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Glima Wrestling.jpg
Glima wrestling
Country of originIceland

Glíma is an Old Norse word that covers several types of Scandinavian folk wrestling: Brókartök, Hryggspenna, and Lausatök.

History of Glíma in Iceland[edit]

The original Norwegian settlers in Iceland took Viking wrestling with them, and these combat systems have been used by the populace according to the Jónsbók law book from 1325. The oldest Icelandic competition in glima is Skjaldarglíma Ármann which was first held in 1888 and has been held almost every year since.[1] In 1905 the belt was introduced so that the wrestlers could have a better grip on each other. Before that they held on each other's trousers. In 1906 the first Íslandsglíman (Grettisbeltið) competition was held where the winners are named Glímukóngur. In the 1912 Summer Olympics there was a demonstration of glima. In 1987 glima was being taught in primary school in Iceland.[2]


Brokartök Glima[edit]

The Brokartök version is by far the most widespread in Iceland and Sweden and it is this version which is Iceland's national sport. Historically it was also the one put in highest esteem for favoring technique over strength. Each of the two wrestlers wears a special belt around the waist and separate, additional belts on the lower thighs of each leg, which connect to the main belt with vertical straps. A fixed grip is then taken with one hand in the belt and the other in the trousers at thigh height. From this position the glima-wrestler attempts to trip and throw his opponent. In this style of glima, a thrown wrestler may attempt to land on his feet and hands and if he succeeds in doing so he has not lost the fall. The winning condition in this type of glima is to make the opponent touch the ground with an area of the body between the elbow and the knee.

Official Glima competition belts Two official glima belts in different sizes.

There are four points that differentiate it from other forms of wrestling:

  • The opponents must always stand erect.
  • The opponents step clockwise around each other (looks similar to a waltz). This is to create opportunities for offence and defence, and to prevent a stalemate.
  • It is not permitted to fall down on your opponent or to push him down in a forceful manner, as it is not considered sportsman-like.
  • The opponents are supposed to look across each other's shoulders as much as possible because it is considered proper to wrestle by touch and feel rather than sight.

The core of the system are eight main brögð (techniques), which form the basic training for approximately 50 ways to execute a throw or takedown.

Surrounding glima is a code of honour called drengskapur that calls for fairness, respect for and caring about the security of one's training partners.

The word glíma is the Icelandic term for "wrestling" in general. The same word has also a wider meaning of "struggle".

Glíma is different from all other ethnic grips in three ways:

Upprétt staða

Pursuers shall remain upright. The positioning in many of the ethnic grips sports often resembles a setsquare but in Glíma that is called ousting or “bol” and is banned.


Glíma involves steps, which involves contestants stepping forth and back like they are dancing in a clockwise motion. Stígandi is one of the characteristics of Glíma and designed to avoid a standstill and create opportunities for offence and attack.


It is forbidden in Glíma to tail your opponent to the floor or push your opponent down with force. That is considered to be unsportsmanlike and opposing the nature of Glíma as a sport for honorable sportsmen and women. Glíma sportsman or a sportswoman shall conquer his opponent with a Glíma grip so well implemented that it suffices in a “bylta”, which forces your opponent to fall to the ground without any further action. The concept “níð” does not exist in other ethnic grip sports.

Every year the best Glíma sportsmen and women compete for victory in the Íslandsglíma tournament. There they compete for the trophy “Grettisbelti”, which is the oldest and most prestigious trophy in Iceland. The Íslandsglíma first took place in Akureyri in the year of 1906 and the winner of the tournament is awarded with the Grettisbelti trophy and the title “Icelandic King of Glíma”. In the past decade women have also participated in the sport with good results. Their big tournament is called “Freyjuglíma” and the winner is crowned as the queen of Glíma.


Hryggspenna or Backhold wrestling, is more similar to other styles of wrestling and is considered to be more a test of strength than of technique. In Hryggspenna the opponents take hold of each other's upper body; whoever touches the ground with any part of the body except the feet has lost.


In Lausatök or Loose-Grip wrestling, the contestants may use the holds they wish. This style was banned in Iceland for a period of about 100 years before being taken up again recently, within the last generation.[citation needed]

It is much more aggressive and differs in many ways from other styles of Icelandic wrestling. Lausatök comes in two forms: A version for self-defence and a version for friendly competition. In either all kinds of wrestling techniques are allowed but in the friendly 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.

Even more divergent from other forms of Icelandic wrestling is lausatök when trained purely for self-defence (There are several traing places in Scandinavia) that teach this. In such training the harmful and hurtful techniques or ways of executing the techniques, that are not accepted in other forms of Icelandic wrestling, are explored in as free and creative a way as possible while not injuring one's training-partners.

