A short history of weaponised umbrellas

Recent news reports from France suggest that the bodyguards of president Nicolas Sarkozy will soon be carrying a new defensive weapon – the Para Pactum umbrella. Reinforced with kevlar, the Para Pactum has apparently been tested against attack dogs and is also proof against knives, acid and thrown projectiles: video here.

While this high-tech development in defensive bumbershootery is undoubtedly impressive, it is also simply the most recent in a hundred-plus year history of attempts to weaponise the humble brolly.

As early as 1838, the Baron Charles de Berenger suggested several ingenious methods for using an umbrella in defence against highwaymen and ruffians:

In 1897, J.F. Sullivan proposed the umbrella as a misunderstood weapon in his tongue-in-cheek article for the Ludgate Monthy.

Only a few years later, Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright took the subject seriously in his two-part article series for Pearson’s Magazine, explaining the use of the umbrella and walking stick in self defence. The cane/umbrella were considered the first line of defence in the Bartitsu arsenal, which also included boxing, wrestling and jujitsu.

After the London Bartitsu Club closed under mysterious circumstances in 1902, instructors Pierre Vigny and his wife, who is known to us only as “Miss Sanderson”, continued to teach the use of umbrellas and parasols as defensive weapons. By 1908 the concept had made its way to the United States, being taught at the Philadelphia Institute of Physical Culture and featured in Popular Mechanics Magazine.

The remainder of the 20th century has seen the use of umbrellas as weapons of assassination:

… as well as numerous developments of the “umbrella sword” motif:

… and, of course, the Unbreakable Umbrella:

Finally, see this page at TVTropes.org for a comprehensive list of weaponised umbrellas in anime, comic books, film, literature and television.

15 Comments

  • By tudza, Thursday, 7th April 2011 @ 12:36 am

    Silly me, I brought an umbrella sword to an umbrella gunfight.

  • By Josh K-sky, Wednesday, 27th July 2011 @ 8:33 pm

    The future is wide open.

  • By Rob, Thursday, 10th January 2013 @ 7:08 pm

    I love the idea of umbrella defense its just so hard to find any good instructional dvd’s of good use if any one knows of any emal me at taoistmonk52@gmail.com

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Glorious History Of Beating The Crap Out Of People With Assault Umbrellas | Gizmodo Australia — Thursday, 28th July 2011 @ 1:44 am

  2. The Glorious History of Beating the Crap Out of People With Assault Umbrellas [Gadgets] « ten beer bowling — Thursday, 28th July 2011 @ 2:29 am

  3. The Glorious History of Beating the Crap Out of People With Assault Umbrellas [Gadgets] — Thursday, 28th July 2011 @ 5:12 am

  4. The Glorious History of Beating the Crap Out of People With Assault Umbrellas [Gadgets] | Rich Guru Poor Guru Review — Thursday, 28th July 2011 @ 6:03 am

  5. The Glorious History of Beating the Crap Out of People With Assault Umbrellas [Gadgets] | Gadgets Geekly — Thursday, 28th July 2011 @ 6:20 am

  6. The Glorious History Of Beating People With Assault Umbrellas | Sales Intelligence — Thursday, 28th July 2011 @ 11:21 am

  7. The Glorious History Of Beating People With Assault Umbrellas | Gizmodo Australia — Thursday, 28th July 2011 @ 11:22 am

  8. The Glorious History of Beating the Crap Out of People With Assault Umbrellas [Gadgets] | JW BE S1 — Thursday, 28th July 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  9. The wonderful History of thrashing the Crap Out of folks With Assault Umbrellas [Gadgets] | Modern Techie — Sunday, 31st July 2011 @ 9:49 am

  10. “Liable to Abuse by Excitable Persons” | Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner — Wednesday, 3rd August 2011 @ 2:59 pm

  11. » Umbrella combat, a la John Steed — Friday, 1st February 2013 @ 4:03 am

  12. Tod durch Regenschirm | 60pages — Saturday, 19th October 2013 @ 2:47 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment