Sport Glima

There are 3 known forms of glima as íþrótt, which means sport in Old Norse. These forms of sport glima are defined by their grips; Lausatök, Hryggspenna, and Brókartök.

Lausatök in Old Norse means loose-grip, or free-grip. Lausatök is freestyle wrestling with rules. Lausatök was a liberal form of wrestling where all grips were permitted. Tricks were applied with the feet, hands and all other parts of the body. Various hand-grips, at least 27 of them, where also permitted. The contestant who remained standing won, if both contestants fell, the one who was quicker up again was the winner.

Lausatök is the basis for Combat Glima – the armed and unarmed self-defense/combat martial art used by the Vikings. Lausatök was also used as the basis of Råbryting (raw wrestling) which was the most brutal form of sport wrestling in the Viking Age.

Lausatök was widely practiced in Iceland and in some areas it was more common than any other form of Glíma. Today lausatök is the most popular form of Glima in Norway, Europe and USA.

Hryggspenna in Old Norse is back-grip. Hryggspenna is similar to back-hold wrestling, the most popular form of folk wrestling in Scotland, of which many regions were under Norwegian rule or colonization until the 15th century. 

Viking hryggspenna relies on brute strength, and there are no throws, swings or any maneuvers which off-balance the opponent that are allowed. The wrestlers clasp their hands behind the opponent’s back and they then try to sway the opponent back until he falls. Hryggspenna is a contest of strength, not of skillful techniques and agility.

Brókartök in Old Norse means trouser-grip. Brókartök is a form of rigid wrestling that has a permanent trouser-grip. Brókartök is the most popular form of sport glima in Sweden, and is the national sport of Iceland. 

Axlatök (shoulder-grip) is the name of a style of Glima from a single source (Þorsteinn Einarsson, 1984). According to this source, axlatök resembles Scottish back-hold in that axlatök wrestlers stand chest to chest overlooking each other’s right shoulder and clasp their hands high on each other’s backs. In axlatök, no other hand-grips or any hand-tricks are allowed, only swinging and Glíma foot tricks. 

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