The Lausatök version is by far the most widespread in Norway and there are regular competitions in this form of Glima such as the Norwegian Glima Championship.


The Official logo of the IGA association Two staves, kept in the shoes, gapaldur under the heel of the right foot and ginfaxi under the toes of the left foot, to magically ensure victory in bouts of Icelandic wrestling (glíma).

The International Glima Association (IGA) is the global organisation uniting all people and groups interested in Glima.
The current president of IGA is Orri Bjornsson from Iceland.


The most prominent prize in Glima has always been the Grettisbelti. The winner has for decades been called Glímukóngur "the Glima king". This is the Icelandic open in Glima and has always drawn the best wrestlers of each era. Below is a list of the winners the years they won and the club they competed for.

Glimakings of Iceland

Year Glimaking Club
1906 Ólafur Valdimarsson UMFA
1906 Ólafur Valdimarsson UMFA
1907 Jóhannes Jósefsson UMFA
1908 Jóhannes Jósefsson UMFA
1909 Guðmundur A. Stefánsson Ármann
1910 Sigurjón Pétursson Ármann
1911 Sigurjón Pétursson Ármann
1912 Sigurjón Pétursson Ármann
1913 Sigurjón Pétursson Ármann
1919 Tryggvi Gunnarsson Ármann
1920 Tryggvi Gunnarsson Ármann
1921 Hermann Jónasson Ármann
1922 Sigurður Greipsson Umf. Bisk
1923 Sigurður Greipsson Umf. Bisk
1924 Sigurður Greipsson Umf. Bisk
1925 Sigurður Greipsson Umf. Bisk
1926 Sigurður Greipsson Umf. Bisk
1927 Þorgeir Jónsson Stefni
1928 Þorgeir Jónsson Stefni
1929 Sigurður Thorarensen Ármann
1930 Sigurður Thorarensen Ármann
1931 Sigurður Thorarensen Ármann
1932 Lárus Salómonsson Ármann
1933 Lárus Salómonsson Ármann
1934 Sigurður Thorarensen Ármann
1935 Sigurður Thorarensen Ármann
1936 Sigurður Thorarensen Ármann
1937 Skúli Þorleifsson Ármann
1938 Lárus Salómonsson Ármann
1939 Ingimundur Guðmundsson Ármann
1940 Ingimundur Guðmundssson Ármann
1941 Kjartan Bergm. Guðjónsson Ármann
1942 Kristmundur J Sigurðsson Ármann
1943 Guðmundur Ágústsson Umf. Vöku
1944 Guðmundur Ágústsson Ármann
1945 Guðmundur Ágústsson Ármann
1946 Guðmundur Ágústsson Ármann
1947 Guðmundur Ágústsson Ármann
1948 Guðmundur Guðmundsson Ármann
1949 Guðmundur Guðmundsson Ármann
1950 Rúnar Guðmundsson Umf. Vöku
1951 Rúnar Guðmundsson Ármann
1952 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. R
1953 Rúnar Guðmundsson Ármann
1954 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. R
1955 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. R
1956 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. R
1957 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. R
1958 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. R
1959 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. R
1960 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. R
1961 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. Breiðablik
1962 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. Breiðablik
1963 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. Breiðablik
1964 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. Breiðablik
1965 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. Breiðablik
1966 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. Breiðablik
1967 Ármann J Lárusson Umf. Breiðablik
1968 Sigtryggur Sigurðsson KR
1969 Sveinn Guðmundsson HSH
1970 Sigtryggur Sigurðsson KR
1971 Sigtryggur Sigurðsson KR
1972 Jón E Unndórsson KR
1973 Jón E Unndórsson KR
1974 Hjálmur Sigurðsson Umf. Víkverja
1975 Pétur V Yngvason Umf. Víkverja
1976 Ingi Þór Yngvason HSÞ
1977 Ingi Þór Yngvason HSÞ
1978 Ómar Úlfarsson KR
1979 Ingi Þór Yngvason HSÞ
1980 Pétur V Yngvason HSÞ
1981 Ingi Þór Yngvason HSÞ
1982 Pétur V Yngvason HSÞ
1983 Eyþór Pétursson HSÞ
1984 Pétur V Yngvason HSÞ
1985 Ólafur H Ólafsson KR
1986 Ólafur H Ólafsson KR
1987 Eyþór Pétursson HSÞ
1988 Pétur V Yngvason HSÞ
1989 Ólafur H Ólafsson KR
1990 Ólafur H Ólafsson KR
1991 Ólafur H Ólafsson KR
1992 Jóhannes Sveinbjörnsson HSK
1993 Jóhannes Sveinbjörnsson HSK
1994 Orri Björnsson KR
1995 Jóhannes Sveinbjörnsson HSK
1996 Ingibergur Jón Sigurðsson Ármann
1997 Ingibergur Jón Sigurðsson Umf. Víkverja
1998 Ingibergur Jón Sigurðsson Umf. Víkverja
1999 Ingibergur Jón Sigurðsson Umf. Víkverja
2000 Ingibergur Jón Sigurðsson Umf. Víkverja
2001 Ingibergur Jón Sigurðsson Umf. Víkverja
2002 Ingibergur Jón Sigurðsson Umf. Víkverja
2003 Ólafur Oddur Sigurðsson HSK
2004 Pétur Eyþórsson Víkverja
2005 Pétur Eyþórsson KR
2006 Jón Birgir Valsson KR
2007 Pétur Eyþórsson KR
2008 Pétur Þórir Gunnarsson HSÞ
2009 Pétur Eyþórsson KR
2010 Pétur Eyþórsson Ármann
2011 Pétur Eyþórsson Ármann
2012 Pétur Eyþórsson Ármann
2013 Pétur Eyþórsson Ármann
2014 Pétur Eyþórsson Ármann
2015 Sindri Freyr Jónsson KR
2016 Ásmundur Hálfdán Ásmundsson UÍA
2017 Ásmundur Hálfdán Ásmundsson UÍA

