Dance is one of the warrior’s oldest methods of transmitting and preserving successful
battlefield experiences and is the foundation of many older martial art forms and kata that exist today. Combined with music
it was an effective method of transmitting the physical and psychological rehearsal of fighting from one generation to another,
using pre-arranged steps and patterns to mimick fighting skills, martial prowess and heroic deeds in battle.
Dance was particularly useful to a warrior society during periods of government
prohibitions, the Filipinos under the Spanish occupation and the Indonesians under the Dutch with their weapons confiscated
and their training prohibited, preserved their native fighting skills under the disguise of harmless-looking stick and step
Scotland there were several attempts to proscribe the weapons of the Highlander, a number of 'dances' using sticks
are known to have been practiced during this period, these include the 'Bruicheath' or Battle Dance and the 'Dannsadh
Bhiodaig' or Dirk Dance.
Later this was one of the few countries in Europe where the military encouraged
the practice of combative dances and continued to teach them alongside modern mechanised warfare - although these dances would
later become known as a form of callesthetics when their true martial significance was forgotten.
To the untutored eye there has been a tendency to regard the benign gestures of today’s
Highland dancing, performed by young girls at Highland games around the world, as the remants of a quaint traditional folkdance.
But there was a time when it was regarded as a sign of male prowess and taught to boys from a young age, along with the traditional
Highland weapons of war, the broadsword, dirk and targe. It is true that many of the dances today contain relatively recent
choreography but elements of older forms of Highland dance may have preserved techniques designed to drill simple but effective
methods of close combat skills including footwork that kicks, sweeps, trips and throwing techniques, key elements of medieval
wrestling styles which are still practiced in traditional European folk wrestling, including Highland Backhold, Irish Collar
and Elbow and Icelandic-Viking ‘Glima’ wrestling.