Books on the Cateran System

Lessons of the Broadsword Masters by Christopher Scott Thompson:


The most comprehensive book ever written on the art of fencing with the basket-hilted Highland broadsword, including every major technique and concept from broadsword and backsword masters Donald McBane (1728), Thomas Page (1746), Andrew Lonnergan (1771), Captain G. Sinclair (1790), Archibald MacGregor (1791), Henry Angelo (1799), John Taylor (1804), and Thomas Mathewson (1805).
Christopher Scott Thompson is the founder of the Cateran Society and the author of several books on the Highland broadsword and related topics, including Highland Broadsword from Paladin Press and the self-published Broadsword Academy and Lannaireachd: Gaelic Swordsmanship.
Lannaireachd was an early attempt to interpret the Highland broadsword style for modern historical fencers, and it contains inaccuracies and errors of interpretation. Despite its limitations, it did feature beautiful illustrations by Bob Giordano that Paladin Press chose not to include when they published Highland Broadsword. When Highland Broadsword was first published by Paladin, the state of research into the historical art of broadsword fencing was much less advanced than it is today. As a result, the book focused almost exclusively on the methods of Henry Angelo and neglected the wealth of information available from other sources. Broadsword Academy was meant to address this deficiency. However, Broadsword Academy did not include clear and complete instruction on the basics because that information was already included in Highland Broadsword. When Paladin Press went out of business in 2017, the copyright for Highland Broadsword reverted to the author, and it finally became possible to create a new book containing both basic instruction and complete, detailed information on the techniques of all eight broadsword masters studied by the Cateran Society.
This book contains text from all three works as well as Enclose and Command: How to Fight with Weapons. However, the material has been rearranged in a clear and logical order and expanded considerably to include nearly 500 training drills, as well as several of the Bob Giordano illustrations originally published in Lannaireachd. In addition, all text has been rewritten to use gender-neutral language. Extensive quotes from the manuals allow readers to directly compare the techniques of McBane, Page, Lonnergan, Sinclair, MacGregor, Angelo, Taylor, and Mathewson in chronological order, tracing the development of broadsword fencing over time.
Lessons of the Broadsword Masters is meant to be the most complete and useful reference work yet published on the use of the Highland broadsword, replacing all previous books by the author on the same topic. It will be useful for broadsword instructors, HEMA practitioners, and interested martial artists of all styles.




Broadsword_bookHighland Broadsword Lessons, Drills and Practices by Christopher Scott Thompson:
This book instructs you in the essentials of Highland swordsmanship, including stances, grips, footwork, and blade actions. After you’ve mastered these skills, you can test what you’ve learned with the free fencing and bouting exercises found before moving on to the disarm maneuvers and advanced fighting techniques.






DirkHighland Knife Fighting by Christopher Scott Thompson:
In this entertaining and informative look at the Highland dirk, author Christopher Thompson examines a number of Scottish historical and oral sources to document the role of the knife in Gaelic society. Although worn by all classes of society, the dirk was the primary weapon of the common clansmen, and since it was worn indoors as well as outdoors, it was the favored weapon for acts of revenge and self-defense. Highland Knife Fighting traces the historical roots of the dirk, which is believed to be descended from the medieval ballock dagger, and provides step-by-step instructions and photos in how the Highlanders used the knife. Lessons include holding, carrying and using the dirk with a sword and targe; choosing the proper guards; responding to sudden attacks from in and out of distance; using the dirk for the seven principal “bone-breakings”; and executing the throw from Highland wrestling. Also included are exercises and drills, including the advanced quickdraw drill, and combative techniques of the Scottish dirk dance positions.

CultureHighland Martial Culture by Christopher Scott Thompson:
This book examines the nature of the Gaelic warrior class and its martial training; the Gaelic duel and how it differed from the duel in continental Europe; the phenomenon of wandering swordsmen in Highland society; the Highland conception of honor; internal aspects of martial arts practice such as mental tricks, traditional charms and spells used in warfare; unusual skills such as the fast draw; and health practices associated with the warrior class.



Broadsword_germanHighland Broadsword by Heiko Große (German Text):
Eine umfassende Einführung in das schottische historische Fechten: Basierend auf zahlreichen zeitgenössischen Quellen und der Erfahrung aus deren praktischer Umsetzung, führt dieses Buch mit vielen Detailzeichnungen in die Grundlagen, wie Fußarbeit, Guards, Hiebe und Stiche, sowie fortgeschrittene Technikkonzepte, wie Konteraktionen, Würfe und Hebel aus Klingenbindungen und Schläge mit Basket-Hilt und Schwertknauf ein. Umfassend wird der Gebrauch des Broadsword als Ausgangsbasis vermittelt, darauf aufbauend folgt der Kampf mit Schwert und Schild, sowie eine Einführung in die Grundlagen des Nahkampfes mit dem Dirk (Dolch). Weitere Waffen wie das schottische Zweihandschwert, die Lochaber-Axt und der unbewaffnete Nahkampf bieten zusätzliche Informationen. Abgerundet durch zahlreiche Anekdoten aus dem Umfeld der schottischen Highland-Clans und der britischen Hochlandregimenter, wird ein historischer und praktischer Einblick in das schottische Fechten gegeben, der Anfänger und fortgeschrittene Fechter, sowie historisch Interessierte und Schottland-Fans gleichermaßen begeistern wird.

Heavy_StickSelf-Defense with the Heavy Stick by Timo Seppälä:
Many authors suggest the use of a lighter stick for self-defence. The lighter stick is faster and more manageable, and less likely to cause serious injuries. Depending on the situation, these are good and valid reasons to use a lighter stick. However, the heavy stick does give you a better workout. More importantly, the heavy stick has more potential to stop a determined attacker who may be under the influence of drugs such as Meth or PCP. Even though the stick is relatively heavy, it’s still possible to swing it rapidly by using both hands in concert. It is our opinion that a heavy walking stick is one of the most versatile legal weapons there is. In the system described here, we will be using elements from the various Irish styles in combination with concepts from Highland broadsword fencing. However, this method is not intended as a historical martial art, only as a practical system of self-defense with the heavy stick.

EncloseEnclose and Command: How to fight with Weapons by Christopher Scott Thompson:
The MacGregor Method is a system for instantly assessing any hand-to-hand weapon and using it effectively. It doesn’t matter if it’s an ancient weapon, a martial arts weapon, a weapon you’ve never seen, a personal carry weapon or any random object – if you understand the MacGregor Method you’ll know how to use it and use it effectively, and also how to defend yourself against it, even if you have no weapon. Even though the MacGregor Method as a system is new, these techniques are not- everything in this system is derived from the tested and proven methods of the broadsword, quarterstaff and other historical weapons, as described by Archibald MacGregor and other swordsmen of the past.


PaganThe Music of His Sword: Pagan Celtic Martial Arts by Christopher Scott Thompson:
This book examines the available evidence for the martial arts of the pagan Celts. Includes the weapons of the ancient Gauls, Irish, Picts and others, as well as an exploration of martial culture, warrior spirituality and the Celtic battle goddesses.






ScornersScorners of Death – Fighting Skills of the Medieval Gaelic Warrior: by Christopher Scott Thompson, Heiko Große, Randal Gustits and Ken Pfrenger: One of the first works to focus on the weapons and fighting skills of the medieval Gaelic warrior, Scorners of Death offers instruction in the use of the medieval Gaelic sword, word and buckler, two-handed sword and battle-axe (including both the Lochaber axe and the sparth axe of Ireland), as well as a detailed discussion of the warriors who used these weapons and the strategic context in which they fought.

7 thoughts on “Books on the Cateran System”

  1. Its almost impossible to get a copy of “Highland Martial Culture”. Is there any plans to release anything similar in the future?

    1. I fear it is not longer in print, sorry. Therefore some people on amazon demand ridiclulous high prices. But best go for the newer book “Lessons of the Broadsword Masters”, it is available prinz and kindle as well

  2. Any chance of an updated version of Highland Knife Fighting? Maybe from a different publisher? It’s sad to loose a resource like that.

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