Happy St. Patricks Day! – Irish Martial Arts?

Happy St. Patricks Day everyone!

Did you know that Ireland is the home to several types of martial arts?

Most people are familliar with Irelands reputation for bare-knuckle boxing.  

At this point bare knuckle boxing has become almost a caricature of Irish culture thanks in part to that Notre Dame leprechaun.

Bare knuckle boxing tended to take on some distinctive characteristics from modern boxing, without the gloves to protect your hands both offence and defence have to change a little to keep your hands in tact until the end of the match.

Especially considering that a lot of bare knuckle matches could go on for a very long time…

 

But Ireland is also the home of a form of wrestling called “Collar and Elbow” which was done both with a jacket similar to Judo and without one.  This style utilized a lot of the same sort of trips, sweeps, submissions and controls as modern Judo and Jiu Jitsu.

Irish wrestling was also very popular in early North America.

Irish collar and elbow wrestling had a influence on other forms of wrestling at the time and it’s influence can still be seen in modern wrestling as well as staged pro-wrestling matches where the collar and elbow tie up is very commonly used to start matches.

 

In addition to the empty handed boxing and wrestling techniques, Irish martial arts include the use of the Shillelagh, or club.  The Shillelagh has become a bit of a symbol of “Irishness” over the years.

In addition to self-defence purposes Irish stick-fighting ended up becoming associated with gang or faction violence and largely faded away by the turn of the 20th century.