First Edition Copy of “The Walking Stick Method of Self Defence” for Sale

A rare first-edition copy of H.G. Lang’s classic self-defence manual is currently available for sale via eBay.  The asking price is £300 (US$326).

Quoting the seller’s description:

– “THE DAINTIEST LADY CARRYING A WALKING CANE IS A MATCH FOR THE BURLIEST HOOLIGAN.” 

[LANG (Herbert Gordon, 1887-1864)]

The “Walking Stick” Method of Self-Defence. By an Officer of the Indian Police. 

(London): Athletic Publications Ltd., n.d. [1926]. First edition. xvii, 66 p. Publisher’s burgundy cloth with black lettering to upper cover and spine. Printed dustjacket with black lettering and illustration of Indian police officer using his stick. 8vo (19cm x 12.5cm).

Very Good internal condition, in a Good to Fair only jacket and binding. Tape previously used to strengthen reverse of dust jacket, resulting in some horizontal brown tracks. Jacket also age-toned and somewhat dirty / marked, with chip to top and bottom edges with some loss to spine ends and corners. Rear board damp marked (front less so). Pages a bit age-toned but plates clean and bright. Very occasional light scattered foxing. Binding solid. An acceptable copy in a worn but intact dust jacket. See gallery images.

Thanks to research carried out by The Bartitsu Society in recent years (see their web site), we now know much more about the origins of this quirky martial arts book, which today is quite rare and has a cult following of sorts in the Bartitsu community. 

Bartitsu is an eclectic martial art and self-defence method originally developed in England during the years 1898–1902, combining elements of boxing, jujitsu, cane fighting, and French kickboxing.

We already knew that author H. G. Lang was a senior officer in the Indian Police, but exactly what inspired his method of walking-stick defence remained sketchy. 

Lang grew up in the West Indies, where it’s possible he studied the local stick-fighting method called ‘bois’, also known as ‘kalinda’ in Trinidad. Later, in 1920-21, he learned the ‘Vigny’ stick-fighting style from Percy Rolt at the latter’s Holland Road gym in East Sussex. Indeed, Lang credits Pierre Vigny in his book as an inspiration for his method, which seemingly melds elements of bois, Vigny and kalinda, and once learnt can make “the daintiest lady carrying a walking cane… a match for the burliest hooligan”. 

“Today, H.G. Lang’s book forms part of the foundation of the Bartitsu and Vigny stick fighting revivals.”(The Bartitsu Society, pub. online Dec 2017.)

As an interesting aside, “During the early years of the Second World War, his book was translated into Hebrew and became the basis for the stick fighting training of the Haganah paramilitary organisation in Palestine”. (The Bartitsu Society).

The book contains 60 photographic illustrations showing his self-defence method’s various moves and postures (59 in the book itself and one on the front cover of the jacket).

Bartitsu Stick Fighting in Bavaria, Germany

Some highly skilled Vigny-style cane play in this demonstration bout by Bartitsu instructor Alex Kiermayer (suspenders and flat cap) and his colleague-at-arms Christoph Reinberger.  Kiermayer and Reinberger have also recently collaborated on the instructional video series Bartitsu: Historische Selbstverteidigung mit dem Spazierstock nach Pierre Vigny.

Part 2, Video Walking Stick: Coburg Zeitreise 2018. Alex and me demonstrated 19 th century self defense. Including foil and sabre fencing. Fighting with the walking stick, pugilism and savate. NOTE: Fighting with the walking stick was a short part of it.Showing only the basics with a little free playing!

Geplaatst door Christoph Bear-Knuckle op Woensdag 8 augustus 2018

Note especially the fluid, ambidextrous shifts between attack and defence techniques and between various single and double-handed guard positions, as per numerous eyewitness accounts of the Vigny style in action during the early 20th century.

“The Most Dangerous Kicks of la Savate” (1908)

Henry Bagge’s article from the February, 1908 issue of Fry’s Magazine strongly echoes the sentiments expressed by E.W. Barton-Wright and other critics of then-contemporary, mainstream French kickboxing

The theme of “improving” savate (partly via an infusion of English boxing) is ironic in that, during the course of several decades before this article was written, several such infusions had already been made. One of the more recent attempts had, in fact, been carried out at the London Bartitsu Club. Nevertheless, the dominant approach to teaching and practicing savate in France circa 1908 was the stylised, courteous and extremely light-contact style favoured by Charles and Joseph Charlemont.

The Charlemonts’ favored approach was opposed by a minority counter-culture within French kickboxing circles, who advocated for a harder-hitting and more pragmatic style geared towards both prize-fighting and practical self-defence.

Bagge’s subject, savateur Paul Mainguet, was clearly a proponent of the latter school.  He recommends employing the evasive and coup d’arret (“stop-hit”) techniques of savate against kicking attacks, plus a small selection of direct, well-proven kicks, relying upon boxing otherwise.  Add an emphasis on guards that damage the opponent’s attacking limbs plus the close-quarters grappling of Japanese jiujitsu and you have Bartitsu unarmed combat in a nutshell.

The “kicker” in the accompanying photographs is Georges Dubois, who had, in 1905, famously lost a savate vs. jiuitsu challenge contest against Ernest Regnier, a.k.a. “Re-Nie”.  Dubois went on to pioneer a number of interesting “antagonistics” projects, including revivals of gladiatorial combat and Renaissance-era martial arts and creating his own, notably pragmatic, system of self-defence

 

La Savate, or French boxing, may be divided into two classes; the first absolutely incorrect, and thoroughly useless as a means of fighting, but distinctly worthy of consideration as a very pretty imitation of the real thing, requiring, as it does, a wonderful display of dexterity, combined with an astounding suppleness of the limbs.

The second, however, is a far more serious business. There is little of the gallery play about it, and as a means of resisting an attack from footpads it is invaluable, and far more deadly in its effects then any blow with the fists.

La Savate, for exhibition purposes, was developed and perfected by Dr. Pengniez, chief surgeon of the Army and hospital, himself a first rate amateur boxer. It was only after a considerable amount of discussion, and repeated consultations with the highest boxing authorities, that the whole thing was reduced to a science, and all the various blows, kicks, and guards consists clearly and concisely tabulated under separate heads.

Undoubtedly the cleverest exponent of la Savate is Professor Mainguet, the world’s middleweight champion of French boxing. In common fairness it should be stated here that M. Bayle, the heavyweight champion, who was to have met Professor Mainguet, and decide once and for all which was the better man, injured his knee so seriously before the match could be pulled off that the question of which of the two is entitled to call himself the world’s all-around champion of la Savate has never yet been decided.

Without wishing in any way to detract from the undoubted skill of M. Bayle, Mainguet’s phenomenal quickness justifies many in the belief that he would have got the decision over his formidable adversary, for it is certain fact that a chassez-bas – a lateral, or “cow” kick on the ankle – will put the strongest man in the world temporarily out of business, and Mainguet can deliver this one kick (among many others, of course) with amazing speed and dexterity.

Mainguet, in addition, is one of the few Frenchmen who are able to differentiate between the English style of boxing and the French, for he has carefully studied the former, and is quite proficient at it. Many French amateur champions have graduated from Mainguet’s school, including Jacques Maingin, heavyweight champion in 1903, and Fry, French lightweight champion of English boxing in the same year. In 1907 he turned out Mazoir, French featherweight champion, both in English and French boxing, carrying off also the 1907 Interschool Challenge Cup for the greatest number of victorious pupils from one school.

It cannot be denied that in real fighting the French method of boxing is absolutely deadly, for no matter how much pluck a man may have, a kick on the ankle, involving, as it does, all the bones and ligaments of the foot, or a stamp on the instep, causes such excruciating pain, and the injured part swells so rapidly, that a man is practically unable to stand on his feet.

It is a curious fact that while the French have so clearly defined what is fair, and unfair, in their fencing schools, and in their duels, they do not seem to have been able to draw a hard and fast line in la Savate; and this is the one great difference between the English and the French styles of boxing.

In the duels with rapiers certain rules are laid down which protect the combatants from all surprises, and the duellist who breaks either of these would be disqualified at once and socially ostracized. But this fairness, which is the basis of the rules which govern dueling, does not appear to regulate the style of fighting used by the lower classes to settle their differences.

Again, in the boxing competitions Frenchmen are absolutely irrational, for, according to the rules which govern la savate, the man who is touched by a slight kick must stop instantly. If, however, the man who is kicked was in the act of rushing, and lands a terrific punch on the jaw after being touched, that punch is declared null and void by the judges.

Eliminating all the spectacular kicks in la savate, there are several which, if carefully studied, would render French boxing so formidable as to be practically invincible, if taken in conjunction with the English style of boxing. It must, however, be clearly understood that the kicks which are described at the end of this article are so dangerous that they are absolutely disallowed in all competitions, and they can only be used very gently when sparring.

Several Frenchmen I have seen box use these kicks only, but they are in the minority, for in France the majority of people go in for English boxing (an imperfect copy of our own), or the classical French boxing, with its puerile conventions.

Some time ago I was discussing with a professor of la Savate the difference between English and French boxing, and I suggested that a judicious blending of the two would make a very formidable mixture, if the man were attacked suddenly in the street. He agreed.

“When I am fighting, “he said, “I strive to forget that I have my feet at all. I only fight with my fists, after the English style as I understand it. I only use the French style to guard the kicks at the instep, and to dodge all the kicks at the lower part of the legs and feet. Then suddenly, while practically in the art of delivering a blow, I land a coup de pied direct (straight jab with the flat of the foot) full in the man’s chest, or un coup de pied de pointe (with the toes of the foot) on the kneecap. If, however, my adversary clinches, I use what is termed a chassez-bas, which smashes one of his ankles, or crushes his toes.

While this may not be very elegant, a man can learn how to do it in one lesson; that is why I teach my pupils English boxing, for I am free to admit that the English method is the only one that is any good. Only a very gifted man can make the great success of the French style of boxing and it is asking a great deal of the ordinary pupil to expect him to have the dexterity of an acrobat.

In my opinion, the best method is the one that the most clumsy man can learn without any trouble, and the beauty of all these easily-learned kicks is that the pupil never forgets them once he has thoroughly mastered them.

The following kicks are considered by the majority of professors of French boxing to be the most dangerous.

Le Chassez-bas

This kick can be delivered with either the left or the right foot, but it is always given as in the chassez-bas with the leg that happens to be foremost at the time. Thus, if a man is boxing in the English fashion; boxing, that is to say, with the left leg and left arm in front, naturally the left leg is the one he uses.

This kick is the only really practical one of the whole lot, and entails no alteration in our usual methods of boxing – of course, always excepting the use of the feet for kicking purposes. The following is the best way of administering this kick –

1. Throw the weight of the body on the right leg.

2. Shorten the left leg, then suddenly shoot it down as if in the act of stamping with the foot crosswise, aiming at the desired spot.

Most vulnerable spots are the following: (1) the toes; (2) the instep; (3) the shinbone; (4) the kneecap.

The man who has been only slightly hurt on any of these spots is very chary of another experience, and wisely keeps at a distance.

The chassez-bas is really very useful, even if only used as a means of defense it makes one’s adversary very uneasy, practically mows down his base, and opens the way to sudden rushes, which, if a man is uneasy, practically take him off his guard.

Chassez-croisé

This kick is delivered in exactly the same way as the preceding one, only the one word croisé (to cross), practically explains the act.

Thus, if a man is out of range of his adversary, naturally, as long as he keeps out of the way, he has nothing to fear. If he wishes to still keep at this distance, and yet to deliver an attack, the only way in which this can be done is with the feet, the leg landing on his opponent’s legs. The first thing is to get a little nearer to your adversary; and to deliver the kick effectively the following method should be employed –

Place the point of the right foot beside the outer anklebone of the left foot, draw up the left leg, and strike as in the chassez-bas. If, instead of placing the point of the right foot on the outside of the left ankle, you place it with a jump very much in advance of it, you get all the closer to your adversary to deliver your kick.

Coup de Pied Direct

Left leg and left arm in advance;

1. Shift the weight of the body forward onto the left leg.

2. Strike a swift jab forward, with the sole of the foot, full in the chest.

The whole weight of the body being behind this kick, the force is tremendous.

Coup de Pied de Pointe

Left leg and arm in front.

1) Carry the weight of the body lightly on the left leg.

2) Kick forward with the point of the right foot either at the knee-cap or in the stomach.

This kick should be given with a quick, sharp stroke, and the foot should at once be replaced behind the left one after delivery.

The best way to use this kick is to aim only at the kneecap, as one, well delivered, will knock out the strongest man with ease and quickness that is amazing.

