lamm) is declared when the loser is on their back on the ground, the winner being stood-up, this usually managed by tripping up the opponent. Victory is only achieved when both the loser’s shoulder blades hit the ground at the same time, and before any other part of the body. Each bout lasts seven minutes maximum.

The perfect result is the lamm. It ends the bout immediately and is worth 6 points. The lamm is the perfect fall: the loser falls flat on his or her back with both shoulders touching the floor.

It is the next best result, very close to the lamm : a fall on one shoulder, for example. It is counted at the end of a bout. It is worth 4 points.

It is an advantage and is taken into account at the end of an astenn (extra time: half the time of a bout). It is a fall of the inferior part of the back, or the whole back and posterior.

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