Self Defence with a Walking-Stick:
By E.W. Barton-Wright
The Different Methods of Defending
Oneself with a Walking-Stick or Umbrella when Attacked under Unequal
From Pearson’s Magazine, 11 (February
No. 1 -- The Safest Way to Meet an Attack
with a Spiked Staff or Long Stick when you are only Armed with an
Ordinary Walking Stick.
The first photograph shows the most dangerous mode
of attack with a long stick, and also the best position to adopt in
order to meet such an attack with safety.
It will be seen that the figure on the right
is exposing his body in order to insure his adversary attacking him
there, and to be prepared with an immediate defence.
Directly the man with the alpenstock attempts
to bayonette him, he diverts the blow by turning sideways, and making
a circular downward cut, which hits the alpenstock and causes it to
glide slightly upwards and sideways -- a guard known in sword play
as "Septime envelopé." The moment the blow has been diverted, the
man with the stick must seize the alpenstock with his left hand, and,
stepping in, strike his assailant a blow across the face.
No. 2. An Effective Way to Defend Oneself
with a Hooked Stick when Attacked by a Man Armed with an Ordinary
A stick with a curved handle, forming a roomy crook,
although hardly so effective as a stick with a heavy knob on top for
striking purposes, is a most serviceable weapon in the hands of an
expert in the art of stick-play.
Having guarded a blow with a hooked stick, it
is a comparatively simple matter to hook an assailant in such a way
that he is easily pulled off his balance. With a little practice it
becomes easy to make sure of hooking a man firmly by the neck or leg.
Suppose, for instance, that a man carrying a
crooked stick is suddenly attacked by an assailant armed with an ordinary
straight stick. Here is a very pretty way to overthrow the assailant:
In the first place, the man with the hooked stick
should hold his hand and stick high up, and well on one side, so as
not to run any risk of being hit on the fingers.
By doing this, he purposely exposes his head
to attack. Knowing, therefore, that his opponent is sure to strike
at his head, he is prepared for a quick guard. The attacker delivers
his blow and is received upon the stick; but before he has time to
recover himself, and get into a position of defence, the other suddenly
ducks and hooks him by the foot, on the outer side of the ankle, bringing
him to the ground by pulling his legs apart.
The assailant is then at the mercy of the man
he has attacked, who can choose any part of his body on which to administer
No. 3. -- The Best Way to Disable a Man who
Tries to Rush You, and get under your Guard, in order to Prevent You
Hitting him with a Hooked Stick.
The first photograph shows the best position to adopt
in order to meet a sudden spring and prevent an assailant from seizing
As a feint, you make a slightly threatening motion
with your left hand, as though you intended to seize the left hand
of your assailant, in order to belabor him with your stick. The object
of this feint is only to engage your adversary's attention, and make
him look at your left hand whilst you suddenly dart your right arm
froward, and hook him by the neck in the crook of your stick. Directly
you have hooked him, bend your knees well so as to throw the whole
weight of your body upon him, whilst you pull him with his face towards
When you have pulled him down sufficiently far
to prevent him recovering his balance quickly, let go your stick,
and seize him by the shoulders, as shown in photo No. 4, being careful
to keep your feet well out of reach of his hands, so as not to give
him the opportunity of throwing you backwards. Then, with a sudden
jerk, pull him forwards, and simultaneously jumping close into him,
strike him with your knee in the face.
It is necessary to be very careful when practising
this trick, as the slightest blow with the knee in a person's face
is sufficient to break a nose and several teeth.
Of course the reader will understand that in
any method of self-defence it is necessary to know how to maintain
the proper distance between yourself and your assailant, in order
to deliver a coup-de-grâce with effect and certainty. This
knowledge, together with the confidence, dash, and savoir-faire
that are so essential, can only be acquired by practice; but, when
once gained, it is never lost.
No. 4. -- How to Use a Walking-Stick as a
Weapon in a Crowd.
It will be understood that it is quite impossible
to swing a stick in a crowd, owing to want of elbow room; and so,
in order to get elbow room and free scope to hit, you proceed as follows:
Hold your stick, more or less in a line with
your hips, and proceed, as in the second photograph, to lunge to your
left, holding the end of the stick in your right hand, and letting
it slide through your left, in order to be able to guide it with certainty.
Lunging at the body of the nearest man on your
left, you disable him, and cause him to retreat precipitously. In
doing so, he involuntarily forces back those in his immediate neighborhood.