More Cane Sparring from the Santiago Stickfighters

Walking Stick Combat, sparring de bastón de madera y blackswift.

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op Dinsdag 7 augustus 2018

Chilean stickfighter Andres Morales (in blue) wields a ball-handled madeira wood stick against an opponent armed with a BlackSwift self-defence cane.

An Exhibition of Old-School Fisticuffs

Bartitsu instructor Alex Kiermayer (in black pants) and his colleague Christoph Reinberger perform an exhibition of bare-knuckle pugilism at the Coburg Zeitreise 2018.

Geplaatst door Christoph Bear-Knuckle op Zondag 22 juli 2018

Although this is clearly a friendly demonstration rather than a serious contest, note the upright and even slightly backward-leaning fighting stances, shifts between lowered/extended guard positions, milling the fists and transition into standing grappling and throwing, all of which are characteristic of boxing under various 19th century rulesets.

Yukio Tani vs. the Cornish Wrestlers (Western Morning News, 12/11/1926)

There follows a detailed account of three encounters between former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani and a trio of Cornish wrestling champions. Although the rules aren’t entirely clear, they may have combined both styles in catch-as-catch-can fashion, to the effect that victory could be achieved either by a clean throw onto the back, a “pin” position in which the opponent was held so that both shoulders and one hip were pressed to the mat, or via a submission hold. Tani, as the visiting champion, was required to defeat his opponents within a particular time limit, or to pay a forfeit to them.

It’s worth noting that Tani was about 45 years old in 1926, and almost certainly had more experience in jiujitsu vs. European wrestling contests than anyone else alive at that time.

Noting, as usual, that the term “Jap” did not hold any pejorative meaning at this time, being rather a simple abbreviation like “Brit” for British.

Watching closely the opponents who have faced the celebrated Jap Yukio Tani at the Palace Theatre, the difference in the style of wrestling was most marked. Although the Japanese wear a jacket, it is close fitted to the body, held with a strap or girdle round the waist, and not like the loose jacket which is proverbial in the Cornish contests.

The Cornishman depends upon his supreme strength, strong holds, and hitches (throws) which are essential to bringing his man square down on his back. Ju-jitsu is well known to be an elaborate system self-defence based upon scientific knowledge of balance and anatomy, applied with quickness and cunning.

Fred Richards, of Old Found, age 27, weight 177lb., who is one of the finest wrestlers Cornwall has ever produced, was one of Yukio Tani’s challengers on Monday evening. Tani, knowing that he was meeting such a skilled exponent of the Cornish style, was a little wary and would not rush in. Richards, however, quickly embraced an opportunity and endeavoured to bring his man down with the fore hip, for which he is famous.

CLEVER PLAY

Here was seen the great cleverness the Jap. Tani, swinging round, endeavoured to get an arm hold and back heel. Richards’ strength enabled him to bring Tani under him, and he cleverly held him down. Tani immediately applied the under grip and leg hold, from which Richards extracted himself. Both rising rapidly, they locked again in a deadly grip.

Coming down again under Richards, Tani applied the leg half-nelson. Richards, grasping Tani, again swung him under with great determination, the Cornishman shaking the Jap and bouncing him back several times on the mat. The ten minutes in which Tani had pay forfeit had now elapsed.

Tani endeavoured again make Richards throw himself, but being wary the Cornishman eluded his wily opponent and lasted out 11 and 3/4 minutes, to the great delight of the large assembly, both wrestlers receiving a great ovation for the spirited display.

CAUTIOUS TACTICS

Harry Gregory, St. Wenn, age 22, 5ft. 8in., weight 156 1b, who also tried his skill against Tani on Tuesday, is a well-known exponent of the Cornish style, and was only narrowly defeated for the middleweight championship in September last.

Tani was very cautious, and Gregory also exercised care. Four minutes elapsed ere Gregory endeavoured to trip the Jap, but he lost his balance, and the Jap, following, was on top instantly. Gregory, by sheer strength, rose, turning over the Jap and holding him down for three minutes, during which time was an extreme trial between the Eastern and Western trials of strength and cunningness. Tani extricated himself and applied the deadly arm lock which Gregory got out of on two occasions, the second time dragging Tani down behind, a result which he had scarcely contemplated.

