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Rince an Bhata Uisce Bheatha


Rince an Bhata Uisce Bheatha (pronounced rinkan watta ishka vaaha) is Gaelic for Whiskey Stick Dancing. However, Rince an Bhata Uisce Bheatha isn't a form of Irish dance, it's a Doyle Clan's style of Irish stick fighting -- the martial art most Irishmen used to settle their disputes in the 18th and 19th centuries -- so the only dancing you will be doing will be at the party after the brawl.

Irish stick fighting emerged sometime in the 17th century when the Irish were banned from owning formal weapons. At that time the innocent looking walking stick, called a bata or shillelagh, came into use as a serious weapon. In the centuries that followed, stick fighting became an integral part of Irish culture. It was used in Faction Fights, wedding and funeral brawls, and settling disputes.

The two-handed Rince an Bhata Uisce Bheatha style of Irish stick fighting was developed after the traditional one-handed styles of Irish stick fighting 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 distilleries (this gave rise to one of the rumors that originated the term ‘Whiskey’ in the name of the style). He applied his boxing expertise to the existing art of stick fighting and changed the standard one-handed grip of the bata to a two-handed grip and Rince an Bhata Uisce Bheatha was born.

According to the late Gregory Doyle, a Rince an Bhata Uisce Bheatha stylist, the word ‘Dance’ was inducted into the name 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.

The art of stick fighting was passed down from generation to generation, each father passing his techniques and nuances of style on to his sons. In this way, Rince an Bhata Uisce Bheatha was passed down through numerous Doyles to one Edward Doyle who emigrated to the island of Newfoundland around the year 1867. Newfoundland, was pretty much an isolated island with a large Irish population so many of the old Irish customs and traditions were not lost as the 20th century progressed. Edward passed on the Doyle stick fighting art to his son Christopher, who in turn passed the art down to one of his sons, Gregory Doyle who in turn taught Glen, his son. Glen Doyle began learning Rince an Bhata Uisce Bheatha at the age of seven. Glen, now residing in Toronto, is the source for this information.

                                                                              Greg Doyle                            Glen Doyle


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