Bataireacht – Irish stick
Tuesdays 7 – 9PM Bronson Centre
Instructors: Máistir Pionsa Maxime Chouinard, Callum Carmichael
Bataireacht is an Irish word that can be roughly translated to “stick fighting”. It is difficult to say when this martial art appeared, but certain clues indicate it might be linked to axe fighting as it was practiced in Ireland in the 12th century. It starts to be documented in details in the 18th century, and by the 19th century the Irish became renowned as experts in stick fighting. Masters taught their art travelling the country and even established schools. By the 1900s, bataireacht was pushed out of Irish life and culture, but the practice remained within certain families.
Bataireacht uses the shillelagh, a type of forward weighted stick that could double as a walking staff. It became a staple of Irish culture, and blackthorn shillelaghs are still made in Ireland today.
The style that we teach is called Antrim Bata, as it was practiced within that county and preserved by the Ramsey family up to recent times. The style contains techniques that deal with long, medium and close range, and even contained unarmed and grappling techniques.
Students are introduced first to the basics of footwork, guards and strikes, before moving on to more complex techniques and combinations. Drills are practiced with hardwood or rattan sticks, while contact drills and sparring are done with rattan and protective equipment.
By it’s nature, this is a style that is useable for modern self defense. Classes are focused on single opponents, but also fighting in groups or in outnumbered situations. Contrary to our other styles, bataireacht does not have a competitive component.
Sabre – Broadsword
Thursdays 7 – 9PM Bronson Centre
Instructors: Maxime Chouinard, Callum Carmichael
Sabre and broadsword refers to the swords carried from the late 17th century to the early 1900s. Mostly carried by infantry and cavalry, they were the subject of hundreds of manuals published in many different languages. The same method carried over to different types of one handed swords ranging from curved cavalry sabres to Scottish broadswords, and most of the principles can even be applied to other weapons such as the walking stick, the two handed staff, the knife or the bayonet.
Historical sabre differs from modern fencing mostly in the rules and equipment used. In modern sabre, hits to the legs are ignored, while they are valid in historical fencing. We also use training simulators that are faithful to actual swords of the time.
In our classes, we take an holistic approach to the subject. We study many different manuals, mostly from French and British sources such as Rondelle, André, Billès, Angelo, Page and Valville. This system of fencing is very fast and focuses on finding or creating openings in the opponent’s guard while covering one’s own.
The classes are given as an adjunct to Bataireacht, and follow a similar model. The student is first introduced to footwork, guards, cuts and thrusts. Most of the curriculum is practiced with a partner with the aim of building strong reflexes and the ability to read distance and recognize opportunities.
Students can start their training with the same sticks used for bataireacht, with the addition of a leather guard. As they progress, they can then move on to steel trainers and related equipment.
Sabre is also a weapon that allows students to enter HEMA tournaments. Our instructors are equipped and ready to coach students that have an interest in competition, either at a national or international level.
Saturdays 2 – 4PM – Jack Purcell Centre
Instructor: Callum Carmichael
The long sword, or the sword in two hands, was a weapon that came to prominence in the 14th century and was the subject of the majority of medieval literature on personal combat. The largest longsword fencing traditions come from what are now Italy and Germany, with dozens of personal combat manuals from the era surviving into the modern day.
At BAHFF, we focus on the German tradition as recorded by the Geselschaft Liechtenauers, a society of combat instructors who studied under the legendary fencing master Johannes Liechtenauer, who lived some time in the late 14th or early 15th century and whose ideas remained influential well into the 16th century. These writings cover the use of the longsword and other weapons in wartime, in the judicial duel, and for personal defence, while wearing armour or while unarmoured, and while mounted or on foot.
Our main source is Peter von Danzig, who wrote a detailed commentary on Liechtenauer’s teachings in the early-to-mid 1400s. We will also incorporate ideas from other German masters and from their Italian counterparts, such as Fiore dei Liberi, when it is appropriate.
We start with the fundamentals of fencing, including movement, distance and time. Building on these principals, we will learn techniques to fully take advantage of the weapon’s properties, using drills and exercises to help students to apply them in practice. Once students have mastered the basics of fencing, they will be encouraged to apply what they have learned in sparring with a partner or in a group with various levels of protective equipment.
Students who are interested in competing in tournaments will be given extra training and instruction to prepare them for the rigours of competition. BAHFF’s instructors have years of experience in tournaments as competitors, coaches and organizers, and we are eager to share our knowledge with a new generation of fencers.
For those who prefer to explore the historical side of Historical Fencing, there will be opportunities to attend living history events such as the Deed of the Red Knight. This event, which our longsword instructor has been attending since 2015, provides a unique opportunity to experience life in a 14th century mercenary camp, complete with medieval clothing, tents, food, music, formation fighting, and armoured combat.
We look forward to introducing you to the exciting world of historical swordplay!
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