The Cateran Society

An Comunn Ceatharnach

Scottish Twohanders & Archery

Various sources describe Highland battles in the 16th century as a  frequent use of bow and arrows for skirmishing and when all arrows are  spent, the warriors attacking each other with twohanders, battle-axes etc.

About the way the Highland Greatsword was carried there is some  discussion. We know that sheats existed and that the sword could be  carried in a baldric on the side. Even though some texts mention the  twohander being “slung on the back” or “carried on the back” it is not  known if this was true or is a popular misconception. Maybe carried on the back in this context meant what Albrecht Dürer shows in his depiction of Galloglass and Kerns from 1521: The sword (with no sheat) rested on the shoulder, just like we see it on many paintings and sketches of Landksnechts and other warriors using twohanded greatswords.

It is also not clear if the lighter armed warriors were doing the  archery or if the heavier armed fighters were fighting with their bows  first and then used their swords and axes. The latter seems to have been  the common way, but also light armed archers existed too.  I.e. the  famous Dürer sketch shows Irish warriors and Galloglass, one of them in chainmail and helmet armed with a twohanded sword and bow and arrows. Also we need to keep in mind as my buddy Stephen Curtin pointed out correctly, that Highland Warriors and Galloglass had what was called an “harness bearer”, so similar to a squire, who would carry the equipment and provisions of the higher ranking, heavier armed warrior. This could be even two young warriors who would support their superior warrior in battle.

So I decided to do a little field test of how practical it is to carry  the twohander in a baldric on my side and doing archery with it. This  video shows my first experiment and my conclusions.

More to come in future 🙂

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Glengarry Highland Games

The Glengarry Highland games in Maxville, Ontario are one of the largest outside of Scotland. Founded in 1948, the attendance over the weekend can draw up to 50,000. If there is a place more Scottish than Scotland, this might be it. This year, they added a new special event called An Cruinneachadn featuring seminars on Highland Broadsword, Smallsword and a Singlestick tournament. Without question, this has been one of the highlights of any fencing experience since I began my journey into the art of Highland Swordsmanship some 10 years ago.

Drummond Fraser, a retired Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, organised the event. He has his roots in Maxville, On, a place steeped in the traditions of the highlanders. His children are involved in highland dance, Olympic fencing, re-enactment and historical swordsmanship. He is a long time martial artist, judoka, boxer and like many of us has dabbled in many others. A perfect intersection of many of his interests (including history, his undergraduate major) is Highland Broadsword, especially Roworth. Drummond is opening up a school this fall in the Maxville area and will be teaching Broadsword and Smallsword. Drummond is an outstanding organiser and leader. He was able to get broadsword into the games, which are very prestigious and traditional. He assembled a great team of experts- with Kevin Cote leading the Smallsword classes, Philippe Gauthier and his crew from Companie Medievale staffing the tounrament, Abu-Isa Webb as head judge and leading the staff training, myself teaching a broadsword seminar to prepare participants, and Drummond leading the seminar for beginners and youth.

The seminars were excellent, participants were focused on learning and absorbing all that they could.

That night, Kevin, David (who now runs the smallsword program at Escrime Montreal) and myself did a steel demo at the gala of both broadsword and smallsword. I was shocked by how much honor we were given by the wealthy looking crowd in full formal attire while Drummond narrated for us. They were so clearly impressed by the sharp movements and disarms and the air was electric. The fights were crisp and clean, as you can expect from such skilled opponents. I think we did our old masters of long ago a real honor in presenting their knowledge, resurrected and I believe very close to how it was.

The tournament was amazing. Very rarely do you hear of judging in HEMA or fencing that is positive. There were no complaints, and only praises. The judging was decisive, clear and they also explained to the crowd as they went, making it a great spectator sport. The tournament rules were to 6 points, all targets being equal. Doubles were punished, 8 making the match a draw, and in case of a tie in ranking, the person with the lowest doubles would be chosen to continue forward.

The participants had among the best behaviour I’ve witnessed. They called blows against (although there are always ones you can’t feel due to protective gear). They maintained the utmost respect, we were even coaching each other between rounds, helping our opponents who had missed the workshop the day before on details like stance, guards and gripping the sword to better the performance.

I was honoured to have made it as the top competitor through the pools, having won all my matches and even more importantly having the least amount of double hits by a significant margin. The competitors were cared for by the staff and Drummond who brought us water constantly, performed thorough gear checks between each match, kept the matches flowing by having fighters prepared and waiting, and by switching off head judges and sticklers regularly so that their focus and attention was undivided and they didn’t get fatigued.

