Viking MA? TFS and YL, please help

My BJJ instructor would like some information about viking martial arts, especially swordfighting and wrestling. As far as I know there are no sources out there where viking MA are described in detail, but would it be safe to assume that later medieval sword/shield techniques and wrestling techniques where fairly similar to what was used by my ancestors in the viking age? Most of the wrestling manuals I have (admittedly briefly) looked at, seemed quite similar to each other, and I recognized a lot of techniques as similar to BJJ techniques, so I think maybe wrestling the world over where not vastly different.


Depends on how you want to look at it: in the sense of everyone has 2 arms and legs, then yes, wrestling is similar. If you want to look at the way different arts choose techniques and interpret them, then there are distinct differences. The German medieval lineages based on Ott the Jew are different from other medieval wrestling strains and are different from what the Viking's would have practiced.

Glima may offer some sense of what Viking wrestling would have looked like, but you have to take into account the 1000 years of practice as a folk wrestling style that may have affected it. Some still say it is essentially unchanged. A good analogy may be that earlier Glima is to Viking wrestling as Auerswald is to early German combative wrestling. It obviously shows a folk style, but my reasoning is that if that is what people practiced growing up, you have a good idea of how they wrestled under pressure. Plenty of articles out there on Glima:

Viking weapons styles are even more problematic. Again, same issue as above- certain techniques are going to be the same because of 2 arms, 2 legs, sword and shield, for example. At the other end, of course they had their own style and flavor, so while the extant European manuals that offer similar size/shape weapons, armor, and shields may give an indication of the broad techniques the Vikings could have used, you still won't have "Viking" sword fighting. But I'll leave that to the sword guys.


I think Glimabrottning is pretty well documented and still practiced in some circles, I never looked to much into it though.

I know there are some folks that claim to have great knowledge in Viking weapons systems (i.e. stav), but honestly it looks alot like Japanese weapon arts. The authenticity of these folks is in question.

Yeah, i am aware of Stav. I think its a hoax, to be honest. I have heard that the techniques are based on Judo and Kenjutsu, though I'm not guarranteeing anything. But I certainly dont believe that it has been passed on and is the riginal fighting method of the vikings.


AFAIK, Stav=Not Genuine.

As for the bonafide fighting style(s) of the Vikings, I cannot really add anything of value to the thread--Jason seems to have said it all.

I think Jason pretty much covered Viking wrestling. In regard to weapons, what we have is basically informed speculation, since there are no surviving manuals or equivalent of same. That said, we can get a general impression of what Viking armed fighting was *probably* like by looking at the surviving evidence, experimenting with modern replicas, etc.

We know a lot about Viking weapons, as many have survived in reasonably good condition. We have a reasonable idea of what they wore for armor, and the sagas and other evidence (period arwork, etc), plus modern experiments, can give us some idea of technique.

I won't go on at length about Vking weapons since I'm not sure how much you may already know, but I think we can learn a lot by looking at the weaopns and asking what they were designed to do, and how they could effectively be used against a typical enemy carrying a large center-grip shield, wearing an open-face helm, and probably wearing little other armor (possibly a mail byrnie if he was wealthy enough or was in the service of a wealthy jarl or other important man). Blows to the lower leg for example, are an obvious tactic, and indeed the sagas mention a lot of disabling leg wounds. A good book to check out if you haven't seen it is _Viking Weapons and Warfare_ by J. Kim Siddorn, which has some really good coverage of Viking weapons and armor, their manufacture, and their probable methods of use.

SOmthing to check out is a apaer in a book called SPADA (available from called "Talhoffer's sword and duelling shield as a model for reconstructing Early Medieval sword and shield techniques" by myself and Stephen Hand.

As the title suggests, it's all about how Talhoffer uses a big duelling shield, and arguing that other big flat shields were probably used in much the same way because a) the principles are generally applicable, and b) that's what the dark age and medieval pictures of shield use look like. It's relevant here because Talhoffer's shield use works really really well with big, round Viking shields.


Thanks for the info, guys.

Paul, I may check out that book. It sounds interesting.


It's relevant here because Talhoffer's shield use works really really well with big, round Viking shields.


Paul what kind of shield is Talhoffer using? Is it a center grip or a strap sheild?


Talhoffer - along with other Gemran fechtbuchs of the era - show very strange special duelling shields. They are roughly rectuangular, about 6-7 feet high, with pointy ends for sticking into people, and a centregrip via a central shaft. They are used by pivotting them around the centre to cover the Inside or Outside lines as needed. I'm sure it was thier general wierdness that stopped people from noticing long ago that you can use the same techniques with a standard dark-age sheild.