Sli beatha

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Sli Beatha (‘Way of Life’ in Irish Gaelic, also literally translated as “occupation”) is a hybrid martial art and life development system based on Celtic principles and philosophy[citation needed] developed by former Special Operations police officer, Craig Smith.[citation needed] The system is designed to integrate the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of an individual through training and study of personal defence, fitness, and survival.

It should be noted that the system is not based on techniques or tactics used by Iron Age Celts (as the term “Celtic”, used in common language, has a rather generic meaning), but is, instead, based on the philosophy of Celtic individuality and integrated physical/mental/spiritual aspects of the individual [1]. A formal study of Celtic and Irish history is required for certain rank requirements.

Sli Beatha was developed as a modern eclectic system of personal defence and life development. The martial aspect is based on modern hand to hand combat techniques with a focus on striking, though grappling techniques are included.

The tactical and strategic aspects of Sli Beatha focus on personal combatives. The techniques are similar to those found in Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Karate, Jujutsu, Judo, and Aikijutsu and include a wide array of defensive and offensive hand/elbow/knee strikes, kicks, blocks, parries, traps, take-downs, locks/chokes, and finishing techniques. The weapons training focuses on defence against firearm, blade, and baton threats and attacks and includes training in firearms, blades, batons, and modern weapons use.

The martial foundation is based on the five principles of personal combat:

The first Sli Beatha classes were taught in Warrensburg, Missouri in October 1996. The classes would spread to nearby Central Missouri State University where a student organization, the Central Martial Arts Club, was formed to provide classes in Sli Beatha.

Sli Beatha student Duane Hamacher later attended the University of Missouri in Columbia and founded the Mizzou Martial Arts Club (2000-2006) to provided classes in Sli Beatha. The application of Sli Beatha to Mixed Martial Arts allowed the club to sponsor tournaments and events in Pankration which attracted a wide range of students [1]. The Mizzou Pankration Team was formed in 2001 as part of the club to compete in and host Pankration/MMA tournaments, seminars, and events.[2]

In 2001, a Sli Beatha student, Lee Whitaker, won the women’s division of the World Pankration Championships in Chicago [3] In 2002, the Mizzou Pankration Team was designated as a Champion Team by the World Pankration Federation after placing first or second in overall team winnings at all tournaments in which they competed. [4]

Craig Smith (Ceim 26) and Duane Hamacher (Ceim 20) are the only official instructors of Sli Beatha.

From 1996-2003, Smith published Grandmaster Magazine, a magazine dedicated to realistic martial arts, fitness, and combat sports, based in Kansas City. [5]

Comprised of 33 levels (called “ceims” in Gaeilge), the system is divided into three main sections:

1. Student – Physical Training (Traenail Fisiceach)

2. Practitioner – Mental Development (Forbairt Intinne)

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