Mag Aoidh Family Martial Arts as Originated from the Ulster territories in Ireland
It was suggested I post a little bit in a nutshell about my families fighting style.
When I was a child at the age of 4 I began learning Shotokan Karate in order to correct hypertonia in my lower back and lower extremities caused by mild Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. At The age of 9, 2 years after my body had began to function normally, my grandfather began to instruct me in our families method of self-defense, under the firm belief that while Karate was good for me physically, it wasn’t going to prepare me for the realities of real combat situations.
What he taught me was taught to him by his father, and was handed down through the family for generations since around the 17th or 18th century. It had grown with the times for the most part, every generation adding their own twists and variations to the system, but for the most part it stayed true to the concepts as they were taught and developed sometime n the 16th century.
My grandfather taught me at first through games we would play, like wrestling, slap fighting, and a specific game where hitting certain parts of his body with a small stick or cut piece of rubber hose; which would be worth a certain value of “points”.
The goal of the point game when I was a child was to score as many points as I could in 30 seconds. Each body part was worth a different amount which he would keep track of in his head. The point system was as follows: Hands and Feet:1 point, shins and forearms: 2 points, elbows and knees: 3 points, upper arms and thighs: 2 points, stomach: 4 points, between ribs: 5 points, Sternum or heart area: 6 points, Neck and throat: 8 Points, head: 6 points, clavicle, Achilles tendon, inner arms, and groin was all worth 7 points. Now as I grew up and got better at the game, he would attack back and for every hit he got on me it would deduct from the points I was getting.
Now this game when I was child was just that: a game. I wasn’t aware he was teaching me knife and stick fighting. When I was about 11 he made the confession to me that that’s what it was. I was really wowed by this, and even use the same “Game” to teach others. When he started to show me the different methods of what I was doing correctly in the game and what I was doing wrong, ie: using a technique that wouldn’t do much good if I was in such a confrontation, I started becoming good at this style of fighting.
He also incorporated the boxing elements, and some more wrestling elements, but especially the shillelagh (cane or 3 foot stick). He continued my instruction until I was about 16, then my grandmother become ill, and he no long had much time to keep teaching me. Ever since then I’ve been studying everything I could find…from books and magazines, too old video clips of Irish Boxers.
When I was about 23 my grandfather passed away. Before he passed, he told me “Never stop learning”. And to honor him and those before, I made a decision to try and piece back together what was originally taught by my family ancestors as self defense. From what I’ve learned thus far and continue to learn about 16th-19th century Irish Combat, is that it was a very calculated and highly conceptualized form of dirty fighting.
It involves eye gouges, stomping on ankles, crushing throats, punching/gripping groins, kneecapping, knifing someone in the kidney, etc etc. The moves are simple and probably hold little value other than as basic street fighting. To give the best comparison I’ve found is if you were to mix Wing Chun, European Boxing, and Silat. Make it a little less fluid and artful. Then you would have my families fighting system.
Thank you for reading. Any in depth questions, feel free to ask.
Thanks, that's really interesting stuff.
You mentioned that this style could date back to the 1700s - are there any written records of earlier generations using/developing it?
Also, I'd like to hear more about the shillelagh aspect - typical tactics, grip positions, etc.
Sad to say, when my family came over from Ireland, they didn't bother writting it down as with most family style martial arts they wanted to keep it as close to the family as possible, and to do so they simply trusted on generation to generation teaching. I can't actually say if what I learned from my grand father was what was used in the 1700's, but accordig to our family hsitorian (my father's cousin), and the documentation she did find, showed us at the battle against the English along side Robert The Bruce, with very little information regarding the tactics that were used then. What we do know is that almost every Mag Aoidh warrior prefered using a cudgle paired with a dirk over a sword and shield. There is also some written about the game my grandfather and i played when he was teaching me. Using it to teach others quickly how to defend themselves in battle.
Originally Posted by DdlR
As to the grip and tactics used with a shillelagh as to what my Grand dad taught me, depended on the length and weight of it. If it was just a meter long stick the tactics and grip would be different than if it were more heavily weighted at one end. But generally speaking, You would take the stick into your hands as if in a boxing position (think muay thai hand position with your palms turned down and held in front of you), the stick being centered in between them (from thumb to thumb about 6 to 8 inches apart) so as too be able to use either hand to wield it with ease. Now the grip it self with the hands is as i said both hands palms down to grab it with your four fingers and your thumbs pushing from the back... much like filipino knife fighters hold their knives with the hthumb on the back of lower part of the blade....the fencing grip. From this position you could jab streight out with the stick faster than if you were to be swinging it by one end. Now the damage is decreased in this fashion, because you have less weight behind the swing. But you would either jab to keep your opponent at bay or to prepare for entering.
I've seen alot of different european stick fighting books and in these works the stick is used as if it were a sword or fencing foil. But the traditional shillelagh is a bit heavier than your standard cane.
