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Finger fighting is a real sport in Germany. Here's how it works

This is pretty entertaining.

German finger fighting lead picEnlarge
Two competitors face off in the 55th German Finger Wrestling championships on Aug. 3, 2013 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. (Philipp Guelland/Getty Images)

In Germany, finger fighting is a real thing.

And the sport’s practitioners — big, burly mountain men — take it very seriously.

It works like this: Two men of the same age and weight sit across from each other at a wooden table and use their middle finger to pull on a leather band.

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

The player who pulls their opponent across the table, like this guy, is declared the winner. 

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

The tradition, known as fingerhakeln in German, is said to have started in the 17th century in the Alpine region of southern Germany and Austria as a way to settle disputes. It went something like this:

"I’m right."

"No, I’m right."

"Ok, let’s finger fight this out."

At some point men decided there were more efficient ways to resolve arguments and finger pulling was reduced to a form of entertainment.

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

The 55th German Finger Wrestling Championships were held in the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen last weekend.

In keeping with the spirit of the tradition, players and spectators still wear lederhosen and hats. And drink beer. 

It goes without saying that heaving a hefty mountain man across a table using nothing more than a finger is hard work. Not surprisingly, injuries such as dislocated or broken fingers are common.

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

While strength and technique are important, having a fat finger is key. "You have to have a fat finger, so that the strap has a good hold," Anton Utzschneider, a finger wrestler for 38 years, was quoted as saying.

The best part of the competition, at least for the winners, is drinking beer from the trophy. 

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/140806/finger-fighting-is-a-real-sport-in-germany