Introduction to the Combat Circle:
To understand what we are doing within the combat circle it is important to understand a few of the goals of the Norroena Society.
The Norroena Society is devoted to rebuilding and re-establishing the sacred traditions of the Asatru/Odinist religion. Beyond the works of mainstream academia, which we feel are unsatisfactory, we wish to reforge our faith in the best manner possible.
We strive for excellence in our research and our projects. Our devotion is to our beliefs, our religious community, and our families, and it is towards them that we dedicate our efforts. The goal is to give our people the most efficient tools and resources for celebrating our ancient path.
With the above goals in mind, Circles were set up to research various aspects of our ancestors culture and religion, and to give our folks the tools and resources they need to create a practice that is set in our modern age, built on the foundations of our past. Our society's motto is hearts in the past, minds on the present, and eyes toward the future.
The Combat circle was formed to research and create a modern combative system which is based on the martial arts that were developed and practiced by our ancestors in Northern Europe and on the European continent. When most people think about martial arts they think of the fighting systems from Asia, such as, karate, Judo, Jujitsu, Kung Fu, Tae Kwan Do, and other systems that have been brought to Europe with immigrants from the East. Most people do not realize that each culture has a system of martial arts, and the peoples of Europe developed systems of fighting that are just as advanced as the martial arts from the East.
It was decided that we would take all the information we could find on various European arts and develop an art for our modern age. This art was named Thrima, after the Valkyrie named Thrima, and her name translates to Battle.
In developing an art we chose to build out foundation using four corner stones.
Our first Corner stone is Grappling. From historical sources we see that grappling was a very important part of our ancestors fighting systems. Systems like Glima, Ringen, Schwingen, Catch Wrestling which evolved from these art, and other aspects of grappling were taught to children around the age of 5 or 6. This was done to prepare them to be future warriors and to get them used to fighting in close. As they progressed, their training would incorporate striking, and weapons, so for our ancestors, combat skills were an important part of helping boys become men, and able to fight for their tribes, villages, and clans. Many of the above mentioned arts have developed into combat sports, In Iceland Children are taught Glima in elementary school and it is offered as sport within their school system. We also see these arts being revived within HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts).
The definition of grappling we use within Thrima is, any close quarter combat in which you or your opponent initiates a clinch, take-down, throw, or control technique in an armed or unarmed combat situation. For us this is a major part of our system, and is incorporated into all aspects of our art.
The second corner stone of our art is pugilism. We have, and are in the process if researching all aspects of the striking arts that were developed by our European ancestors When most people think about the pugilistic arts, they think about modern boxing, and modern boxing is an art that is evolved from its early pugilistic roots, before rules were adopted into sport competition. Before the days of gloves, fighters fought bare knuckle, the only rules they followed were the rules that were agreed too before a fight, and many times these were not followed. These were fights where anything went, fighters grappled, threw each other, bit each other, gouged eyes, kicked, used knees and elbows, and no target was off limits. Fighters used every technique they could muster to win the fight. Most of these fights were held to settle disputes, or just for sport, Just as it is today bets were placed, and fighting became a big business in our ancestors world.
Many of the sources we use come from fighters who wrote down the styles and techniques they used and developed, generally these sources come from manuals from the 1600's onward.
Within the teachings of the Pugilistic aspect of Thrima, we have also incorporated kicking arts, We have taken techniques from the French art of Savate. Savate is an art that was developed in the 1700's, French sailors trading in Asia brought back kicking techniques in which they combined them with bare knuckle pugilism creating a very versatile art, which has developed into a very dynamic combat sport.
Purring is another kicking art that was developed in Northern England and made use of boots with iron plates affixed to the toes, a old version of today's steal toes boot. Fighters would hold or tie their hands behind their backs and only use kicks until one was incapacitated or dead. So for the pugilism aspects of Thrima we have taken sources from the past and blended them with the techniques that are now seen in modern combative sports and fighting systems.
