An Interpretation of Captain Laing’s “4th Practice” of Bartitsu Stick Fighting

Of all of the exercises described in Captain F.C. Laing’s 1902 essay The Bartitsu Method of Self-Defence, the “4th Practice” is the most difficult to follow. It is presented as a training drill but it has most of the characteristics of a self-defence set-play.  Laing’s instructions are also uncharacteristically ambiguous, so what follows is simply one of several plausible interpretations of this exercise.

4TH PRACTICE (CHANGING HANDS).

To “rear guard.”–With a circular motion of right arm from front to rear hit upwards, point of stick just clearing the ground so as to hit opponent’s ankle; as the stick rises to level of shoulder change it into left hand at the place where it was held in the right hand; hit opponent’s face, then point at his body and return to “on guard,” changing stick back to right hand.

Pierre Vigny (right) assumes a high front guard against E.W. Barton-Wright’s lowered front guard.
Vigny strikes low, catching Barton-Wright across the inside of his right ankle.
Vigny’s swing follows through until his cane is poised near his left shoulder. Vigny now grips his cane with his left hand, swinging the weapon around behind his head …
… executing a backhanded strike across the left side of Barton-Wright’s face …
… followed by a double-handed “bayonet” point thrust to the midsection …
… and finishes by re-assuming the right (front) guard, covering himself against any retaliation from Barton-Wright.
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