The Cateran Society

An Comunn Ceatharnach

New Bards announcement

The Bardic Assmbley recognizes bards of the Cateran Society and honors them for their contributions in lore, art, music, and/or language.

Lore means substantial research in the areas we study, such as publishing a book, writing articles, creating video lesson content or fulfilling the requirements of the Hoplology course.

Art incluedes things like a chapbook-length work of poetry, an artistic portfolio, a novel or short-story collection on Cateran-related themes.

Music means the demonstrated ability to play on a traditional Celtic instrument, sing Gaelic songs or some equivalent skill.

Language of course refers to demonstrated proficiency in Gaelic.


The Cateran Society is happy and proud to announce the following new 1st Degree Bards:

Jay Maas (Lore) contributed and still does a lot of very helpfull video lessons available not only for Cateran members, but the whole HEMA world. He worked out a complete video lesson interpretation of Captain G. Sinclair´s “Anti-Pugilism” (1790) next to many other videos.

Cornelius Stöhr (Music) started to learn the Bagpipe the same year he picked up the Broadsword to train at the BAG. Since then he not only became a good fencer, but also the official BAG Piper, proofing his skills in public regulary.

Tom Langhorne (Lore) is a Bushcraft expert and outdoor guide from Scotland, who started to research on the historical survival skills of the Highlanders several years ago. In his youtube-channel he presents his outdoor experiments and research with historical clothes, the Highland Dirk, firemaking, traditional cooking and other topics.

Edward Lindey (Music) recently started to train at the BAG and provides the Bardic Assembly with his skills playing traditional tunes on the feadog (penny whistle).

Congratulations to all four gentlemen 🙂




Cateran certification

We are happy and proud to announce, that Joshua Campbell hereby earns the rank of a Cateran. Joshua fullfilled all required levels and proofed with his dedication and hard work, that he has a deep understanding of our art and is fit for the rank of a full-instructor (Cateran).

Joshua worked through Level I and II with the Highland Broadsword, but also adopted the material, especially the Old Style, onto the Scottish Halflang Sword. He used the same weapon next to the Basket-Hilted Broadsword together with the Targe and Dirk during his study of Level III (Double-weapons). In Level IV Joshua used his favourite weapon, the Highland Twohander (Claidheamh dà làimh), but also worked with the Dirk in Highland Knife Fighting.

During his time working through the program, Joshua did a lot of bouts with all the level-weapons he used. He fought with other martial artists and versus various weapon styles, like Longsword, Sidesword, Rapier, Buckler, Targa, Sabre and Schiavona. He proofed that he is able to adopt his skills and fundamentals, when facing different styles and weapons.

Joshua was also a participant in the TV show “Forged in Fire – Knife or Death”, narrated by Jeff Goldberg, where he went through several cutting tests with his scottish halflang sword. He worked through the obstacle course very good, it was an excellent cutting performance and he reached the next round called Dead Run. There his performance was very impressive, but no spoilers here 😉 You can watch Joshua´s episode here.

Congratulations, Joshua, well done and well deserved.

Mentor certification in Germany

The Broadsword Academy Germany is happy and proud to announce, that Peter Stabel successfully earned mentorship for Level IV (MacGregor Method & Auxiliary Arts). Over the last years Peter proofed his ability to adopt his Broadsword skills on a great variety of weapons within the 4 families. He used and faced within many bouts different weapon types and styles. This inclueded Highland Dirk, Scottish Twohander, Bayonet & Musket, Quarterstaff, Cane, Cutlass, Smallsword and many more. He became especially fond of the Smallsword and uses it quite effectively within the concept of the MacGregor Method.


For a final test Peter used and faced 4 different weapons from all 4 familys in a row in his official 3 minutes certification bouts:

Peter also helped a lot to test the Lessons for the use of the medieval scottish Quillon-sword, which were finally put into the book “Scorners of Death”. He also always is very open minded to visit workshops of other HEMA-styles as well as bouting with different people at different events. Over the last years he proofed his skills in the MacGregor Method over and over again as you can see in many of our bouting videos. Here is one example using the Smallsword & Dagger:

Congratulations, Peter, well done and well deserved!

New Caterans in Canada

The Cateran Society is happy to announce that we have two new certifications as Caterans in Canada! Jacques Labrie and Wyatt Campbell have been promoted to become Caterans, both having earned their certifications with their dedication and hard work under the guidance of Cateran Jay Maas. They both have a deep understanding of the practical and theoretical fundamentals of our Martial art.

Congratulations, gentlemen, well done and well deserved.

The Angelo Broadsword by Balefire Blades

Finding a good training sword for your personal needs is one of the quests in HEMA. Not only to find a sword fitting the style you train, but also which represents the needs of you as an individual. Even harder to find a training sword, which you can introduce as your fencing group´s standard weapon.