Our third corner stone is weapons training. We take a different approach to the term weapon. First we are the weapon, our brain is the weapon which directs our body in preforming the combative tasks we need it too. Anything we pick up that will make our job easier in defending ourselves is just an extension of our body, and is a tool. In our day and age people seem to think weapons are bad, in reality they are tools, they have no consciousness, and they cannot do anything on their own, they need a mind and body to use them, so a weapon cannot be good or evil it just is Just like any tool a weapon must be respected and used in a safe manner, and should only be used for the right situation.
We base this aspect of training from source material that covers a wide range of study, from broad sward, shields, daggers, spears, staffs,and other weapons that were used by our ancestors. We also follow the evolution of these weapons, and show how we can use objects that we find n the street or with the home as tools of self defense. Many techniques in European systems were taken from aspects of sward fighting, so we can see the connection there, and many stances used in 17th century pugilism were taken from fencing techniques so our systems have evolved and grown together in many ways.
Our fourth corner stone involves the spiritual aspect of our art. We are researching the lore and other sagas to develop codes and ways in which a Thrima practitioner can live a more spiritual life. These are codes more suited to those who are working in professions where they are either warriors, such as serving in the Military, Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS and other services that protect life and community. The spiritual aspect of Thrima will also help our practitioners to live a stronger and healthier lifestyle. Life is hard, life can be tough, unfair, and brutal at times, so in one respect or another we are all warriors and we believe our work can help all following the Northern path.
Another aspect of the spiritual corner stone is researching rune staves and galdr that is associated with those who practice Glima. We see the use of Hakas and other chants all over the world which helps athletes and warriors prepare for competition or battle, get their minds right for the tasks which must be completed, and raise their energy and give them the motivation to complete what must be done. In our sources we learn that warriors have runes that are carved on shields and weapons. We also know that other charms were carried to bring warriors protection in battle. In our interaction with folks who practice Glima and who have written about Glima, we have learned that many practitioners create rune staves and use gladr chants to work up themselves up for matches, and many times they will carry rune staves on their person while competing.
One of the most important aspects of the Spiritual part of our art comes down to folks learning about themselves learning about their strengths and weakness, and learning how to live better lives with the tools we provide.
Our hope is to teach those who practice Thrima to know themselves, use the runes and create galdr, to hep them in ther everyday lives.
As you can see from the information listed above members of the combat circle are constantly researchingand learning as we present material to folks interested in practicing Thrima.
A few of the main goals that we have for the development of Thrima, that it be a system based on the fighting styles of our ancestors, and that it can be practiced by all who wish to learn to defend themselves, family and community if the need arises. We want this to be a very versatile combat system where our folk can defend themselves and family no matter what situation they find themselves in, We also want our system to show folks techniques that work and allow them to be creative and make the system their own, instead of just following a system of techniques We want future students to learn how each technique works with their body type, which technique works for them, and what techniques they can abandon because they are not practical. So as students learn our system, in time they will tailor it to their needs.
We also want our system to be fun to learn There are tons of programs out there for physical fitness, that do not inspired folks to continue with them. We want a system that will inspire people to work hard, and get into good physical shape The sad reality in our society is that we as people do not work as hard as we did in our past, we do not have to fight to survive, most of us do not have to grow our own food, and we really do not deal with the same hardships that our ancestors did, in many ways this has made our people weak, and susceptible to illness. Our bodies are so important and are a part of our soul complex, the better we take care of them, the more fully we will be able to enjoy life, and build our connections with the Gods, Ancestors and the Wights, and fully experience the beauty of Midgard.
I hope that the information above helped those who are interested in the work of the Combat Circle understand what we are trying to achieve. Our members are very dedicated to their work and most of our members come from backgrounds involving martial arts raining, wrestling, and other forms of combative sports, some of our members have served in the military and law enforcement, and truly understand what is needed to build a combative system that will be effective and an excellent form of physical fitness.
In future issues of the Epicist we will feature more in depth articalson our corner stones and delve into other aspects of Thrima .
If you are interested in the work our Combat Circle is doing or the work of the Norroena Society, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or check our website at, https://norroena.org/ and learn more about the work our society is doing.
By David Litt, leader of the Thrima Combat Circle
Article first published in “The Epicist” number 1