There are many lessons still to be learned from old books written in very different times to those we live in today. The Havamal, The Sayings of Odin is one such book which contains much wisdom yet to be discovered.
“Never walk away from home ahead of your axe and sword. You can’t feel a battle in your bones or foresee a fight.”
Taken on face value this simply reads that we must always arm ourselves with swords and axes before we leave the house right? Phone - check, keys - check, battle axe...
But consider the time in which this was written, dark times when such practice was very necessary. Being armed may well have meant the difference between life or death on any given day. Now apply that to 2019: Ok so you’re not likely to face a longship full of bearded raiders sailing up your cul-de-sac but modern times present us with modern battles and preparing for them requires a different type of axe and sword.
We still can’t foresee a fight or feel a battle in our bones and so it is just as important to sharpen our minds now as it was our swords then.
When we train in Glíma we are connecting to a Martial Art with a lineage going all the way back to the Viking age. It is an art of practicality, simplicity, of efficacy. The art itself teaches not just techniques to defeat an opponent but techniques to defeat self defeat. Development of a mindset that you ‘can’ win against all odds even if you are outnumbered or face a bigger, stronger opponent, and that even if you don’t that there is honour in learning from your opponent, that humility is a fine attribute. These are all skills which translate perfectly well to modern day where we are often overpowered by daily life and the challenges with which we are presented. That is the Warrior mindset, the ‘Martial’ part of any Martial Art. In many Eastern Martial Arts the same mindset is instilled, the Zen mindset. When one is truly at one with the spiritual and physical aspects of a martial art, we become both artist and art simultaneously.
With Glíma you are never unarmed. Both mentally and physically we carry the correct weapons for any battle be they physical or mental. And not just men as this meme suggests. A warrior mind can be cultivated in anyone, man woman or child in fact the earlier the better.
"One must fail more times than one succeeds and practice practice practice."
So now let’s look at the Art itself. Any art from singing to writing to painting to fighting can be broken down to a series of movements or techniques which can be learned. A set of skills if you like. To master these skills one needs a good teacher, time and an understanding of how to apply these skills relative to one’s own abilities (see this post). One must fail more times than one succeeds and practice practice practice. Repetition builds muscle memory, instinct, and so when the skills are performed; a stroke of an artists brush, a key change or a defensive interception they are as natural as putting one foot in front of another to walk. A skill we all learned at a young age, we didn’t quit trying when we fell the first, fifth or fiftieth time and it is the same rule when we learn our art.
And so there we have the convergence of the Martial and the Art. Learning skills, not quitting because it’s tough, that’s the Warrior mind, the Zen, when we become one with our skills and the artist becomes art in motion.
Glíma is a functional Martial Art which has stood the tests of time and proven its credibility in modern day practice. It is one of the oldest recorded Martial Arts with a history which goes back well over a thousand years yet still its techniques are current and absolutely necessary as a modern day self defence system. 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.