The Belt as a Weapon (1890)

Bartitsu Club instructor Pierre Vigny demonstrates a walking stick defence against a hooligan armed with a leather belt.

Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright frequently referred to the utility of Pierre Vigny’s stick fighting art against common street weapons, including the fearsome, heavy-buckled belt favoured by gangsters in large English cities.  Here follows an excerpt from the Warminster & Westbury Journal and Wilts County Advertiser of Saturday, 13 September 1890, detailing how members of the Manchester scuttler gangs would use their belts in combat:

(…) the favourite weapons are stones and belts, and these latter form the almost indispensable outfit of “scuttler.” Many of these belts are very curious, bearing remarkable designs upon them. These are made the insertion of large number of pins, which are used to form a design along the whole length of the belt. The pins are inserted into the leather, then broken off, and filed down to a level with the leather.

The most dangerous part of the belt is the buckle, and this is made of brass, and usually measures about three inches in diameter. These are used by the “scuttler” fastening one end of the strap into the buckle end, and then, winding his hand round the strap from his wrist, he grasps the leather, leaving about eight or 10 inches the belt use a weapon, the winding of it round his arm preventing it from being readily dragged from him in a fight.

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