Now with keeping someone at bay you will generally swing at the closest riliable target: lead leg knee or ankle, or the lead hand, or even jab at their face. If entering, all's fair as long as your foccus is to disarm htem first. Even if that means smashing their hand so they can't make a fist.
Now if the stick is weighted at one end like a traditional shillelagh, you will generally try to do most of the dammage with the weighted end, using the non weighted end for thrusting and parrying.
Now all this in mind, alot of the actual 'tricks' or manuevers are similar to those found in eskrima or silat. With one major difference. In eskrima and silat they tend to try too keep in mind there is blade edge to the stick and thats the propper way to swing it. I understand this principal....but in irish stick fighting... it's never though of as anything more than a stick, cudgle, or shillelagh, so there is no wrong way to swing it. If it is more viable and faster to use the top side (the side facing you after you swing), use it. Because being hit with a stick from any part of it in the right spot, is going to do the job.
this is just the way I've learned it, and there was more emphasis on hitting targets quickly than there was on fair play, or correct posture etc etc.... because when you learning to swing a meter long club around... you learn the right and wrong ways to do stuff because the stick will let you know...usually blasting you in the back of the head.
Now I could go on and on aout tactics and techniques, but with out pictures or something of that nature to reference, it'd be very hard. Now I can work on getting some pictures up to show how I was taught, like posture, grip.. technqiues..etc.. but I'm not sure if anyone would really be that interested...
I think that there will be some interest - plenty of people with some Irish heritage, or just generally interested in little-known fighting styles.
The double-handed grip, with options to strike heavy blows with the weighted end and parry or deal quick attacks with the lighter end, is reminiscent of the stickfighting component of Bartitsu, which favored a 36" rattan cane tipped with a steel "ball" handle. It can be surprising how much the weighted end and adjusted balance affects viable tactics and techniques.
Really? I did not know that. But the found was a good martial arts cross trainer, so it doesn't surprise me. How long have you been practicing bartitsu? I will start taking photos when I get the chance...
I've been into Bartitsu for about eight years. A similar basic tactic is also seen in Caribbean stickfighting - YouTube - Point Fortin Stickfight II
Another Two-handed Irish Stick fighter! outstanding!
I teach The Doyle Family system here in Boston which is a two-handed system and we incorporate (actually HEAVILY RELY ON!) Stick Punches. Here is some video fo the Head of the system Glen Doyle:
Irish Sticks on YouTube
LESSON 1: YouTube - Irish Stick Fighting (Online Lesson 1) Glen Doyle Shillelagh
LESSON 2: YouTube - Irish Stick Fighting (Online Lesson 2) Glen Doyle Shillelagh
Various Clips 1: YouTube - Irish Stick Fighting (Shillelagh) Various Clips Glen Doyle
Various Clips 2: YouTube - Irish Stick Fighting (Shillelagh) Various Clips 2 Doyle
You should put this much effort into your dojo review.
Is your style similar to this style from Glen Doyle? It sounds similar with the two handed grip and the "tricks".
[SIZE=3]Phadrus00[/SIZ"]No BS Martial Arts - View Profile: Phadrus00@@AMEPARAM@@View Profile: Phadrus00</title>@@AMEPARAM@@Phadrus00 Beat me to it
Cool stuff. I was helping someone clear land and I too some of the oak and manzanita to make some clubs to train with, and the one I've finished is a shillelagh style. It's been interesting adjusting my stickfighting practice to a topheavy stick.
I'm still kinda new too this site and have a hard time reviewing things.... I'm better at teaching than at judging. Other threads I've tried to participate in, generally become a pissing match of who's style is better... Or if a martial art is to be credible it has to prove it self in the MMA cage. I was almost losing hope for this site until thwe WMA category showed it self.
Originally Posted by moons
After watching the video's that were posted... my family style is very similar, though I never practiced with the style of practice sticks he uses... I have a heavy aluminum cane with a heavy head, as well as various sticks and dowels that i practice with. As well as a shillelagh made from dense but light drift wood. My grandfather put alot of emphasis on practicing with any stick, cudgle or shillelagh I could find...really anything that would be readily availible to do some serious smashing damage.
The main difference I've noticed between Glen Doyle's System and mine is that there is more emphasis on my familes style to have a lower base of gravity and the free hand doesn't float that high on the head, it actually stays closer to a boxing type of defensive positioning.
Also utilizing range of motion so as not to become unbalanced. I'm not doubting Mr. Doyle's style in the least, but the turning jab and crossing your legs..while improves distance can leave you open for being tripped... and my family also focuses alot more on ranged disarms, i.e smashing your opponents hand, or foot to stop movement. But other wise the styles look similar. I would actually like to learn more of his system.
I would almost venture to say, the biggest diference is foot placement and general movement.
These videos have inspired me to maybe make my own, not just on the shillelagh (though it is probably the most worldly recognized form of IMA) fighting, but on the use of a knife, and my family's version of boxing, kicking, and grappling.... if I can figure out how to get my camera to work. Any advice on where I can get an avi to wmv converter?
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