“Defence Not Defiance” (St James’s Gazette – Monday, 02 June, 1902)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Tuesday, 20th September 2016

It’s very likely that this anonymous journalist simply intended to pass along the old truism of fencing geometry that movement along a straight line is faster than movement along the edge of a circle.  Technically, however, despite his assured and over-simplistic advice, a thrust either may or may not be the most effective form of attack with a stick, depending on a wide range of factors.  Certainly, the Vigny method of stick fighting, as incorporated into Bartitsu, embraced both thrusts and strikes as and when they were tactically appropriate.  

Mr. Barton-Wright, of “Bartitsu” fame, is ever active in preaching his own gospel of defence, and he has lately given another exhibition of the methods he advocates. Excellent methods as they are, it possible to do a great deal towards ensuring safety from Hooligan attack provided one be armed with a walking-stick, even without any special knowledge.

There is one cardinal rule remember — that a stick should be used for lunge, and not for a cut. This is really obvious, since it is easy to understand that the moment of lifting a stick to strike is the one that the ruffian seizes for his stab or straight punch, while a lunge with the weight of a body behind sure of having the effect of knocking the adversary backwards and of “bagging his wind” if delivered more or less artistically, besides putting him at the disadvantage of having to advance upon a threatening point.

It is said that M. Provost, the great French maitre d’armes, so terrified a gang of roughs in the Bois, by simply throwing himself on guard with a cane, that they fled incontinently. The London Hooligan may know little of fencing, but if he failed to be impressed by correctness of attitude he would soon see the error of his ways after a thrust in the face or stomach. At least the experiment is worth trying, and we give the hint — verbum sapientibus (“a word to the wise is sufficient”).

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