“Self-Defence as a Fine Art” (1904)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Monday, 16th December 2013

From The World’s News, Saturday 15 October 1904:

Some little time ago an illustrated article was published in “The World’s News” giving some valuable hints on the use of a walking stick as a means of defending oneself against street attacks by one or more assailants. The perfecter and teacher of this particular system was Professor Pierre Vigny, who has a school of self-defence in Berners-street, London.

Now the professor puts forward an equally excellent system of self-defence against every form of street ruffianism, and which he claims to have thoroughly tested in the most practical manner.

One of the sketches herewith shows the pose that ought to be assumed in the event of being attacked by a man armed with a knife or a belt.

Vigny knife-pistol defence

Should you be well practiced in assuming the pose there shown, it is easy to step aside when your assailant stabs, clutch his wrist, and throw him to the ground by a well known wrestling device. Should that fail, however, the foot can be brought into play, and your adversary prostrated.

The defence against a belt is somewhat different. You raise your arm, with the hand open, to meet the belt when your opponent strikes, taking care to let the belt meet your arm near the end which is being held. The result is that the belt coils round your arm, without hurting you in the slightest; and its user is amazed to find his wrist firmly grasped, and that he is unable to resist being thrown on his back, or to protect his face from terrible punishment from the fist.

Should he have a companion, a well-known la savate movement will dispose of him, and the attacked citizen may then contentedly await the arrival of the police to give his assailants into custody.

The movements depicted require a good deal of practice, but in course of time they will become, as in ordinary boxing and fencing, so rapid as to be almost instinctive.

It is interesting to note that, according to the “Pictorial Magazine,” from which our sketches are taken, the professor makes a point of spending his holidays in the dangerous quarters of some large city in order to gain practical experience of any new devices adopted by the larrikins as well as to put into practice his system of self-defence when the occasion arises.

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