The Cateran Society

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Search Results for: “cudgel

Cudgeling: Stick-Fighting in the MacGregor Method

Note: in this video, we use Action Flex foam weapons so we can hit each other without holding back. We usually train with actual sticks, but of course that requires much more restraint.

This video teaches the basic principles of cudgeling or stick-fighting in the Cateran Society’s MacGregor Method, a system for using all cold weapons according to the principles of the Highland broadsword.

One of the most famous manuals on the use of the Highland broadsword was written specifically to teach self-defense with the cudgel or stick, applying the principles of the broadsword to that weapon.

The author was Captain Sinclair, a retired officer of the Black Watch, and his manual was called Anti-Pugilism, referring to the superiority of the stick over the fist in a street fight.  According to Sinclair, training with the cudgel or broadsword is “well calculated for chance encounters in the street, as there is no show or preparation in it, and our adversary probably supposing you are totally unacquainted with the stick, will heedlessly attack you, when in all human probability you will settle the difference with the point of your stick, without any trouble, or receiving a single blow.”

The Highland Dirk – Bushcraft & Martial Arts

Our mate Tom from Fandabi Dozi Wilderness adventures did another video a while ago on the history, martial arts and bushcrafting with the Highland Dirk. This video was a cooperation work, where the Cateran Society supported Tom´s excellent work with the knowledge and some video drills on the Dirk as weapon. Tom even reenacted a famous fight description with the use of Cudgel and Dirk 🙂

Check it out!

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.

Cateran Society Tournament Rules

Cateran Society Tournament Rules

In “Broadsword Academy: Second Edition” we included a rule-set for historical swordsmanship tournaments. Most Cateran Society branch schools are fairly small, and few of them are located near other HEMA schools or study groups. For this reason, we aren’t known for hosting tournaments of our own. However, this rule-set works really well and results in fast-paced, interesting bouts that can change in an instant. Any Cateran Society branch planning a tournament should use this rule set:

1- The bout is to four points.

2- Limb hits are worth one point, torso hits are worth two, head hits are worth three and commands are worth four. A command is any technique that establishes control over the opponent, such as a grappling move or a bind with the targe.

3- Double hits count for both fighters, and we treat the afterblow as a double hit.

4- The score cannot go higher than 4 points. If a double would bring the score to 4-4, the higher-scoring hit wins the fight.

This video includes examples of all five levels of our Core Curriculum:

I- Regimental Highland broadsword.

II- Old Style broadsword.

III- Sword and Targe.

IV- The MacGregor Method (in this case, the Highland two-hander).

V- Cleasa

“Cleasa” refers to tricks hinted at in Gaelic folktales and legends. This material is speculative and experimental, and will look a bit strange to anyone who doesn’t practice it. The idea is to disrupt the opponent’s ability to fence effectively through manipulation. To give one example of many, the final touch in this bout is a technique I call “fast-slow.” I make a series of fast attacks until the opponent picks up what I’m doing and starts to fence the same way. Then I switch and make a huge, slow attack that would never work under normal circumstances. He can’t adjust to the change quickly enough and fails to defend himself even though the attack should have been easy to counter. It’s fun to work with and it can help against certain opponents, but it is not a substitute for regular fencing skills. For details on the Gaelic folklore that inspired this approach, see “Broadsword Academy” and “Highland Martial Culture.”

We teach the art of the Highland Broadsword, a reconstructed historical fencing style of 18th century Scotland. The core of our art is based on old fencing manuals and military drill books, while the more advanced aspects of our curriculum are inspired by hints in the lore and legends of the Gaelic people. In addition to the broadsword, we also teach the use of a number of other weapons such as the cudgel and the dirk. All of the skills and weapons we teach are based around the same underlying principles, which we refer to as the Cateran System in English, and Iomairt Airm in the Gaelic language.

Broadsword Academy (Second Edition)

Cateran Society Facebook Group

Contact Christopher Scott Thompson at gilbride100@hotmail.com for more information

Cateran Society Broadsword Fencers Take First and Third Place at Competition

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Sam Street, James Mungall, Sam Irving

Broadsword fencers from the Cateran Society’s Caledonian Broadsword Academy of Baton Rouge competed in the Highland Broadsword Competition at the Highland Games of Louisiana held on May 24, 2015.

Out of twelve fencers competing, the top three places were:

1st place: Sam Irving (Caledonian Broadsword Academy Baton Rouge)
2nd place: Sam Street (Sword to Sword, Houston, TX)
3rd place: Steve Irving (Caledonian Broadsword Academy Baton Rouge)

Congratulations to Sam and Steve Irving, their worthy competitor Sam Street and their mentor James Mungall!

We teach the art of the Highland Broadsword, a reconstructed historical fencing style of 18th century Scotland. The core of our art is based on old fencing manuals and military drill books, while the more advanced aspects of our curriculum are inspired by hints in the lore and legends of the Gaelic people. In addition to the broadsword, we also teach the use of a number of other weapons such as the cudgel and the dirk. All of the skills and weapons we teach are based around the same underlying principles, which we refer to as the Cateran System in English, and Iomairt Airm in the Gaelic language.

Broadsword Academy (Second Edition)

Cateran Society Facebook Group

Contact Christopher Scott Thompson at gilbride100@hotmail.com for more information

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