You then turn on your heels, and bayonette the nearest man on your
right, this time holding the end of your stick in your left hand,
and guiding it through your right. Directly you have bayonetted him,
and caused him to force back others in his attempt to escape, you
make a quarter turn on your heels, and bayonette the man behind you.
After this, seeing another man close to him with
his legs slightly apart, you make a dive with your stick between his
legs, and upset him. Take one step backwards, and you should now have
sufficient room to swing your stick to right and left across people's
faces and heads until they disperse.
No. 5. -- A very Simple Way to Protect Yourself
with a Hooked Walking Stick against a Boxer.
When carrying a hooked stick, here is a very simple
way to protect yourself against the attack of an unarmed assailant.
Hold your stick behind you, as seen in the first
photograph, so as to run no risk of the stick-arm being seized. Bend
your left arm with the inside of the left hand facing outwards in
order to protect yourself from a kick at the hip, or a blow from the
fist at your face or ribs.
In the photographs it will be seen that the boxer
has chosen the attack at his opponent's face. To meet such an attack
safely, you must put your head well on ones side, and bend both your
knees very considerably at the moment when the boxer leads off, so
as to get well under his guard. Directly you receive the blow upon
your arm, you must straighten your knees, and so throw up the boxer's
arm, and make him lose his balance, which prevents him from using
his right fist upon your ribs.
You have now the opportunity, and plenty of time,
to hook him by the ankle with your stick, as seen in the second photograph.
Having so hooked his foot, pull his legs apart, and bring him to the
ground, when you can apply the stick where and how you please.
No. 6. -- How to Overcome the Advantage of
an Assailant who Attacks You with a Stout Stick when You are Carrying
only a Light Cane.
When threatened with an attack from an assailant
who is armed with a superior stick to your own, it is wise to attack
him before he realises that he has you at a disadvantage.
To do so to the best effect you should lead off
with aright-handed blow at your assailant's head, thereby forcing
him to guard high. At the same moment you should jump in one movement
from the position shown by the figure to the left of photo No. 2 to
the position shown by the same figure in photo No. 3 -- a very simple
and easy movement. In making this spring you must be careful to keep
your head down and on one side.
As soon as you are in the position shown in photo
No. 3, without making any attempt to lift your adversary in order
to throw him, simply strike your knee smartly against the back of
his knee; this will have the effect of knocking his leg from beneath
him. As he reels about on his left leg trying to regain his balance,
put plenty of force into your left arm, and throw him upon the back
of his head. He will immediately put out both his hands to try to
break his fall, and in so doing will drop his stick.
In this way you accomplish your purpose and disarm
your adversary. You can now give him his coup-de-grâce as you
please. The surest way is to deal him a blow across his ankle or just
below the knee.
I must caution anyone who attempts this trick
upon a friend to be very gentle when pushing with the left arm to
effect the throw, otherwise it is likely that the friend upon whom
the experiment is tried will be rendered unconscious or otherwise
seriously injured. The throw described is a very strong and dangerous
one if properly delivered.
No. 7. -- Another Way, when Armed with a Light
Cane, to Disarm and Overpower an Opponent who carries a Superior Stick.
Suppose once again that, when carrying only a light
cane, you are attacked by an assailant armed with a stronger and more
serviceable stick. In order to rob him of his advantage you immediately
proceed as described in the last example by aiming a high blow at
your opponent's head, thus causing him to guard high.
Now spring in one bound under his guard to the
position shown in photo No. 2. Passing your left hand over his right
forearm, placing your right hand against his wrist, and at the same
time seizing your own right wrist in your left hand, you thus firmly
"lock" your adversary's arm. All this is done without loosening the
hold upon your own stick, and without seizing your opponent's arm
in any way with your hand -- yet the lock is so powerful that the
strongest man would be a child in your hands when you properly apply
the leverage you may obtain from this position.
To apply the leverage correctly, you should force
your opponent's elbow towards you with your left arm, and at the same
time force his right hand downwards and from you, with the "lock"
formed by your left hand in holding your right wrist.
The pain and strain from this grip is so excruciating
that your opponent will fall upon his back, only too thankful thus
to escape the danger of a broken arm. He is then at your mercy, and
you may apply your stick or your foot, as circumstances may dictate.
