Glíma, or Norse Wrestling is a Scandinavian Martial Art with a lineage which dates back to the Viking age. Across Scandinavia there are some variations in styles, in Iceland for example Brókartök is practiced, a style which utilises specially developed belts which wrestlers grip onto while attempting to throw their opponent. Other variations allow for more technique such as Lausatok or ‘Loose Grip’ Glíma and it is this form of the art which the UKGF has brought to the UK.
Lausatok Glíma has two fundamental formats in which we train regularly:
Sport Glíma, a type of wrestling used through time for entertainment and sport, to hone a warriors hand-to-hand battle skills and to settle disputes between clans or tribes without bloodshed.
Sport Glíma has rules, the primary objective is to take your opponent to the ground and break away freely whilst they are still down. This is called a fall, a fall is when a competitor ends up with knees, legs or body on the ground after being thrown, tripped, pulled or pushed.This is how one wins a Sport Glíma match. Techniques to do this include throws and grappling techniques, ground based escapes and pain techniques which force your opponent to release their grip. There are no kicks or strikes permitted in Sport Glíma, with the exception of the ‘Glima Slap’, an open hand slap used to stun your opponent and distract them while you execute your attack. And we do not use arm or leg locks or chokes as these slow down or halt your ability to escape and win.
The UKGF has implemented a grading system where practitioners can learn, and grade and focus on progression through the syllabus.
Sport Glíma is open to all, it is an inclusive Martial Art System based on Balance, Technique and Speed. We leave ego at the door when we train and we all honour and respect each other and help each other to improve our skills in a safe environment.
In Combat Glíma, in fact in any combat situation when diplomacy has fallen and you are left with no option but to fight to defend yourself, it is in your interest to switch to a mode of total hostility. In Combat Glíma, there are no rules.
Whilst Combat Glíma has its foundations in Sport Glíma, it differs in many ways. The throws and to an extent the pain techniques used in a sporting match come into play and of course the aim in Combat, as in Sport, is to stay on your feet to minimise risk and maximise your attacking options. Both your safety and your ability to attack or counter an attack are compromised if you are on the ground, and therefore in Combat as in Sport Glíma the objective is to get your opponent to the ground while you remain standing and ready. And of course in training we honour and respect our training partners and ensure each others safety. That however is where the similarities end.
As the name suggests Combat Glíma is the art of the battlefield. Balance, Technique & Speed - The core principles of Glíma - are here bolstered with ferocity and an unyielding approach to winning by immobilising your attacker to enable your escape to safety. Combat Glíma is the craft of a warrior, when one can walk into battle unarmed, defend against and strip a weapon from an attacker or multiple attackers and then either use that weapon with skill or remove it from the equation and neutralise the threat or threats which one faces.
Imagine those principles utilised in a self defence situation. You are attacked in the street by one or more aggressors, it may not be a mugging, you may not be able to pacify them by handing over your cash or phone. Alcohol and other substances may be fuelling their attack, they may well be armed, a broken bottle, a bat or club and particularly these days knives are commonplace. This is what we train for, this is what we are ready for.
This is why an almost lost art, developed on the battlefield is still absolutely current and effective as self defence system today.
Master and student walked side by side through a beautiful garden. The student suddenly stops and asks: “Master, you talk about and preach to me the ways of peace. Yet I have learned from you deadly techniques of combat and the tactics of war. How do you reconcile the two?” The master gracefully squats, chooses a flower and plucks it. “My student: it is better to be a warrior tending to his garden than a gardener in a war.
The Art of the Warrior
Throughout history the monicker of ‘Warrior’ has always been attributed to males. The strongest, the biggest, the fastest - the Alpha’s if you like. Glíma is inclusive. If you wish to learn, we will teach. All who come can learn to be a warrior for it is not just an art based on physical movement but of mental state. Confidence, honour, respect, discipline, calmness, coordination can all be gained through training and in the modern world where we never stop and our stress and anxiety levels are often high there is no better way to let off steam than to train to fight in a safe environment under the guidance of a skilled instructor.
If you want to learn more about Glíma - The Martial Art of the Vikings - our blog, social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and our YouTube Channel are a great place to start. If you wish to train in Glíma with one of our instructors either message us or join our Facebook group and give your location so that your nearest instructor can get in touch. UKGF Academies and Instructors also run Masterclasses and events for those who cannot get to regular training, see our events page for details.