Common Walking-stick a Powerful Weapon of Self-defense

Printed August 1904 Los Angeles Times

If the general public knew half what M. Pierre Vigny , the celebrated Swiss athlete, can tell one about self defense with a walking stick, like the song says of the policeman, the lot of the Hooligan would not be a happy one, according to the London Illustrated Mail.

M.Vigny has spent much of his time, since he first conceived the idea in the London slums, in the worst quarters of Paris, Naples and Rome, and in the Bowery of New York, studying the methods of the hooligans of the various countries and perfecting his methods of dealing with those gentlemen . He now claims that with a proper course of instruction anyone with an umbrella or walking- stick would easily be capable of defending himself against half a dozen hooligans armed with belts or knives.

The new method of his is essentially different from both fencing and single sticks, for whereas in each of the above you save your hand from being struck by guiding your opponents weapon to strike the hilt, with a walking-stick you have no shield for the hand, and it is therefore necessary to gain a knowledge of guarding blows, so that instead of sliding towards the hand they slip harmlessly off at the end of the stick.

In this training the first thing to be learned is how to keep out of range of your opponent’s weapon, while at the same time you keep him within hitting range. This is done entirely by a swinging movement of the body and changing the position of the feet. Another way in which this can be accomplished is by adopting a rear guard position, and then maintaining the original distance you took up from your opponent by retiring right foot first as he advances and advancing left foot first as your opponent retires.

Say, for instance, that you were suddenly attacked by an opponent with a heavy stick, while you were carrying only a light cane. In cases of this kind the most essential thing to remember is never to let your enemy assume the offensive. Your one chance is to be quick and agile, striking your would be attacker with all the force you can muster on the surface of the head; then, allowing him no time to recover, you advance, and by pushing with the hand on the chest and with a tripping movement of the foot it is easy work to lay him on the ground, entirely at your mercy.

In the accompanying photographs M.Vigny is seen using a stick of his own invention. It is an ordinary Malacca cane with a heavy silver knob, but it is not loaded, thereby combining the flexibility, ease of movement, and at the same time effectiveness.

It is with such a weapon as this that you are handiest , but to be ready for emergencies is always necessary. Perhaps you would be walking with a hooked stick when the attack was delivered. In such a case the modus operandi is this:

Keep your hand holding the stick well out on your right side , to prevent a blow disabling it, then as your opponent strikes at your head, which he is almost certain to do when you are in this position , give a sharp guard, and while he is preparing a second blow hook his leg , which is an easy thing to do. While he has momentarily lost his equilibrium pull his legs apart, and so lay him low and out of hitting range.

Another very effective part of Vigny’s training is how to use with the greatest success a walking-stick in a crowd of ruffians pressing close around you. Naturally, owing to lack of elbow room, it is next to impossible to swing your stick to do any damage; therefore the only way is to disperse the crowd by a series of thrusts  to the left and right. Keeping the stick on a level with the hips , you prod to the left and right, aiming the stick with one hand, and guiding it through the other. For this work, as for most of the Vigny system of self defense, a good knowledge of ambidexterity is needed, but it usually meets with the greatest success, and it is well worth the trouble taken in gaining mastery of the system.

No one could be more adept at giving first-class information , for many an exciting few minutes has he spent in warding off single-handed as many as four hooligans. He guarantees to teach anyone the art in twelve lessons, and these lessons instill interest into the person being instructed in self-defense from the very first.

The professor himself is a perfect marvel with the walking -stick and can describe unseen curves and circles totally eclipsing the efforts of an ordinary drum major. To stand within range of M. Vigny’s powerful arm and stick seems to be to court danger, but even his most powerful blows he can check  instantly: in fact the swinging of his stick is to the untrained eye similar to the erratic flight of a boomerang. Backwards, forwards, a thrust with the knob, all in the twinkling of an eye. Not only would the system if adopted generally make the layman capable of self-defense, but would tend to make a much finer race as regards physique.


Ready to give a good sweeping blow. The stick is lifted well to the back of the head, and chest thrown back.


In this posture a blow is delivered from the shoulder, or as an alternative the small end of the weapon may be used as a dagger.


In this contemporary sequence savate Australia instructor Nathaniel Bechanan moves forward to check his opponents head cut. He immediately follows with a thrust at the face using the small end of the stick. From the same rear guard shoulder placement Nathaniel avoids a body cut by using “the guard by distance” while simultaneously delivering a face cut.


When both your hands are used to impart additional strength to the blow and the user is proficient in ambidexterity, the stick can be twisted, and a blow delivered in almost any direction.


With both hands gripping the cane a two handed cut is delivered into any open target. Two handed strikes can also be launched directly into an attack knocking the stick of line


When surrounded by two or three antagonists, this is one of the most advantageous methods to adopt, it being possible to deliver blows from back to front and front to back with tremendous rapidity and force.


This sequence showcases the combat use of the cane from the rear guard variant in which the weapon is placed parallel with the spine. Nathaniel executes a clearing manoeuvre , against two opponents, rapidly carrying the stick forward and back along a vertical plane smashing anything that comes into range.

Published on December 24, 2007 at 10:41 am  Comments Off on Common Walking-stick a Powerful Weapon of Self-defense  
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