As it is winter for 6 months out of the year in Norway, this type of training forces us to grow strong, tough and resilient. We grow stronger because we choose to train in these conditions. Combat glima training builds the warrior spirit so that if techniques, strength, and endurance fail, there is still an indominatable will that cannot give in, and a resevoir of determination to overcome.
Combat glima training builds a resiliant spirit by continually managing to get more push ups from a student after he or she have no more to give. Combat glima training builds a confident spirit, by getting a student to get up and fight on, after he or she felt there was no fight left in them. Doing what it takes to build a Viking spirit is not for everyone. Many falter on the way.
But those who train in combat glima and continually push through trials of combat and endurance, create a deep confidence based on the knowledge that they can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, whether it is a physical confrontation or life in general. It is the duty of a martial arts instructor to remind us of the importance of a strong fighting spirit. Training to develop a tough and resilient spirit creates other admirable values, such as courage, dependability and moral strength, which benefits not only the individual, but that persons family and society as a whole.
This is major part of the foundation of glima. Combat Glima was developed by Viking warriors who had to survive attacks from all kinds of weapons.
In order to survive, Vikings developed a tough and brutal martial art system that could deal with any situation they came across. These techniques were used for self-defense, and formed the basis for Viking armed and unarmed combat. Training in combat glima develops balance, strength, reflexes, speed, co-ordination, endurance and courage, the perfect foundation Viking warriors needed to survive in battle. Glima promotes strength with flexibility and speed, and glima in Old Norse means glimpse or flash, which describes how these techniques are meant to be performed.
In order to have a structured form of unarmed combatives against weapons, the Vikings had to know how to use a variety of weapons, such as sword, axe, spear, seax, stick and knife. Through combat glima, Vikings became experts in knife fighting, stick fighting, spear fighting, axe fighting and sword fighting. Armed and unarmed Combat Glima training at the Academy focuses on training with modern weapons and equipment.
Knife fighting is an excellent way to sharpen existing unarmed martial arts techniques. Fighting with a knife is a developed skill which builds balance, coordination, focus and speed. It polishes technique and understanding of where you are in hand to hand combat. With a knife or unarmed against a knife, knife-fighting sharpens existing skills to the utmost. Stick fighting is an integral part of glima, because once these principles are taken in, they can be used for any cutting weapon.
There's no standard size stick in Combat glima. We train with different sized sticks, which develops adaptability and enables a combat glima combatant to be ready for any situation. Combat Glima as a self-defense system contains throws, blows, kicks, chokes, locks, pain techniques and weapon techniques, and is comparable with the best complete martial arts systems from around the world.
Close combat glima includes short powerful strikes that flow between grappling and wrestling techniques. No move is superfluous or wasted, and there are no traces of unnecessary movement or unneeded style. Within striking distance and grappling distance, hands, feet, and knees are used to their best effect. Training in combat glima with and without weapons from an early age, gave the Vikings such a comprehensive combat foundation, that they had no problem adapting to the different styles of warfare, or other fighting styles they met on their travels.
Viking warriors were renowned for their fighting abilities in raids and against larger and less mobile soldiers because glima, combined with forestry and hunting skills, made Vikings extremely dangerous in guerilla warfare. Since the Viking Age, glima has always been practiced for realistic combat situations in Scandinavia.
From historical documents, we can see that Viking fighting techniques were in use all the way to the 19th century, when combat glima was used as the foundation for bajonettkamp bayonet fighting by the Swedish and Norwegian military. Over the centuries, the nature of combat in war has changed due to the constant development of weapons, but when it comes down to hand to hand combat, glima is an extremely effective martial art. With the changing methods of warfare, where one on one combat on the battlefield began to disappear, combat glima also began to disappear.
At the beginning of the 20th century, combat glima was even made illegal in some parts of Scandinavia, when all dangerous hand to hand combat techniques for the common man were banned. Combat glima survived only by keeping it a secret. At the Academy we train combat glima indoors with mats and equipment, but we also train outdoors, every week, year round, in all weather. Not only is this very healthy, it reminds students why they don't want to fall, be thrown to, or wrestle on hard ground or ice.
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Training outdoors year round on all kinds of ground keeps footwork sharp and purposeful. Combat Glima targets the head for hand and elbow strikes from all angles. These strikes can be done from striking and grappling range. A closed fist where the knuckles hit is seldom used in combat glima, as hands are often injured this way, or the knuckles swell and become useless. A hammer fist, using the meaty part of a clenched fist, is used to good effect sideways and downwards. Most hand strikes in combat glima are done with an open hand.
