By Craig Gemeiner © 2009
The double-handed guard is one of several guard variants pertaining to the la Canne Vigny system. While it is paramount to have an understanding of the prime front and rear (single- handed) fighting guards, it is essential to be skilled in the entire auxiliary fighting positions that augment the Vigny system.
Ones ability to transition into these auxiliary guards will generate an array of offensive and defensive choices specific to these postures. This in turn will provide contingency options against an assortment of armed and unarmed adversaries.
Vigny fighting guards are neither static, nor rooted in place like a statue. Subtle movements of the hands will generate positive activity in the stick, designed to mask intentions and force unintentional reactions from the enemy, while reducing fatiguing of the weapon bearing limb. Excessive motion of both the arm and stick, while on guard, should be avoided as this will needlessly waste energy and compromise ones guard structure.
To adopt the double-handed guard begin by placing your dominate side back and raise the rear hand into the standard high reference position. The lead arm reaches up to grip the cane at the distal end, and both palms face towards the enemy. Several inches of the cane should protrude out from each hand- this will allow easier access for two-handed cuts, while acting as a counter balance for single- handed cuts.
The stance or location of the feet is spaced so the body weight is evenly distributed over of both legs. Propping on the back leg should be avoided, as this will leave you anchored to one spot unable to efficiently attack or defend. Constantly leaning over the front leg also produces its share of problems- in particular reducing mobility when executing ‘guard by distance’ manoeuvres. You must always be balanced and in position ready to spring into action when an opening occurs.
The complete inventory of la Canne Vigny strikes, or cuts as they are historically referred to, can be executed from the double- handed guard. However applications of these cuts from the less dominant hand does require substantial training to be fully appreciated.
Single- handed cuts
The accompanying photos provide a small example of single- handed cuts from the double- handed guard.
Picture –1 Double- handed guard
Picture-2 Face cut with the right hand
Picture-3 Face cut with the left hand
Picture-4 Head cut with the right hand
Picture-5 Head cut with the left hand
Two- handed cuts
The application of two-handed cuts in which the hands are joined will require a shift in grips. The completed transfer should produce a grip that resembles holding a baseball bat. Extremely powerful and aggressive strikes are produced from this instinctive grip.
Two-handed cuts can be delivered from a variety of angles. The following photos present cuts directed towards the head and the face.
Picture –1 Double- handed guard
Picture-2 Two- handed cut at head
Picture-3 Two- handed cut at face
The guard by distance
The principle of ‘guard by distance’ can be readily facilitated from the double -handed guard. The photo sequence below (pictures 1-3) depicts both la Canne Vigny fighters in the double- handed guard. The person on the right initiates the attack with a hand cut from his rear arm. The stick fighter on the left begins his counter by disengaging his left hand away from the cane while swinging his arm down and pulling the entire left side of his body to the rear. Simultaneously a face cut is delivered with the right hand.
The next sequence ( pictures 1-2) has the Vigny cane fighter on the right releasing his right hand from the cane and delivering a knee cut. The person on the left counters with the ‘knee guard’. This consists of slipping the lead leg back while delivering a face cut with the left hand.
Two- handed blocks
From the double- handed guard, defensive manoeuvres employing two- handed blocks are easily applied and provide secure defense against heavier weapon attacks.
In order to execute two-handed stick blocks with the hands joined, you will be required to disengage one of your hands from the weapon and station it as close as possible to the other hand. A slight side step away from the distal end of the block is advisable to insure clearance of the body against the opponents weapon attack. The side step will place you in a location more conducive to your follow ups rather than the enemy’s response ( pictures 1-3).
Perhaps the simplest of the two-handed blocks , both grips on the cane remain unaltered during the process of guarding. Whenever possible, step in deep with these two-handed brace blocks in order to minimize the force of the opponents attack. These blocks can also be applied as strikes impacting the opponents wrist and forearm during the act of guarding.
A large number of ripostes are applicable from the two-handed brace blocks. In the example below ( pictures 1-2) , the stick fighter on the left moves forward with the double- handed block in order to counter a head cut. Finding himself at close quarters he ripostes with a two-handed thrust up into the throat /chin regions.
