Victorian Cane Combat

Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts - General' started by ChrisN, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. ChrisN

    ChrisN Yellow Belt

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    In order to understand cane combat I feel we need to understand a bit of history.

    While I would encourage anyone to look things up for them self this is an extremely brief outline of what was happening at the time.

    The Victorian era in Europe was on the face of it a golden age for mankind. At the forefront of this was Science and engineering.

    Medicine was improving with the introduction of both anesthetics and antiseptic. Devastating epidemics like smallpox, typhoid and cholera where gradually being eradicated. People’s health was improving, they lived longer, and the population of England almost doubled in less than fifty years,

    In 1829, Sir Robert Peel was Home Secretary and the first Metropolitan Police Act was passed and the Metropolitan Police Force was established.

    However with the ever increasing population there came problems. The rich poor divide grew at an astounding rate. The city’s swelled with people looking for work, overcrowding lead to slum housing, workhouses, and Child labor. People where desperate and in desperation turned to Violence, crime and Prostitution.

    While at one time it was common place to both carry and practice with a weapon, now virtually no one did, it wasn’t the social norm. Certain people took full advantage of what was happening for example Jack the Ripper. The news at the time took great pleasure in telling people all the grizzly details. Normal people were afraid.

    Out of all of this came the self-defense school. Some opened by ex-military types tired of seeing people suffering others by fencing masters, some probably by people hoping to make a fortune out of it. What I do know is there where lots of them and unlike most of the fighting arts taught at the time they were open to both men and women.

    One everyone’s probably heard of is Bartitsu. A mix of French boxing Jiujitsu and cane fighting as well as less conventional weapons such as jackets, hats.

    There are quite a few different cane arts to choose from.

    I picket out Theory for Learning the Cane in 25 Lessons by Louis A.V. Leboucher. I did this for several reasons.

    First thing I really don’t like the range of canes available for martial arts. There is a fine line between a stick and a weapon designed to mane and I believe they cross it. 25 lessons however is purely a striking system meaning not only is it relatively easy to pick up (although to do well will take a lot of practice) but it can be performed with a wide range of objects. Cane, pool queue umbrella, bat. I used a frying pan the other day. If it’s vaguely like a stick you can do it.

    “If he had been a little less brutal he’d have made his fortune” J. Charlemont Louis-Armand-Victorin.

    It is brutal. Every blow is designed to end the fight and if using it as a self-defense form I for one want the fight to be over quickly.

    “This exercise must be cultivated, as it not only promotes the advantage of muscular force, but also develops vigour in the arm, chest and legs, expands the lungs and gives the torso greater stature and volume. How could it be thought otherwise when one thinks that a pupil can build up to throwing one hundred and fifty blows in a minute?” Louis A.V. Leboucher

    It’s what in fencing term’s is eyes open. You start an action not knowing how it will end. Or to put it another way is it’s a reactive style of fighting.

    I know a chap who did a translation from the original French text who I can ask for advice if needs be, and finally it’s not a be all and end all text it’s easy to slip elements from other works into the style, something that Louis A.V. Leboucher did in later manuals.

    I think that’s enough typing for today. I will go into the lessons themselves another time.
     
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  2. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Well, sort of. It depended on who you were, where you were at, and what you (Chris) consider a "weapon."

    You should also note that nothing has changed. The vast majority of people in England still do not carry or practice with a weapon. Even in the U.S., often associated by many as being particularly weapons and violence oriented (a misconception), the percentage of people who practice ANY martial art, never mind weapons, is a slim fraction of the whole.

    Yes.

    Not so much, no.

    Yes, definitely.

    In Barton-Wright's school? Do you have primary evidence of this? A few of the instructors which he employed went on to open their own schools after the official demise of Barton-Wright's school and, yes, some of them taught improvised weapons and techniques.

    I'll have to dig it up and check it out.

    What are you looking for? Crooked canes are all over the place in the U.S. The sell "stock canes" at various Farm & Fleet stores.

