Stav Symbol

Stáv - Runic Martial   Arts

Stáv is a Nordic style of martial arts based upon runic postures, using the 16 runes of the Younger Futhark Each of the runes can be found within the Stáv symbol above.

Younger Futhark

Stav-Mind, Body & Spirit Training

"Stáv (pronounced st-arv) is a traditional European system which is designed to improve the mind body and spirit. It has been maintained and developed for over 44 generations by the Norwegian Hafskjold family.

"Although based on an ancient philosophy, Stáv is a dynamic and evolving system that can be adapted to meet the requirements of the individual in today's world. The principles have now been made available to a wider audience in order to preserve and enhance the system for future generations". by Mark Alex Pidd Stáv - Tradtional European Philosophy

Origin of Stav

"[A] recent discussion on the origins of the term Stáv has been interesting and no doubt for some people confusing, so here goes with an attempt to explain things - I trust Ivar will correct any errors I may make here. Ivar's family, the Hafskjolds / Hosling, have practiced a martial art for as long as anyone can remember. This martial art centers around the use of the staff - in Norwegian, the "Stáv". The weapon is used to teach combat principals in general (thus methods for both the use of all / any weapons and for unarmed combat are drawn from staff-work).

"This martial art has, for want of a better term, always been referred to as simply "Stáv" within the family. However, as most of you will be aware, there is rather more to the Hafskjold's martial art than just weapons play. The basis of the martial art is the use of five principals which are related to the five "classes" (Trel, Karl, Herse, Jarl and Könge) and five elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Ice and Wind) but in addition to this the use of sixteen postures and associated breathing techniques and "incantations" (called "galdor"). The sixteen postures are used to make the body form the shape of the 16 runes of the futhark (in the variation used by the Hosling). When a rune is formed, be it carved in wood, written on paper, or formed with the body, it is both the rune itself (the "mystery") and a symbolic depiction of the rune - a rune-stáve.

"Simply, a "Stáv" is thus another way of saying "rune" and to practice Stáv is also to use the runes. This is at once a simple pun allowing one for example to infer the practice of either staff-fighting (which was publicly acceptable in Christian Norway) but also the use of runes (which was not). To those unfamiliar with the Stáv martial art it may seem like suggesting that staff-fighting and the use of runes is an awkward combination, however, the martial aspect of Stáv and the runic philosophy which informs the art are inseparable - no doubt having influenced each other to a great extent within the Hafskjold family.

"However, the Hafskjold tradition is somewhat wider than just a martial art, or for that matter the use of runes. The Hafskjolds also engaged in other activities such as herbalism and the practice of seid - it is my understanding that while these are traditional within the family such arts were not originally referred to as "Stáv" (for example, in the Hafskjold tradition seid has just about nothing to do with the runes and is a very different phenomenon).

"When Ivar first began to teach outside his family he referred to the tradition he was teaching as "Stáv". Initially he basically taught weapons work, concentrating at first on the staff, as well as the use of the runic postures. To those of us that expressed our interests in such things he also passed on his knowledge of seid and various other activities. Lacking any specific traditional name for the practices in general employed by his family, it became standard for us to refer to everything in the Hafskjold tradition generically as "Stáv". In this sense Ivar (and his students) are indeed responsible for coining the term "Stáv" as a way of describing the WHOLE of the tradition, but we in no way invented the term itself, which is indeed traditional (albeit a bit more specific).

"Things have become even more complicated in that having used the term Stáv to refer to diverse practices within the Hafskjold tradition, the term Stáv has also been used (and here I am as guilty as anyone) as a generic term to refer to what others might choose to call "Northern Tradition" or "Asatru" or "Nordic Pagan Philosophy" etc. I'm quite happy for anyone to state that this is a misnomer, and at one level it is (if we define Stáv as either a staff-fighting system based on the runes or as the Hafskjold tradition as a whole then anything beyond that is not Stáv) however, it is as valid a term as describing Native American traditions as "Shamanism" or all Chinese martial arts as "Kung Fu" - a definition that is at a precise level inaccurate but describes things in a way so that people generally get the gist.

"Of course this has in turn meant that in order to describe specifically the Stáv martial art some of us tend to now call it "The Stáv Martial Art" rather than just Stáv so as to avoid confusing a feature of the martial art with Stáv (the whole tradition) as a whole. And in turn, if one uses the term Stáv generically to mean something like "Norse Pagan Culture" one then finds oneself almost obliged to refer to the Hafskjold tradition as "Hafskjold Stáv" to distinguish it from, say, Icelandic runic traditions. I hope this goes some way to clearing things up a little but please post any queries.

In a sense, it is accurate to say that Stáv is both the term always used by the Hafskjold family and also that it is a modern invention - the point being that what has altered is the meaning behind the term not the term itself. Certainly the term Stáv was in use by the Hafskjold family before Ivar started to teach outside the family and it is referred to in the Hafskjold family's traditional poem which describes the activities that should be undertaken by. "Heimdall's Sons" (for which you can read either the Hosling, who via the Möre line, claim descent from Heimdallr; or the whole of mankind as Heimdallr / Rígr is said to have fathered all the classes of humans)." by Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe
January 24, 2000,
Stáv-web e-Group, a subscription mailing list.

