View Full Version : Bata

1/07/2007 1:40pm,
Are there any definitive sources on Bata, irish stick fighting... not philipino? Is it worth investigating?

Sir Ocelot
1/07/2007 3:05pm,
The "Irish stick fighting" I know and practice is a reconstructed style, and frankly, the base of historical written material is pretty slim. (My teacher in the subject would agree with me on this.) There are a couple of excerpts from larger manuals, some descriptions, and some illustrations; that's about it. A passable-seeming system can be made from that, but as with all reconstructed MA, you'll never know for certain whether you're doing it right. The main draw to practicing it would be 1) it's something different and 2) it's an interesting piece of history.

There are a couple of people who claim living traditions -- without supporting documentation, as far as I know, so they have to be judged on their own merits.

1/08/2007 10:29am,
Seems to be the fate of many western arts. Lost to oblivion. It is rather a shame that the west does not honor its historical martial forms as the east seems to. I am very wary however as to the legitimacy of living missing link sort of things some claim. Seems to easy a marketing ploy/lie.

My interest in stick fighting is based in a reality setting and tempered towards western forms through my own pride in western martial heritage and interest in western martial arts from a historical perspective.

To the practicality/reality based standpoint mentioned above: It is not so impractical to carry a baton. And I do not believe it is against VA statute to carry such. (Why should it be? I can open carry a handgun after all, how is the club any more dangerous than that?) pending further investigation i will return. basically if you cant find statute against it then it is not illegal, so hopefully i am unsuccessful :)

1/08/2007 2:44pm,
You won't get anyone with a direct lineage to a practicing bata fighter, so in essence, it's dead. Most of my culture is buried or has one foot in the grave *sighs*.

1/08/2007 3:12pm,
Seems to be the fate of many western arts. Lost to oblivion. It is rather a shame that the west does not honor its historical martial forms as the east seems to.

Most eastern martial arts practived today were created in the last 100 years. There are very few Ko Ryu Japanese schools left, and most of countries/styles claimed to be 1000 years old are lying (especially Korea).

1/08/2007 5:53pm,
Is "Bata" practiced with a "Shilleleigh" (sp?).... I remember an Irish college roommate of mine showing me one... mean heavy short stick. I can't remember what wood it was made of, but it was black.

3/01/2007 3:26am,
Like the man said, there are one or two people out there who claim a living lineage of bata fighting, most notably Glenn Doyle of Canada - http://www.geocities.com/glendoyle/bata/ . There are a few more who say that their old Uncle Pat from Kerry showed them a few tricks with his cane. The great majority of Irish-style stick fighters have reconstructed their systems based on the information presented in two late-1800s books - R.G. Allanson-Winn's "Broadsword and Singlestick" and Donald Walker's "Defensive Exercises".

Allanson-Winn and Walker were writing at a time when Irish faction fighters were still brawling (and, apparently, fencing) with their sticks, and their books provide just enough info. that modern bata enthusiasts can put together a decent, practical reconstruction. That's assuming that they do a lot of pressure-testing, etc.

Best sources for bata online are http://www.geocities.com/cinaet/cumannbhata.html and http://johnwhurley.com/ .

Hope this helps.

One Round
3/02/2007 1:46pm,
Is "Bata" practiced with a "Shilleleigh" (sp?).... I remember an Irish college roommate of mine showing me one... mean heavy short stick. I can't remember what wood it was made of, but it was black.

The shillelagh gets its name from the Shillelagh Forest, which was stripped of most of its oak by the British in the 16th and 17th centuries. A true shillelagh is a walking stick made from oak from this forest.

The word "shillelagh" would become synonymous with "walking stick", at least in Ireland.

The shillelagh that your roommate had was probably from Blackthorn. It's a thorny, fruit-bearing small tree/big shrub common in Europe.

5/03/2007 11:35pm,
I know this is thread necromancy, but several stickfighters in western Ireland can claim direct lineage of actual stickfighters (I do, my dad's a stickfighter, and so was his, and his, and so on, and we've got a collection of some of the surviving older sticks). The thing is though, most of those styles emerged in the 1800s, and even then, most of those are mid-to-late 1800s, and some from the early 1900s. It's not a huge stretch to maintain a tradition over so short a period, but there's also, then, just lack of interest, which killed a lot of styles before they really got going. That, and bata became a kind of stigma to a lot of people; the stick got associated with negative stereotypes about mindless violence amongst the Irish, which is a pity, given the stick was intended as more of a gentlemanly type of weapon.

It's not dead, really, in a strict sense, but if you mean the earlier stick styles (as stick fighting is mentioned in the middle ages and earlier, though its usually in reference to games or training methods then), those are either dead or attempts are being made to reconstruct them if there's enough sources for it.

Some have been more or less reconstructed as best they can, like Bata Pionsa, which was actually reconstructed mainly by Scots who wanted to learn traditional backsword techniques, since bata pionsa existed to teach one to safely use a backsword or broadsword. Reconstructing it relied on the available manuals (none of which are that in-depth), mixed with traditional highland broadsword fighting in Scotland, to get something probably reasonably close to the original.

There's also, in that vein, Trodaireacht Dó Bata, which is from sword-and-dagger styles from the 1500s, but it's not nearly so complete in reconstruction, and current forms of it taught are more based on non-Irish sword-and-dagger styles (which it probably resembled anyway).

More complete than that is Cleathadh, two-hand wattle fighting, where the wattle is used like a sword, but that's still in the process of being reconstructed. However, it actually survived better than most similar styles in that it remained in practical use for a long time, and there's still a family near Cashel in Munster that practices it in some small amount. Probably survived because of its similarities to the also practical 'Bata Tríú', also a form of two-hand wattle fighting, but the stick is instead divided into thirds for it, with many hand positions.

No form of stick fighting though is exceedingly popular in Ireland these days. However, it's still not dead, and it's actually growing a bit in popularity. The internet has been a big boon for it, and has allowed people to learn more about it, which has attracted more people to begin practicing it. By far most modern bata practioners are newcomers to it, and have no direct heritage for it, but, that's irrelevant. So long as they find a style they can learn and reconstruct, and then potentially teach it, that's just dandy, and there are, as mentioned, some guides, being Allanson-Winn and Walker's books. A serious enthusiast should own copies.

5/19/2007 7:23pm,
I Irish stick fight (or Bhata.) Some practioners claim lineage, at least to the Doyle family, who are claimed to be given credit for Cleathadh. Irish stick fighting has been passed down mainly in oral tradition, I guess we were just to drunk to write it down. There has been some emerging popularity in Ireland, coupled with national pride comes a sense to get down to the roots of your country. I would definetly get a Shill, they are fun to have.