1. Jonathan Randall

    Jonathan Randall Senior Master

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    From WIKIPEDIA:

    Dirk is a Scots word for a long dagger; sometimes a cut-down sword blade mounted on a dagger hilt, rather than a knife blade. The word dirk could have possibly derived from the Gaelic word sgian dearg (red knife). It may also have been a corruption of the Low German words Dulk or Dolk. The shift from dearg to dirk is very minimal.
    In Bronze Age and Iron Age Scotland and Ireland, the dirk was actually considered to be a sword. Its blade length and style varied, but it is generally 8-14 inches.
    Dirks were made with either double-edged or single-edged blades, and there was no standard blade configuration. Reference books covering naval dirks invariably show the popularity of both blade types. As a consequence, historically there were about as many naval dirks mounting single-edged blades as those with double-edged blades. Some dirks have single-edged blades that also have a false edge near the tip, a feature that could be useful in a backcut.
    In medieval Scotland, the dirk was a backup to the broadsword, and was wielded by the left hand while the scabbard was carried on the arm. Dirks were used to swear an oath upon in Celtic cultures. After the Battle of Culloden, the British government troops were aware that the Highlanders normally swore on their dirks, so, to prevent future uprisings or rebellions against the throne, they made them swear on oath never to "possess any gun, sword, or pistol, or to use tartan: "... and if I do so may I be cursed in my undertakings, family and property, may I be killed in battle as a coward, and lie without burial in a strange land, far from the graves of my forefathers and kindred; may all this come across me if I break my oath." Nearly every Scottish male at the time of the oath had a dirk. This was because most Scots were too poor to buy a sword. The dirk was small and was carried everywhere the owner went. The dirk was worn in plain view suspended from a belt at the waist.
    Another shorter dagger tucked into a coat sleeve or stocking as part of Highland dress is known as a Sgian Dubh, derived from the arm pit dagger or sgian achlias. To this day, a real or false dirk is sometimes worn as a part of traditional Scottish costume.
    Other meanings of 'dirk' as a weapon are
    • a side arm worn by officers, midshipmen, and cadets of the world's navies.
    • a short-bladed weapon used in the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1500-1100 BC).
    • a thrown weapon, as opposed to a melee weapon.
    • a short dagger used by Pirates.
    • a small, straight-bladed dagger carried for personal protection.

     
  2. Ken Pfrenger

    Ken Pfrenger Green Belt

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    A fellow named Louie Pastore in Scotland has been doing quite a bit of work on reviving the use of the dirk via the info found in the Max dirk dance he was lucky anough to learn. He has a website here:
    http://dirkdance.tripod.com/id6.html
    Some info there but unfortunately the article on the dance is coming up as not available. I will have to try and find out what happened to that.

    Back in May I did get a chance to see some of the reconstruction that Chris Thompson of the Cateran Society has been working on. Interesting stuff!
     
  3. Jonathan Randall

    Jonathan Randall Senior Master

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    Interesting - and a good reminder that the Asian arts are NOT the only ones with such a rich history.
     
  4. mrhnau

    mrhnau Senior Master

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    I actually ran across the Dirk Dance, and was about to start a thread about it, until I found this :) I'll have to look at the resources already posted. I did find this one though. Being a bit Scottish, I did find it rather interesting :)
     
  5. Ken Pfrenger

    Ken Pfrenger Green Belt

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  6. louie

    louie Yellow Belt

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    Hi Ken...

    Came across the conversation, hope you don't mind me butting in...

    The version of the Dirk Dance I was taught is the Highland version and not the Manx one. It was taught to me by a former pupil of dance researcher Tom Flett who recovered the dance in Canada in the 1950's. The one mentioned in Wikipedia....
    Unlike other sword dances, the weapon is held in the hand and is used to create guards & cuts while moving in a set pattern. The kicks and foot positions could be translated as kicks, leg-locks and sweeps used in Highland, Irish and Icelandic wrestling.
    Chris' book will give you some idea of the research into the dance although I've yet to read it myself!!!!! (I didn't realise Chris had got a deal with Paladin, I thought it was going to be another Self-Press!!!!!)
    Anyway I'm hoping to do something more detailed on the subject and an article will appear in April's 'Martial Arts Illustrated' which will feature my search for surviving Indigenous martial arts in Scotland.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]Louie (Inverclyde)
    [/FONT]
     
  7. Ken Pfrenger

    Ken Pfrenger Green Belt

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    Hi louie, great to see you here. I guess I just misremebered it as being the Manx you learned....do you have any info on the Manx dance?
     
  8. louie

    louie Yellow Belt

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    Hi Ken....

    Mona Douglas is credited with reviving/restoring/re-inventing(?) the Manx Dirk Dance, which from it's description is unlike the Highland version I was taught.

    http://www.george-broderick.de/essays/MD_TEXTS_2up.pdf

    The description is somewhere in my files I'll dig it out!

    Louie123
     

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