Stav and Healing

Stáv is a 1500 year old (living) runic tradition that has been preserved in Norway by the Hafskjold family. Stáv contains many aspects, including healings arts. Stáv Healing contains the use of postures, breath techniques, herbalism, joint manipulation, massage, counseling (via the runes) and many other aspects.

Stav and Seid

The Stáv Seid Circle is devoted to practicing Seid and is a part of the Stáv Association. Stáv, a 1500 year old (living) runic tradition has been preserved in Norway by the Hafskjold family. Seid is basically a form of Witchcraft or Shamanism, as practiced by the Nordic peoples.

Stáv Index - A site dedicated to Stáv, especially the martial arts, runic and craft aspects. "Stáv is a Northern European mind, body and sprit system. The basis of Stáv is Runes, specifically the Danish or Younger Futhork. There are several aspects to Stáv, which can be equated to other better-known systems. The first aspect is the stances, these are at the core of Stáv; they are the embodiment of the runes on which they are based. The stances bring many benefits including low impact exercises, promoting healthy natural breathing, improved posture and relaxation. In addition to the physical benefits the stances promote the flow of megin (life force). In this aspect Stáv is a lot like Tai Chi. As well as the stances Stáv also includes a martial art aspect and a healing aspect but also many other aspects. Stáv is not only all of these but it is also a way of life and outlook.

"The stances have many benefits, many of which are only revealed once the stances have been performed regularly over a period of time. Two direct and almost immediate benefits can be obtained from the stances.

"Regular practice of the stances brings other benefits including improved body posture, firmer stomach muscles and increased flexibility. Indeed those suffering from injury, stiffness in the joints and other restrictions to their movement can gain increased mobility and suppleness from performing the stances on a regular basis. The stances can also be a form of moving meditation which is useful for relaxation and in relieving stress and tension." By Phillip Brough.

Stav International - Heimbu - Beverly, East Yorkshire, England. "This site is the official official site for Ivar Hafskjold, 44th generation heir of the Hafskjold family tradition of Stav. Instructors of Stav as recognized by Ivar are listed here, as are links to all recognized Stav websites. "

Stav - Einherjar Vé, Hull, England. "This site is all about the traditional European philosophy of Stav, it's practice, teaching and development. Stav has been described as European TaiChi and Viking KungFu. While these descriptions are intended to be tongue in cheek they perhaps give a taste of what can be gained. The core of Stav is 16 stances or body postures. These are combined with breathing exercises to give gentle, non-impact exercise to tone and relax. This is where the TaiChi reference comes in. However, these stances, with the breathing techniques, can also be combined in a martial arts aspect. This can be likened to KungFu (the aggressive version of TaiChi). The Stav martial aspect is very effective and again does not put excessive stress and strain on the body.""

Stav Academy - Orkney Islands. The Stav Academy is affiliated to Valgarth Hov and is endorsed by Heimbu and Stav International.

Oxford Stav Hov - Oxford, England. The Oxford Stav Hov is a non profit making organisation devoted to the practice and promotion of the North European Mind-Body-Spirit system of Stav. It is run by Master Graham Butcher, a personal student of Ivar Hafskjold, and is affiliated to Heimbu.

Stav Heimdalla Vé - Dallas Fort Worth area, Texas, USA. The Heimdalla Ve is attached to the Valgarth Stav Hov located in Orkney Islands, under Hov Master Shaun D. L. Brassfield-Thorpe.

Stáv Australia - "Next to the U.K. (where Ivar Hafskjold first started teaching Stav outside of his family), Australia is one of few places that Stav has reached and taken hold so far. Our little community is growing slowly but surely. We are quite widespread across the country at the moment which makes us seem a little thin on the ground. "

Berlin Stav - Berlin, Germany. In August 2001 the first Stav course was held in Berlin.  Melinda Kumbalek made contact with the Oxford Stav Hov and organised for Graham Butcher to visit Berlin and teach a two day seminar on the 11 and 12 of August. Eleven people attended, some local to Berlin and others from Hamburg.

Stav Marketing and Publishing - an authorised supplier of Stav literature, videos, and training in Stav.

Stav Stances, a Beginners Guide - a downloadable booklet in pdf (Adobe Acrobat) format for all platforms, by M.A. Pidd. "The foundation of Stáv is a set of 16 stances. These are based on runes and the system includes health, healing, relaxation, meditation, counseling, Norse gods, myths, crafts and martial aspects in a complete and working system."

Stav Runes Notebook, a Beginners Guide - a downloadable booklet in pdf (Adobe Acrobat) format for all platforms, by M.A. Pidd. "At the core of Stav are 16 stances. These are the embodiment of the runes of the Younger Futhork on which the system is based. The Runes Notebook outlines the 16 runes and gives somes clues for their interpretation and meaning. This beginners guide explains how to perform a rune casting (divination) and details the associations of the runes in Stav"

Updated 8/6/02