    For a self defense weapon? Can you clarify your perspective a bit please because, just on face value, I'm not sure I'd agree with this statement.

    Sounds good.

    I'm not sure about this. Considering some of the techniques that Charlemont himself taught or, as example, the fact that Vigny la canne was just a jumped up mace, I have my doubts that "brutality" was the issue.

    Pretty similar to a lot of the other marketing copy written for competing cane systems. Lang likened the rapidity of one of his techniques to using a double-action revolver.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  3. ChrisN

    ChrisN Yellow Belt

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    Hello lklawson sir.

    Please take this history part with a pinch of salt. I was more trying to paint a picture than do something my old history teacher would except.:)

    A weapon could be pretty much anything from a Tabaco knife to a hatpin and so on. I was using the term to mean something designed with the purpose to hunting someone. Beleve me I know what I do is not concidered normal. Ive gone into work with a black eye and a grin on my face before.:blackeye:

    Improvised defence Primary evidence no secondary I believe so, Barton-Wright's school is mentioned in Pearson's Magazine, they talk of a gentleman defending himself with an overcoat.

    A simple Crooked cane wouldn’t be a problem. A bit of time with a steamer and I could open the crook enough to hook. What I really really don’t like are things like this….. http://www.canemasters.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_3&products_id=298
    It’s one thing to break a bone when defending yourself, another to rip and tear flesh. I’ve had a broken jaw that became a twin fracture. Nearly cloaked to death so believe me I know breaks are just as dangerous. If you disagree with that I respect your opinion. Just won’t change mine.;)

    I meant to include in the part about the number of school emerging the rivalry between many of the fencing masters.While I may find it amusing the school where big business.

    On a different note it’s going to be good to get your take on what I’m going to write. :)
     
  4. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    Shhh! The first rule about Stock Cane Club is you don't talk about Stock Cane Club![​IMG]
     
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  5. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Oh. OK>

    Clubs, koshes, slungshot, life-preservers, billies, and related simple impact weapons were quite popular at the time, particularly among criminals.

    You and me both. I remember limping around for 6 weeks, including on my vacation to Washington D.C., hobbling in a "cam boot" (sort of a removable cast) with a broken foot acquired from martial arts practice. :)

    There are 4 Pearson's articles by Barton-Wright, 2 on unarmed defense, and 2 on cane. There is an additional military magazine article by a gentleman named Liang on Bartitsu stick-work, and there is the Walkingstick Method of Self Defense by police superintendent in India, Lang. The first of Barton-Wright's unarmed articles shows the use of an over-coat in one technique, a prequel, which precedes the numbered techniques of the article. Barton-Wright shows it as a distracting effort for when being attacked with a knife: chuck the coat over your attacker's head, sock him with punch to the gut, then use a JuiJitsu based ankle lock. None of Barton-Wright's other techniques in the four articles uses either a hat or an over-coat.

    I don't think this can be considered as primary evidence of a the instruction in "less conventional weapons" though it may be considered a hint. Use of the overcoat and hat as distracting techniques was pretty common in period self defense so it's not really surprising to see something similar here.

    Avoid those things. Just buy a stock cane off of amazon or something.

    Herding canes on amazon
    Herding Tools Product Results - Sheepman Supply - Livestock Supply Headquarters


    Using a hardwood stick is Deadly Force. It can, and does, injure and kill thought blunt trauma. If the threat of life and limb to you is great enough to justify using Deadly Force, then any Deadly Force is justified. If the threat is not sufficient to warrant the use of maximum Deadly Force, then NO Deadly Force is justified.

    "Deadly Force" is Deadly Force, regardless of the mechanism. Getting squeamish about one mechanism over another is illogical and not justifiable under any law I'm familiar with.

    Fair enough.