A palm strike is extremely powerful. Vikings had two arms and two legs, just like their opponents. What set the Vikings apart from other warriors was how they used what they had. In Viking unarmed combat, every move is the most simple and effective possible. Quick and devastating kicks are sent from the basic Glima stance to specific targets for maximum effect. A hard kick to the knee or ankle can stop a fight, and kicks can be used to weaken an opponent's attack or defence, opening up possibilities for a successful finish.
Combat Glima kicks are quick and destructive. In combat, kicks are thrust kicks or snap kicks, aimed primarily below the waist at joints and pain centers. A kick to the area just above the groin, to the top of the thigh, to the knee, or to the ankle area, always have a painfull or breaking effect. In combat, glima kicks are seldom aimed at shoulder or head height, but training at such targets keeps the body in good shape and defensive moves sharp. Specific targets take out the guesswork in combat. An elbow to the nose, a knee to the ribs or knee, a kick to the knee or ankle of an attacker, are specific and devastating.
If a strike misses by a centimeter or two, it will still make an impact, so long as it was aimed at a specific target. Hip movement and pushing against the ground gives these techniques their power. Combat Glima has an arsenal of aggressive takedown techniques. These takedowns are brutal from the beginning of execution until forcefully making and opponent hit the ground. Combat Glima has destructive throws. These are not just throwing techniques, they create pain and can injure an opponent before the opponent lands on the ground.
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There are foot sweep techniques and tripping techniques in Combat glima. Again, these are not just sweeps, they are destructive kicks to the limbs of an opponent on the way to becoming sweeps. Combat Glima finishing techniques are precise and painful, from standing and grappling, to finishes on the ground with hands, elbows, knees and feet. Groundwork is where Combat Glima excels. This is possibly the most continually painful part of a fight, with techniques that deliver unbearable agony.
Combinations of movements in these drills are never robotic, but allow a student to become efficient in putting techniques together that flow naturally and effectively. Here students see how the their techniques work in reality, not just in theory or demonstrations. Footwork is a major part of combat, and once this is understood and can be used, a fighter can concentrate on fighting techniques without distraction. Basics are the fundement, and these fundements are understood at a deeper meaning at each stage of progression.
Constantly perfecting basics improves all aspects of combat, and is incredibly important to understand the mechanics of offence, defence and surviving a fight. Combat glima is not just a great martial art for self-defense, it keeps you in shape and builds strength, stamina, flexibilty, balance, coordination, reflexes, awareness, confidence and spirit.
History is made by people. If history is not observed by the people who create it, it is difficult to fully understand or accurately record it. A lot has been written about the Viking Age, by poets, academics, and historians, but very little by warriors, yet warriors have a special insight into the creation of history that even eager spectators can never obtain. Life is struggle, and violence is a part of human life today as it was in the past. It is only though our ancestors surviving childhood to an age when they could procreate, and living long enough to care for their children through childhood, that we are here today.
They are the ones who have transmitted from generation to generation, the blood that runs through our veins. Warriors are our heritage. Viking warriors fought for, and carved out kingdoms, paving the way for the world as we know it today. This makes Viking warriors an integral part of world history. Over the centuries there has been an amazing amount of historical and archaeological research regarding the Norse people and Vikings.
Everything from who they were, to what they conquered, when they conquered, and where they conquered. But very little research has been done regarding how they fought and why they fought the way they did. Yet these questions are of equal importance in understanding the Viking age as any other question. The image most people have been given of Viking warriors is of wild savages, screaming and waving swords of steel and axes in the air, as they jumped out of dragon ships to spread fear and terror throughout the known and unknown world. But where did they come from and how did they become so fearsome?
Viking warriors hailed from the hard lands of the cold north that would later become Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. Life in Viking Age Scandinavia was tough, and if someone wanted something, they had to fight for it. From birth, the Norse people had everything they needed in order to grow up strong and self sufficient. Viking children started combat and sport glima training at the age of about 6 or 7. It was expected of Viking men, from the age of 12 to 60, to be fighting fit and capable of doing military service for their jarl or king.
