Saif oo Terse (Sword Dance) 

Here Jamil Eid Khonaisser (Canada) and Naamet Yaffet (Brazil) 

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Also from Al Nahar Newpaper 
of August 11, 1998 

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The following photos are courtesy of Jamil Eid Khonaisser:

1972 -- Kassouff Hotel  
By order of the President of Lebanon, Suleiman Franjieh, 
to train the Lebanese Army the art of Saif oo Terse

From Left:  Master Teacher Jamil Eid Khonaisser, Samir Abou Nakhle Moujaes, Elias Katool Al Rihbani, Salim Abd Al Ahed, Antoine Baaklini, Fouad Rookoz, president of joint Lebanese forces for martial arts, (Raiees al Itihad Al Lubnani Lil Silah Al Abiad), Poet (Al Shaeer) Saeed Akl, George Shallita Al Bowari, (ibn Asad Daweek), Faisal Barakaet and Ghazi Barakaet.

Saeed Akl planned to initiate teaching Saif oo Terse in the Lebanese Schools as a classical sport in tribute to our Great Grandfathers. 

Jamil at his Garden in Shweir

Stone carving at his aunt Nawfa Khnaisser's home

Salim in traditional attire and with his aunt Nawfa Khnaisser

Jamil Demonstrating at his nephew's restuarant


Jamil, Emile and Salim at Emile's home in Shweir

Jamil with his aunt Nawfa Khnaisser

Waleed, Salim, Joseph, Emile and Jamil

Thank you Jamil for providing us with these great pictures.

Excerpt of  an Email from Hilda Sawaya RE: interviews with the Master of Saif oo Terse, Jamil Eid Khonaisser: 

Sent on August 8 from Tennessee, USA
I had the chance to chat with Jamil and Leila Eid. The conversation was really enlightening.  I for one thing gave up the idea of trying to trace the families of Shweir to a few individuals. It is impossible! This is not like the Mayflower "...and there were those people on board and here they are now" kind of deal.... The people of Shweir had been there for litrary centuries. They have strived to survive using what the land could provide. So the valley was fertile, hence they cultivated it. They knew how to make swords and knives and were known since the 8th century for that "art"and they did. They in their skill were matched by Baalbak and Zahle'. The makers of those tools were also proffecient in using them so they perfected the "art" of knighthood as well as war.  

Metal -and specifically iron- was brought to Shweir from Marjaba for that purpose...  So here we are brave souls in the middle of the mountains making swords and good at wars.

Troops marched to war to the sound of music, and if victorious, those troops marched back to the sound of music too. With time, the maneuvers of the knights in war merged with the music to become the sword game of seif oo terse. In 1826 the game was formalized and perfected into an art to be taught by masters to well, able bodied, highly disciplined, brave and obedient students.

Masters demanded full attention and obedience from their students. The training was rigorous. By the time Mr. Jamil Eid learned the art of Seif Oo Terse in 1949, the program of study included four hours of training a day for six months. Those initial months were spent by the student trying to learn the evasive maneuvers of the master. He also had to concentrate and be attentive to the opponent's hand maneuveurs so that these moves can be safely dodged.

It seems the practice is grueling for one ought to develope the discipline to concentrate on the oponent unnerved and had to react quickly yet safely. Not an easy feat... It is worth noting that swords were not used in the first six months of training, STICKS were! Also the terse was not used, instead a leather kind of shield filled with cotton or feathers was used. Jamil said that he'd go home bruised and swollen all over each day from all the beatings that he had endured due to his initial inexperience. Yet he had a great deal of respect for his master. And when he got to use the sword in the game he was totally confident and never hurt himself. ( I 've got to think of him making Tabouleh!)

Those who ended up learning the "game" well, excelled in self defense and were unmatched in their bravery.  The Shweirieh, being in the mountaines had to use the rocks to build their homes, so they got to perfect the art of working and building with stone.  They became famous for it. They went all over Lebanon building homes and Palaces- most notably the Palace of Beit-eddine. As the Shweirieh built in the day time they played and taught the seif ou terse game in the evenings transforming it to an art form, in the absence of real war. However, the skill acquired in learning it was the skill needed by an accomplished knight.

And there goes our legendary bravery!  Jamil relates in his book how one of the players used to balance himself standing on the back of a horse with 2 swords, one in each hand and smoking the "argheileh" that was balanced at the same time on his head, unfortunately the picture of that knight is too old and could not be published in Jamil's book.  

Jamil Eid is also known for his playing the clarinet and he played along side my uncle Edmond Touma who played the trumpet in the Shweir band. By the way this was as much news to me as to any of you readers out there! 

Jamil excelled in Dance too, he was a member of the Al-Anwar dance troop and then a member of the Romeo Lahoud dance troop participating in the festivals with Sabah, Wadieh el Saafi and others in Baalbeck.  

Teaching Dabkeh to people in Edmonton in 1972 was what got him and his family there in the first place. When the war broke out in 1975, they settled in Canada for good, raising their four children while he taught Dabkeh for 19yrs. Mrs. Eid worked as a nurse assistant in nursing homes, and now she works in a day care. Three of the children are married, the eldest being a computer programmer/engineer, the second son owning the paint supply shop, one daughter, married to an American from Penssylvania, honeymooned in Lebanon, whereas the youngest girl is still in College in Edmonton.

