Glima The Nordic Martial Art Practiced by the Vikings

Glima The Nordic Martial Art Practiced by the Vikings

What is Glima?

Glima is a Scandinavian martial arts system used by the fearless Vikings. Strength wasn’t the only way to dominate your opponent even though the Vikings were famous for their strength and brute force. To advance their combat skills and dominate the battlefield causing a Viking age they developed a traditional and quite old martial art system which they implemented into their other fighting skills and caused havoc.




About Glima, this is a full contact “sport” or technique that uses strategic positioning and advanced hand and body placement in order to throw your opponent off the ground. The focus is the grapple and to overwhelm the enemy. The word Glima has the meaning, flash or glimpse. The name tells it all and that is to destroy your opponent in a glimpse of a second.

This was a martial art that was invented in the Iceland region, and that region was settled with Vikings from today’s part of Norway. It was used as a self defense system that could be used for attacking as well. The techniques inside were a mixture of throws, locks, hits and etc. Everything was included and it didn’t focus on only one thing. It also had weapon techniques that made it very crucial for everyone to know. It’s a well developed and advanced martial art system and could be compared with the more known ones. It’s not much spread but it’s still used mostly in Scandinavia.




Used in Warfare

The Vikings were mostly farmers and animal breeders but they plundered when times got tough. They did this in order to survive. This technique was invented by the people and it spread variously when the Viking age struck. Women and men were implementing it in their raids and had an element of surprise to their opponents. This was a type of wrestling and it was considered a sport, they even implemented it in their gods.

Because Glima was used everywhere around the Viking culture it became a tradition. Children from the age of 6 -7 started training this technique and mastered it until they reached the age where they could fight. This was a great practice that showed huge effect for their culture. Maybe this martial art technique wasn’t the number one cause for the Vikings to become so successful but it added a huge boost on it.

Types of Glima

This martial art developed a lot in many regions it started to develop it’s own forms. There is a championship in Glima wrestling in Norway. This championship started from 1906 and it continues so today. Everyone who is interested could check it out.



The types of Glim are the following:

  • Brokartok – Iceland/Swedish region and it’s involved with belts around their waist and on each leg. It has many rules and I don’t want to bore you with the details.
  • Hryggspenna – Very close to Greco-roman wrestling. They hold their upper bodies and whoever touches the ground with the the exception of the feet, loses.
  • Lausatok