A crowd of maybe 100 people was watching us for the first portion, many have never seen broadsword fencing before, some were family members.

After eliminations we went to a much larger stage for the semi-finals and finals. The crowd was a couple to a few hundred. There was a buzz around it like I had never witnessed before in our art. They were enthusiastic, many kilted. Philippe and Abu-Isa as head judges now had a microphone and beautifully explained and announced who the fighters were, and each call that was made.

The ring was much larger now, so it changed the pace of the fight from quick exchanges in the pools and eliminations, to a careful pace with more distance being used. As I had been undefeated previously I had a by during the eliminations if my opponents agreed. They did not, a good decision, and I had to earn my place forward in combat in front of the crowd. We got many oooh’s and ahh’s for clean hits, and bad reactions for doubles. It was amazing to see the crowd understand the clear rule set and participate. This was amplified by the drone of the bagpipes in the background and the intense energy of the Games.

I was humbled to have won the first place medal representing Manitoba and the beautiful prize of a Castille Highland Broadsword . Second place going to Phil Charlebois from Quebec and Third to Callum Carmichael from Ontario.

The crowd cheered for us all and reacted to the human component as I kissed my wife and held my baby in arms with the prizes.

After the win, I was approached by many people who had witnessed the bouts. They said “Broadsword belongs at the Glengarry Highland Games”. And that they had never seen anything like this before. The energy was amazing. Not just in the fights, but also in participation from the crowd. It felt like a performance where I was getting to showcase my art. As historical fencers, we so very rarely get the recognition and legitimacy of other sports and martial arts. I can without question say this is where our art belongs, as it did historically at the Highland Games. It isn’t something new, but a return to the old ways. The martial culture is so alive and present, but it’s time to bring back the martial art that won the Highlander’s so much fame and glory.

As the broadsword master of the Black Watch Regiment said: ” My countrymen, the Highlanders, have, from time immemorial, evinced the utility of the Broad Sword; and, by their skillful management of it in the day of battle, have gained immortal honour. Such has been the effect of their dexterity and knowledge of this weapon, that undisciplined crowds have made a stand against, nay, and have defeated a regular army.”

There is nothing like the pride of having a kilt flowing, pipes droning, and broadswords clashing. This is the one event I want to be sure to attend each year as it grows, and it’s already motivated us to do something similar back home. It won’t have the glory or size of the Glengarry games, but we hope to contribute more fighters and participants next year.

Report by Jay Maas (BAM)

You can see the playlist with all of Jay´s bouts in the BAM channel.

Congratulations, Jay for this great success 🙂

More Mentor certifications in Siberia

The Cateran Society is very happy to announce a lot of new mentor certifications for the hard working and dedicated students of the Broadsword Academy Siberia (Russia). Katya Artemyeva, Lyubov Kornienko, Roman Sotnikov, Maksim Borzykh and Alexander Lichman have all passed the final certification bouts and required technical training with great success to reach Level II-mentorship (Old Style). Also of the BAS student Anna Karina (not in the photo) reached the rank of LevelI-mentor (Regimental Broadsword) successfully.

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All mentors train under the guidance of our Cateran Sergey Osipov, founder of the Broadsword Academy Siberia. His hard work and the discipline and dedication of his group are outstanding and set an example for all of us. Well done indeed.

Congratulations to all our Sisters and Brothers in Russia!

The Angelo Broadsword

 

Some years ago I met Chris Adams from UK at a HEMA event in Malta. He trained Highland Broadsword under the guidance of Lyell Drummend in Sussex and was an apprentice of famous sword-smith Marco Danelli. We not only had a great time together with fencing, feasting and a fortress (the event took place inside the Fort St. Angelo), but we also exchanged a lot about making swords. Back then I asked Chris if he could make me a solid, simple training Broadsword. He would have loved to, but still being an apprentice, he was not in the position to take any orders yet.

We kept in contact and in 2018 Chris asked me for support to create a design for a good training Broadsword. He now had his own workshop Balefire Blades and I was very happy and honored to help. We worked through various Regimental desings of historical Broadswords from the period between the 1750s and 1780s and came up with a result for a prototype sword, which was named “The Angelo”.

After finishing the prototype, Chris sent it to me for extensive testing in training and bouting and so me and the other members of the Broadsword Academy Germany did. The prototype was already excellent and we loved it. Some improvements were necessary, but overall it was already a solid, affordable, realistic and historical correct training Broadsword. I wrote a detailed review, which you can read here.

