WHO WERE THE VIKINGS
The origin of the word Viking is derived from the Old Norse term Vikingr, This concept is thought to be similar to that of a Scandinavian adventurer, someone who would 'go a Viking' and venture far from home on a voyage of discovery to find riches and glory for their family and community. The so named 'Viking Age' occurred during the 8th - 11th century. During this period the Vikings became masters of the seas and their expeditions took them all around the world, travelling through and trading, raiding, and settling in many locations throughout modern Europe, the Far East, Russia and the Vikings even were the first travellers to reach North America.
As these Vikings traveled to and through the dangerous lands of this historical era they opened up many trade routes and often settled into these places. As a result they often also had to fight hard to keep these trade routes and settlements in foreign lands with different cutures and way of living open. The true ‘Viking’ therefore was not only a traveler but was also and warrior, a trader, a settler, a hunter and a farmer.
The way of life experienced by the Vikings to support this lifestyle naturally led them into developing skills they would need to survive against both the environments they encountered, and also the dangers that arose from various types of warfare they would have faced in their travels around the world of this time.
The warrior / hunter mentality was vital for survival during this period of world history and was particularly instilled in all Scandinavians from a very young age. Everyone had to know how to survive not just the dangers from the harsh climate of their homeland, but also would need to know how to arm and defend themselves from others during the turbulent times they lived in. Even Viking children grew up familiar with using basic weapons as tools, especially the short seax (a small knife), considered to be one of the most essential items one could possess.
Vikings used a variety of weapons, such as sword, axe, spear, stick, seax, and shield. In addition, they were also taught the necessary techniques to survive on the battlefield if they ever lost their weapon. It is here, in the unarmed combat and wrestling movements that the beginnings of sport Glima can be found.
Training in combat techniques with and without weapons ensured the Vikings developed solid but adaptive foundational combat techniques. As a result they were able to quickly utilise these skills to deal with the different styles of warfare they met on their travels. Because of their armed and unarmed combat skills, combined with their forestry and hunting skills, Vikings were extremely dangerous in situations of guerilla warfare. They were also highly sought after as soldiers or swords for hire and bodyguards.
Where combat was required, they would move in fast, striking quick and hard to finish mass or personal combat in the most efficient and effective time possible.
It was as a result of all this that the Vikings helped shape the face of the world as we know it today - bravely venturing forth from their homes to trade, form alliances and even conquer many of the lands they encountered. Often misaligned and misrepresented by history, no one can deny that they brought their own rich culture, beliefs, and lifestyle with them wherever they travelled but also adapted themselves to the lands they eventually settled in.
Today we can still find the remnants of the Vikings in many aspects of our world. In art, design, craftwork, religion, philosophy, language, and especially in popular culture and identity. So great was their impact on the world that it still lives on in these forms well over 1200 years since they began to venture from their shores.
The History of the Vikings