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Self-Defence with a Walking-stick: Revisited


David Brough

University of Manchester, GB
About David

David Brough is a Professor of Neuroinflammation at the University of Manchester, and an amateur martial arts historian and jujutsu practitioner.

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Primarily an aid to assist mobility (or in the case of the umbrella, to stay dry) the walking stick also has a history as an object of considerable martial value. The goal of this article is to discuss the development of the walking stick as a martial art weapon within the British Isles over the last two centuries. From before the Victorian era the Irish Blackthorn was considered by early authors to be the best stick for self-defence purposes. In the late Victorian and Edwardian period the stylish fashion accessory, the Malacca cane, was the fulcrum of the cane fighting system developed by French Master at Arms Pierre Vigny. This was assimilated into the early British fighting system of bartitsu, developed by Edward William Barton-Wright. It may be that Barton-Wright and Vigny further evolved their cane fighting style by utilising the knowledge of the Japanese jujutsu teachers Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi who were instructors at the Bartitsu School. The walking stick persisted in the background throughout the development of jujutsu in the U.K. and further evolved with the introduction of Eastern fighting systems such as hanbo jutsu and hapkido. The last 20 years saw the bartitsu method undergo a renaissance following its rediscovery. Thus in the context of British jujutsu and self-defence, it may be considered that the walking stick has undergone several evolutions as a weapon, with each evolution reflecting distinct influences and ideals, and each one effective in the hands of the knowledgeable user.

How to Cite: Brough, D., 2021. Self-Defence with a Walking-stick: Revisited. Martial Arts Studies, 11, pp.101–109. DOI:
Published on 19 Jul 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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