Holistic Investigation of Stick-fighting Culture and Knowledge (HOLISTICK):
Musical Decolonization of 19th-Century Irish Faction Combat Skills to Foster Healthy 21st-Century Shillelagh Walking Stick Martial Arts.
The Shillelagh Studies website was founded to showcase my research on the music of 19th-century faction fighting in Ireland, as well as more recent songs/tunes that involve shillelaghs. More broadly, I’m interested in the martial culture of Irish stick-fighting, seeking to reveal meanings that are obscured by colonialist and nationalist histories. Phase one of the project focuses on archival materials (songs, poems, images, texts, etc.) being uncovered in Ireland, as well as literature review of existing research. I’ll be posting my findings on this blog as I go, but eventually I’ll publish full-length articles, too. My objective is to counter negative discourses about Irish stick-fighting, with the intention of assisting efforts to revitalize shillelagh martial arts and their dissemination worldwide.
I’m an ethnomusicologist by training, and my thematic area of focus is the intersections of music and martial arts from a cultural perspective. Since the age of six, I’ve practised a wide range of martial arts and combat sports, but I completed the Sum Nung/Yuen Kay-san/Guangzhou style of Wing Chun kung fu under Toronto, Canada’s Master Henry Lo [盧建雄師傅], as well as received lineage transmission in Taishan Choi Lay Fut from Master Jim Chan [陳振文師傅] of the Hong Luck Kung Fu Club. Most of my research has been on Chinese kung fu, lion dance, and percussion. As a student of Glen Doyle’s family style of Irish stick-fighting (Rince an Bata Uisce Bheatha), I’m also interested in music and martial arts from Ireland. Shillelagh Studies is style-agnostic, however, and will include research on other extant traditional styles like Antrim Bata, as well as newly invented systems like Maide Uisce and historical reconstructions like Cumann Bhata.
This research was made possible by a James M. Flaherty Research Scholarship from the Ireland Canada University Foundation, with the assistance of the Government of Canada/avec l’appui du gouvernement du Canada.