- Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Wednesday, 5th July 2017
The rear guard, also referred to by E.W. Barton-Wright as the “left guard”, is one of the signature defensive stances of the Vigny style of stick fighting. It was well-described by the anonymous author of “L’art de la canne”, an essay first published in the Revue Olympique of May, 1912:
The Vigny guard position is, in essence, a combat guard. The left arm is held in front as if bearing a shield; the right arm is raised at the rear, with the weapon held above the head, in a perpetual “spring hold.”
When you are being attacked, quickly retreat with a swift guard change and bring your cane down powerfully upon the opponent’s arm or hand. In doing this, you can be mathematically certain of reaching and damaging your target.
Immediately afterwards, you step towards him, turning your wrist rapidly and striking the steel tip of your cane into his eyes or under the nose. And here is very surprised man … !
In Barton-Wright’s “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” articles, the rear guard is consistently presented as a position of invitation, “baiting” an attack to an apparently exposed target so as to set up a devastating counter-attack via the “guard by distance” tactic.
To “guard by distance” means to avoid the opponent’s attack via footwork and body movement, as distinct from “guards by resistance” which include all defences in which the opponent’s weapon is blocked or parried by the defender’s weapon.