Irish Stick-Fighter Making Film About His Father

I have been researching the history of Irish martial arts - styles of wrestling, boxing and stick-fighting - for about 30 years now. To the best of my knowledge, Glen Doyle of Newfoundland, Canada is the only person on earth who still practices a living style (not one recreated through books or manuals) of Irish stick-fighting. He learned and inherited this style from his father Gregory Doyle and now Glen is making a short film about his Dad, who passed away a few years ago. He's raising funds through IndieGoGo, and the title of the film is "Just A Beer."

I know you don't knowGlen or me, but if you'd like to help Glen honor his father - who bequeathed his family's style of Irish stick-fighting to all of us - please consider supporting this project. Glen is a great guy and his biggest dream in life is just to honor his dad through this film.

Views: 1538

Tags: Canada, Film

Comment by Fran Reddy on August 1, 2014 at 3:03pm

Very interesting that Glen is Canadian! Newfoundland has been a very large connection hub for Irish emigrants and has been since 1675 so I'm not surprised that we have this unique Irish cultural sport being handed down through the generations there. Good man for keeping the tradition going. I hope he does well with his film. Thanks for the post John!

Comment by John W. Hurley on August 1, 2014 at 7:46pm

Fran I read somewhere that the Irish have been living and (seasonally) working in Newfoundland for so long that it was the only place outside of Ireland that had it's own Gaelic name in the Irish language (Talamh an Éisc). I think a hugely under researched area is the degree to which native Irish traditions or beliefs - culture generally - has survived in the Irish Diaspora. But it is not researched because it is a very unpopular subject in Ireland. The result is that in some ways you can argue that the Irish outside of Ireland are Níos Gaelaí ná na Gaeil féin!

Comment by Richard R. Mc Gibbon Jr. on August 4, 2014 at 9:12am

Does Glen have a dojo (school) that teach this unique style of combat? I have been studying traditional martial arts for over 34 years and have found many local styles of combat and always find them interesting as they reflect the people who study it and pass it on to another generation.

Comment by John W. Hurley on August 4, 2014 at 3:38pm

Richard, Glen did have a school for Kung Fu instruction and then later opened it up to Irish stick-fighting. I think the Kung Fu school has since closed but that he still gives private instruction in Kung Fu from his home to folks who are professional martial artists. he also did a lot of cross training with professional ice skaters and hockeyplayers through his friendship with gold medalist Elvis Stojko. The Irish stick-fighting part of it..........oh boy, well first, his father did not want to teach people outside the family but Glen eventually got his permission to teach outside the family. So even though he did start teaching it and teaching it for free no less, the initial reaction by "reconstructionist" Western martial arts "authorities" (people who do things like medieval swordplay), was that it was impossible for this to have survived this long unknown in Newfoundland and that therefore it was either a fake or, as one guy from New Zealand asserted, that Glen was imagining the whole experience of having learned it! Most of these people were sort of Anglo-centric/anti-Irish to say the least; others were just plain jealous. In Phase II of the saga, people - including instructors from Ireland - would take a one or two day seminar, get a certificate and a photo with Glen, go home, and then the following week their website would say that they had a "black belt in Irish stick-fighting" and 20 years of experience in it and that were now giving classes in it charging huge sums of money. And then it would be Dog Brothers stick-fighting or something else with 2 or 3 things they learned from Glen thrown. Other people were less obvious about it but they would start mixing some techniques from Glen with other styles of stick-fighting that they were already teaching after promising not to do that. And with all the work and commitment that Glen would put into this, for free no less.....the only thing Glen ever asked was that if he taught you the style, that you didn't alter it in any huge way and that you did not mix it with other things, that you preserved it as he had learned it from his Dad. And he only did that because his father made him promise to do that because he did not want the style watered down into something useless and fake like so many things are today. As a result of numerous experiences like that Glen just stopped teaching it. I know one of his former students gives seminars once in a while (in California I think) and he does teach exactly what Glen taught. And there are some of Glen's old clips up on Youtube that he put up to let people see what the style was like. 

I only learned a little bit of it but I can tell you that even there, there were certain movements in it that Glen would say "this is what my Dad showed me for the next move but I'm not sure exactly why or where it comes from" other than that it was a natural progression between two other moves. And I could then literally open a broadsword fencing manual from the 18th century (that I knew Glen did not know about) and show you that exact movement. The style is legit, but sadly like so much else in Irish culture, people understand so little about their own past with it that they just refuse to support it in a positive way. Any other country the government would be doing everything possible to preserve it with funding, but I guess it does not meet the politically correct criteria to be able to do that. 

Comment by John W. Hurley on August 4, 2014 at 3:43pm

Sorry, meant to send this link of the video:

Comment by Alannah Ryane on August 5, 2014 at 1:52pm

You are right about the Irish in NFLD.  Pretty much all of mine came through Bull's Bay then on to Nova Scotia including my Doyles (just discovered) in Charlottetown PEI from Wexford back in the 1700's all pre-famine.

Comment by Richard R. Mc Gibbon Jr. on August 6, 2014 at 11:18am

Thanks John with the information. I watched his video and was impressed with the techniques, very basic and very effective and has a feel of an older tradition. I have been involved in Shotokan Karate for over 34 years and have seen what you described many times. Reminds me of an old joke: " How many black belts does it take to screw in a light bulb? At least one hundred !!! One actually screws it in with little fan fare, the rest argue on how they could have done it better!  Again thanks for the information,.... Slainte!


You need to be a member of The Wild Geese to add comments!

Join The Wild Geese

The Wild Geese Shop

Get your Wild Geese merch here ... shirts, hats, sweatshirts, mugs, and more at The Wild Geese Shop.

Irish Heritage Partnership

Start a Business Today!

Adobe Express:
What will you create today?


Extend your reach with The Wild Geese Irish Heritage Partnership.

Congrats to Our Winners

© 2023   Created by Gerry Regan.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service