    When I see interesting topics like this, I can hardly resist. :)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  6. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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  7. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    I intend to start an "Old Geezers' Fight Club." The first rule of Old Geezers' Fight Club is... umm... wait, where am I at and who are you?

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  8. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    Hmmm ... where can I find a gi patch that reads "Old Age and Treachery..."?
     
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  9. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    Another fellow and I used to joke about retirement, and starting the エロ爺 道場-jiji no dojo, or "school of the old men...." [​IMG]
     
  10. ChrisN

    ChrisN Yellow Belt

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    I do think im going to like it here:D


    My thoughts on teaching cane.

    So I needed to produce a series of thirty to forty minute lessons in total roughly equivalent to a weekend workshop on cane combat.

    If asked to do something like that I can recommend you look here.
    Teaching training methods HROARR

    I especially found this useful.
    Teaching training methods HROARR

    As part of my old job I would regularly stand in front of a class of thirty plus eleven too sixteen year olds and command there attention. I would be informative and yet entertaining. Projecting my voice without shouting, added to that my long hair (most of them had never seen on a male) and the energy I put into it made a difficult class come over as easy.

    These people I would be teaching however, the youngest is around twenty and over the last few years most have become my friends. Not just that but I would be teaching my instructor, someone I have the greatest respect for would be my pupil. How was I meant to do this?

    I admit I was worried. But then I thought what would Leboucher do and could I do the same?
    I can’t count the number of hours I spent pouring over the manual making notes, practicing the movements and looking into his life and the way fencing Salle's where run. Could I mimic other fencing coaches from history?

    So that was it. For half an hour every session are normally quite informal study/training group would be run as a traditional/professional French Salle. Just with a lot less French spoken and when I felt it necessary the addition of modern body protection.

    I started by setting the mood, sending everyone the rules that they must follow at all times. I won’t bother going into them, there is nothing you wouldn’t expect to find in any traditional martial arts school. What it helped to do was cement the fact that things were different. For that time I was no longer Chris they would call me sir and I would call them by name followed by sir (Including the female sirs). I did debate if I should be called monsieur, but I did not like that idea.

    So after the warmup followed squats press-ups and stomach crunches :arghh: (started with five sets of five so twenty five of each and we are building the numbers up) than two hours of Messer and 133 we were ready for my lesson to begin.

    Dn dn derrr what happenes next.;)
     
  11. ChrisN

    ChrisN Yellow Belt

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    Quick overview of lesson one.

    What I wanted to do was get people’s attention, get them moving. Just because I like to talk it doesn’t mean people want to listen to me. ;) However to begin with I had too.

    I started by explaining and demoing the anatomy of the cane how it should be held, and salute in a very different way to normal. Everyone sautéing each other was interesting when some people struggled (This may not seem like a lot but it was important to me to establish that we were doing something different to the norm added to which the movement will become important for a rising blow later). Not to mention how to stand and hold your body.

    Going from medieval fighting roughly speaking a very forward but balanced stance to a very upright low stance was surprisingly difficult for many of the class.

    At this point I was already running out of time and if I’m honest I feel like I was rushing. Talking way too quickly and not explaining myself very well, but no one claimed to have any questions so I decided to go over everything again next time and moved on.

    Parry and riposte on the spot with a blow to the head.

    Probably my biggest mistake at this point was telling a bunch of medieval fighters that every blow is designed to end the fight. Delivered with force and precision. :D

    After going through the motions at speed with my regular coach as a second, I slowed things down breaking the movements into parts.

    I pared people up, gloves and masks on and we were away. It’s strange how even quite experienced martial artists want to do everything at speed. I think I lost count of the times I told people to slow down and think about the movements. That said I have done the same thing and had to remind myself to slow things and concentrate on the movements.

    After a short while I broke things up swapped partners around and then did something none of them expected. I demoed it left handed then got people to swap hands.

    There is a bit of a debate over this, obvious what side of the fence I fall on. There are three natural lefts in the club including myself and my coach, we all train right handed so getting everyone to practice with the left both served a purpose and was amusing.:)

    End salute.

