The 3 Traditional Styles of Glima
Glima is practised with fixed grips or with free gripping. The fixed grip is taken either behind the opponent’s back (Back-hold) or at the opponent’s belt and trousers (Trouser-grip). To make the fight as fair as possible both wrestlers have the same hold with one arm under and one arm over the opponent’s arms. The aim in Back-hold Glima and in Trouser-grip Glima is to make the opponent lose his/her balance, to trip or throw him/her to the ground. No wrestling on the ground is allowed or necessary in the fixed grip Glima.
An intense situation in Back-hold Glima.
Note that the fighters are wrestling with fixed grips.
In Hryggspennu-tök or “Back-hold” the person who first touches the ground with anything other than the feet or who lets go of his/her hold has lost the game. It is regarded as honourable behaviour if a fighter lets go of his/her grip if the opponent falls backwards. This is due to the possibility that he/she can get his/her spine injured by the attacker’s knuckles.
The oldest know photo of Trouser-grip Glima – photographed in the 1870s.
The Brokar-tök or “Trouser-grip” is the most advanced style in Glima and is therefore very difficult to master. In this style both wrestlers must be in constant movement in a slow or a fast circular dance. The wrestlers must also be in an upright body-position and stand fairly close to each other. You are not allowed to fall on the person that is thrown down in this style of Glima and therefore the victorious attacker must always take a ritual step over the conquered opponent to show that he/she had the opportunity to injure the opponent – but chose not to do it.
The Trouser-grip that has been practised with a specially designed leather belt since the beginning of the 20th century is the fastest and most technical of all Glima styles and is regarded as an excellent way to learn the dynamics of balance and the art of tripping in a playful manner. It is also by far the best way to learn evasive manoeuvres with a relaxed but high spirited fighting attitude.
A situation in Loose-grip Glima from 1908.
Note that both the attacker and the defender are doing offensive techniques.
The Glima style that allows the use of all the grips you can take is called Lausa-tök or “Free gripping” and is very similar to Combat Glima. The only difference is that it is less violent than the style prepared for fighting in earnest. This means that only techniques that do not aim to inflict pain are allowed in this style of Glima.
Remember that in Glima all attack techniques should be done with control whether it is by foot, leg, hip, hand or arm. No hitting, kicking, gouging, biting or head-butting is allowed.