Gathering of the Clans 2018

The 14th Gathering of the Clans will take place again this year in the heart of Kilkenny.

Taking place over two days it will include a wide variety of martial arts both Japanese and Chinese.

Jiu-Jitsu, Kung Fu and other mat based martial arts

An unprescedented array of instructors from a wide range of martial arts will be teaching at this year's Gathering.


On the Friday kyu-jutsu students will be able to take part in an outdoor shooting competition and then on the Saturdy sudents who are not taking part in the mat-based classes will be able to participate in a seminar at the Dragons Lair dojo.

Gathering of the Clans 2016

Gathering of the Clans 2016 Kilkenny is known as the medieval city as it is home to the medieval mile. The city has countless historic buildings and a selection of experiences from walking tours to city bus tours to numerous forms of entertainment which can be found among the many bars, pubs, and restaurants located within Kilkenny city. The lonely planet guide has listed Kilkenny city in its top 21 places to visit in Ireland and the first weekend in March attracted over 100 people to the annual Gathering of the clans seminar hosted by the dragons lair martial arts club. The seminar was officially opened by Councillor Andrew McGuinness who praised the efforts of the dragons lair club in bringing jiu-jitsu to a wide range of people over the years. McGuinness welcomed everyone to Kilkenny and wished all those present a wonderful time at the seminar. He complimented the large number of people and was delighted to see that Kilkenny city would benefit from the visitors for the weekend.

The Kilkenny jiu-jitsu club is now in the twelfth year of holding its annual seminar attracting participants from all over Europe. The seminar known to many as the Gathering of the Clans has become a must for those within the jiu-jitsu community and those from many other martial arts also. People travelled from within Ireland and from England, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland to name but a few. The dragons lair has two dojos located in Cork and Carlow with numerous students travelling from both counties to take part in the seminar.

As with every year the Gathering as it’s known as is opened with all students greeting the instructors in a formal line up. Shihan Larry McEnroe (7th dan Jiu-jitsu) of the Dragons Lair dojo in Kilkenny opens the days training by welcoming everyone in attendance and naming each of the 17 instructors present. He hands the mic to Soke Richard Morris (10th dan jiu-jitsu) and founder of jiu-jitsu International, Soke Morris reaffirms all that Shihan McEnroe has said and gives his own warm welcome to all. With over 50 years’ experience in jiu-jitsu Soke Morris is one of the most respected and honoured masters of the martial arts world. Before the seminar officially begins there is some important business to attend to as the previous evening saw the testing of two students for dan grades. Denis Bergmann (Germany) graded for his 1st dan black belt in jiu-jitsu and Diana Shule (Germany) graded for her 3rd dan in jiu-jitsu, both were successful. They were called out to receive their awards and certificates with applause from the students on the mat. Also at this time Shihan Marcus Bartsch was awarded his 7th dan (Jiu-jitsu) and the title of Kyoshi for his contribution to martial arts, along with a member of the host club the dragons lair. Walter Tallis has given twenty years of service to the Kilkenny jiu-jitsu club and in recognition for this he was awarded his 4th dan and the title of Renshi. He now holds the most senior rank in the dragons lair after Shihan McEnroe.

The day started with students warming up to the energetic movements of Tae Bo master Mark Bonner. He had everyone enjoying the warm up with music blasting out over the PA system getting people pumped and ready for the days training. The instructors moved around the six mats and displayed many moves from a wide range of martial arts including self-defence, combat, and weapons techniques. There was an array of styles being exhibited with masters from many schools showing and instructing students. The gathering of the clans event is very popular with quite a few travelling every year to Kilkenny to take part. After becoming fast friends with all at the dragons lair dojo some of the regular instructors are Kyoshi Oliver Gugel (8th dan Kappo Ryu Jujitsu) he fascinates students with his skills at hojojutsu (the art of restraining a person with rope or cord). Kyoshi Marcus Bartsch (7th dan Jiu-jitsu) elicits many reactions of wonder when he demonstrates his expertise on self-defence techniques. Shihan Dogan Oracki (6th dan Aikijutsu) wows students with his ability to control a person’s movement and disrupt their balance by taking them to the ground. Hanshi Olu Bamgbose (9th dan Jiu-jitsu) displays his skill of useful simple techniques with devastating consequences.