You can see the test videos in our channel:

Chris took our order for the final model and worked on the design more also with other Cateran Society members, who were interested to order the Angelo. The design changed a bit inspired by a Regimental Broadsword model with an even more massive Basket-Hilt and the final result is now available for order in Chris´workshop 🙂 It looks amazing 🙂

Check out Balefire Blades to see the Angelo and order yours!

Excellent work, Chris, well done, we can´t wait to hold them in our hands 🙂 More informations and another review will follow 🙂

New Level 3 Mentor in the USA

We are proud and happy to announce, that Joshua Campbell fullfilled the requirements for reaching Level 3: Broadsword & Targe within our program.

Joshua frequently trained and bouted with Sword and Targe and also other offhand weapons like the Buckler. He also participated in the TV show “Forged in Fire – Knife or Death”, a sword cutting test show. His episode is yet to be aired and hopefully soon.

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He also fought multiple SCA tournaments from melee to testing the skill of the combatants fighting to become the hosting Shire’s champion to an Ironman longsword challenge, king of the hill and more. He joined the tournament with Broadsword and his beloved Twohander commonly known as a Claymore. For the championship tournament he had the second highest number of wins over all, and in the longsword challenge he had 105 victories, the second highest was 65. Joshua also won 2nd place in the Sword Masters tournament. The tournament format was three separate tournaments with Single sword, Sword and Defensive tool and Twohanded sword.

He constantly improves his skills and bouts a lot versus other styles and weapons. He not only works with Broadsword, Targe and Twohander, but also with scottish onehanded medieval or halflang swords. He will now moving forward to study Level VI of the program.

Congratulations!

New Mentors in Siberia

The Cateran Society is happy to announce four new mentor certifications for students of the Broadsword Academy Siberia (Russia). Roman Sotnikov, Lyubov Kornienko, Maksim Borzykh and Alexander Lichman all have earned the rank of Level I-mentor (Regimental Broadsword). They all train under the mentorship of our Cateran Sergey Osipov, founder of the Broadsword Academy Siberia, who did again an excellent job to prepare his students with th program for the final test bouts.

All new mentors showed great discipline and precision and worked through all our lessons very good. They proofed their skills in many free bouts with Singlesticks and Sabres. They all showed great passion, high level of skill and courage.

Excellent job, congratulations to all of them!

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SWOOSH Netherlands 2019

I was kindly invited by Anouk Post to teach a class on Highland Broadsword & Targe at SWOOSH: The Military Fencing Gathering in Utrecht, Netherlands. Being a first timer this event was planned for only one day, but it was absolutely worth the trip to the Netherlands. Together with my assistant instructor Peter we were heading to Utrecht on Saturday morning. On our way to Utrecht we passed through Arnhem shortly after the border and went to see the Bronbeek Museum there.

This museum is dedicated to the colonial military history of the Netherlands and the KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger). Since the 17th Century the Dutch with their East India Company were establishing colonies, especially in what became later known as the Dutch-Indies, todays Indonesia. The Museum covers this history from the early period until the Second World War and beyond with the focus on the military conflicts and colonial forces. The collection provided a lot of interesting informations and also lot of different uniforms and weapons of both, the Dutch and their opponents in these wars. Very interesting was the colonial wars were described from both perspectives, the dutch colonial and the indigenous side too.

From Arnhem we headed to Utrecht and our hotel and after a break we were going to the beautifull center of Utrecht to meet with other participants and instructors for some very good indonesean food. It was an excellent meal, we had various dishes available for everyone to taste and I can say everything was really good, inclueding the „Bacon-Cake“ and Indonesian beer. Also we could exchange with Anouk, Martin, Colin and others who joined a lot already about the dutch colonial history, historical fencing and more.

The next day after breakfast we went to the hall and met with the other instructors and participants. The crowd came from all over the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, UK, Czech Republic and more. Swoosh was really well organized and an excellent event. There were always two classes at the same time and the range was covering lot of topics from basic military sabre to more specialized things.

First I joined the class of Peter Frank (Freifecher Cologne), who was showing the Bayonet fencing of the KNIL with Rifle and Carbine. This material is basing on manuals from the 1930s, so a very late date, but the material was battle proven, straight forward, effective and great fun. Peter did a great job showing us all the thrusts, parrys and dangerous butt-strikes. Anouk Post was giving her class on basic Military Sabre at the same time, which was especially great for the Sabre newbies joining Swoosh.