The Angelo (Photo copyrights by Balefire Blades)

That is why we were very happy, when my friend Chris Adams of Balefire Blades, with whom I fenced, feasted and talked in Malta back in 2015, approached us to create, design and test a Broadsword steel-trainer with him. That was the beginning of The Angelo. You can read all about Chris biography, his work and the prototype here.
Now it is time to talk about the final result 🙂 Spoiler alert: WE LOVE IT 🙂 If you want to see a quick first review as a video, please check out my youtube channel:

The prototype design was based on regimental broadswords of the 1750s-1770s and we already loved it. However there were some details needed to be changed to make it even better and Chris did a great job. We are using the Angelo Broadsword since November now and we are quite happy about the final design.
The blade was changed not too much, just the swollen point became less thicker. The prototype had a „mini-mace“-like effect when hitting a target and for our style of swordsmanship, which is more cutting than thrusting, a special thrust-safe point is not necessary so much like i.e. for Rapiers. The blade is still flexible enough for safe thrusting, but solid and sturdy for good parrys and cuts. Something that i.e. Armourclass Broadswords have as an issue is their quite great blade flexibility, which makes them light and safe, but very „wobbly“ sometimes. Also the tapering of the Angelo blade became bit flatter/slimmer and lighter towards the point, which makes the balance even better than that of the prototype. The minor troubles with the tang were solved with the heat-treating process.
The biggest changes were made in the Basket-Hilt design and I have to say, if I would have come across the original, which Chris used as inspiration, when we created the prototype, I would already have said to take that one. The new basket-hilt is designed nearly indestructable (when used properly). It is a tank, but this does not mean it is heavy or clumsy, no tanks are swift and still well protected.

One of the historical inspirations for the Basket-Hilt design

The hardened steel basket offers a solid plate protection to the front and has durable bars on the rear. It is oil blackened to a matte finish. Also this darkened color makes its look quite elegant, but you can polish it to a matte silverish/steel color, which also looks very nice, if you prefer that. Chris also offers a simple, but comfortable felt liner. It is also easy to attach a leather liner into it, which I did basing on Chris´ felt. The basket-hilt is very robust and due to its greater weight, it makes the balance better, because now it is even a bit more back to the hilt, which is quite right for Highland Broadsword fencing.
The wooden grip kept its simple but comfortable design. It is wrapped with cord, which lies much better in the hand than many leather or fishskin grips I’ve tried, especially with gloves. Although custom grips may be available for those who want their weapons a bit more “shiny”, in my opinion this grip is just perfect. Not only the wrapping, but also its form. It is comfortable for all hand sizes our group members have, big or small.
Chris did a great job turning the Angelo prototype into the final product, a very robust, wieldy and good (meaning authentic) looking sword. The small changes improvised the original blade and the new Basket-Hilt design makes it just gorgeous. Of course Chris offers solutions for customized requests too, i.e. the blade length.
I can highly recommend the Angelo as well as Balefire Blades in general. The Broadsword is bit on the heavier end of training swords, but that comes with lots of benefits and advantages. It is excellent for the Regimental style of Broadsword fencing according to sources like Roworth/Taylor, Mathewson, Sinclair and of course its name-patron Angelo. For more informations check out Balefire Blades.
Here we go with our first sparring with The Angelo:

Weight 1270 g
Total length 101 cm
Blade length 34 inch
Blade width at base 2,8 cm
Grip length 12,5 cm
Basket diameter 11 cm
Basket length 13 cm
Basket depth 12 cm
PoB 6 cm

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

I wish all Caterans, Mentors and Apprentices, families and friends a Merry Christmas, God Jul, Frohe Weihnachten and a Happy New Year 🙂

The past year was again a great success for the Cateran Society and also for my branch group in Germany. We had a lot of certifications for several fencers in various levels of our Program. Also the number of people joining our Online Apprenticeship Program is growing. We have now certified instructors, members, groups and participants all over the world, in Scotland, Ireland, England, Malta, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Canada, USA and Indonesia. It is amazing how many people are working dedicated and motivated within our Program. Keep all up the good spirit and hard work.

For myself the year was less busy than the one before, but still I was invited to teach at many different events in the UK, Netherlands and Germany. Unfortunately due to work and some health issues I had to cancel three of these invitations. Especially sad, that I had to cancel my class at the Fight Camp 2019 and the chance to meet THE Matt Easton 🙂 But plans are already in working progress for 2020 🙂

Furthermore I had the chance to publish another article on Scottish Swordsmanship in German History Magazine Karfunkel. Another one for next March is in preperation as well as several book projects. I was also happy to make new contacts online, especially with my mate Tom from Fandabi Dozi in Scotland, who makes Bushcrafting videos about 17th/18th Century Highlander Survival skills. We made a team-up for a video on the history and use of the Highland Dirk, which was a major success. And more to come 🙂

I wish you all a good time and wonderfull Holidays! Enjoy!

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!

From Saxons to Swashbucklers

One of our hard working and dedicated Broadsword Academy Online Program apprentices, Gabe Briney recently started an interesting HEMA Blog. He is covering various interesting articles on topics related to historical weapons and martial arts from “Saxons to Swashbucklers”.

Check it out here.

Level 4 Mentor in the USA

We are happy to  anounce that Joshua Campbell reached successfully the certification for Level 4: Auxiliary Arts.


Joshua worked through the program dedicated and consequently. For Level 4 he focussed on his favourite weapon, the Scottish Twohanded Sword called claidheamh dà làimh. With this sword he already fought many sparring bouts and multiple SCA tournaments, where he also won 2nd place in the Sword Masters Tournament. One of his many bouts you can see here.

Already being an experienced swordsman with Twohanders, he nevertheless worked through the practical lessons on the CDL described in our book “Scorners of Death”. He successfully passed the requirements to master these drills and proofed his skills again in several bouts for certification. In addition he also worked a lot with the Dirk and adopted the skills required for the scottish dagger.

Congratulations to you!

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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