Kippen is Irish for “twig” or “small stick”.
Now, a kippeen’s just a bit of wood, and we make them when we find a staff that we can’t make a shillelagh out of, or if the apprentice has been getting underfoot and needs something to do.
The reason we sell them is for people who’ve never handled acacia wood before, it’s well worth getting a sense of how beautiful acacia looks in person, and how really light-weight it is.
If you’re thinking about buying a shillelagh it’s a way you can get a sense of what we make, and get something useful in the bargain.
Kippeens do have their uses;
Being generally roustabout types we occasionally get asked to teach someone the finer points of fighting as we know them. Kippeens were something we made as a teaching tool for just that purpose.
Imagine, if you had a big scary man tell you he planned on coming over in ten minutes and beating the daylights out of you, you’d be scared. If you’re not a violent type your mind would be casting around for what to do … how do I knock a man out, how do I stop him from knocking me out…
There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance that comes up, panic by too many options… what do you do?
A kippeen is a tool we use to teach the local lads (well, the sensible ones) a way to fight that they can learn in a few minutes and be able to bring to bear if they need it. A simple approach that simplifies that panic down to a couple of good options.
One of our lads was a soldier, and modern soldiers aren’t taught to punch with a closed fist like boxers – simply because if they break their hand on some godforsaken battlefield….they’re done for, they can’t shoot or drive or use a radio… they’re out of action for a long time.
The same is true for a rural labourer, back in the old days if you broke your hand on some local ruffian’s head, he’d wake up with a headache which was gone by afternoon, and you’d be out of work for six months and in a bad way indeed.
Holding a kippeen in your hand enables you to deliver what those lads in the white pyjamas call a “tetsui” or “hammer fist” strike. Forehand or backhand it delivers a lot of force with little risk of injury (to you).
Miss by a little and you might still hit a man with your wrist or forearm – and even a middling tap to the jaw will set a big man to dreamland.