Highland Fencing Takes a Stab at the Games

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Every year the Glengarry Highland Games introduces new events to provide even more reasons to come to the Games. This year’s addition of workshops and competitions in the ancient Highland art of fencing with broadsword will certainly be a highlight.

An Cruinneachadh Single Stick Competition

On Friday, August 2, the 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 pm to approximately 3 pm in the Tent, Friday August 2nd, with the semi finals and finals taking place in Circle One at 4:30 pm, and the medals ceremony following at approximate 5:30pm. First prize is a fencing broadsword from the renowned Castille Armory form 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. Single stick competitions were a common sight at country fairs and Highland Games across the British Isles from the 16th Century onward. Single stick continued to be used as a training tool in the British Army and Navy throughout the 19th Century and even into the early 20th Century.

The practice of Highland broadsword fencing and singlestick fencing has been going through a tremendous revival since the 1970s. 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.

Thursday August 1 Offers Workshops

For those interested in learning single stick and broadsword fencing, there are a series of workshops planned for Thursday, August 1st in the Tent. Three workshops will be run by experts in their respective fields. Jay Maas perhaps the best known and most accomplished Canadian practitioner of Highland Broadsword will be running a single stick and broadsword workshop from approximately 2 to 5 pm.

From 1 to 2 pm, Luka Kurcer will present a workshop on the use of Indian Clubs, a training system 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 6:30 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.

Children’s Broadsword

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 11:30 am children ages 6 to 8 are invited to participate; and, from 11:30 to 12:00, 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 Broadsword page for more details and registration information.