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Brokartök Glima wrestling
Brokartök Glima wrestling
Focus Grappling
Hardness Full-contact
Country of origin Norway
Creator The Norse

Glíma is the name of the Scandinavian martial arts system used by the Vikings. The word glíma in Old Norse means glimpse or flash, which describes the systems techniques.

Glima as a self-defence system contains throws, blows, kicks, chokes, locks, pain techniques and weapon techniques. It's thus comparable with other complete martial arts systems from around the world as Sambo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Glima as self-defence was the foundation for the Viking warrior, and these techniques are still practiced in Scandinavia, Europe, North America and South America.

Glima as a sport covers several types of Scandinavian folk wrestling: Lausatök, Hryggspenna, and Brokartök. Glima was the most widespread sport in the Viking Age, and was practiced by men and women of all ages. Wherever Vikings gathered, Glima was a big part of the entertainment. Glima was so important for Viking society that their most popular god, Thor, was also the Viking god of wrestling.

Glima is first mentioned in Viking poetry by the Norwegian court poet Bragi Boddason (790-850) and Kveldúlfr Bjálfason (820-878), also of Norwegian Heritage. The poetry is about the Norse god Thor and his journey to Utgards-Loki, where Elli defeats Thor in a wrestling match.

Historical information regarding glima can be found in written works from the Middle Ages: Prose Edda the Icelandic collection of texts from 1220, in the books Gylfaginning and Konungs skuggsjá, the Icelandic law books Jónsbók and Grágás, the Icelandic sagas: Grettis saga, Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu, Víga-Glúms saga, Finnboga saga ramma, Egils saga, Kjalnesinga saga and in Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls, and from the 18th century on: "Thorlacius' Borealium Veterum matrimonio" by Icelander Skúli Þórđarson Thorlacius (1741-1815), "Brottning" (About Wrestling) by Gustaf Daniel von Heidenstam (1785-1850), "Illustrerad Idrottsbok" (the illustrated sports book) by Viktor Balck (1844-1928) who was one of the founding members of the International Olympic Committee in 1894 and the Nordic Games which were arranged from 1901, "Icelandic Glima techniques" by 1907 and 1908 Glima Champion Johannes Josefsson, and documents by Þorsteinn Einarsson, who was Island’s inspector for sports and traditional games between 1941 and 1981.

History of Glíma[edit]

The Vikings were famous as great warriors, on land and at sea. Viking warriors had the skills to survive against the various forms of warfare they encountered in their travels around the world. The reason for the Vikings fighting prowess is found in the way they trained both with, and without weapons. Glima training for Scandinavian children began at 6 or 7 years of age. The combat system of Glima developed the strength, reflexes, endurance and courage, Viking warriors needed to survive in battle. Glima as a sport was fun, and Glima wrestling competitions were extremely popular.

Vikings loved sports. Wrestling was the most widespread sport in the Viking Age, and there were several variants. Viking wrestling was divided into glima wrestling, Råbryting (Raw wrestling) and water wrestling. The unrestricted form of Råbryting was crude and wild and differed from glima wrestling because these contests were decided by opponents being pinned down. Water wrestling was a wrestling match in the water, and was the most popular form of swimming competition. The idea was to keep the opponents head under water until he gave up, and such matches could last for hours. The skilled variants of Glíma wrestling (Brokartök, Hryggspenna, and Lausatök) had complex rules and competitors brought each other down with lightening quick moves and tricks as much with the feet as with the hands. Glima wrestling was divided into several classes based on strength and skill, between two opponents or team competitions between different districts.

The original Norwegian settlers in Iceland took Viking wrestling and the Glima combat systems with them, according to the Jónsbók law book from 1325. In the Icelandic medieval book of laws known as Grágás, which refers to a collection of earlier Norwegian laws, there were rules for wrestling. The Icelandic populace has taken very good care of their Norwegian heritage, and Glima there is almost unchanged since Viking times.