The ten minutes had now elapsed and cheers showed the great appreciation of the sterling contest which was taking place. Gregory, taking his man off the ground, brought him down with tremendous force on the mat, making the house ring with the thud, but, the Cornishman slightly losing his balance, the Jap was quick to embrace the opportunity of the outstretched arm and locked him in ll minutes 5 seconds.

Yukio Tani has promised to visit Cornwall next season and try his skill against the Cornishmen in their own style. He expressed great appreciation the temperament and skill of his opponents, and hoped they would not match him too heavily when competing for the first time at Cornish tournament. Such a great exponent of the art as the Jap is certain to receive a hearty welcome to Cornwall.

GEORGE BAZELEY AND TANI

There was exciting contest between George Bazeley, of St. Dennis, and Yukio Tani at the Palace Theatre, Plymouth, last night. The Cornishman had the Jap down for considerable periods, and tried desperately to pin both shoulders and a hip to the ground, but Tani wriggled free before this could be done, and in turn made every effort to bring into force his ju-jitsu service. For just over the prescribed ten minutes Bazeley held the Jap, before succumbing to the arm hold.

“The Perfect Lady’s Weapon”

Writing in The Sketch of December 1st, 1958, journalist Marjory Whitelaw looks back to the Edwardian era, when “perfect ladies” carried concealed pistols and knew just where to point them.

 

THE first I ever saw was at a dealer’s, when I was looking for something else entirely. He put it in my hand – a small purse, elegant, of fine black suede. It was slightly worn around the clasp, and it seemed, I remarked, oddly heavy for its size. The dealer beamed approvingly. “An Edwardian lady’s coin purse,” he said, “separated, as you see, into two useful compartments.”

He showed me, first, the side lined with silver kid where the sovereigns and sixpences would have gone, with two of those little round safety containers for coins. Then he opened the other, l equally dainty, compartment, and there, in the place of where one would expect to find the notes, was a pretty silver pistol. Delightedly, he demonstrated how the trigger was concealed on the outside, so that it was not necessary to open the purse in order to fire.

“Vital element of surprise, you see,” he said, making his point nicely. “The perfect lady’s weapon.”

Immediately there entered my mind, as clearly as if she had been in a film, the perfect lady who might have used it; tall, beautiful, wearing black with a few ostrich plumes, an imperious, passionate Edwardian who would not budge for a man. It opened up a whole new view of life for ladies.

“Of course,” said the dealer thoughtfully, “no real lady would have required one. The occasion would never arise.” He was a gentle Edwardian himself, and he dealt in manly, antique weapons – swords, daggers and old guns.  It was obvious that he could not bear the idea of perfect ladies being handy with firearms.

“No,” he said firmly, “the only person who would require this would be a lady thug.” He blushed. “Forgive me. When I say lady, I mean, of course, woman. Or, perhaps, female. Yes, a female thug.”

This satisfied him, until he looked once more at the purse.

“Of course,” he said doubtfully, “it has rather a lot of taste for a thug.”

The coin purse was a provoking mystery: it had, after all, been made for some woman, be she lady or thug. And so, I discovered, had quite a number of similar little gadgets. But for whom?

My dealer’s fellow connoisseurs of antique guns were, on the whole, inclined to support his view; their own inner lives were bent backwards in tender admiration of the lovely weapons produced between 1450 and 1850 (for it seems that guns fell into a state of sad artistic decadence in the mid-1800’s); it was difficult to get them interested in the social problems of the Edwardians.

Reluctantly, they dug out their stock of the small, pretty toys: pistols in black, elegantly-chased silver, pearl with a sweet, rococo inlay in gold, a travelling model in ivory. These, they said disapprovingly, were known in the trade as “muff pistols,” for ladies forced by the demands of life to carry weapons had had a way of concealing them in large, fashionable fur muffs. How they managed in the summer perplexed me, until one old man remembered that he had once seen a charming pink parasol with a thing called a pepper-box concealed in the handle.

But it was clear that the subject pained them. Forgetting the underlying vitality of Edwardian life, they had, in their romantic minds, cherished a vision of ladies who did little except adorn life with sweet docility, doing the flowers in the morning, changing into pretty tea-gowns in the afternoon, lifting up the hearts of the gentlemen home from the day’s shooting. For these graceful, languid creatures to know any thing at all about pistols seemed to them quite out of character.

