No other word in Scandinavian history has imprinted itself so deeply into human consciousness as the word Viking. The term ‘Viking’ conjures up images of resilient men and women of honor, who are tough, fit and virile, and has become a Nordic trademark of independence, strength and quality.
The people who lived in Scandinavia during the 8th to 11th century weren't Vikings. Viking was a profession, and Vikings made up a very small part of the population. Calling everyone from Scandinavia in this period of history a ‘Viking’, is like calling everyone in California a Navy Seal.
The origin of the word Viking comes from the Old Norse Vikingr, meaning Scandinavian seafarer. A ‘Viking’ was a part time farmer-warrior, who travelled to other lands and traded, raided, became sword for hire or conquered lands. In the sagas, the phrase "to go a Viking" was used to describe the people from the north who went on voyages of discovery. These farmer-warriors were so successful in their part time profession in the late 8th to late 11th centuries that this period of history became known as the Viking Age.
For hundreds of years before the Viking Age, the people from the lands that would later become Norway, Sweden and Denmark, had been trading around Europe. With the introduction of the Viking longship, the people of the North became a force to be reckoned with. As daring explorers, Vikings became masters of the stormy seas, and their expeditions took them to countries all over Europe, the Far East, Russia and even North America 500 years before Columbus.
Vikings traveled to and through dangerous lands, opened up trade routes, fought to keep them open, and became feared and admired as great warriors in all the lands they travelled. One of the earliest documents about Vikings was written by a Muslim diplomat called Ibn Fadlan, in 922 A.D, who described Vikings as “The wildest warriors I have ever seen”.
What these part time warriors did, was no different than what people from many other countries did, Vikings were just better and more successful than the rest. Vikings fought for, and carved out kingdoms, around the world. They are an integral part of the world’s history, and the Viking warriors who created the Viking Age, paved the way for the world as we know it today.
Much historical and archaeological research has been done over the centuries concerning the Vikings, from their diet to their shipbuilding. There has been much written about Vikings, by poets, academics, and historians, but very little by warriors, martial artists or elite soldiers. Yet warriors, martial artists and elite soldiers have a special insight into what being a Viking really means.
Being a Viking meant being tough, smart and well rounded. A Viking could farm and hunt and live off the land and sea. A Viking could build a house and repair it. A Viking could sail a ship and repair it. A Viking could make weapons and armor and repair them. A Viking could also fight with and without weapons against all enemies and their different forms of fighting techniques.
Growing up in the hard lands of the cold north meant growing up tough. Children were expected to help with chores in and around the home and farm, help with providing food and materials for the family, and learn how to be a benefit to their society. In the Viking Age, a boy was considered a man, and a girl was considered a woman, at the age of 12. At this age, everyone was expected to survive and thrive without help.
Many men and women today call themselves Vikings because they are reenactors, put on a show fight, dress in Viking clothes, or simply take part of a Viking market or festival. These are worthy activities that create awareness regarding the Norse people of the Viking Age, but they are not representative of what it was like to be a Viking.
A Viking was self-reliant, had a particular set of values, and had a heightened sense of spirituality that few modern people can understand, let alone live by. Only by living like a Viking can a person understand how it was to be a ‘Viking’. If a person can’t hunt, fish, farm, build or repair a house, ship or equipment, or train in glima, they aren’t anything like a Viking.
Vikings were independent, strong, resilient, tough, fit and virile men and women of honor. Are modern day children, youths or adults anything like this? Are you? If you want to be anything like a Viking, read the Hávamál, learn some handcrafts, train in glima, travel, take some wilderness survival courses, take responsibility for yourself, become independent, and build a strong body, mind and spirit.
menn bazt lifa
sjaldan sút ala
en ósnjallr maðr
sýtir æ gløggr við gjöfum
The generous and brave
and rarely nourish sorrow
The cowardly fear everything
and the greedy
HÁVAMÁL – verse 48
Travel Channel series FOLLOW YOUR PAST Episode 1 - Vikings and Kings
Senior instructor with the AVK, Tyr Neilsen (57) and 3 x Norwegian Glima Champion, Andreas Sørensen (28) demonstrated Viking fighting with weapons at Borre Gilde Hall in Norway for the Travel Channel episode Vikings and Kings.