This year saw a new event take place during the gathering of the clans as the kyujutsu club within the dragons lair held the first international kyujutsu seminar, held over two days it consisted of three different shooting experiences. Kyujutsu is the art of archery and was originally practiced by the Japanese samurai class. A Japanese long bow known as a yumi bow was used; it measured 2.30 meters or 90.5 inches. It was used on horseback and out on the battlefield where the archers moved in formation firing arrows quickly and accurately at targets some distance away from them. This year saw the participation of over forty people in the kyujutsu seminar, some of whom had little to no experience shooting yumi bows but with the guidance of the Kilkenny kyujutsu club they soon picked up the basics of firing. The first round of archery was with 3D animal targets, this event was held in the forest of Kyle in Freshford, Co. Kilkenny. Not even a blanket of snow on the ground or freezing temperatures could dull the enthusiasm people had for firing at the targets as they moved about on foot in the woods. The group moved onto the next event later in the day, a competition round, it was held indoors within the dragons lair on the traditional Japanese firing range which has a range of 20 meters. As the teams stepped up to fire each took three turns, a tie breaker happened so a shoot off occurred with two teams battling it out for the win. This concluded the first day’s events with a final round of clout shooting to take place.

As the seminar got underway with students on the mats, the archers got suited up in traditional Japanese dress consisting of a hakama, gi top, and an obi. The group made their way outside to be met with an area set up for the clout shoot. The archers stood on the firing point aiming up into the sky firing their arrows and watching as they landed over 100 meters away raining down on the cut out samurai targets set out. As the hours passed the targets were frequently hit and with their bows in hand and arrows ready the archers put on a demonstration for all in attendance at the gathering of the clans. The first shot drew exclamations of wonder and amazement from the crowd. The archers fired in formation and under the command of a senior student speaking the instructions in Japanese. When all arrows had been fired a shout of Kara-ya was heard coming from the group to signify that they were empty of arrows. When the demonstration was over a loud cheer came from the watching crowd with many congratulations passed around the archers. They had displayed proficiency in an ancient martial art form that is rarely seen nowadays. The final aspect of the kyujutsu seminar was a workshop held showing how to make bow strings, arrows, and care for the equipment.

As the gathering of the clans seminar drew to a close all instructors and students lined up one final time, Shihan McEnroe thanked everyone for coming and hoped to see all of the them back next year. Everyone bowed to the instructors and all bowed off the mats for another year

December 2015 - Grading

The Dragons Lair Jiu-jitsu dojo located in Kilkenny City conducted a grading on Sunday the 13th of December 2015, the grading took place under the guidance of Shihan Larry McEnroe (7th dan) and Sensei Walty Tallis (3rd dan). A large group of students were grading for many different belts with three students grading for their 1st Dan black belts. The grading took place over the course of seven hours with each group completing their assigned belt and stepping off the mat to allow the others to continue. The black belt students spent all day on the mat displaying their skills with each student giving all of their energy into performing techniques.

As part of the Dan grading each student must show proficiency in a range of areas including defending against multiple attackers and weapon work, it was a tough test of the students mettle as they fought all through the day. Traditional Japanese Jiu-jitsu has a long syllabus of techniques to be learned and it can take between 5-7 years of training to earn a black belt. . The three Dan grade students were Bonnie Fennelly, James Delaney, and Noel Bolger. All have been training in the art of Jiu-Jitsu for many years with countless hours spent in the dojo preparing for the grading. On the day of their grading all were nervous about what was to come, they were the first students to be graded solely under Shihan McEnroe they proved themselves well and made their Sensei proud by earning their black belts in one of the toughest grading’s to be held in the club.

Bonnie Fennelly currently trains in a number of martial arts including Jiu-Jitsu, Kenjutsu, and Taekwondo. As well as Jiu-jitsu James Delaney trains in the Japanese art of Kyujutsu (the art of the bow). He is a skilled archer and he currently holds a number of Irish titles. Noel Bolger has a wide knowledge on groundwork techniques that he incorporates into his Jiu-Jitsu making him a formidable opponent on the mat. Each of the three Dan grade students had their own reasons for taking up jiu-jitsu, for Bonnie it was for self-defence, she feels it is important for girls and women of all ages to know how to protect themselves. For James and Noel it was to keep fit and learn a new skill at the same time.

After earning their Dan grades, Bonnie, James, and Noel are passing on the knowledge and skills they have developed to the next group of students that come to train at the Dragons Lair. This year alone has seen more students passing through to black belt level than any other with twelve students completing a Dan grading.

When one enters the Dragons Lair dojo there is a saying on the wall that reads ‘the teacher opens the door but you must enter by yourself’ many students have passed this wall but only those who work hard and put in the time have passed it as a Dan grade and this is due to the efforts of the black belt instructors at the club all of which give their time to pass on what they have learned and the Dragons Lair is always open to new members wishing to try Jiu-Jitsu

12th Anniversary 

The 12th Anniversary of The Gathering of the Clans ,will take place on the 4th and 5th of March in Kilkenny Ireland .This is one of the biggest Jiu-Jitsu ,Kyujutsu,Kenjutsu, seminars in Ireland ,17 master grade Instructors 1 grand masters and 170 students. Starts 9.30am Saturday  5th March for more Info contact Larry on 00 353 87 246 5442.