World championship[edit]

The first world championship in Glima and Hryggspenna was held in Roskilde, Denmark in August 2008. The list of medal winners is below.


Men, +100 kg
1. Iceland Orri Björnsson, Iceland 4 points
2. Iceland Sindri Freyr Jónsson, Iceland 3 points
3. Estonia Eduard Mihailov, Estonia 1+2 points

Men, -100 kg
1. Iceland Pétur Þórir Gunnarsson, Iceland 6 points
2. Iceland Jón Smári Eyþórsson, Iceland 5 points
3. Iceland Brynjólfur Örn Rúnarsson, Iceland 3,5 points

Men, -90 kg
1. Iceland Pétur Eyþórsson, Iceland 5,5+1 points
2. Iceland Ólafur Oddur Sigurðsson, Iceland 5,5+0 points
3. Iceland Hreinn Heiðar Jóhannsson, Iceland 4 points

Men, -81 kg
1. Iceland Snær Seljan Þóroddsson, Iceland 5 points
2. Iceland Bjarni Þór Gunnarsson, Iceland 4 points
3. Sweden David Lundholm, Sweden 3 points

Men, -73 kg
1. Iceland Óðinn Þór Kjartansson, Iceland 4 points
2. Latvia Aleksejs Kurilovs, Latvia 3,5+1 points
3. Iceland Steinar Bjarki Marínósson, Iceland 3,5+0 points

Men, -66 kg
1. Iceland Halldór Óli Kjartansson, Iceland 4,5 points
2. Iceland Magnús Bjarki Snæbjörnsson, Iceland 4 points
3. Iceland Júlíus Gunnar Björnsson, Iceland 2,5+1 points

Women, open category
1. Iceland Jóhanna Guðrún Magnúsdóttir, Iceland 3 points
2. Iceland Guðrún Heiður Skúladóttir, Iceland 2 points
3. Iceland Laufey Frímansdóttir, Iceland 1 point


Men, +100 kg
1. Estonia Eduard Mihailov, Estonia
2. Germany Christian Bartel, Germany
3. Iceland Orri Björnsson, Iceland

Men, -100 kg
1. Latvia Zbignevs Romanovskis, Latvia
2. Iceland Jón Smári Eyþórsson, Iceland
3. Iceland Brynjólfur Örn Rúnarsson, Iceland

Men, -90 kg
1. Iceland Pétur Eyþórsson, Iceland
2. Iceland Ólafur Oddur Sigurðsson, Iceland
3. Netherlands Andress Kools, Netherlands

Men, -81 kg
1. Latvia Vjaceslavs Masloboevs, Latvia
2. Iceland Bjarni Þór Gunnarsson, Iceland
3. Iceland Snær Seljan Þóroddsson, Iceland

Men, -73 kg
1. Latvia Aleksejs Kurilovs, Latvia
2. Iceland Óðinn Þór Kjartansson, Iceland
3. Netherlands John Jozen, Netherlands

Men, -66 kg
1. Iceland Halldór Óli Kjartansson, Iceland
2. Germany Benjamin Werth, Germany
3. Iceland Magnús Bjarki Snæbjörnsson, Iceland

1. Iceland Jóhanna Guðrún Magnúsdóttir, Iceland
2. Iceland Laufey Frímansdóttir, Iceland
3. Netherlands Ashley Leyten, Netherlands


External links[edit]