This video is an overview of the art we practice in the Cateran Society – the art of fencing with the Highland broadsword based on the writings of expert swordsmen such as Donald McBane, Captain Sinclair, Andrew Lonnergan, Archibald MacGregor, Henry Angelo and others.
“Flourishing,” known in the most ancient Gaelic sources as faobhar chleas or “the edge feat,” is the practice of solo fighting techniques as a display of skill. It is the equivalent of the solo forms practice found in Asian martial arts, although flourishing is generally not choreographed ahead of time.
Flourishing plays a major role in the Cateran System from Level IV onward, but students often seem uncertain as to how they should approach this exercise. To help apprentices learn how to flourish, Cateran Matt Park designed a five-stage process:
1- Using only the lunge and the shift, attack and defend against an imaginary opponent. Make one cut every time you lunge and one parry every time you shift. Keep it simple and clear.
2- Add in the advance and retreat, but stick to simple attacks and parries.
3- Add in multiple opponents attacking you from all directions. Fight the opponent in front of you for a few moments, then turn suddenly to deal with an attacker to your right, left or rear.
4- Add broken rhythm- instead of only making simple cuts and parries, add feints and other off-rhythm movements. Your flourishing should now strongly resemble an actual fight.
5- Add “enclose and command” by acting out disarms and grappling maneuvers.
Flourishing videos are worth ten points toward Cateran rank, but only stage five flourishing will be counted for this purpose. A flourishing video should be a high-level display of skill with the broadsword, not just a rote performance of cuts and guards. Think of flourishing as a chance to display your art!