WHAT IS GLIMA?
An introduction to Glima from the UK Glima Federation
Also known as ‘Viking Glima’ or ‘Nordic Wrestling’, Glima is an art which until the formation of the UKGF has been rarely seen or practiced outside of the Nordic countries and territories. Steeped in tradition and ancestral honour going back to the Viking age, the ways of the Norse Warrior and the skills used on ancestral battlefields has been a hard kept secret.
Glima is a name which covers several styles of Nordic Wrestling. It is an art which consists of full contact grappling techniques and one which allows for a little more aggression than other forms of wrestling. It can be practiced as a sport with competitions and rankings and be utilised effectively in combat and self defence.
A modern term for one who studies and practices the art of Glima is Glimabrytere. Glimabror in modern Norwegian and Glima Brøder (Glima brother) in Old Norse). Glimuholl translates to Glima Hall and is the name used to refer to the place where the art of Glima is practiced or taught.
In Glima size does not matter. Students learn techniques to defend from an attacker or opponent which make size or strength irrelevant. The aim of any Glima match is for one player, to over balance, bring to the ground and escape from the other. The winner is declared as the player standing clear while the loser remains on the ground. This makes the ancient art of Glima perfectly suited to modern day self defence. The ground is viewed as a dangerous place, and rightfully so if you consider a self defence scenario will likely mean the ground is made of concrete. Therefore all who learn the art learn early on that speed, technique and ferocity come together in equal measure in order to take an attacker to the ground and to enable an escape from the threat.
At Raven's Claw Glima our primary style of teaching is loose-grip or lausatök. It is much more aggressive and differs in many ways from other styles of Glima. Loose-grip Glima comes in two forms: A version specifically for combat and self defence called Combat Glima, and a version for friendly training and competition called Sport Glima. In either style all kinds of techniques are allowed but in the friendly Sport Glima version they are still taught to be executed in a way so they won't cause the opponent injury. In such a friendly match the winner is considered the one who is standing tall while the other is lying on the ground. This means that if both the opponents fall to the ground together the match will continue on the ground by the use of techniques to keep the other down while getting up and clear.
Loose-grip is even more divergent from other forms of Glima when trained purely for combat or self-defence. In such training the harmful and hurtful techniques or ways of executing the techniques, that are not accepted in other forms of Glima, are explored in as free and creative a way as possible while not injuring one's training-partners.
In all forms of Glima the match begins when the referee calls the players together. Players come together and take a grip of each other’s arm just above the wrist called a Handsal. The Handsal is a sign of respect from one player to the other and represents their commitment to a fair contest under the Glima code of honour called drengskapurwhich calls for fairness, respect for and caring about the safety of one's training partners.
Immediately as the Handsal is taken the contest is underway. There is no time limit to a Glima match. There must be a winner and a loser.
Grading and Progression
There is no recognisable grading system in traditional Glíma. At least not what we may be used to seeing in the UK particularly if one has studied any of the Oriental arts. Under the guidance of Grand Master Tyr Neilsen, head coach at The Academy of Viking Martial Arts (AVK) in Norway and a member of the UKGF advisory council, we have implemented the same syllabus and grading system used by AVK. We believe this gives students something to achieve against, set goals for, and to progress in a structured manner.
The Vikings are coming, join us in our raid of the UK!
If you are interested in the Viking Martial Art of Glíma and would like to begin your journey, one of our masterclasses might be what you’re looking for. If you would like to train regularly and progress through the grading ranks you can check if there is a UKGF authorised instructor academy near you. You can do that by completing our short contact form and letting us know where you are. For any other information please feel free to follow our social media @UKGlima or message us directly.