Nor would those distressing little crises, requiring ladies to think of self-protection, so common-place abroad, occur in Edwardian England; no matter how charming the lady, the English gentleman could be counted on not to lose control.

“No, it was quite unthinkable,” I was told, rather crossly, by a gentleman determined to keep his illusions.

“Confronted either with pistols or mice,” he said, “a lady would simply faint.” Alas, gentlemen, you are sitting on a shaky theory. All you have proved is that Edwardian ladies were particularly skilful at going their own way under the protective cover of a large cloud of feminine fuss and feathers.

The evidence, indeed, shows that at the turn of the century ladies who shot, and who shot well, were springing up on all sides. They were already competing at Bisley, and, equipped with sporting rifles and a convenient moral purpose, they were infiltrating on to the moors.

“They may even, by their presence,” wrote the hopeful editor of a handbook on ladies’ sports, “refine the coarse ways of men and contribute to the gradual disuse of bad language in the field.”

Nor was this trend confined to sports-lovers. The adventurous Mrs. Patrick Ness, the third white woman to get a permit to enter Kenya, took a pistol with her, and it saw her through a number of situations requiring self-protection. Elinor Glyn’s heroines, too – girls from the very best families were usually able to overcome their fear of fire-arms, without actually having to become good shots.

In His Hour, Tamara, well-bred, widowed and English, found herself one winter’s night stranded in a hut with a Russian prince who, being a foreigner, had no intention whatever of keeping control. Tamara’s immediate reaction was to grab a pistol. Unfortunately, since it was a man’s, the trigger was too stiff and heavy for her tiny hand, and she let it drop.

Surely it was for just this sort of occasion that the practical French had, only a few years earlier, produced the Gaulois Light, compact, in shape like a small box, it was the perfect weapon for the nervous novice, for all that was required was to point and squeeze as one would crumple a piece of paper. Ladies who, like Tamara, insisted on travelling off the beaten track could only expect trouble. But this did not deter them.

There is a heartening story of an Englishwoman who lived for a while in Chicago, at that time still a place where anything might happen. Walking in the street one day she found herself engaged in sudden battle with five or six gunmen. She held them at bay with the pistol which she carried in her bustle until the police arrived. My informant was a man; he couldn’t tell me how the bustle held the gun. My guess is that she had a cavity made under the back bow. He didn’t know, either, what type of pistol she used, but there was available at that time a pretty little round squeeze- box, rather like a powder-compact in shape, called the Chicago Protector, and I am inclined to think it was that.

Further west, of course, pistols fell readily into the category of suitable gifts for ladies. Elinor Glyn, travelling in Nevada in 1907, was visited by a delegation of miners anxious to tell her how greatly they had admired her romantic novel Three Weeks. She, in turn, visited the miners in their camp and was honoured with a presentation banquet, the gift being a small pistol mounted in pearl.

“We give you this here gun, Elinor Glyn,” the miners are reported to have said, “because we like your darned pluck. You ain’t afraid and we ain’t neither.” Elinor’s little pearl-handled beauty (she kept it to the end of her days) was probably a Colt, for this was the pistol that opened up the West. Colts’ produced the first practical revolver, and their small, beautifully-engraved and decorated products (they made Derringers also) were all the rage from 1880 up to the time of the First World War.

Many a traveller packed a Colt when setting off for the Grand Tour of Europe. My favourite is, I think, a lady who became known as the Unsinkable Mrs. Brown. Born in a shanty, she married at the age of fifteen a middle-aged miner who soon struck it rich in Colorado. When Denver hostesses (only a few years away from placer-dirt themselves) refused to accept the unlettered, naive Molly Brown, she went to Europe, with her fond husband’s twenty-million-dollar strike to back her. It wasn’t long before she spoke several languages. She dressed lavishly, she was generous, eccentric and full of zest, and she was a smashing social success in most of the capitals of Europe.

But her hour of greatest glory came on the Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912. The sea air at night was chilly and when Molly took a few turns around the deck before sleeping, she was dressed for warmth. She wore, it is reported, extra-heavy Swiss woollen bloomers, two jersey petticoats, a cashmere dress, a sportsman’s cap tied on with a woollen scarf, woollen golf stockings and a chinchilla opera cloak, and she carried a Russian sable muff, from which she had forgotten to remove her Colt’s automatic. She was, in fact, about to send a steward below with the pistol when the crash came.

