Zen Warrior


Zen Warrior

Mica Allan caught up with Gunnar Nelson and found that whilst his moves in the ring have resulted in him remaining unbeaten at competition level, his mind is the real driving force behind his Mixed Martial Arts skills.

Published in the 2013 June-July issue of Iceland Review – IR 03.13. By Mica Allan. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.


Only 24, Gunnar’s been quick about making his mark. Starting Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Ju Jitsu at 16, he has won 11 consecutive international competitions and remains unbeaten. Already this year, Gunnar has been awarded the title of 2012 Nordic Breakthrough Fighter of the Year by Nordic MMA news site MMA Viking, Iceland’s gaming giant CCP became his sponsor and he beat the older and more experienced Jorge Santiago at Wembley Stadium in London. Gunnar is currently taking time out to recover from a knee injury.

MA: You’ve trained in New York, Manchester, Dublin and Reykjavík. What impact have these very different cultural places had on your training?

GN: Every single person has a different energy in personality and training, and it’s about learning how to deal with these different energies wherever you go, whether it’s in Hawaii or Dublin or Manchester.

MA: You’ve said you believe, “you need to have a clear and relaxed mind in order to let your game flow and be creative” and that when you fight, “you’re not thinking of anything.” How do you train this mental, emotional part of yourself?

GN: When you first start to learn how to fight there is a lot of fear involved, this is only natural and gives you focus. The focus however cannot be on fear, or it will tear you apart. Your focus is on what you’re doing from moment to moment and to inspire your beliefs, your visions and your dreams. With time this feeling of fear stops being fear and turns into a different feeling, an awareness that you have created to be useful, a pure focus.

You can read the remainder of this article in the June-July issue of Iceland Review – IR 03.13. Five times a year the print edition of Iceland Review & Atlantica brings you a wealth of articles on all aspects of life in Iceland including Páll Stefánsson’s latest images of the country’s majestic landscape. Click here to subscribe and here to browse through a selection of pages from the current issue.