The episode is about the exciting heritage of two midwestern brothers who discover their past is filled with Viking warriors and royalty. In the show, Tyr and Andreas demonstrate armed and unarmed Glima to the brothers, quickly teach some basics, then let the brothers fight each other using the Viking combat techniques they had learned.
This episode first aired on the Travel Channel in 2016.
Former top Norwegian sports athlete in spear throwing and handball, Anette Skistad, holds weekly training for people who have difficulty getting back into shape, including some who have physical or psychological problems. To help get people going and build condition, Anette has training indoors, as well as taking the group hiking out in nature.
Anette took contact with 3 x Norwegian Glima Champion Andreas Sørensen, and asked if he could demonstrate glima for her group, and maybe get the group to do a little Viking wrestling. Andreas and Tyr Neilsen tought the group basic balance, strength and Viking wrestling principles, and after a short time, short, thin women were able to lift tall heavy men by using the correct grips.
There was much laughter and sweat, as Anette and the group learned how effective glima principles were to implement. Glima training was challenging and fun, and the group have invited Andreas and Tyr back for more glima.
Edited Article by Bente Wemundstad: http://www.byavisadrammen.no/utgaver/320-2016/#16/z
''Viking-age wrestling is becoming increasingly popular as a martial art or recreational sport''
Article written by M. Michael Brady for the 'Norwegian American Weekly' about for the Glima.
Photo: Egil Scott Synnestvedt / courtesy of Norwegian Glima Association
One wrestler defeats another in a match in the Norwegian Championships, November 2015.
Glima wrestling renaissance in Norway
BY M. Michael Brady · PUBLISHED JANUARY 15, 2016 · UPDATED JANUARY 13, 2016
Viking-age wrestling is becoming increasingly popular as a martial art or recreational sport
Glima is a form of Scandinavian folk wrestling dating from the Viking Age. It classifies both as a martial art and as a recreational sport, and is most popular in Iceland, where annual national championships have been held since 1906. Glima now is enjoying a renaissance in Norway, where national championships have been held since 2009.
The word Glima is Old Norse for “brilliant flash,” which implies speed of movement. Glima is entwined in myth, being first mentioned in ninth-century poetry recounting a wrestling match in which an aged goddess, Elli, defeats Thor, the god of thunder and strength. Some three centuries later, Glima is mentioned in the Prose Edda, also known as Snorri’s Edda, the principal work of pagan Scandinavian mythology assumed to have been written by Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson circa 1220.
In modern times, Glima wrestling was a demonstration sport in the 1912 Olympic Games held in Stockholm. Unlike Greco-Roman wrestling, contested in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and incorporated in the Games program from 1908 on, Glima did not become an Olympic sport. There are three forms of Glima wrestling: Brokartök, Hryggspenna, and Lausaatök.
Brokartök (“Trouser-and-belt grip”) is the most widespread form in Sweden and in Iceland. It favors technique over strength, and opponents wear special belts. The two opponents stand erect and step clockwise around each other, as if waltzing, each attempting to trip or throw the other.
Hyrggspenna (“Backhold grip”) resembles other forms of wrestling that emphasize strength over technique. Opponents grasp each other’s upper bodies, and the one who touches the ground or floor with any part of the body except the feet has lost.
Lausatök (“Free-grip”) is the most widespread form in Norway and is practiced in two varieties, as a martial art of self-defense or combat, and as a recreational sport. The opponents may use any holds they wish. The winner is the one still standing while the loser is the one lying on the ground. Matches usually are held outdoors or indoors on a wooden floor, so hard throws are discouraged.