In the following sequence ( pictures 1-2) a face cut is delivered from the double-handed guard. The person on the left counters with a two-handed block and quickly ripostes with a cut to the neck.
The Indian connection
Mr H.G. Lang adopted the double guard principle from the Vigny method and modified it for use by the Agency Police, Kathiawar, India.
His detailed explanation follows-
You will find the following methods extremely useful if you are up against an opponent armed with heavy stick, staff, or cudgel. They are extremely easy to grasp at this stage for you have already acquired knowledge of how to guard yourself and to deliver cuts; and you will easily out class an opponent with heavy armaments. You will sail round him like a light craft, for his movements will necessarily be impeded by his unwieldy weapon. The first method of dealing with him you will now realise after the care you have taken of acquiring the knack of guarding your own hand. It should be a cut at his hand , a FLICK, a FLIP,CUTS, UPPER CUTS with your CIRCLING GUARD, or the numerous tricks learnt in the last chapter. However, here are further methods of dealing with him.
ON GUARD (fig43) – Get into your FRONT GUARD position and grasp stick with both hands behind shoulder ready for attack, and do not forget your foot play, backwards and forwards, as the case may be. From this position your opponent has no indication from which direction your attack will be launched. In fact, it is extremely unlikely he will be in a hurry to attack you, as he will scent danger. However, if he risks a blow at your head you are ready.
HEAD GUARD – Jump in as blow descends (you must step in for all guards, do not forget to and let your arms arrive at fullest extent with a jerk, taking opponent’s hands on your stick (fig44). The result will be his stick flies over your head and he sustains a badly damaged hand; for if he is striking at you he will naturally put force into his blow.
If he strikes at the left side of your body, your old friend the BODY GUARD comes in, only this time a double-handed one (fig45); and how to reply you already know. It is quite simple; release the left hand for your HEAD CUT and UPPER CUT or jump in straight away with your stick grasped in both hands for a JAB in face, neck, etc., which you know well how to do by now. There is nothing to prevent you using your DISARMING PRACTISE methods; merely release the left hand as you jump forward for your swinging left “hook”.
FLANK GUARD – If opponent strikes at your right side, employ a double-handed FLANK GUARD (fig 46), and reply as you already know how to do. In coming into all double-handed guards, maintain the grip with both hands on your stick, and see that your right hand is always uppermost in BODY and FLANK GUARDS, so that your replies are not impeded as they would be if you left hand was uppermost. There is nothing new in these guards or counters. They are only a varied form of what you have already learnt.
CUTS – Do not give opponent any indication from which direction he may expect your CUTS.
CUT LEFT – Simultaneously with the release of the stick by your left hand lunge out with the right leg. This jerks shoulder round to add speed and force to the CUT (fig47). ALl should be done in one movement; the CUT is delivered like a flash, and you get straight back on to ON GUARD.
CUT RIGHT (fig 48) – Exactly the same, except that the right hand is released, and you lunge forward with left leg and deliver CUT. ON GUARD!
UPPER CUT ON RIGHT (fig 49) – This is where Exercise 5 and 6, which we have left so very far behind, come to our aid, though we may not have appreciated their true value at the time we performed them. They give us a supple shoulder and wrist, and are therefore worth going through as we stroll along for a walk. Exactly the same procedure; simultaneous release of stick by left hand with lunge by right leg and sweeping upper cut from a supple shoulder and wrist.
UPPER CUT ON LEFT (fig 50) – This now needs no description after what has been said.
Here with yet another method of dealing with your opponent. As his stick descends toward your head, step smartly to the right and swing round left to deliver cut across wrist or hand of opponent. (fig 51)
By this stage it is well ingrained into you how to protect your hand so that when employing these methods you can be left to see, when receiving a blow on your guard, that neither hand is in the way of the blow.
You already know how to guard your leg and you have appreciated the guard advantage of jumping into an opponent to lessen the force of his blow. You may now safely be left to do so.
Using the ‘Double -Handed Guard’ these Trinidad stick fighters go at it full contact with no protective equipment.