Mr. and Mrs Jamil Eid, it was a pleasure talking to you, I hope I was fair in portraying what you told me. The story of your family is an inspiration to many of us and I wish you all well.


PS. please let me know if I need to make corrections to the content of the text. It is not inclusive of all the details. It is just a synopsis.  

Many thanks to "The Master" of Saif oo Terse, Jamil Asaad Eid Khonaisser for providing us with a treasure of our heritage and a glimpse to our history in the form of a book that he spent many years researching lots of data and collecting old photos with captions identifying the individuals who appear in them.   Perhaps you could identify your great great grandfather in them. 

Don't let the English translation "Sword Dance" diminish the importance of this fine art form of international sport.  Saif oo Terse used by a master  in close quarters can be more potent than several men with conventional weapons.

Although contents of the book are copy righted by Jamil, he welcomes the Shweirieh to utilize the information for their personal use.    If you have any questions re: the book or to contact Jamil, you can reach him by email via his son Salim in Edmonton, Canada at

Click on small picture (thumbnail) to enlarge it,
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Translation of of photo titles and captions

Shepherd of the Book
Very distinguished ex-partiot
Fouad Mitri Abd el Noor Moujaes (R)
demonstrating in Dhour with
Adeeb Khalil Aoun Moujaes (L)
in honor and memory of their grandfathers
(the young man waving Center Left  is Nabil Matar)

The author and
Master of Saif oo Terse

Jamil Asaad Eid Khonaisser




The swords of Shweir
at Eid al Mughtaribeen
of 1967

Sami Abu Jawdeh (R)
The Book Master (L)


Shweir's "Step Dance"





The Knight
Ibrahim Semaan Mirhej (R 1800-1887)

Ayoub al Hamed (C)

Kublaan Dahdooh (L)



Kublaan Girjis Dahdooh

and his son Saad




Salim Nassr Khnaisser (1861-1888)

After he was barred from carrying swords 




Khalil Faris Gibrael Moujaes (1871-1945)




Mikhail Arbeed (C)

1930, Roof of Zghaib family Home in Shweir:
Faris Nimr Nassif (hat on cane)
Girji Matar (Center), to his (R) is
Sulieman Abd el Ahad, sword dancers are:
Toufic Dahdooh (R) & Haikal Halabi (L)


1930  Celebrations

in front of
Ain el Aboo Spring


During the reign of
the distinguished Adeeb Moujaes

Shweir Band "Al Naubeh)
Sword masters:  Khalil Eghnatious Sawaya (R)
Najib Shallita al Bowari (L) and
Toufic Iblaan Dahdooh (C)


Mikhail Abu Arbeed (R)
Girjis Shaheen Khnaisser (C)
Book Master, Jamil Khonaisser (L)




Tanios Abi Nader Khnaisser




Naoome Elias Shallita al Boowari
Naoome & Najib al Boowari
demonstrating under areeshe "grape vines"
at festival of Dhour el Shweir
honoring "wazeer" Gibraeel Baik al Murr


Sulieman Agha al Adem (1830-1915)

Sulieman and son Kazhia
at Chicago World Expo

Francis Mirshed Emad (R)
Joseph Agha Adem (L)
From Haret Sakher, Jounieh

Women of Shweir:  
Mary Moujaes,
wife of Khalil G.F. Moujaes, was one of the best Women I met in my life. Khalil Moujaes was my mom's uncle, we used to call her Teta Mary. She lived in the house that is adjacent to Cinema Roxy (by the way that is the first house built in Dhour by Farris Gibrael Moujaes, check "Did you Know")..... Khalil's son Salim had the first intermarriages between the Moujaes and Sawaya a true Romeo and Juliet Story but with a happy ending. Take that for a story. Tie the pieces together.  (email excerpts from George Matar)  

Web Master Note:  
the Shweirieh will anxiously await the above story 
To read more on the Family Tree web page about Teta Mary, click here


Amal, daughter of the distinguished
lawyer Adeeb Khalil Aoun Moujaes



Gladis Sawaya,
daughter of Dr. Sabeh Sawaya




Eid al Moughtaribeen 1967



Eid al Mughtaribeen 1965

Sheikh Jamil Hobeika hoisted on shoulders




Eid Al Mughtaribeen 1966





Eid Al Mughtaribeen 1967


Eid al Mughtaribeen 1967

Dabkeh performed by students of
Two Sacred Hearts



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Although contents of the book are copy righted by Jamil, he welcomes the Shweirieh to utilize the information for their personal use.    If you have any questions re: the book or to contact Jamil, you can reach him by email via his son Salim in Edmonton, Canada at

Al Mughtaribeen Making News... 

Name: Salim Jamil Khonaisser
Location: Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Hello, finally pictures of my dad, also left to right granddaughter Marina, grandson Kevin and granddaughter Kiana Khonaisser and of course me.
Sorry for the looooooooong delay.

Thank you Salim for sending these great pictures of the family.  Yes, we miss you all.  Oh yes, we recognize that plaque... well last time we saw it, it was in Dhour.  Thanks to those who forwarded it to Jamil in Canada where it belongs and as we can tell, it is being treasured and proudly displayed.  With our best wishes.