Self-Defence with a Cane (1928)

This short article from the Motherwell Times of July 27th, 1928 remarks upon a visit to London by Herbert Gordon Lang, who perpetuated and modified the Vigny method of stick fighting.

Lang had originally learned the art from former Bartitsu Club member Percy Rolt during an extended training visit to Rolt’s Hove gymnasium, thereafter incorporating some techniques from the West Indian stick fighting art of bois. As a Police Superintendant in India, Lang taught his combined method to police trainees and also wrote the book The Walking Stick Method of Self Defence (1923).

There is in London at present a slightly-built man who would not feel very alarmed if he suddenly saw three burly hooligans rushing at him with knives in their hands.

His light malacca cane would whistle through the air three or four times. There would be cries of pain, and his assailants would be incapacitated.

This man, who can walk about the world with so much confidence, is Mr. H. G Lang, a district superintendant of police in the Bombay Presidency, India. He has recently introduced into the Indian police force a method of self-defence with a light walking-stick, believed to be of Continental origin, which has been found very effective.

Mr. Lang told a reporter that by this method a young girl could disable a powerful man with even a short umbrella. He said: – All that you need know is the vulnerable parts of a person’s body, and the means of delivering the blow. A sharp, slashing blow on the side of a man’s neck may easily kill him. A rap on his hand will make it useless. A mild blow on the inner side of the knee has made it impossible for a man to walk properly for months.

The ordinary untrained person defending himself with a walking-stick would strike down on his assailant’s head or shoulders. This is a “dead” blow which cannot be quickly repeated, while the stick can easily be caught by the other person. Glancing cuts to the side of a man’s neck can be delivered with lightning rapidity, and the stick cannot be caught. Even a man about to fire a revolver from close range could be diabled with a slash to the hand or the face.

I have found that my knowledge of this method of self-defence has given me the feeling of the greatest confidence. On one occasion in India I saw a powerful built lunatic coming toward me. I did not feel alarmed and decided just where to strike. As it happened, he did not actually attack me.

Mr. Lang has written a fascinating book describing the different strokes and guards. In this reference is made to the “Riot Enclosure” in which the Indian police are trained to deal with mobs. It consists of circular arrangement of posts with sacks and boards irregularly placed to represent a mob.

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