This, and the preceding method of self-defense
with a walking-stick, may be practised upon a swordsman armed with
a sword or a dagger with absolute certainty of success. Personally,
I have tried one or other of these examples time after time against
good swordsmen, and have never failed to bring the trick through successfully.
Of course, your success, or otherwise, will depend to some extent
upon the quickness, dash, and power with which you execute the assault.
No. 8. -- One of the Best Ways to Meet
a Direct Attack upon the Head with a very Heavy Stick when Armed with
an Ordinary Stick.
The first photograph shows a man armed with a heavy
stick in the act of striking at the head of a man armed with a walking-stick.
The latter is standing in the double-handed position of guard; and
it will be noticed that in holding his weapon he places his hands
so that the back of his left hand is on the side nearest his face,
and the back of his right hand on the side farthest from his face;
in other words, the positions of his hands are reversed.
Directly the assailant delivers his blow, the
man with the walking-stick slides his stick through his right hand
until has hands meet, and then twists the stick without altering his
hold in any way so that his right hand passes over his left. In this
position, with his wrists crossed, he holds the stick above his head,
to receive the downward cut delivered by his adversary.
Directly he has guarded the blow, and so broken
the force of it, letting go the stick with the left hand, with this
hand he seizes the assailant's staff. Retaining hold of the stick
with his right hand, the man attacked may then break his opponent's
wrist with a heavy blow, as seen in Photograph No. 3. Another method
is to let the blow fall across the assailant's kneecap, as seen in
photograph No. 4.
Still another way to proceed is for the man attacked
to continue to use his own weapon with both hands, and to deliver
a heavy blow across his adversary's face, as shown in the last photograph.
No. 9. -- A very Serviceable Way to Disable
a Taller Man than Yourself when Opposed to Him under Unequal Conditions.
Directly you have had time to catch your opponent's
eye and judge your striking distance, you must expose your head, either
by slightly lowering your guard, or by holding your hand and stick
well on one side, so as to invite an attack on your head.
You must rely on your own quickness to protect your head when the
Directly your opponent sees the opening, he will
lead off at your head. You protect yourself by receiving the blow
upon your stick, as seen in the first photograph. Then, without losing
any time, drop into the next position, and bayonette your assailant
over the heart.
No. 10. -- Example of a very Pretty Guard
and Counter-blow when an Assailant Directs a Blow at your Head with
When an assailant attempts to strike you on the head
with his stick, you may receive the blow upon your stick by bringing
your hand right across your face, and holding it well on the left
side of your head with the back of your hand outwards, facing your
opponent. Your stick should point slightly downwards to prevent your
opponent's stick sliding down yours, and striking you on the fingers.
The moment you have done this you step slightly towards your opponent's
right side with your right foot, and describe a circular right to
left back-handed cut across his face, which should be sufficient to
prevent him troubling you any further.
No. 11. -- An Example of the Double-Handed
Guard in Combination with Ambi-Dexterity.
In this example the man on the left in the photograph
is seen taking up the double handed guard, but his assailant refuses
to accept the invitation at his body, although it is exposed -- instead
of this he aims a blow at the left wrist, or the left side of the
head. On this the man with the double-handed guard, in order to avoid
being hit upon the fingers, lets go of the left-hand end of his stick,
and swings his left hand behind him -- a movement which automatically
imparts the initial movement for a right-handed blow. This he delivers
across his opponent's wrist, which he would thus break, just as the
assailant is in the act of striking.
No. 12. -- Another Example of the Double-Handed
Guard in Combination with Ambi-Dexterity.
In this example, the defender, as in No. 11,
invites an attack at his body by guarding his head in an exaggerated
way, and so exposing his body. His opponent immediately attempts to
take advantage of the opening by striking at the exposed body, when
the other simply draws his left foot towards his right, and so retires
out of striking distance of his adversary. Then, by releasing his
hold on the stick down heavily with his left upon his assailant's
head, as seen in the lowest photograph.
With reference to the short description of walking-stick
play, and the tricks described in this and the preceding number of
Pearson's, I may state that the art of self-defence with a
walking-stick is particularly adapted to conditions where a man is
attacked by more than one person. It can be readily acquired, either
by men or women, and when once mastered would enable you to defend
yourself, with absolute safety, against a knife, boxing, savate, etc.
The more dangerous methods have not been shown.
Besides being a most useful and practical accomplishment,
this new art of self-defence with a walking-stick is to be recommended
as a most exhilarating and graceful exercise.