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Glima: the Islandic National Style of Amateur Folk Wrestling  
Glima
Glima
Glima is said to be a very common expression in modern Icelandic. The phrase “to Glima” means to struggle with something in life, just as the struggle made by people into sports. Generally, the word Glima, when translated in English means struggle. But in particular, Glima is defined to be the Icelandic term for wrestling and extends to both modern and non traditional styles.

Theory has it that Glima is very different from any other form of wresting, even in terms of practice and in general kinetics. Glima stressed out the emphasis of technique over power and stressing out superior balance and nimbleness over brute strength and force. Ideally, Glima is not a sport to test who is the strongest, but rather it is a test of who is the quickest, cleverest and the most skilled in wrestling techniques in their respective defenses.

As a modern sport, Glima began to shine in the early 20th century. It has also been declared with the very honoring title as the national sport of Iceland. When it became a modern sport, modifications and changes such as rules and laws written happened, wrestling clubs were being established including judges and referees, and even the attire of traditional wrestling was modified.

Glima mainly aims to off balance the opponent (by either using a swing, lift, jerk, or by pulling with the hands), apply either a foot, leg or hip technique and afterwards, swiftly but with grace throw the opponent on the floor. When the opponent is on the floor, falling on top of him or following him on the floor is prohibited. After the throw, it is a must that the wrestler maintains his balance because if he falls, the game ends. The bylta or the fall of a wrestler decides who is victorious in a match, so it is important that a wrestler should not fall to the ground and touch the floor with any of his body parts. If both of the wrestlers lose their balance, a braeorabylta (term for brothers-fall) is called and then the wrestling match is resumed. It is important that a Glima wrestler is skilled in the art of falling so that he can prevent a bylta when he is thrown so that he can still continue to wrestle in the match. Landing properly, otherwise known as the art of falling needs to be practiced, thus considered as a very important element in Glima.

Glima is very much distinct from other styles of wrestling because of the wrestler’s upright posture, clockwise circular stepping, and techniques which uses only the feet, legs, hips. Glima is surrounded by a code of honor called Drengskapur which calls for fairness in the game, respect and caring for the security and safety of the wrestlers. Mutual respect is shown when both wrestlers shake hands before they take grips. In today’s modern world, Glima is still considered as a friendly recreation and the sports of gentlemen.

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