Simple tricks of Self-Defence

By Percy Longhurst

A chapter taken from “Jiu- Jitsu and other methods of self defence” by Percy Longhurst, printed during the early 1900s.


Longhurst was the winner of the light weight Wrestling competition ,G.G.S., 1899 and Hon .Sec. of the National Amateur Association of Great Britain. His manual includes information on the use off Jiu- Jitsu, Wrestling , Bare fist boxing, Vigny la canne, Blackthorn- shillelagh, and the Umbrella.

A walking stick, for example, is familiar enough to the hands of most men, but its effective use offensively or defensively is comparatively unknown.

If the individual who carries a substantial walking stick know enough of its use to strike as shown in Fig 48- a paralysing blow at the knee or kneecap- or in Fig 49- a blow capable, if properly stuck, of breaking the wrist of the brawniest ruffian that ever existed – or a few of the many scientific tricks of self-defence, it is possible that the activity of homicidal rascals may be considerably reduced.

Simple Tricks of Self Defence_fig48

Fig 48. Striking a paralyzing Blow at the knee with a Stick. The knee-cap may be easily broken and the victim disabled if properly struck

Simple Tricks of Self Defence_fig49

Fig 49. A Blow with a Stick at the Edge of the Wrist-bone. If properly struck, it will break the wrist of the strongest ruffian.

Self-defence with an ordinary walking stick or umbrella may be carried to a pitch undreamt of by the ordinary man: but it is not necessary to use the weapon with the skill of M. Pierre Vigny to discomfit a chance assailant. To use a stick as he does requires long training and assiduous practice. It is impossible to convey on paper any idea of the marvelous system of strokes and parries this master has evolved. Against one skilled in his system half a dozen assailants would be powerless, so irrepressibly effective is the use he teaches of an ordinary thick Malacca cane.

Standing on guard with the feet in a line, he grasps his stick with a hand at either end, his arms being held above his head. Whether the blow will come from the right or left depends altogether upon the attack he intends.

The side of head, elbow, throat, and knee are the usual points of attack, though perhaps his most effective stroke is a terrible upward slash at the inside of the legs. Extraordinary quickness, the continual changing of the weapon from one hand to another, and constant attack, are the chief points of his system of stick defence.

There are, however, several uses to which one can put a stick and that will prove most effective. An expert fencer, for instance, armed with a light, stiff walking stick would be able to keep at bay one or two ruffians, and if the stick happened to possess sharp iron ferrule, to injure them seriously if they persisted in their attack. The point would be at their eyes, mouths, or throats every time they tried to reach him- a fact, which was not successfully demonstrated by a friend of mine who happened to be an expert with the rapier.

Should your weapon be only a thin flexible cane, the most you can do is to inflict such actual pain on your assailant that he will be prevented from continuing his assault. It is useless to strike wildly at his body, arms, shoulders, or head; but strike at the thigh, where a sharp cut will cause the most intense pain, or at the face, where a blow across the eyes may temporarily disable him.

With a stout, heavy stick the blow should be directed to vulnerable spots, or those where the bones are least protected by a covering of fat or muscle, such as the temple, the jaw, the wrist, the elbow, or the knee. If the stick be not perfectly circular- that is, if a section be elliptical in shape-you will have a sort of edge with which you may deliver a terrible blow. One blow from such a strike well placed towards the side of the head (Fig 56), and near to the base of the skull, will be sufficient: the recipient will require no more for the time being.

Simple Tricks of Self Defence_fig56

Fig 56. A Knock-out Blow with a stick well placed on the side of the head and near the base of the skull.

A short, loaded stick should always be used against the projecting bones, as a heavy blow will smash the bone; but a stiff, knobby stick, with a good ferrule, can also be used to thrust with good effect. If your assailant gets too close for you to strike with effect, hold the stick with both hands a short distance from the ends, and drive the ferrule hard into the man’s stomach or “ mark” (Fig 57). The motion may be reversal if you are surrounded.


Simple Tricks of Self Defence_fig57

Fig 57. Thrust at the Body with a Stick. If delivered on the right spot this will paralyse an antagonist.


The best stick you can have is one possessing extreme toughness and strength, with pliability: one that will not bend too much, will not snap if a transverse strain be suddenly laid upon it, as in a down ward blow, one that will not easily splinter, and is not too heavy to use with the greatest quickness.

A good Irish blackthorn- Paddy’s shillelagh- is perhaps the ideal stick, and the work it will do in the hands of desperate man familiar with its use is remarkable. Oak, ash, and hazel also make serviceable walking sticks with which a handy man can do a lot of mischief; but they are not the equals of the blackthorn.

Bear in mind, if attacked by a ruffian armed also with a stick, to hold your own weapon nearly one-third of its length from the ferrule; the lower portion serves as an excellent guard to your arm and elbow. Also do not forget that an upward blow may be made just as dangerous a swinging downright stroke, and it not so easily guarded. Once more I will remind my readers not to neglect that paralysing drive at the “ mark” which, delivered with some force, is even more effective than blow with the fist.

Examples are not wanting of the deadly effect with which an umbrella may be wielded, and many an eye has been blinded by the accidental or intentional use of the homely “ gamp.” Umbrellas are now usually made with somewhat slender handles, so that a thrust at long range may cause the shaft to snap; but gripped with both hands- the right a few inches form the handles, and the left a foot from the ferrule, and used in a similar manner to the rifle and bayonet-tremendous execution can be done at close quarters on your assailants’ ribs and faces. An upward prod under the chin or in the throat with the sharp ferrule with hurt a man considerable, and when you do “get one in” and your assailant steps back, if you step quickly in with your right foot, raising your right arm, the handle may be dashed with great force at his head.

Never strike a downright blow with an umbrella: the stick will probably break, and the thick silk will prevent any real damage from being done. At the same time it is an excellent defensive weapon for the same reason. An umbrella with a hooked handle may be used most effective (Fig 58), the hook being used to catch an assailant suddenly by the neck, thus dragging him on his face; or if it be fixed around the ankle, it is no difficult matter to send a person headlong to the ground with very great force.

Simple Tricks of Self Defence_fig58


Fig 58. Effective Use of a Hook-handled Umbrella, catching the assailant by the neck and dragging him on to his face.

In conclusion, let me say that though it is impossible to guard against every contingency that may arise, the knowledge of how to set about an assailant in a manner calculated to disable him in the shortest possible time will give you a more than even chance to coming out on top. One may be surrounded, taken unawares , but if not disabled immediately one may, given the knowledge and the necessary presence of mind, be enabled, even though thrown to the ground, to offer so effective a resistance that one’s assaulters will be glad to retreat.

Always get in the first blow, and see that it is effective one. Remember that

“ the best defence is to attack.” Make up your mind what you are going to do, and do it at once. Do not lose your head; and, should your assailant be armed with belts or long sticks, get to close quarters, and hit with your fists, low down, and with your elbows inside, and use throw at both feet immediately the opportunity occurs. This move, accomplished, as it should be, like lighting, will demoralise the remaining assailants.

Don’t go about the streets in a half- asleep condition; if in a neighbourhood where trouble may arise keep your ears and eyes open and your hands out of your pockets. And when passing along a dark or narrow thoroughfare walk in the middle of the road.

Published on September 28, 2009 at 3:05 am  Comments Off on Simple tricks of Self-Defence  
%d bloggers like this: