The Doyle System
Doyle Irish Stick Fighting (nicknamed Rince an Bata Uisce Bheatha, or Dance of the Whiskey Stick) is a devastatingly effective two-handed combative system developed well over 200 years ago by the Doyle family in Ireland. The two-handed Doyle family style of Irish stick fighting was developed after the traditional one-handed styles had become ingrained in the Irish lifestyle.
The originator of the style was a pugilist from a Doyle family living in the west of Ireland, who was hired to “put things right between families” and sometimes guard illegal businesses or even distilleries (this gave rise to one of the rumors that originated the term ‘Whiskey’ in the nickname of the style). He applied his boxing expertise to the existing art of stick fighting and changed the standard one-hand grip of the bata to a two-hand grip and Rince an Bata Uisce Bheatha was born. While most Irish styles used one-handed methods (much like fencing), the Doyle style evolved from a one-handed long-range style to a much more aggressive "close-quarter", two-handed style.
The art of stick fighting was passed down from generation to generation, each father passing his techniques and nuances of style onto his sons. This system was brought to Canada in the early 1800s via Maurice Doyle who settled in the rough and tumble landscape of the Atlantic's Newfoundland coast. As most of the stick fighting styles eventually became extinct in Ireland (due to sociopolitical changes, access to other forms of modern weapons, etc.), the Doyle system was practiced, guarded, further evolved, and passed on through the Doyle family residing in Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula.
The system continued to be passed from father to son exclusively in the family until 1998 when Glen Doyle asked his father, Gregory Doyle, to allow him to teach outside the family. Originally, saying no, Glen’s father eventually relented and gave permission to his son to teach the system to anyone with the heart and conviction to preserve it.
According to the late Gregory Doyle, a Rince an Bhata Uisce Bheatha stylist, the word ‘Dance’ was inducted into the nickname of the style to disguise the fighting art the Doyle men were learning. Saying ‘Whiskey Stick Dance’ wouldn’t raise as many eyebrows as ‘Whiskey Stick Fighting’ would have. So, Doyle men could talk openly to each other about the style, but easily maintain covert training classes.
(Source: Glen Doyle)
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