Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Walking Stick as a Means of Self-Defence by Pierre Vigny (1903)

I reprint the following article from the July 1903 issue of Health and Strength magazine. I have found it to be most useful in my present circumstances.

The fashion in walking-sticks is to have a silver-mounted Malacca cane; everyone uses one. Everyone knows that in choosing a Malacca, it will not only serve the purpose of something to carry in one's hand, but that this beautiful cane, the most up-to-date of all sticks, can render great service as a means of self-defence, for it can become a formidable weapon in the hands of those who have learnt how to use it.

Stick exercise falls essentially under the head of gymnastics, but if it develops muscular strength it must also be borne in mind that it renders limbs supple and gives everyone agility, elegance and grace in their movement. Moreover, referring to my long experience as a professor of physical exercise specially adapted to self-defence, I can confidently assert that the cane is the most perfect weapon of defence, as with it no one can be handicapped by size, weight, or strength, it equalises the chances of two people each armed with sticks…

…With the cane all inferiority disappears, and I assert most emphatically from my long and practical experience that a man armed with a cane, and who has learnt how to use it, does not fear a bigger and stronger man, though similarly armed. I will say even more: if he perfectly understands how to use his stick as a weapon of defence, he can hold his own against several adversaries for whoever is hit by this weapon, which acquires an enormous force in its swinging motions, does not return to the attack again, therefore the cane is the most perfect weapon for self-defence; but in order to make it so, it must possess the necessary qualities, which, expressed in one word, is solidity.

It is for this reason that I have had a cane specially made under my directions which embraces all the necessary qualities. It is a medium-sized Malacca cane, mounted with a thick metal ball, and so firmly riveted to the cane that it cannot come off however roughly it may be used. The metal ball handle is of such a thickness that it will not get dented; but in spite of this the cane is a most handsome and elegant one, and has been so much appreciated since it has been brought out that many people may be seen carrying them. Everyone soon gets to understand that this beautiful cane is in reality the most perfect weapon of defence, which entirely relieves one of the danger of carrying a revolver, and the feeling of disgust of having a dagger about one.

It is hardly necessary to add that as one learns the use of a sword or foil, so one most certainly should learn how to use a stick, which under my system of instruction can be learnt in twelve lessons. The study of my system of self-defence with the cane does not involve hard and irksome work; people take a great pleasure and interest in it from the very first lesson, and thus they also acquire quickness, suppleness, coolness and self-confidence.

There are various ways of using the stick:

1st -- Holding the stick by the grip of the whole hand, the blow is delivered with a swinging hit.

2nd -- The left hand can be used just as well as the right by alternately passing the stick from one hand to the other.

3rd -- The stick may also be held at the ferrule end.

4th -- The stick may also be held in both hands.

The blows are delivered at the head, face, body, on the hands, and at the legs. To deliver a point, the stick is made to glide through the hands. The end of the stick can also be used as a dagger.
For a blow to be effective, you must strike, whilst avoiding the riposte and the contact of the sticks, for if your stick comes into contact with your opponent's stick before striking him, the blow is rendered useless, having lost all its force.

If one is struck, one should return on guard and not try to give another blow. It is allowed to seize your adversary's stick, this being really an excellent thing to do.

Using the stick as a means of self-defence in the street, one can not only fight one man equally well armed, but also several men at the same time equally well armed as one's self, for the stick is made to pass through every possible direction around you with a marvellous rapidity, thus protecting every part of one's body; and at the same time acquires enormous force by its rapid swinging movements for delivering a blow, which no one can possibly stand against.


Keith said...

That is very fascinating. It's amazing what can be used as a weapon for self defense. I quite enjoyed reading that.

headbang8 said...

"(T)his beautiful cane is in reality the most perfect weapon of defence, which entirely relieves one of the danger of carrying a revolver, and the feeling of disgust of having a dagger about one."

Couldn't agree more. A revolver is beastly, and a dagger is uncouth. If a rifle or rapier can't decide the issue, then it is an issue which is of no concern to e gentleman.

This post presents itself with so many opportunities for double entendre, that I am unsure where to begin. Perhaps it's better left to smooth talkers with big sticks of their own.

And as fate would have it, the word verification which Blogger has issued for this comment spells out the words "sure die". I'm not joking.