What is Stav

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Stav is a Mind, Body Spirit system, comparable to Tai Chi and Yoga, but originating through the traditions and mythology of Northern Europe, rather than the Orient. It developed through the Norwegian family, Hafskjold, and is often referred to as Hafskjold Stáv.

The system helps people improve and develop themselves by dealing with them holistically. That is Stáv works on the whole person: their physical body, their mind (both logical and intuitive) and their spirituality. Only by working with all three can people develop into complete, fully rounded individuals.

The Five Principles: Trel (or Thrall) The Trel principle refers to the slave or serf. Traditionally, they have no social standing. Within Stav, the Trell is considered to take no responsibility. In the Stav system, the Trell is associated with the color black and the deities Loki and Hel.

Karl (or Churl) The Karl principle refers to the freeman. Traditionally they are farmers and craftsmen. Within Stav, the Karl is considered to take responsibility for himself. In the Stav system, the Karl is associated with the color green, and the deities Frey, Jord, Freya, Njord.

Herse (pronounced Hashur) The Herse principle refers to the warrior. Traditionally this would have been the local lord, but it refers to warriors generally. Within Stav, the Herse is considered to take responsibility for the wider community. In the Stav system, the Herse is associated with the color red, and the deities Vidar, Thor, Baldur, Tyr.

Jarl (pronounced Yarl) The Jarl principle refers to the priest. Traditionally the word means Earl, and refers to a higher level of authority than Herse. Within Stav however, the Jarl is more of a background figure, taking responsibility for the more esoteric side of life. In the Stav system, the Jarl is associated with the color white or light grey, and the deities Heimdall, Skadi, Ull.

Konge (pronounced Kong-yur) The Konge principle refers to the King or wiseman. Although traditionally this would mean literally the king, within Stav the Konge has gone beyond everyday responsibility and is able to fill in any of the roles of any of the Classes. In the Stav tradition, the Konge is associated with the color blue, and the deities Odin and Frigg.

Stav Martial Arts: The Martial aspects of Stav are one of the most dynamic ways of exploring the principles of Stav. It is one thing to learn the theory of Stav, and quite another to be able to put them into a physical application.

Stav martial arts deal with the five principles, embodied through the class system. It uses the lessons each one teaches to allow us to respond to an attacker.

In their simplest form, these involve:

  • Backing off from the attacker
  • Standing firm to the attacker
  • Taking control of the attacker
  • Moving around the attacker
  • Walking through the attacker

Each has its place within a conflict, and each has value that needs to be explored and fully understood. Each principle has its traditional weapon, including cudgel, axe, short sword, staff and spear. Training versions of these are used to teach the lines and principles involved.

Unarmed combat is also taught, but due to the nature of the combat it is harder to learn the principles through unarmed, so beginners are started with weapons and progress to unarmed as they gain in experience.