Day Fourteen: How to Fight Like a Viking

Day Fourteen: Wednesday 21st August
Location: The University of the Westfjords in Isafjörður, Iceland

William Short demonstrates Viking combat techniques with boffer swords made of foam.

William Short demonstrates Viking combat techniques with boffer swords made of foam.

One awesome thing which was included in my course was the Viking program. Basically, the actual courses took place during the morning (9 to 12), and in addition we had some afternoon classes as well. Some of these classes were electives while others weren’t. In relation to our Saga course, it made the most sense to attend the Viking-themed courses led by William Short.

William, who’s far from being short (sorry for the silly joke) is basically a Viking Age reconstructionist. While other specialize in reconstructing the language or the clothing style of the Viking people, William tries to reconstruct the Viking fighting style.

Strangely enough, William and the organization he is part of, Hurstwic, is the only such group. This seemed very strange to me, considering how many people like to dress and fight Viking style but, truth be told, I was unable to find any other group who perform the same kind of advanced research William and his peers have been doing for the past years.

In his Viking Age Combat Technique course, William explained how his group has been conducting their research, mainly stemming from Icelandic Sagas and Archeological finds. In a masterful lecture, we were told exactly how the group research was conducted and were also exposed to their conclusions.

This lecture was both extremely entertaining and factual, and dozens of questions were diligently asked and answered. After the course, William was also kind enough to give some of us who wanted to, a  little introduction to basic Viking fighting moves. Here’s a video I made of William teaching a young German lad how to deal the best blow.

But all this bloody fighting wasn’t all, on Thursday we also had a lecture with William related to Viking material culture. Linnea had the opportunity to attend, and she’ll tell you as much as I that it was extremely interesting. We reviewed everything from Long ships to clothing and from Iron-Making to the Icelandic Political structure.

William's book on Icelanders in the Viking Age.

William’s book on Icelanders in the Viking Age.

All in all, it was great to be able to enjoy the impassioned, yet thorough lectures given by William who, besides being a great teacher, is also a very nice guy who’s always available if you happen to have any question regarding the Viking Age. His signature sentence; “If it’s not in the Sagas, I don’t care” is also priceless.  It was a great honor to be able to learn from such a knowledgeable and generous man.

P.S: William has also written a pretty good book on life in the Viking Age and his group has released three DVDs on Viking combat techniques. If you’re interested in such topics, buy them!


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