In the far North there was no flat land with warm year-round climate, but rather the rough terrain of forests and mountains, and the snow and ice of harsh winters that could last 6 months out of the year. These conditions and their combat training helped Norse men and women develop a resilient spirit and the capabilities needed to survive and thrive. The martial art that developed in Scandinavia reflects the rugged landscapes found there.
It was such raw nature that sculpted the Viking warriors and how they fought. This tough environment forced the Norse people to be strong, yet felxible enough not to break, and their martial art reflects the people that created it; rough and vital, with no superfluous moves. Because of the rough stony ground in summer, and dangerously icy ground in winter, the Viking warrior's combat footwork was super efficient. Exactly what Viking warriors needed in life and death struggles on the battlefield or onboard a ship.
The Viking warriors way of fighting, as a group and individually, was good enough and adaptable enough, to tackle all styles of combat and all types of weapons. Vikings had two arms, two legs, and weapons, just as their adversaries had, and they were just as vulnerable as the warriors they came against, but what set the Viking warrior apart from everyone else, was how they used what they had.
Vikings were eclectic, and combined the knowledge and experience they gained from fighting a wide variety of enemy to their already impressive arsenal. The Viking martial art of glima involved unarmed close combat fighting, close combat fighting with weapons, such as a dagger, saex, spear, axe, sword and shield, and long range weapons such as bow and arrow, and spear and stone throwing.
Viking warriors fought on land and at sea, and they fought with whatever they could afford, make, borrow or steal. Viking warriors could fight in all types of armor, ranging from leather to metal, and their Viking shield could be used for both defense and offense.
In battlefield combat, a Viking warrior could grapple if he lost his weapon, or if everything else failed. Empty hand skills were more difficult to execute with armor, but still effective, and a warrior could strike, throw, or secure an opponent with a lock or grip. This would enable a Viking warrior to either finish an opponent with the hands or feet, or give him enough time to get out a short knife and thrust it into one of the unprotected open areas of the armor.
Two very significant things made the Viking successes possible. The first was that the Vikings were able to build the best ships in the world, allowing them to travel and explore. The second was that the Vikings created such an effective martial art, that they could successfully combat anyone that dared to oppose them when they got there.
Vikings were bold explorers and masters of the oceans. With just a ship and whatever they could carry, these fearless warriors dared to sail on stormy seas, and continue through dangerous lands. In this manner they transported their ships over difficult and sometimes frozen terrain, until they found a river, where they sailed further inland to attack, or defend. Viking warriors fought bloody hand to hand fighting on ships at sea, and on rivers hundreds of miles inland.
From the Norse landscape and culture, Vikings developed a resilient warrior spirit and the skill sets to survive in all conditions and situations. The combat training of the Viking warriors gave them the ability to fight against all kinds of weapons and all styles of warfare. Their combat training created such magnificent fighters that Viking warriors were not only able to travel to hostile and unexplored lands and live to tell the tale, but they became feared and admired in all the lands they traveled.
Whatever other label they might have been given, Vikings were warriors. And not just any warriors, they were the best in the world for three centuries. The impact these warriors had on the world is attested to by there being a year period of history being named after them; the Viking Age.
A thousand years later, Viking warriors are still revered for their fierce spirit, their combat skills, and what they achieved. The Viking Age is the year period of history between - A. It is also the only period in history named after warriors. Throughout Europe, Vikings were admired and feared as they opened up trade routes, fought to keep them open, and carved out kingdoms. But uncommon does not equal ineffective. The unarmed techniques in many FMAs come directly from armed techniques, leading to unexpected and functional applications. Training the unique footwork and weapon techniques of the FMAs will add another dimension to your skills.
See my stick and sword page for video examples of stick and sword techniques combined with FMA footwork. Like all functional martial arts training, FMA training must include practice against fully resisting, uncooperative opponents that are fighting back. Unfortunately, this is lacking in a great many FMA schools.
Because real stick and sword fighting is uncommon today, most practitioners don't need their techniques to work. As a result of this missing need combined with cooperative training, many ineffective techniques and drills are common in kali and eskrima. Additionally, cult like followings and superstitions have developed in a number of FMAs see here and here. See my self defense training page to find out what needs to be included to keep your training functional. The fact that many FMAs today are non-functional shouldn't however take away from the outstanding footwork, techniques, and weapon training among them.
On the pages below, you'll find functional weapon techniques and training methods that will seriously increase your skill in self defense. Therefore, each section below will detail techniques and training methods for that particular weapon type:.