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  1. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/17/2010 6:58pm

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    Irish stick fighting documentary

    This is a new documentary to be screened on TG4, an Irish TV channel:

    Na Chéad Fight Clubs (new documentary)
    Gangs of New York meets The Field best describes the mood of this stunning 1- hour documentary. In the first half of the 19th century there was more violence in rural Munster than could be found on the streets of New York at the time. In Tipperary and Waterford organized gangs or factions such as the Caravats and the Shanavests or the Black Hens and the Magpies fought highly ritualized pitched battles on fair days. Wearing insignia and led by their 'captains' gangs of several hundred young males lined up and faced each other, all carrying the deadly weapon- the blackthorn stick. Death and injury was commonplace during these brutal feuds.

    Produced by Nemeton TV and director Geraldine Heffernan, Na Chéad Fight Clubs explores the many facets of this brutal and forgotten practice. Why has this aspect of our social history not been handed down by our grandfathers as others have? Why did hundreds of young men go out and dash each other’s skulls on fair day, filling their sticks with molten lead to make them more deadly weapons? What did they fight about? Why did the authorities not intervene for many years? The somewhat unsettling truth about our ancestors and the rampant savagery amongst the rural Irish is revealed in this fascinating film as well as the existence of the forgotten and noble Irish martial art of troid le maidí or stick fighting.

    Shot on the Red by Director of Photographer Cathal Watters the film features stunning reconstructions of fights, choreographed by martial arts expert John McGrath, who in an interesting twist to the story of faction fighting, has re-introduced this ancient art to the country by teaching it in his Waterford gym.
    TG4 Tuesday 28 December 21.15
  2. callum828 is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/17/2010 7:44pm


     Style: Judo, Muay Thai, MMA

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    Sounds awesome, I live in the UK so I doubt I'll be able to receive that channel, but I'll definitely watch it online if I get the chance.
  3. Eddie Hardon is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/20/2010 7:47am


     Style: Trad Ju Jitsu

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    Quote Originally Posted by DdlR View Post
    This is a new documentary to be screened on TG4, an Irish TV channel:
    I've never heard of such a thing. I'll ask about this next time I'm in Co.Limerick.

    OTOH, I've seen Hurling (in Co.Limerick) and it looked more like Stick fighting than the dangerous game that it actually is - a leather and cork ball flying at your Head/Eye at 100+MPH!!
  4. shaolin pimp is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/20/2010 11:13am


     Style: Muay Thai

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    This might be in irish though, heads up warning, cos TG4 does lost of irish language programs. I never heard of this either and I'm Irish
  5. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/20/2010 12:47pm

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    I'm not surprised; when I've visited Ireland and asked people who I assumed would know about Irish stick fighting, I've generally met with blank looks. Fighting with shillelaghs was a big thing in the mid-19th century faction fights, though, and there does seem to have been some connection between shillelagh fighting and hurling, at least at the social level.

    The big question is whether the techniques were ever codified enough to be considered a martial art, per se, though there is historical evidence of it being a skill that required serious training. Two 19th century writers, R.G. Allanson-Winn and Donald Walker, recorded some of the basic techniques for posterity. It amounts to fighting with a roughly 3.5' long stick in a high guard position, using a 1/3rd grip on the stick so that the lower third protects the forearm and elbow, with the other had raised in something like a boxing guard. Allanson-Winn and Walker offer just enough info. that the basics of the style can be revived, and there are a few groups who've been doing that for the past ten years or so.

    There are also individuals who claim to be teaching family lineage styles of Irish stick fighting, though unfortunately it's a very difficult claim to prove.
  6. shaolin pimp is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/20/2010 1:50pm


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    Quote Originally Posted by DdlR View Post

    There are also individuals who claim to be teaching family lineage styles of Irish stick fighting, though unfortunately it's a very difficult claim to prove.
    Yeah I don't buy the whole family lineage **** myself! Other than say like (the O'Hare family used black sticks or attached something etc)
    you might be interested in this, when I was younger, where I lived rival areas next to each other would have organised and bandit attacks lol, which would involve weapons such Hurley bats with nails, sticks, throw rocks and other ****, no one got killed or anything just hurt a bit, few serious injuries though, the wars lasted years lol, weird thing was most people went to the same schools.

    I would imagine it was like a old version of this, with very little skill involved.
  7. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/20/2010 1:57pm

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    Yep, that sounds like a survival of the old faction fighting tradition (see also "Gangs of New York", etc.)

    There are various schools of thought on how much skill/training was involved in shillelagh fighting, though IMO there's enough historical evidence to show that it was more than just "grab a stick and bash the other fella". R.G. Allanson-Winn, who was an experienced boxer, fencer etc. was impressed with the skills shown by some young Irish stick fighters.
  8. Odacon is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/20/2010 3:20pm

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     Style: Bits and pieces

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    The idea there was a "lost" system of Irish stick fighting or "Bata" in our native tongue that has resurfaced in the last few decades is highly dubious at best.
  9. shaolin pimp is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/20/2010 3:31pm


     Style: Muay Thai

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    Shut up Odacon, I smell money mofo! The Irish Americans will love it lol
  10. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/20/2010 3:42pm

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    Well, stick fighting definitely was a practiced skill in 19th century Ireland, and the techniques and rituals attached to shillelagh fencing distinguish it from other forms of European stick fighting during that period:




    ... but yes, the issue of whether any specific systems survived to the present day is controversial to say the least. There is some precedent is other parts of Europe; traditional Italian stick and knife systems are still practiced, for example, even though it's only within the past couple of years that they've been discovered by the rest of the world.
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