Captain Hutton Demonstrates Pierre Vigny’s Walking Stick Defence (London Daily Telegraph, Nov. 20, 1901)

  • Originally published on the site on Friday, 30th December 2016

Captain Alfred Hutton was a member of the Bartitsu Club committee and also taught fencing at the Club.  E.W. Barton-Wright encouraged his instructors to learn from each other and Hutton did so enthusiastically, studying jiujitsu with Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi and also walking stick defence with Pierre Vigny.

In November of 1901 Hutton was interviewed by a reporter from the Daily Telegraph.  After a discussion of historical fencing techniques and a typically robust critique of the fencing instruction offered by the British army, Hutton addressed and briefly demonstrated the Vigny method to the bemused journalist.

This image is adapted, for purposes of illustration, from Hutton’s chapter on fencing with the Great Stick from “Cold Steel” (1889).

(…) And in a moment the Captain was holding a walking-stick in such a threatening manner that the interview seemed likely to come to an abrupt end.

“You see,” he went on, smiling, “the thing has far more possibilities than you might imagine.  Walking-stick play, as taught by M. Vigny, for instance, is an extremely useful bit of knowledge.  Now try and hit me on the head.”

We tried. As soon as the coals had been picked out of our hair, and the lower portion of our waistcoat had been removed from our collar, the captain cheerfully resumed:

“If you are mobbed, you observe, the great thing is never to raise your hand to strike. Always keep it low. Hold your stick at each end, and thrust the first man on the Mark, the second in the throat, clear a circle round you rapidly, and . . . .”

But the audience had fled. It is not a healthy thing to pretend to be a mob when Captain Hutton displays “a little of the art of self-defence,” and it was to a prostrate form upon a sofa that the captain addressed his last remarks.

Interestingly, Hutton’s description of stick defence vs. a group of attackers is almost a verbatim representation of “How to Use a Walking-Stick as a Weapon in a Crowd”, the fourth sequence in part II of Barton-Wright’s 1901 article on stick defence for Pearson’s Magazine.  The sequence is included below for comparison. This suggests that at least some of the sequences represented in the Pearson’s articles were part of a standardised curriculum.

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