Brokartök Glíma is the national sport of Iceland. 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, it was an introduction of the sport to the world, and a reintroduction to Scandinavia. Olympic officials had consented to making Glima an official Olympic sport, the Olympic committee planned to fulfill the promise and include glíma at the Olympics in Antwerpen 1920. When the participation of Icelandic glíma-wrestlers had been secured, news were received that the Danish king planned to visit Iceland that same summer. The sports leadership decided that it was more important to offer the king a spectacle of the best wrestlers. Icelandic sport officials cancelled their participation in the Olympics. Eventually, the king postponed his journey and did not visit Iceland until a year later.[2]

In the final chapter of the 20th century, Glima began to be practiced in mainland Scandinavia.

In 1987 glima was taught in primary school in Iceland.[1]

Sport Glima[edit]


Brokartök (Trouser-grip) is by far the most widespread form of glima in Iceland and Sweden and it is this version which is Iceland's national sport. Brokartök glima favors 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.

There are four points that differentiate Brokartök 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 now the Icelandic term for "wrestling" in general. The same word has also a wider meaning of "struggle".

Brokartök 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 Brokartök glíma that is called ousting or “bol” and is banned.


Brokartök 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 Brokartök 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. The Brokartök glíma sportsman or sportswoman shall conquer his or her 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 Brokartök 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.


Lausatök (Loose-Grip or Free-Grip) is by far the most widespread form of Glima practiced in Norway, and there are regular competitions in this form of Glima such as the Norwegian Glima Championship. In Lausatök 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.

Lausatök, or Løse-tak in Norwegian, is quite aggressive and differs in many ways from the other styles of Viking wrestling. Lausatök comes in two forms: A version for self-defence and a version for friendly competition. In both, 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.

Combat Glima[edit]

Lausatök (Løse-tak) is the form of glima used for self-defence and combat. In such training, the harmful and hurtful techniques, or ways of executing the techniques, that are not accepted in other forms of Viking wrestling, are explored in as free and creative a way as possible while not injuring the training partner.

Lausatök glima for combat and self-defense was the basis for the Vikings' fighting expertise and includes techniques against weapons. In order to have a structured form of unarmed combatives against striking weapons, the Vikings had to know how to use a variety of weapons, such as sword, axe, spear, seax, long seax, stick and knife. The foundation for the use of these weapons is found in Lausatök combat glima. There are several training places in Scandinavia that teach this, the foremost of which is the Academy of Viking Martial Arts in Norway.


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 Norwegian Glima Association (Norges Glima Forbund) is the official organisation for Glima in Norway and is responsible for the Norwegian Glima Championship. The current president of the NGA is Tyr Neilsen.

Norwegian Championship[edit]


The most prominent Viking Wrestling prize in Norway is Norges Glima Mesterskap, the Løse-tak (Loose-Grip) Norwegian Glima Championship.

Roger Olav Stalheim, Norwegian Glima Champion 2009 and 2010.

Andreas Sørensen, Norwegian Glima Champion 2011, 2012 and 2013. (Undefeated in competition).

John Harald Foss Fjeldbu, Norwegian Glima Champion 2014.

Mats Rolfsen, Norwegian Glima Champion 2015.

Bjørn Arild Braathen, Junior Norwegian Glima Champion 2013, 2014, 2015.

Sebastian Aak, Norwegian Glima Champion 2016 Men - Pernille Rojahn Oddlien, Norwegian Glima Champion 2016 Women

Icelandic Championship[edit]


The most prominent prize in Icelandic Glima has always been the Grettisbelti. The winner has for decades been called Glímukóngur, or "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

World championship[edit]

The first world championship in Brokartök and Hryggspenna Glima was held in Roskilde, Denmark in August 2008.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "The Bizarre Inclusion Of Glíma In 1912 Olympics - The Reykjavik Grapevine". The Reykjavik Grapevine. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 

External links[edit]