After this class I joined Martin De Jong´s workshop on the use of the Klewang. The Klewang is a short hanger or cutlass, which was used by the KNIL for close-quarter combat in jungle warfare next to rifle and carbine. I already read about this weapon, when I started with HEMA and had a private lesson with Reinier van Noort at the second ISS in Hamburg. Being a Cutlass-enthusiast, was amazed to learn more about it and Martin is not only a very nice guy and good teacher, but he also has tons of informations on the colonial warfare and KNIL. It is also part of his heritage and family history, so you could really feel his deep connection with the material he was teaching. So what makes it really special is that the Carbine is held back with the free hand on the left side, while the Klewang is used for solid parrys and powerfull strikes. So the soldiers were having their firearm ready or safe from being taken away, while they used cold steel to fight in this kind of Guerilla attacks, when they were ambushed. Only in case of an emergency the carbine would be used for parrys, which surprised me first, but totally makes sense, when one knows the context of this fighting style. At the same time my mate Colin Fieldhouse (Schola Gladiatora, UK) was teaching his class on Thomas Mathewson.

After a lunch break my mate Colin Fieldhouse from UK was teaching his class on Thomas Mathewso I was giving my class on Highland Broadsword and Targe and I was amazed how many participants joined. Especially the fact that enough Targes were provided from different sources, that every single participant had his own Targe was awesome. I showed the attendants basic techniques and principles as well as advanced drills basing on and inspired by Donald McBane (1728), Thomas Page (1746), the Penicuik-Sketches and our practical experiences. It seems that the crowd liked it and this resulted in the planning of a Broadsword & Targe seminar in the Netherlands in summer. At the same time my friend Oliver Janseps (Mispeldorn Aachen) was giving his workshop on Christmann´s military baton.

The rest of the day was open for exchange, free-play, having a look at the antiques collection of weapons and taking a professional photo with the photographer, who was joining the event. I had the chance to do several sparrings, crossing blades with old friends and new ones. Especially the exchange with Peter Frank Broadsword & Targe versus Musket & Bayonet was a great experience and inspiration for future work on the topic.

At the same time Martin was setting up an obstacle course for a tournament. Participants had to run through this parcour, using a Klewang to cut and thrust different obstacles (like they learned in Martin´s class if they attended it), then get into the safe haven of their „fortress“ and use their Carbine to shoot at this range (of course shooting was not part of the course,). Points for the strikes were awarded and together with the time the participants needed counted into the final results. After a draw the final round for the first place was won by Oliver Janseps, the price was a Black Fencer Klewang trainer.

In the evening we had to drive back to Germany after a great day. We will for sure come back next day and due to the success Swoosh will be for sure two days then 🙂 Thanks again to Anouk for organizing this awesome day, thanks to all instructors and participants, it was a great weekend.

Here you go with all the videos of the event in our channel: Swoosh 2019 Playlist

New (old) channel for the Cateran Society

Important announcement:
 
We made some internal changes with our youtube-channels, so in future the pretty new Cateran Society channel will be closed. But don´t worry! All important videos, especially the Broadsword & Targe Lessons will be reposted in the BAG channel.
 
Due to the fact we have just much more subscribers there, will get the Cateran Society more attention. So we decided to make channel of the recent president and head-instructor the main channel during her or his presidency.
 
Also the channel of Chris which contains all lessons of the Online program is of course still active and can be used. The third most active channel with a lot of important and helpfull lessons is the one by Jay Maas of the Broadsword Academy Manitoba. Both will be posted below.
 
So here we go, check out the channel and if you don´t have yet, please subscribe:
 
 
Chris Thompson´s channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/gilbride100
 
 

Highland Bushcrafting & Staff stuff

Tom Langhorne of the Fandabi Dozi Wilderness and Adventures channel has made a series on 17th/18th Century Highlander survival and bushcrafting skills, which is highly recommended. In his newest video on the staff as a tool for hiking, bushcraft and fighting, I gladly helped him with the research informations on the scottish martial culture of the Quarterstaff and other things. Very happy to share this video and looking forward to see more 🙂

 

Broadsword Video with Matt Easton & Jay Maas

Our very own Cateran Jay Maas of Broadsword Academy Manitoba had the chance to make a video together with Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatora in Matt´s popular channel. It is of course about basket-hilts, their history and their design and some specific use according to some sources.

Check it out!

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