A short hour or so later she had put herself in command of a boatload of frightened passengers. She had taken off as much of her warm clothing as was practicable and shared it out among the shivering older women and the children, and, stripped to her corsets and Swiss wool unmentionables, her pistol tied to her waist, she was pulling at one oar and directing the men at the others.

“Work those oars,” she roared at them, “or I’ll blow your guts out!” They rowed, unsinkable.

Molly Brown was a woman who had the knack of adventure, a robust, Edwardian quality that she shared in her own way with those spirited ladies who made their mark as adventuresses, rather than by being merely adventurous. Respectably married, of course, not in their first youth, still beautiful and always exquisitely dressed, they found life most rewarding in Paris and at Monte Carlo. Men spoke of them admiringly as “high-steppers,” wives, coldly, as “fast,” and wherever they were, things began to happen.

For one of them, perhaps a gift from an admiring victim, was the charming little gold pistol which, when the trigger was pulled, ejected a posy of gold flowers and a spray of scent. For them, perhaps, too, the more subtle weapons of self-protection; the little riding- whips with the damascened silver handles, slender but strong enough to contain a small revolver. Or (for one of the marks of an adventuress was the reckless way in which she smoked in public) those sweet two-sectional cigar-cases, velvet-lined, holding four small cigars and a gun.

Were these weapons often used, in those old gay days at Monte Carlo? Perhaps the surprise of realising that the lady could mean business was enough. For Englishwomen tend to the use of slow poison, rather than shooting to kill. Crimes of passion, as we all know, are found more in France. There was the case of the devoted and loyal Madame Cailloux, whose husband had been ruinously defamed by the editor of one of the Paris papers. Madame Cailloux went down to the newspaper office; and, pulling a pearl-handled revolver from her purse, she shot that editor dead. An English wife in this situation would have, in extremity, got up a petition to the House of Commons.

As for the situation today, I cannot do better than report my conversation with a London gunsmith.

“Ladies’ pocket pistols,” he said, musing. “Of course, ladies in Britain don’t require them much now. They do in Paris, though,” he went on. “Most countries abroad, in fact.”

I said, “Really, no lady I have ever known in Paris has required a pistol.” He looked at me, slightly exasperated at my doubt.

“Madam,” he said patiently, “all I can tell you is that every gunsmith in Paris is making them, and if you want a good cheap model I advise you to get it there.”

Ah, the delicious dangers of life abroad. They’re with us still.

“Observations on Practical Self-Defence”

The anonymous author of this short article from the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of 5 January, 1924, lands squarely on the side of pragmatism as a guiding tactic of self-defence.

As a matter of pure curiosity one likes to know the various methods of self-defence employed by various individuals. Many years ago, in the West Indies, I met a peculiarly “hard case”; a man, covered with scars, who had followed all the more reprehensible avocations, and one or two reputable ones as well; not a big man, not an especially strong man, but wiry and small-eyed and broken-toothed and leering, the sort of man one would not like to meet unexpectedly in a dark place. He talked well. His reminiscences were mostly quite dreadful, but in telling them he curiously lacked braggadocio.

“Boxing?” he said. “No; what’s the good of that? I’ll tell you what I can do, though. I can throw a bottle.”

And as there were commonly a good many weapons of that nature within his easy reach I felt that, although interesting, he was a man to keep close behind.

A stout walking stick is a useful weapon if you thrust with it, and a ship’s engineer has before now used a spanner in the same way, but in default of arms, lethal or otherwise, a knowledge of ju-jitsu is undoubtedly the most useful accomplishment. But whereas boxing can occasionally be useful in practice (though over rated), and is a first-rate sport, ju-jitsu at its best can never be a true sport in the European sense, for it entails breaking bones and the infliction of all sorts of more or less serious injuries.

In the robuster age of the prize ring, perhaps, judging from romances, fists were more generally used in anger than they are to-day but I cannot believe that the ruffian of 1823 with a heavy boot would withhold that boot (to say nothing of the loaded stick which he probably kept in his sleeve) when chance or rascality set him in personal conflict with a real fighting man. Indeed, too much altogether has been made of the noble art as a means of self-defence.