That the cane was a natural part of a man’s everyday life in the past. Nowadays, you might think of the cane mainly as a fashion accessory or support when hiking. What is less well known is that the cane has historically also been used as both an offensive or defensive weapon – sometimes canes have even been used with concealed knives or swords.
Either way, the cane was such a natural part of everyday life as late as the 1930s that many self-defence books from that period included sections on how to defend oneself with a cane. Especially in the 19th century, you will find a number of books with tips on how best to deal with an attacker using the stick as a weapon.
One of the people who actively taught self-defence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was Edward William Barton-Wright (1860-1951). He is known as one of the first people from Europe to learn Japanese martial arts. Later he would also come to teach a form of hybrid martial art, which he named Bartitsu, a combination of his own name and Jujitsu.
Anyone who has seen the 2009 movie Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. and read the books will have come across the word Bartitsu. In the short story The Adventure of the Empty House, first published in 1903, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has the main character Sherlock Holmes try out “baritsu”, as an excellent way to defend himself. In the book, he misspelled the word Bartitsu.
21 best tips for practicing self-defense with a cane
It was when Barton-Wright wrote an article called “A New Art of Self Defense” in Pearson’s Magazine in 1899 that he came up with the name Bartitsu. Bartitsu can be described as a mixture between jujitsu, boxing, kickboxing and self-defence with a stick. In essence, however, it was jujitsu on which most of it was based.
It was also in Pearson’s Magazine that he wrote two articles on how to defend oneself with a walking-stick called “Self-defence with a Walking-stick” which were published in January and February 1901.
1. Defense at a distance – How to avoid any risk of getting hit on the fingers, arms or body by retreating out of reach of your opponent, but at the same time keeping him within striking distance with your own cane
2. Another way to retreat out of reach of your opponent’s stick
3. Double-handed grip – the best way to use a two-handed stick that is too heavy to handle quickly with one hand, when attacked by a man with a light stick:
4. How to defend yourself without risk of injury if you are carrying only a small stick in your hand and are threatened by a man with a very strong stick:
5. Another way to defend yourself when your opponent is equipped with a heavy stick and you are carrying only an umbrella or an unreliable stick:
6. A very safe way to disable a boxer who tries to attack you when you are armed with a cane:
7. A safe way for one man to disarm another when both are armed with the same types of sticks
8. One of the safest ways to defend yourself for a tall man who has little confidence regarding his speed and skill in using his cane in a fight, when attacked by a shorter and more skilled opponent:
9. How to defend yourself with a cane against the dangerous kick by an expert:
10. One of the best ways to knock a man down in a public brawl, when there is no room to swing the cane freely
11. The safest way to defend yourself when attacked by pointed or long cane when you are only equipped with an ordinary walking stick:
12. An effective way to defend yourself with a crooked cane when attacked by a man equipped with a standard straight cane
13. The best way to disarm a man who attacks you and tries to prevent you from hitting him with a crooked stick
14. How to use a walking stick as a weapon in a crowd
15. A very simple way to defend yourself with a crooked cane against a boxer
16. How to defeat an attacker who attacks you with a heavy cane when you are only carrying a light cane
17. Another way to disarm and overpower an opponent with a superior cane to yours
18. One of the best ways to defend against an attack to the head with a heavy cane when you are only carrying a regular cane:
19. A very useful way of disarming a man who is longer yourself when you meet him on unequal terms
20. An example of a neat way to defend yourself and counterattack when an attacker aims a blow at your head with a cane
21. Two examples of double-dealing combined with an excellent ability to use both hands