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Imperfection, The New Perfect

A Blog by Raven's Claw Glima Lead Instructor Alex Rogers.

At Raven’s Claw Glíma we train 100% outdoors. We do this all year round, in all weathers and although that may not be to everyone’s liking there are some very good reasons we do this.

First let me say that I am not anti-training indoors, I am pro training anywhere and everywhere. I have spent countless hours training various martial arts on mats in gym’s and in dojo’s and it is all good.

Glíma is a martial art developed over a 1,000 years ago in Viking age Scandinavia. It was used on battlefields across Europe and further afield during combat and closer to home used for sport and entertainment at events and gatherings.

Norway suffered centuries of foreign rule and Nazi occupation and the art was outlawed for fear it would be used against Norway’s oppressors, at that point Glíma became a secret art passed on from generation to generation in private gardens and hidden corners of forests away from prying eyes so primarily there is a deeply rooted historical reason for us modern day practitioners of the art to continue as our ancestors did. In fact much of what we teach at Raven’s Claw is about the history and heritage of Glíma, lessons about honour, respect and overcoming our fears are intertwined with technical teaching from our syllabus. Glíma, like any martial art, is as much about personal development as it is about learning the art itself.

Training this way takes the connection further, deeper, we are all at once at one with the seasons, the elements and ourselves

When we train outdoors we are among nature. Simply being outdoors is good for the spirit and training this way takes the connection further, deeper, we are all at once at one with the seasons, the elements and ourselves. My spiritual views on nature aside, there are countless scientific and medical reports on the benefit to our physical and mental health which can be gained from being outdoors which are enhanced by exercising outdoors. Let’s not forget, Glíma is a very physical art and a full workout is guaranteed at any training session but it also exercises the mind, it helps us see and think past what is immediately in front of us at any given time, it opens our mind’s eye helping us see beyond the immediate and apparent.

Above all else the most important rule we learn in Glíma is that balance is everything. If you are off balance you are weaker, if your opponent is off balance you are stronger and so to train on uneven, often slippery ground intensifies the work we do on this core aspect of our art.

When we train Combat Glíma for self defence, we are not just training to be able to defend ourselves, we are training primarily to be prepared for anything and everything because any combative situation, even those which are verbal or non physical are fluid and chaotic, the situation can change in an instant, intensifying, increasing risk. Combat consists of constant ebs and flows, peaks and troughs not always visible to the untrained eye but ever present and so for the Glíma student valuable lessons are to be learned about constant and continual risk assessment and in finding calm amongst chaos. There is never a perfect time to be attacked and to be forced to fight and so we train in the perfectly imperfect outdoors. Here the senses are heightened, in winter months when it becomes dark early our ability to sense not just see our opponent’s attack develops, and the student learns more about assessing not just their opponent or opponents, but about assessing the environment, obstacles which may pose a risk, weapons which may be picked up and used against them such as sticks and rocks, the entire landscape in which the battle is about to commence.

The Beautiful Chaos of Combat

Glíma is a martial art which can be applied in real life, modern day, often very imperfect situations, and so this is how we train; outdoors in imperfect weather on imperfect ground so that we may attempt to perfect our art.

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.

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