This is the UHFS first review of the “Cotton wrestling and fencing jacket” by Fühlen Designs. First some background information: A couple of weeks ago we received our four jackets in order to make our own hands-on evaluation on their performance before Vasaslaget. These four jackets suffered from weak thread, later traced to a change of supplier. This resulted in immediate and worrying, yet small, tears at vulnerable points. When noticed, Jessica Finley, at Fühlen Designs, not only dumped the faulty thread and supplier but immediately (as in “the very next day”) and free of charge made and sent us new jackets made with the correct thread. We have not yet received these later jackets but after some training feel confident enough to share our first impressions based on the “faulty” jackets. Even though some seams showed some initial tearing, the double stitches mean that they still hold up very well instead of instantly ripping apart. The sturdiness of the seams in a wrestling jacket of course is vital and as these still hold up we feel sufficiently secure to comment on the overall qualities of the jacket design. Here goes:
The jacket design resembles doublets as depicted in for example the “Codex Wallerstein”, “von Auerswald” and “Dürer” wrestling manuscripts. They are cut short with a flared lower part. The collar is pronounced and the neck allows for gripping. The sides are equipped with “elastic panels” to give good flexibility even with a tight fit. We were told that the jackets were made slightly large and were supposed to shrink when washed in hot water. The difference in size after washing in 60 degrees Celsius is noticeable, but not significant. The lower parts of the sleeves fit slightly better after washing.
The jacket give a strong impression of “this is something unique” as in “this is not a judo, Sambo, Gouren, BJJ etc. jacket”.
The fabric is some kind of black cotton denim, in double layers at the body but single layers in the arms. The jacket has a smoother feel compared to a judo-Gi,but still gives a strong and sturdy impression. It has the feel of a jacket designed for wrestling and hard wear, not for show.
During wrestling, movement is not hindered. The body of the jacket may lift a little when arms stretched upwards.
We experienced that with the jacket “the wrestling at the arms“ became easier, clearer and more effective than without. We’ve tried wrestling with and without a judo belt tied in the usual judo fashion and both works well! With a belt on, the jacket allows for any grip in the book(s). Collar, skirt, arms, breast can be grasped in a distinct way. If you are doing HEMA wrestling and/or simply want a sturdy jacket for light-contact sword practice this will do the job. There is no other “off-the-rack” jacket of this kind on the market yet. It looks good, it looks “HEMA” and it delivers (so far even with faulty threads). Fühlen Designs is also a pleasure to deal with and provide a great service.
The jackets reviewed are not custom fit. The jackets of large size seem somewhat short (perhaps it is our modern mind) and the sleeves of the small size jackets are very long. We told this to Jessica and supposedly our new jackets will be modified accordingly. Still, it might be good to pay the extra money to have a custom-made jacket, especially if you are tall and slim or short and sturdy.
We like Fühlen Designs and the work of Jessica Finley and want to support producers of HEMA gear. Still, what is most important is that there are good products available for the community. These are our sincere and very own reflections on and experiences of the jacket so far and we stand behind it on our own and not on behalf of anybody else. We think that historical wrestling gains from jackets and these are good. We are encouraged by Longpoint also making a similar arrangement with a discount from Fühlen Designs. We must make sure they do not steal the show, by a more professional appearance than us. Time to dress up! 🙂
Remember, the Vasaslaget Fühlen Designs offer is only due to the 1st of February! Buy it here.