Wrestling was the most widespread of sports during the Viking era. It was practiced in all classes of society. Women participated in wrestling too. Wherever Vikings gathered wrestling was a part of the entertainment. Thor was the god of wrestling and wrestling was even written into the system of laws. In the book of laws known as "Grågås" there were rules for wrestling. There were three styles of wrestling: Free-style, Glima-wrestling and Crude wrestling.

Free-style and Glima wrestling.

These variants were a game and they were greatly loved by the people. Boys began training at the age of 7 or 8 and continued wrestling until they were well up in years. Competition was divided into several classes based on strength and skill. Team competitions between different districts were often arranged.

Free-style was little different from today. In Glima strength wasn't as important as technical skill and balance. The combatants brought each other down with lightening quick moves and tricks as much with the feet as with the hands.

Glima-wrestling is still practiced in Scandinavis today and it is believed that it is almost unchanged from the Viking era.


These matches were crude and wild. The combatants were extremely powerful and even psychologically unbalanced (crazy!)! The strength of these men is the basis for legends of how these giants wrestled with supernatural creatures. The struggles were decided by pinning either from the front or in a back throw. Another method of pinning the opponent when nothing else helped was to chop off both of his legs!!

The Vikings also enjoyed Water Wrestling

- 14. august 2004 -