The Glengarry Highland Games is proud to host a number of new events this year associated with the ancient Highland art of fencing with broadsword.
An Cruinneachadh Single Stick Tournament
This year, The Glengarry Highland Games will host the first annual An Cruinneachadh Single Stick Competition, attended by skilled broadsword fencers from as far away as Manitoba.The event name, An Cruinneachadh, is Gaelic for “The Gathering”, and is an opportunity for the broadsword fencing community in Eastern Canada and the US Eastern seaboard to come together for a few days of training and competition. The main tournament will run from 1:00pm to approximately 3:00pm in the Beer Tent, Friday August 2nd, with the semi finals and finals taking place in Circle One at 4:30 pm, and the medals ceremony will take place at approximate 5:30pm. First prize is a fencing broadsword from the renowned Castille Armory from Oregon, USA.
Single Stick is a historical fencing sport and training system that dates to at least the 16th Century in Scotland and the British Isles as a safer way to practice and compete in broadsword fencing. A single stick was historically an ash rod approximately 36 inches long with a protective basket hilt for the sword hand made of either a woven basket or leather boiled in bees wax. Ash was gradually replaced with rattan in the 17th and 18th centuries with the expansion of the British Empire into India, and the realization that rattan was more resilient. Single stick competitions were a common sight at country fairs across the British Isles from the 16th Century onward, and in Highland Games, which date from medieval times but were heavily revived in the Victorian period. Single stick continued to be used as a training tool in the British Army and Navy throughout the 19th Century and even in to the early 20th Century.
The practice of Highland broadsword fencing and single stick fencing has been going through a tremendous revival since the 1970s, lead by individuals such as Christopher Scott Thompson, founder of the Cateran Society. This has been part of a larger movement generally known as HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) dedicated to reviving historical fencing and other martial arts through the study and practice of historical manuals by masters. In the case of Highland broadsword, there are five schools teaching the art in Canada alone, with a growing number of tournaments and seminars internationally. Historical fencing such as Highland broadsword differs from sport fencing in that is continues to be taught as a martial art, in the same manner that it would have been studied and practiced in its historical context.
For those interested in learning single stick and broadsword fencing, there are a series of workshops planned for Thursday, August 1, 2019 at the Maxville Fair Grounds in the Beer Tent. Three workshops will be run by experts in their respective fields. Jay Maas is perhaps the best known and most accomplished Canadian practitioner of Highland Broadsword, the founder and head instructor of the Broadsword Academy of Manitoba, and a senior member of the Cateran Society (an international organization dedicated to the promotion of Highland Broadsword) will be running a single stick and broadsword workshop from approximately 2:00 to 5:00pm. Jay’s workshops are heavy attended at a number of other events internationally, and we are very fortunate to have him as a guest instructor.
Immediately preceding Jay’s workshop is a one hour workshop from 1:00 to 2:00pm by Luka Kurcer on the use of Indian Clubs, a training system heavy used by broadsword and saber fencers in the 19th century and which is going through a current revival as an outstanding approach to fitness training. Luka is owner and head instructor of Hardstyle Kettlebell in Montreal.
Kévin Cote is a highly accomplished small sword practitioner and teacher who will be running a small sword workshop from 5:30 to 6:30pm on Thursday evening. Small sword, although less well known, was another weapon popular in parts of Scotland from the late 17th Century through to the early 19th Century, and was the precursor to the fencing foil in sport fencing. Kévin has been an international leader in its resurrection and a student of the historical Scottish Fencing Master, Donald McBain.
Guests of the Tartan Ball this year will have the opportunity to see a live demonstration of steel broadsword and small sword fencing by Jay Maas, Kévin Cote and other expert practitioners of the Art.
Participants in the seminar workshops on August 1st, and competitors in the August 2nd tournament are all welcome to attend the An Cruineachadh Feast on Thursday evening at 7:30 pm (August 1st) at the Maxville Fairgrounds.
Please see the following links for more information on the An Cruinneachadh events and timings.
Single Stick Tournament
For the first time this year at the Glengarry Highland Games, children will have the opportunity to be introduced to the ancient art of Highland Broadsword! Foam swords and fencing masks will be provided in order for children to be safely introduced to the skills involved in learning Highland Broadsword, as well as a brief introduction to the history and lore of the Art. Drummond Fraser and his son, 10 year old Pearson Fraser will be leading instruction. Two classes will follow the Junior Heavy Weight competition: from 11:00 to 11:30am children ages 6 to 8 are invited to participate; and, from 11:30 to 12:00pm, children form ages 9 to 12 are invited. There are 24 spots in each class. Registration will be at the same tent as for the Junior Heavyweight competition.
See our Children’s Events page for registration information.