The word Fenrir comes from Norse Mythology, you can look it up if you feel so inclined. I’ll save you the bother though, it basically means Wolfbastard.
That’s exactly what Fenrir Thorvaldsen is. He’s a total fucking Wolfbastard of grappling. I’ve been fortunate enough to know this man for around 7 years now, and for the most part I’ve completely taken that for granted. I’ve dipped in and out of his classes for years, preferring a more Gi-centric approach to my training. Fenrir doesn’t do Gi. He has in the past, but I’ve never seen him wear one in the flesh. His strengths are NoGi, in what can be best described as a hybrid grappling style. He’s been training so long (36 years) that he can easily point out what’s shit and what isn’t. He uses elements of Catch As Catch Can, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Folkstyle wrestling, Sumo (when he was fat) and well you name it he’s probably used it, played with it, added it to his game or disregarded it altogether. The fact is there is no supreme grappling art because it’s all very much attribute based, as most Martial Arts are. X will beat Y if X is a massive monsterous cunt. Y will beat Z if Y has greater technical knowledge, etc.
It’s knowledge vs braun and very much the inbetween bits too, to put it simply.
I think I first met Fenrir back in January 2010. I’d briefly dabbled with training elsewhere at another local club that now specialises in K1/Kickboxing. They did MMA previously, but their strengths have always been kickboxing. From training there for a while, I had this notion that I could grapple. It was the bit of MMA that I wanted to understand, so that I can properly enjoy the sport as a spectator. I had no illusions of ever doing MMA myself, because the idea of getting my head caved in, properly seriously frightens me. I just wanted to get to a point where the boring bit of MMA made sense (the grappling).
So when the long rumoured DMMA opened, I went over with a curious eye, and as I’m sure you can imagine the rest is history. Needless to say, I don’t find grappling boring anymore. It’s my go to therapy.
I remember the first time I met Fenrir distinctly. Billy (one of the other coaches) was taking a packed NoGi class, and Fenrir was just there looking laid back and all dreadlocky. There were plenty of familiar faces, and I felt right at home quickly. That was probably a big part of my immediate downfall.
At the end of the class, the ritualistic rolling started. I’m not sure who asked who, but I ended up getting to roll with Fenrir. The clock started, and he immediately started working an X-Guard. I had no clue what an X-Guard was at this point, so in my usual serpeant laced tongue I may have thrown some shit his way about how it wasn’t doing anything. I think my words were along the lines of, “Is this meant to be a stretch or something? Because I’ve already done that before class.” His head shifted to look at someone else nearby, they locked eyes in a knowing way. They both knew I’d fucked up, but I didn’t. Fenrir then swept me through the centre of the earth. I could feel the Earth’s core burning my arse hair to a cinder. From there, he moved to side control and swiftly into North/South with such ferocity that my contact lens found its way onto the side of my eyeball (a horrible fucking feeling that I don’t recommend you try). That was the first time I felt the Monson choke. After the roll, I was told by someone else that he’s one of the other coaches there. So he probably thought I was a massive fucking cunt from day one, but hey that’s life – I wonder if I ever apologised to him for being a prick? If I didn’t he’s had plenty of time to learn that it’s just my way. SORRY FEN.
Apology or not, I was hooked. I hadn’t been so quickly dismantled whilst grappling before. It was a fresh feeling. I was still very much a novice, but it wasn’t a pressure I’d ever felt before. I knew that DMMA was going to be my new home away from home.
Fenrir over the years regrettably has had an injury or two (he was basically Mr. Glass from Unbreakable). He still took the NoGi or the affectionately dubbed Submission Wrestling classes as he called them, and showed a ton of techniques but we weren’t really getting to see what he was capable of. The back of your mind knows what he’s capable of, but you quickly forget/neglect those thoughts when you don’t see a coach sparring alongside you.
It’s what happens when your life revolves around grappling, fighting and extreme sports. He’s basically one of those adrenaline wankers that are all over YouTube now.
In the last year though, he completely changed his approach to his own rehabilition and started doing Hot Yoga; with that, he lost quite a bit of weight and has strengthened ligaments, tendons, muscles in areas where he was probably weakest/or most vulnerable. He’s able to roll again. Being honest, I think I preferred rolling with him when he was 90KG or thereabouts, because I could blame my size and his strength for his absolute domination. Now at 74KG, I know he’s just techniquing the fuck out of me. He’s a complete Wolfbastard to roll with. A relentless, technical, snarling beast of a shit, but they’re definitely the best rolls I’m currently getting. I’m getting pressured in ways I didn’t know were possible, and I’m learning on the fly through threat recognition. My leglock game is basic, but through Fenrir’s insistent attacks, I’m starting to learn how to defend subconsciously. That’s the sort of coach that he is. Complimentary, brilliant and he’ll help you along the way with your roll. Also helping you after the roll, etc. Why have I been taking this man for granted for so long? Injuries aside, I could have been taking a more concerned effort to learn from him over the years, in addition to my focus on the Gi with Billy, Speedy, etc.
My Gi game and my NoGi game are worlds apart as a result. I wouldn’t class myself as a great grappler by any means, but I have a far greater success in the Gi than I do NoGi. Recently, I’ve been trying to balance that out with extra NoGi rolling sessions. That’s where Fenrir’s top students come out to play, and fuck me up with stuff I should know but just don’t. Getting a tap off of one of them feels very much earned. It’s also allowed me to re-focus my training and make sure that Fenrir is very much aware of his part in making me the grappler I am today (he’ll probably want to abandon ship now).
This week I’ve had some time off work to chill. So I wanted to grab a couple of private lessons with Fenrir to make some adjustments in my game. I’ve worked a ton of stuff this week in addition to my usual training regime; and whilst it’s a lot to take in, for some miraculous reason it’s gelling with me. Good coaching I guess. I’m pretty sore as a result though, but it’s been a fucking blast being able to train during the day with a grappler of his calibre. Even the rolls before and after, whilst absolute drubbings are an incredible learning experience in which I’m able to try new shit, old shit and just see what works and what doesn’t with someone of his grappling acumen. I’ll play my game, whilst he plays away at his own game, colliding somewhere in the middle with a yelp or two along the way. On Monday after working some super top secret stuff, we rolled for about an hour, filmed it and it helped serve as a great stepping stone of things to work today. We’ve already put in place adjustments to strengthen my game where it was weakest, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work those aspects so that the next time we roll, I might be able to give him a little hell back for a change. That’s how this works isn’t it? We learn from the best, so that we can crush the best.
If you’re ever in Dundee, or the surrounding areas (Tayside, Fife etc) and you’re looking for a brilliant grappler with a ton of knowledge, it’s a disservice to yourself if you do not seek this man out. You can find him on Facebook and Youtube.
I’ve rambled enough now. I’ve got another class to go to. Toodles y’all.