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The Celtic Martial Arts

The Celtic Martial Arts that Master Brown teaches doesn't really have a name, but he often refers to it as Fianna, after a famous group of warriors of ancient Ireland. These heroic warriors were trained in the use of many weapons as well as empty-handed techniques. The ancient Celts were a part of the much larger Indo-European peoples that have left their mark across Europe to Asia, and (according to the Vikings themselves) may even have preceded the Vikings to North America. There are some that compare the Indian religion of Brahmanism to the belief system of the ancient Celts, pointing out that these two cultures may have had a common ancestor. There is also some speculation arising that the path to the first organized martial art rests with these phenomenal people, moving with them to the Greeks and Romans, where it became Pankration and then traveling from there to India where it was then taken to China by Bodhidharma and became Kung Fu. Kung Fu is the oldest traditional martial art in Asia.

The Celts lived throughout most areas of Europe and although they fought against and masterfully crushed Rome in 397 BC, they were respected and even hired as tutors and trainers by the Romans and Greeks. Their ability as warriors was legendary as man and woman fought side by side. Their code of ethics was one of honor and eventually developed into the code of chivalry used by the knights of medieval Europe. The Celtic people had a method of writing called Ogham, but chose not to write down their beliefs, habits and customs. Some historians speculate that they believed a balanced existence needed flexibility, and that writing things down created rules and dogmas that stripped them of flexibility and natural flow. Even their law-givers, the Druids were required to memorize everything as opposed to writing it down. What they did document was destroyed by the Roman invasions and later Christian conversions of Gaul and the British Isles. Because of this, we know little of their laws, practices, fighting style, beliefs or customs. However, just as we know that many of our modern customs descended from theirs; many of our linguistic nuances are derived from their language; and much of our artistic styles are similar to theirs, we can see the same thing in the martial arts.

What is Battle Field Logic? Your body learns what you teach it and in a real combat situation will perform techniques as it is trained, with or without your voluntary interaction. Many schools today award belts without dealing with their techniques in a realistic manner. Some are even dangerous or wrong, their instructors may even know it, but continue to teach them due to "Tradition." We are sure that the warriors of ancient times had a clear understanding of what worked and what didn't, and we take that approach too. This means that many traditional Asian style techniques are discarded because our knowledge of anatomy, physics and combat strategy dictate that many of these techniques are counter indicated, meaning they are detrimental to real self defense abilities. The kicking techniques of the Celtic Martial Arts are all low and below the waist, the hands are kept high and protective, punches use the power of the whole body and blocks use the most durable parts of the body. Grappling was an integrated part of their combat strategy, but due to the fact that they typically had multiple opponents, grappling had to be dealt with carefully and quickly. The weapons of the Celtic warrior include the sword, the staff, the stick, the spear and the sling.

Many of the these techniques have been passed down through families and are now re-emerging as Irish Stick Fighting, Scottish Long Sword styles and Celtic Wrestling. Most notably the Bata, or fighting stick from Ireland has some of the most powerful, useful and pragmatic applications of any weapon taught today. Master Brown is one of very few people publicly teaching martial arts based on Celtic traditions and can trace his heritage to the Pedans in Ireland in the early 1700's and to the McFaydens in Strom, Scotland in 650 AD.

Master Brown does use a belt system for promotions, which has its history in Asian martial arts practices. He believes strongly in awarding rank and there is no better way at this time to do so in a martial arts studio.

References

Berresford-Ellis, Peter "Celt and Greek: Celts in the Hellenic World", Trans-Atlantic Publications, Inc. 1996

Nora K. Chadwick, Barry Cunliffe (Introduction), "The Celts", Penguin USA, 1998

Cunliffe, B. "The World of the Celts", London (Penguin) 1997

Cunliffe, B. "The Ancient Celts", London (Penguin) 1997

Hope, M. "The Ancient Wisdom of the Celts", Thorsons Pub, Lon, 1987

W. Dinan, London, "Monumenta Historica Celtica: Notices of the Celts in the writings of Greek and Latin Authors from the 10th Century B.c.e. to the Fifth Century A.d. Volume 1 and 2", 1911

James, Simon: "The World of the Celts", Thames & Hudson, 1993

Rolleston, T.W.: "Celtic Myths and Legends" Dover Publications, 1990

Wayland-Barber, Elizabeth. "The Mummies of Urumchi", W. W. Norton & Company, 1999



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