“New Weapon Against Hooliganism: The Walking Stick as a Means of Defence” (1902)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Thursday, 28th March 2019

Following the Bartitsu Club’s “Anglo-Japanese Tournament” tour of early-mid 1902, the Club dissolved and the former instructors all went their own ways.  The subject of this September 14, 1902 London Times article, Pierre Vigny, established his own school in London, offering a Bartitsuesque curriculum of antagonistics, albeit with a much greater emphasis on fencing than on Japanese unarmed combat.

Noting that the use of heavily-buckled belts as street-fighting weapons was “in the news” during this period and that the stick vs. belt defence alluded to in this article is distinct from the only other known representation of a Vigny-style defence against a belt attack, which is shown here for reference:

Note also that the “Miss Sanderson” referred to as Vigny’s student below was, in fact, Marguerite Vigny, who went on to devise her own method of women’s self-defence employing parasols and umbrellas as weapons.

With the present reign of hooligan terrorism, the noble art of self-defence has need to adopt other and more modern methods. Practices that stood well against smart arm and head work are of little value against the belt and the knife. Yet it is a commonly accepted fact that a walking stick or an umbrella affords the innocent pedestrian all the defence be needs against the most unexpected kind of attacks, the weapon be used scientifically.

Few people are aware of the tremendous possibilities of defence or attack that lie in these commonplace companions. A man with a walking-stick and an average amount of dexterity may ward off a blow with a belt or a knife, and at once land his opponent in a position of comparative helplessness. He may even stand his ground against the attacks of half-a-dozen of the worst type of London hooligans, and may “elbow” his way out of a crowd without much difficulty.

This up-to-date art has an able champion and exponent in Professor Pierre Vigny, director and manager of a new school of self-defence. When the school was opened the other night at 13, Berners Street, Oxford Street. many well-known sportsmen were present to witness the professor’s exhibition. Among various items of the programme the new art of handling a walking-stick or an umbrella, straight or hooked handle, as a means of defence or attack, attracted special attention by its originality and its ingenious tricks and counters.

In the case of a blow from a belt, a proper attitude of defence with a walking-stick would result in the belt twisting round the stick and being swept from the grasp of its user before he was aware of the harmlessness of his stroke. Then, before be could thoroughly realise that he had lost his grip of the belt, the man with the walking-stick would have turned that weapon of defence dexterously so as to deal has opponent a blow with the other end of it, either on the chest or on the head: or, in the case of a hooked stick, might have pulled him to the ground by the neck, or tripped him by the leg.

If Professor Vigny’s new science spreads and becomes popular, it will fare badly with the hooligan, who will soon find his occupation gone entirely, or too dangerous to follow.

Ladies, of course, may also find the new science of value to them. Miss Sanderson, a pupil of Professor Vigny, delighted the audience the other night by her clever and careful attacks, and proved that the art is simple enough to find able exponents and pupils in the fair sex. It seems probable, too, that the attention of the younger generation may be turned to the new science, in which case school children would find in it not merely training for future occasions of defence that may arise, but a pleasant and health-giving exercise.

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