The Cateran Society

An Comunn Ceatharnach

Enclose and Command: How to Fight With Weapons


Enclose and Command: How to Fight With Weapons ($14)

This is the training manual for the MacGregor Method, our system for using any hand-to-hand weapon according to the principles of the Highland broadsword.

Members of the Cateran Society’s Online Apprenticeship Program can download a free PDF version of the same book. The picture quality is much better in the PDF version. Because the pictures didn’t print very well in the hard-copy version, I’m keeping the price as low as I can justify given the many hours of work that went into making this book. If you buy the book and are not a member of the apprenticeship program, send me an e-mail at and I’ll send you the free PDF. If you are a member, you get the free PDF anyway!

Cateran Society Mentor Wins Mounted Fencing Tournament


Tero Ulvinen on right. Photo: Sara Vertanen

On June 11, 2016, the Equestrian Martial Arts club held the Hakkaa Päälle 2016 mounted broadsword tournament in Finland. The winner of the tournament was Cateran Society Level I Mentor Tero Ulvinen of the West Finland Broadsword Academy.

“Hakkaa Päälle” (roughly: Hack them down!) was the traditional battle cry of Finnish cavalry soldiers. Congratulations to Tero Ulvinen for his victory in this tournament!

How to Build a Practical Fighting Targe

A guest post from “China Hand,” on an often-requested topic: how to build your own targe!

The PFT is cheap, easy to build from readily-available materials, and rugged enough for training and combat with wooden weapons. While not as lovely as some of the exquisite examples I have seen, the PFT is not unattractive in its utilitarian way. Materials should cost under $25 if you buy new. A clever scrounger could build one for virtually nothing.

These instructions are not intended to be a course in Carpentry 101. If you are not familiar with the use of basic tools and layout procedures, get someone to help you.

Some definitions for purposes of these instructions:

Body – the main part of the targe, i.e. the round plywood part

Edging – material that coves the perimeter of the body

Grip – the handle that you grasp with your hand

Strap – holds the forearm to the targe at your elbow

Padding – goes between the forearm and the targe to cushion the arm

Cover – covers the padding and holds it in place

Outside – the side of the targe away from you

Inside – the side of the targe against your arm

Materials needed:

Plywood,- ½ inch thick and 18 to 21 inches in diameter

Hose – about 6 feet of ¾ inch i.d. hose

Padding – about 4 inches by 10 inches of some kind of padding

Cover – cloth or leather to cover the padding

Strap – 16 to 20 inches of ¾ inch wide double –sided Velcro

Hardware – 2 @ ¼ inch Tee nuts; 2 @ ¾ inch by ¾ inch bolts to fit Tee nuts; 10 @ ½ inch, flat-head screws and finish washers to fit; 2 @ 5/8 inch, flat-head screws and finish washers to fit; 9 nylon cable ties.


The body – traditional targes were about 18 to 21 inches in diameter. Unless you have a very long forearm I would go with 18 inches. A targe gets heavy during long training sessions. A 21 inch diameter piece of plywood weights 36 % more than one 18 inches in diameter. Use ½ inch thick plywood.

Draw and cut the circle in the diameter of your choice. It does not have to be a perfect circle because the edging will cover any errors to a great extent. Clean up the cut with sandpaper.

Photo 1

You do not have to paint the plywood but it does look better. I use spray paint because it dries quickly. Any paint will do. You can be as plain or as decorative as you wish.

Photo 2

Edging – the edging protects the targe from the impact of other weapons and it also makes it easier on your training partner’s arms.

Most types of hose will work for the edging. I prefer reinforced PVC water hose as it is very tough. The hose must be sliced open as you would gut a fish so it will fit over the edge of the targe. Hose has a natural curl and you should cut the inside of the curve. It is easy to cut hose open in a spiral so you must make an effort to cut a straight line.

It takes just under 5 feet of hose to cover the edge of an 18-inch targe. Take 5 feet of hose and clamp each end so that it lies straight. Mark a straight line down the centerline and cut with a sharp knife.

