“John Steed’s Sword-Stick”: an Umbrella Fighting Tutorial from The Avengers Annual of 1967

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Tuesday, 2nd January 2018

Having already addressed the umbrella combat of debonair super-spy John Steed in general terms, our attention now turns to some of the specifics, as delineated in The Avengers Annual of 1967.  The following graphic tutorial probably  accounted for a number of damaged umbrellas and wounded feelings between siblings and young friends.

John Steed’s Sword-Stick

The sword stick is essentially a light but surprisingly strong weapon which is used as an extension of the arm, a lever, or a locking stick. It enables the user to actually start his offensive before his opponent is within reach of him. It is silent, accurate and has great psychological advantages. While it can be lethal, it is mostly used to overpower without injury or to incapacitate an opponent. An important technique used with the stick is “tension”.  When it is released at one end, the built-up energy causes it to go immediately into a movement almost too rapid for the eye to follow!It is also a fact that when the sheath is cast aside or thrown at the opponent, his eyes almost invariably follow it and provide a distraction of great advantage.

Steed grasps shoulder and pulls it towards him while thrusting his umbrella between arm and body. The action is confined to pulling shoulder towards him and thrusting umbrella away – note that the curved handle is held to trap the arm so that from a forward movement, it will hook over the wrist. Steed can now move swiftly behind his opponent and, if he wishes, force him face downwards to the ground.

In this the main action is a left hand movement in order to keep the right hand free for a strong grasp on the gun hand. The right hand holds the stick in tension against the left so that when it is drawn it whips around to a violent blow on the gun hand. Steed uses his right hand to twist the gun away and takes an offensive threatening posture with the sword.

From the ground Steed slides his stick between his adversary’s legs at knee level. It is held firmly with both hands and all the following twisting and rising action must be smooth and continuous. The first movement is to twist umbrella between the legs and rise to a sitting position, proceeding to twist and rise onto one knee. At this stage adversary begins to fall and Steed rises fully to the offensive position as opponent falls backwards.

As the assailant kicks out, Steed steps back and traps the heel with his stick. As the leg extends forward it is forced upwards. Steed rises as high as possible to throw his assailant backwards to the ground. He is then able to take up a threatening pose over floored opponent.

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