Viking Glima now is increasingly popular outside Iceland. The Viking Glima community in Norway is an example. Norges Glima Forbund (“Norwegian Glima Association”) was established in 2013 by Tyr Neilsen, who despite his Icelandic-sounding name was born in Liverpool in 1959. He began practicing martial arts as a teenager and settled in Norway in the mid 1980s to delve into Viking mythology and lifestyles. Today he is a senior instructor at the Academy of Viking Martial Arts and is involved in promoting Viking culture.
In 2014 Tyr joined with editor and photojournalist Bente Wemundstad in compiling Viking Wisdom: Hávamál, the Sayings of Odin, a large-format illustrated book published by Nova Forlag.
Further reading and viewing:
• History of Martial Arts in Iceland and their Image in Media, by Jóhann Ingi Bjarnason, 2012 thesis, University of Akureyri, Iceland, 40 pages including 6 pages of references, link: skemman.is/stream/get/1946/12161/28907/1/History_of_martial_arts_in_Iceland_and_their_image_in_Icelandic_media.pdf
• British Pathe 1931 Glima-Iceland Wrestling film now on YouTube, link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVGB1Z3btIY
• The International Glima Association promotes Glima wrestling outside Iceland, link: internationalglima.com
• The Viking Glima Federation with information and a directory of instructors in Scandinavia, link: www.viking-glima.com
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 15, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.
Norwegian actor Rune Temte plays Viking cheiftan Ubba in the BBC TV series The Last Kingdom.
In preperation for his role, Rune trained in the authentic Viking fighting art of Glima at the Academy of Viking Martial Arts in Buskerud, Norway. For several months Rune trained with Viking sword, axe and shield with Tyr Neilsen and Viking wrestling with former 3 x Norwegian champion, Andreas Sørensen.
Throughout training Rune showed true Viking Spirit. He was always ready to train, whether it was rain or snow, and always gave 100%.
"Andreas Sørensen and Tyr Neilsen, you are the best, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn Viking fighting from you !!! You made me into a Viking for the Last Kingdom." - Rune Temte
Photos: Rune Temte training Viking Fighting ith and without weapons at the academy and article by Ingun Wiborg Gislerud on Rune, his training and his role as a viking chieftan in the BBC tv series The Last Kingdom - Based on the bestselling novel by Bernard Cornwell.
Tyr Neilsen and Andreas Sørensen are the first Norwegians to be invited to demonstrate the Viking martial art of Glima at the biggest Viking Festival in Europe!
Instructors from the Academy of Viking Martial Arts in Norway are the first Norwegians to be invited to Europe's largest viking festival to demonstrate Glima - The Martial Arts system of the Vikings!
"I traveled down to the Jorvik Viking Festival to seek inspiration , get ideas and talk to the people behind the festival. So it was great that Jorvik Viking Festival had invited Tyr Neilsen and Andreas Sørensen as the first Norwegians to actively participate in the festival, both in combat and in the academic program." says Ole Harald Flåten of the Saga Oseberg project, and Project Manager at Tønsberg Viking Festival.
The Academy would like to give a big thanks to Andy Mckie, Jarl of the Volsung Viking group in York, for his invitation to the Academy of Viking Martial Arts, so we could demonstrate the art of Glíma at the 31st Jorvik Viking Festival in febuary 2015.
It was an honor for us to be able to participate in this great event, the largest Viking festival in Europe. We would also like to thank all of the Volsung Vikings, the English Vikings at the central camp, and the Jorvik arrangers, for their generous hospitality and warmth and for making the festival so memorable.
Andreas Sørensen with Volsung Viking leader Andy McKie at Jorvik castle
Above: Filming with a green screen Below: With the digital background added
Here's some links you can click to the facebook videos posted by Andre Villa and the newspaper article online in Norwegian.
News Article: HTTP://WWW.BYAVISADRAMMEN.NO/UTGAVER/279-2015/#10/Z