Photo 3

Photo 4

The hose is held to the targe with nylon cable ties. Nine ties are enough. One tie is placed about ¾ inch in from each end of the hose and the other 7 evenly distributed around the perimeter i.e. one tie every 45 degrees. For ¾ inch hose drill each of the nine holes ½ in from the edge of the targe. Holes should be an appropriate size for the cable ties you use. Starting at one end of the hose, thread the cable tie through the hole from back to front and cinch it up tight around the hose. Cut off the excess end of the tie. Work your way around the edge until the second last hole. Trim the hose to fit and do the final hole. Note that the hose stands off the edge of the targe a bit; this provides a bit of a cushion.

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

The Grip – your forearm should be centered along its length on the targe. Grasp a pencil in your fist and measure from the pencil to the crook of your elbow. Half this distance from the center of the targe is where the center of the grip will be.

The hose used to make the grip must be strong. I would use the reinforced hose here if nowhere else. You will need about a foot of hose. Clamp one end of the hose down and bend the hose in an arc like an inch worm. It is a good idea to wear padded gloves when using a targe to protect your fingers. Make sure your gloved hand, or bare hand if that is your choice, can grasp the grip comfortably.

Photo 8

Adjust the hose until it feels right and cut to length. Drill a ¼ inch hole in each end of the hose about ¾ inch in from the ends. See Photo 9 for hardware used to mount grip, pad, and cover.

Photo 9

Mark where the grip will be fastened on the plywood. Drill two 5/16 inches holes and hammer in the tee nuts from the outside.

Photo 10

Attach the grip using washers and bolts.

Photo 11

Padding and Cover – I use a piece of an old closed-cell foam camping pad but other materials would be suitable. The pad I used is about 4 inches by 10 inches; adjust yours to suit. The pad can be covered by leather or cloth. The cover needs to be larger than the pad. You can fasten the cover down with staples but I prefer to use ½ inch screws and finish washers.

Photo 12

Photo 13

The Strap – The Velcro straps have the advantage of being adjustable for different users and layers of clothing. Two 8-inch straps are long enough for me to wear a winter coat when using the targe, but you may need longer straps. Grasping the grip, locate where you want the straps to be near the crook of your elbow. Fasten the straps with two 5/8 inch screws and finish washers.

Photo 14

The ½ inch screws are not quite strong enough. If any screws poke through the front of the targe, file them flat.

You are done – happy fighting!

Photo 15

Photo 16


China Hand

Cateran Society Fencer Wins HCL Tournament


Many Cateran Society members live far away from any of the major HEMA events and rarely have the opportunity to travel for tournament competition. In this situation, we encourage our members to look for other opportunities to test their skills.

In April 2016, the Historical Combat League  held a foam weapons tournament. Although these weapons are much lighter and faster than real broadswords, it is still possible to use them with historical broadsword techniques if you choose to.

Two of our members from Broadsword Academy Manitoba competed in the tournament, and Level IV Mentor J.Maas was the winner of the event. You can see both members fighting each other in this bout.

Thanks to both of them for representing the Cateran Society, and congratulations to J.Maas for the victory!




Highland Broadsword: A Historical Fencing Art

This video is an overview of the art we practice in the Cateran Society – the art of fencing with the Highland broadsword based on the writings of expert swordsmen such as Donald McBane, Captain Sinclair, Andrew Lonnergan, Archibald MacGregor, Henry Angelo and others.

Cateran Society Fencer Takes Second Place in Tournament

Congratulations to Cateran Bhiatailidh Negoda MacDhùghaill (also known as “Vitaliy”) for winning second place in Krasnodar HEMA Tournament in Krasnodar, Russia!

Here are the details:

“Krasnodar HEMA Tournament La Costa De Falcone.

Krasnodar, Russia. November, 29th, 2015.

In the Sabre Nomination there were 12 competitors representing 6 clubs from Krasnodar and Stavropol.

