Irish Stick Fighting or Bataireacht (pronounced bata-ri-okt), as it is sometimes referred to, is traditionally applied to various forms of stick fighting indigenous to Ireland. Methods of Irish Stick fighting have evolved throughout thousands of years progressing from the first ever Celtic spear all the way through time to the current weapon of choice, the blackthorn, which has, through a merry road of translation, become known nostalgically as the shillelagh.
Throughout the ages battle was nothing new to Ireland or the Irish, but its distinct forms of stick fighting seemed to become showcased during Ireland s turbulent times of the 17th to 19th centuries a time that belonged to the faction fighters armies of country people, numbering hundreds or even thousands, armed with sticks, stones, and occasionally with swords and guns. They met at fairgrounds, market places, and frequently streets of towns and villages.
The distinctions of the faction could be as simple as a surname or as grand as one s allegiance to one s county. However, once the sides were picked and the lines drawn, the stick seemed to be the weapon of choice (most likely because of its easy availability). Groups of men would train in secret and ready themselves as best they could for the coming fight. Some systems were born from mimicking the motions of fencing and swordplay, but the techniques adjusted to incorporate hitting rather than slicing.
As the time passed and some factions grew in strength or reputation, it makes sense that they would want to keep their stick techniques unique to their fighters thus as with many Celtic practices oral tradition became commonplace and word of mouth was the best way to assure none could get an upper hand on you. It is probably an obvious observation that certain factions would draw their identities from their style of stick fighting and guard this style with their lives, only teaching those within the family or the circle of trust.
As Ireland moved forward politically, economically, etc modernization seemed to move the entire country away from many of her indigenous traditions and stick fighting was no exception. With the availability of sword to guns, the need for skills in stick combat seems to fall by the wayside and this coupled with the fact that the majority of these fighting techniques were passed on practically and orally, the Irish art of Stick Fighting came close to being extinct barely surviving through old stories told at parties, a small number of brief historical references, and a few practitioners who were proud enough to pass on their knowledge to the future generations.
Today Irish Stick Fighting is enjoying a resurgence of interest and the art, skill, and techniques born on the Irish battlefield seem to have survived the ages and are once again available to the modern day warrior.
Shillelagh (pronounced " shi - ley -li ) is the name for a traditional Irish stick or stick of blackthorn wood, who, having a thickening at the upper end.Predominantly was this stick, which is available in different lengths, used as a weapon - the origin of this lies in the Faction Fights of 17-18 . century founded. The blackthorn wood was available easily and in large quantities species of high hardness and stiffness - it grew on each side of the road .In the 19th Century it belonged in his form as walking stick naturally to the appearance of an Irish gentleman, until modern times disputes were often discharged with the Shillelagh.
Even the gangs of Irish immigrants in the U.S. and Canada used these weapons to discharge their deadly disputes. (see "Gangs of New York")
Traditionally, the blackthorn sticks, whose thorn batches were left on the stick, smeared with whiskey butter and smoked over fire ( in the fireplace ) - thus they received their dark , glossy surface - and of course a particular smell.From this method of production then the term " Whiskey-Stick" resulted.
Kinds of shillelaghs
Shillelaghs comes in different forms , as walking or walking stick with a length of up to 100 cm, as a pure weapon with a mean and a very short length ( "cudgel" or "bata" called).