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Thread: Northern Martial Arts

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    Northern Martial Arts

    The northern warrior tradition appears to have originated in hunting magic. In the heroic period, it had developed into a form of physical-spiritual martial arts activity comparable to the later Japanese Samurai Shinto code of Bushido. At all times, warriors had to excercise self-reliance and always willing to die selflessly for family and comrades. In order to be capable of feats of arms, a strict training in self-control was necessary, and this was essentially religious. Later, the religious element seems to have been taken over by Christianity, transforming the northern martial arts into the knightly arts of chivalry, and the totemic animals
    into heraldic devices.

    There were three main animal-cults in the northern martial arts: those of the bear, wolf and boar. The wearing of a bearskin shirt was the mark of the Berserker, a practicioner of the martial arts who went without normal chainmail armour, yet who was so strong and ferocious that he was feared by his opponents. Bear-warriors "went without mail byrnies, as ferocius as dogs or wolves", records the 'Ynglingasaga'; "they bit their shields and were as strong as bears or boars; they killed men, but neither fire nor iron could hurt them. This is called "running berserk".

    The bearskin shirt was a totemic sign that, in battle, the Berserker could draw upon the strength of the bear. The Berserkers were devotees of the cult of the bear, widespread throughout the northern hemisphere. The power of the bear was gained at the Berserker's initiation. "Hrolfs Saga Kraki" tells us that, among the tests, the would-be Berserker had to kill the image of a beast set up in Hof, hen to drink its blood, when the power of the beast would be ssimilated with the warrior's power. The power of the bear was also called upon in times of trouble. When he was marooned with his crew on an island in the Baltic, Orvar-Odd set up the head and skin of a bear, supported on a staff, as an offering ("Orvar-Odd's Saga" 5). In the "Faereyinga Saga", a dead bear is propped up with a piece of wood between its jaws. The bodies of dead Berserkers were laid on a bearskin prior to the funeral rites.

    Because of their renowned martial prowess, tested in battle, Berserkers were valued fighting men in the armies of Pagan kings. Harald Fairhair, Norwegian king in the ninth century, had Berserkers as his personal bodyguard, as did Hrolf, king of Denmark. The bear-warrior symbolism survives in the present day in the bearskin hats worn by the guards of the Danish and British monarchs. But despite their fighting prowess, their religious duties were still observed. For example, "Svarfdoela Saga" records that a Berserker postponed a single combat until three days after Yule so that he would not violate the sanctity of the gods.

    The Ulfhednar wore wolf-skins instead of mail byrnies ("Vatnsdoela Saga"). Unlike the Berserkers, who fought in squads, the Ulfhednar entered combat singly as guerilla fighters. A wolf-warrior is shown on a helmet-maker's die from Torslinda on the Baltic island of land. In Britain, there is a carving on the eleventh-century church at Kilpeck in Herefordshire showing a wolf-mask with a human head looking out from beneath it. This may be a stone copy of the usable masks hung up on Pagan temples, worn in time of ceremony or war. Similiar masks, used by shamans, serve as spirit receptacles when they are not being worn. In his "Life" of Caius Marius, Plutarch describes the helmets of the Cimbri as the open jaws of terrible predatory beasts and strange animal masks.

    The boar was a sacred animal in the cult of the Vanir. 'The Lady', Freya, had a wild pig called Hildisvin (battle-swine), and her brother Frey owned the golden-bristled boar Gullinbursti, which could outrun any horse. Hilda Ellis Davidson speculates that priests of the Vanir may have worn swine-masks, claiming protection from Frey and Freya. In Vendel-period Sweden and early Anglo-Saxon England, the image of the boar appears on many ceremonial items, such as the Benty Grange (Derbyshire) helmet. The Swedish King Athils had a helmet named Hildigoltr (battle-pig). He captured another boar helmet, Hildisvin, from his enemy, King Ali. The Boar-Warriors fought in the battle-formation known as Svinfylking, the Boar's Head. This was in the shape of a wedge, led by two champions known as the Rani (snout). Boar-warriors were masters of disguise and escape, having an intimate knowledge of terrain. Like the Berserkers and Ulfhednar, the Boar-Warriors used the strength of their animal the boar as the basis of their martial arts.

    Source: "A History of Pagan Europe" , 'Late Germanic Religion' by Prudence Jones & Nigel Pennick, page 154-156
    Lík börn leika best.

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    Eala Freia Fresena
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    Stav - Northern Martial Arts

    That is a martial arts based on the runes. the founder claims it is from the 800's and has been a family tradition since then.

    I am interested in it but don't know much about it. Is there anybody who has personal experience?
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

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    Sounds like BS to me. The only norse martial art I head about is glima.

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    Yeah, sounds like total made-up bullshit to me as well. Never heard of a martial art called "stav" before.

    I'll keep going to karate practice, thank you very much.

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    Stav means staff btw.

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    I know, it's the same word in Swedish for a stick. Never heard it used about a martial art, though.

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    I think that if you pick up a staff and begin swinging it seriously you will soon reach the same conclusions that people did 1000 or 2000 years ago. Human anatomy and the physical laws of the universe are still pretty much the same.

    Quarterstaff

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    Yes, it is a bogus martial arts. The 'founder' claims that the runes are also a secret training manual for how to hold and swing a quarter staff. By holding af staff and making your body look like a rune you will hold and swing the staff in the best possible manner...
    I do not believe that it is a martial art with a lot of practitioners. And that is probably a good thing as I seriously doubt that you will be able to learn anything from it.

    What I do not understand about martial arts is why anyone would want to learn how to fight with a staff, spear or sword. Why not simply learn to fight with your bare hands, a knife or a club? These are the weapons that one has available today.

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    Senior Member Plantagenet's Avatar
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    Northerners already have a martial art. Its called pugilism. We also have different folk wrestling styles, like Icelandic one already mentioned or Cornish wrestling for example.

    You should look into Bartitsu, the Victorian gentleman guide to marital arts haha. Russian martial arts are pretty interesting, like Russian fist fighting, which I believe dates back to the medieval period. There is also of course modern Russian martial arts, like Sambo or Systema.

    In the end the best thing to know in a fight today is how to avoid one. If you find yourself having to defend yourself, you should just aim at the weak spots of the human body, namely the eyes, throat, sternum, groin, knees, and so forth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Plantagenet View Post
    Northerners already have a martial art. Its called pugilism. We also have different folk wrestling styles, like Icelandic one already mentioned or Cornish wrestling for example.

    You should look into Bartitsu, the Victorian gentleman guide to marital arts haha. Russian martial arts are pretty interesting, like Russian fist fighting, which I believe dates back to the medieval period. There is also of course modern Russian martial arts, like Sambo or Systema.

    In the end the best thing to know in a fight today is how to avoid one. If you find yourself having to defend yourself, you should just aim at the weak spots of the human body, namely the eyes, throat, sternum, groin, knees, and so forth.
    Pugilism/boxing is great in a self defence situation for getting your hands broken by hitting your opponents skull without gloves. I would probably recommend Krav Maga, which I have been practising for about three years. It has the basic punches of boxing but teaches it students to use them in a manner that takes account of the differences between a street fight and training.
    Don't get me wrong, I like boxing and think it is a great workout and great for building a strong body and mind. I just wouldn't trust it to keep me safe in a tight spot.

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