The results of my bouts:

– Round 1 Bhiatailidh Negoda MacDhùghaill (MacDougall Broadsword Academy, Krasnodar)- Denis Gerasimovich (Sokol Club, Krasnodar)- 2:0;

– Round 2 Bhiatailidh Negoda MacDhùghaill (MacDougall Broadsword Academy, Krasnodar)- Andrey Grachev (Unterwalden Club, Krasnodar)- 5:9;

Bout for the 2nd place – Bhiatailidh Negoda MacDhùghaill (MacDougall Broadsword Academy, Krasnodar)- Ivan Panchenko (Efes Club, Krasnodar)- 10:1

Final Standings: 1st place- Sophia Mihaylevich (Unterwalden Club, Krasnodar) 2nd place- Bhiatailidh Negoda MacDhùghaill (MacDougall Broadsword Academy, Krasnodar) 3rd place- Ivan Panchenko (Efes Club, Krasnodar)”


Flourishing with the Highland Broadsword

Flourishing with the Highland Broadsword

Flourishing,” known in the most ancient Gaelic sources as faobhar chleas or “the edge feat,” is the practice of solo fighting techniques as a display of skill. It is the equivalent of the solo forms practice found in Asian martial arts, although flourishing is generally not choreographed ahead of time.

Flourishing plays a major role in the Cateran System from Level IV onward, but students often seem uncertain as to how they should approach this exercise. To help apprentices learn how to flourish, Cateran Matt Park designed a five-stage process:

How to Flourish with the Highland Broadsword

1- Using only the lunge and the shift, attack and defend against an imaginary opponent. Make one cut every time you lunge and one parry every time you shift. Keep it simple and clear.

2- Add in the advance and retreat, but stick to simple attacks and parries.

3- Add in multiple opponents attacking you from all directions. Fight the opponent in front of you for a few moments, then turn suddenly to deal with an attacker to your right, left or rear.

4- Add broken rhythm- instead of only making simple cuts and parries, add feints and other off-rhythm movements. Your flourishing should now strongly resemble an actual fight.

5- Add “enclose and command” by acting out disarms and grappling maneuvers.

Flourishing videos are worth ten points toward Cateran rank, but only stage five flourishing will be counted for this purpose. A flourishing video should be a high-level display of skill with the broadsword, not just a rote performance of cuts and guards. Think of flourishing as a chance to display your art!

Highland Singlestick

Readers of the HEMA Misfits blog will remember the strange “Guard of the Scottish Highlander” found in French fencing master Alexandre Valville’s 1817 manual for the Russian Imperial Guard.

Valville shows a kilted man standing with a basket-hilted cudgel in a version of the hanging guard. His left arm is held up over his head, protected by what seems to be a rectangular home-made targe. This video is our interpretation of what we think Valville was trying to show – a Highland version of the singlestick game based on the “broken head,” with the addition of a targe.

We also have another video of an informal bout with singlesticks.

We found both bouts so much fun that we’re going to start using singlesticks on a weekly basis again.

Both videos feature the new “Stryker” singlestick baskets from Purpleheart Armoury. These baskets are unusually large and robust, which gives them two advantages over the older baskets. Traditional leather singlestick baskets are often too small to allow the fencer to wear a padded glove, leaving the thumb at risk from the occasional hard strike coming down from above. Also, traditional baskets tends to get soft over time and to lose some of their ability to absorb the force of the opponent’s strikes. These new baskets are big enough to use with padded protective gloves, and hard enough to take a lot of punishment. We expect these baskets to last a long time.

Peasant Rebellion!

This video explores the combative use of the sickle, an agricultural tool that could also be used as an improvised weapon. Some clips show the use of one sickle against the broadsword, and others show two sickles. The approach shown here is based on the Cateran System’s “MacGregor Method” rather than on any historical sickle training. We found the sickle to be one of the most interesting weapons we have ever played with. The curved blade of the sickle allows it to easily capture the opposing sword blade and whirl it off-line. Training weapons from Purpleheart Armoury, music by Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani.

Sword and Dagger

According to Scottish swordsman Donald McBane: “When you fight sword and dagger, you are to keep your sword as directed at a good outside guard, your dagger above your brow in order to defend your head, often having them across.”

McBane would have used this weapon combination during his career as a stage gladiator, after he had returned from the wars in Europe. The dagger he’s referring to is a basket-hilted parrying dagger, long enough to be considered a short sword. It is possible to extrapolate a surprisingly large number of techniques from McBane’s simple advice, many of which can be seen in this video. The techniques are presented in slow motion so you can see exactly how to do them.

For anyone who took the sword and dagger class at Iron Gate 2015, this is the same set of techniques plus a few extras we didn’t discuss. Enjoy!

Post Navigation