    My thoughts.

    I was very conscious of the time. Which effected how I taught.

    No one asked any of the questions I wanted or expected. Also having an effect.

    I don’t think things went badly and the feedback I got was positive if anything I was certainly developing a better idea of how to coach a group of people.
     
  12. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Get used to it. You'll always be constrained by time. Either you will spend all of your class time on one or two small facets, trying to adequately explore, drill, and functionalize them and worrying about your students being bored because of so little variety, OR you'll spend your class time trying to cram lots of different material and worrying about your students not getting enough depth in any of the material, able functionalize it, or even be able to remember any of it by the time they come to the next class.

    Last night's class was more Slungshot. We've been doing a months-long set on slungshot and I only had one student show up last night for various reasons. 'Sallright, he basically gets a one-on-one. Spent the first hour on just one set of applications with some variations to it. We practiced, drilled, and worked hard to functionalize it. The second hour, I just threw a lot of stuff out to keep it interesting. I told him in the after-class-review that I only expected him to be able to remember the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the entire class. I don't always get the luxury of doing it this way.

    It's worse if your class is only an hour.

    And worse still is doing a 1-hour seminar class where you're trying hard to impart long-term skill on a broad range to the students. :eek:

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  13. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    This balancing act is one of the biggest things I'm trying to work on as a teacher. In addition to the question of how much material to cover, there's the issue of how much time to devote to new material vs old material, time for drilling vs sparring, and so on.

    If I could just count on every student showing up every day for a three hour class, it would be so much easier. ;)
     
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  14. ChrisN

    ChrisN Yellow Belt

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    Tell me about it. :banghead:Theirs the core die hard group three of us who are working towards Free Provost/Instructor and are instructor. Everyone else is been so hit or miss at the moment. I wouldn't mind but I travel forty odd miles to train. everyone else is on the door step. OK things happen but the one time I was not going I emailed everyone apologizing.

    Out of five lessons apart from the above I don't think anyone has been there for more than two. I'm starting to find it a tad frustrating.
     
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  15. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    Courtesy of Kim Taylor and EJMAS from a number of years back ... Chunen Butori Ryu
     
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  16. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master Black Belt

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    Beats youth and skill everytime.

    But fortune sir, favors the Bold.
     
  17. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    I had a curious thought. Does anyone know how Victorian era cane combat compares to the Japanese version such as Uchida ryu tanjo? I imagine a lot of it would parallel because of the weapon involved, but it's pure speculation on my part as I've never even seen video of Victorian era cane fighting.
     
  18. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Most Victorian cane techniques are based upon Victorian and pre-Victorian sword work. Most of the continental Europe cane-work seems to be based roughly upon dueling saber, certainly French "la Canne" is. Some of the English cane-work is essentially Singlestick without the basket, which is a training method for heavy Military Saber/Broadsword. Consequently, most of it looks kinda "swordy." There are a few exceptions, however.

    My (limited) understanding is that most Japanese cane systems are either based on Hanbo or Jodo, which to my eye doesn't look a whole lot like sword-inspired technique. However, I also understand that the western walking-stick/cane was popular with the disenfranchised Samurai and it wouldn't shock me at all to find that many of them just looked at a walking-stick and thought something like, "meh, just a bokken."

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  19. Chrisoro

    Chrisoro Blue Belt

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    Is this book(.pdf) relevant to this discussion? Allthough it was published during the reign of King George (in 1923 to be precise) it is based upon the instruction of Swiss la canne Professor Pierre Vigny, which was one of the instructors (in savate and canework none the less) at the Bartitsu Club in London.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Lang's manual. It's not the same system as being referred to above, but is relevant in that it is a concurrent system and thus has points of comparison for other la canne systems. :)

    Notice the guy who transcribed and republished it mentioned in paragraph 2 of page 1? Name look familiar? ;)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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