“Tricks of the Parisian Apaches” (1910)

This article from The Globe newspaper of February 3rd, 1910 reveals some more mugging tricks developed by the so-called Apache street gangsters of Paris.  

Most of these marauders were professional thieves and burglars, who are divided, in their own slang, into “ceux qu montent” the burglars; “ceux qui marchent”, or thieves of various classes; and “ceux qui butent”, those who make a speciality of nocturnal aggression. It is the third category which is most dreaded by Parisians, for the desperate criminals who make a speciality of night attacks are a bloodthirsty, cowardly set of ruffians, and they are always armed to the teeth and hold human life—the lives of others, bien entendu — very cheap.  A solitary citizen going home late, or a policeman on a lonely beat, has very little chance against them.

M. Henri Christian lately made the acquaintance of three hooligans whose speciality is “night work,” and they gave him some details of the manner in which they operate. One the three was named Baigueur, the second answered to the nickname of the Costeau de Grenelle, and the third, because the extraordinary size of his nose, was known to his companions Cyrano.

When they have once made up their minds rob a passer-by— which one does not matter much — it is more than likely they will decide to begin operations by the “coup de la discussion.” That means that the three “apaches” will take up position the pavement, and pretend to be engaged in innocent gossip. The street or the boulevard is deserted; a solitary pedestrian comes into sight. In a moment he is weighed up the three scoundrels the look-out for their prey. There is not a policeman sight. The moment is favourable.

“He has a gold chain,” says one. . .

“He’ll do,” says the chief the criminal trio. “Get ready.”

They continue to converse until the Stranger reaches them. Involuntarily he glances at them he passes. That is sufficient.

“What do you mean by looking at like that?” asks the chief in an insolent tone. Then turning his companions, he remarks: “Hasn’t he got an ugly mug?” The pedestrian, however little he may be inclined quarrel with the evil-looking ruffians who have accosted him, will unlikely take their insults in silence. But his first word of protest one of the group advances him with a menacing “What! I’ll show you who you’ve got to deal with.”

The stranger stands upon his guard, but immediately another member the trio bounds upon him from behind, seizes him round the neck with his arm, and lifts him off the ground. His cries for help are stifled in his throat, and if he succeeds making himself heard the arm which presses against his throat is tightened and he loses consciousness.

While this is going on another of the accomplices goes through the victim’s pockets, while the third keeps watch for the police. Then, when everything worth taking has been appropriated, the wretch who has almost strangled the “pante” (victim) releases his arm, gives the victim a violent push, and sends him headlong into the pavement, where he will lie senseless for half an hour at least.

Sometimes things do not always pass so easily. Sometimes the victim shows more resistance than was expected, and then the apaches have to modify their plans. He must either be stunned with blow from a mutton-bone or given a stab with knife or dagger. The mutton-bone used by the Paris apache is a terrible weapon. In appearance it resembles a small hatchet, minus the handle, is about six inches long, and comes from the shoulder of the sheep. This and the knife and the knuckle-duster are the favourite weapons of the Paris hooligan. They are both effective and noiseless, whereas the use the revolver is likely to attract the attention of the police.

The one thing the nocturnal marauder cannot forgive is being the victim of a mistake as to the value of the pedestrian he has singled out for attack. If he has a watchchain and no watch, and if his pockets be empty, then woe to the unfortunate “pante”. To punish him for having misled “Messieurs les Rodeurs,” he is treated with the utmost savagery, thrown brutally the ground, and stamped on. Another terrible punishment inflicted on the pedestrian who does not answer to the expectations of the cowardly ruffians who waylay him at night is the sonnage, which consists in taking the victim’s head by the ears and bumping it into the edge of the pavement.

Among the more recent methods developed by the Apaches of Paris for rendering the passing citizen- incapable of resistance is the lasso.  At the favourable moment a cord, from 15ft. to 20ft. length and ending in a running knot, is thrown by an expert hand. As it falls over the victim’s head, the cord is jerked tight, and, half-strangled, he is thrown the ground. The rest is easy.

Tommy Joe Moore Seminar in Southend-on-Sea (UK)

Some creative promotion for instructor Tommy Joe Moore’s July 22nd Bartitsu seminar in the English town of Southend-on-Sea.  If it’s good enough for Luke Skywalker, it’s good enough for the rest of us …

Suffrajitsu Documentary “No Man Shall Protect Us” is Now Available

The documentary No Man Shall Protect Us: The Hidden History of the Suffragette Bodyguards is now freely available via Vimeo.

Written, co-directed and co-produced by Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf, the 50-minute documentary explores the origins and exploits of “The Bodyguard” – a secret society of women who trained in jiujitsu and defended the leaders of the radical suffragette movement in England.

Some images from the documentary:

 

“Kingsman” Prequel “The Great Game” Announced

Matthew Vaughn, the director/producer of the successful Kingsman action/comedy film franchise, has announced an upcoming prequel titled Kingsman: The Great Game.  The movie will be set during the early 1900s and will explore the origins of the Kingsman spy organisation.

No other information is currently available, but according to Kingsman Harry Hart, a.k.a. Galahad:

Since 1849, Kingsman Tailors have clothed the world’s most powerful individuals. In 1919, a great number of them had lost their heirs to World War I. That meant a lot of money going uninherited. And a lot of powerful men with the desire to preserve peace and protect life. Our founders realised that they could channel that wealth and influence for the greater good.

And so began our other venture. An independent, international intelligence agency operating at the highest level of discretion. Above the politics and bureaucracy that undermine the integrity of government-run spy organisations. A suit is the modern gentleman’s armour. And the Kingsman agents are the new knights.

… suggesting that The Great Game may be set during the 1920s.

The phrase “the Great Game” generally, however, refers to the complex political and diplomatic brinksmanship that existed between the British and Russian Empires during the 19th century; it has also been used to describe the pastime of treating the Sherlock Holmes stories as if they were actual history.

Hopefully, the new movie will continue the Kingsman tradition of dynamically gentlemanly fight scenes, most particularly while armed with impeccably-furled umbrellas …

To “Obviate the Risk of Being Disarmed by Being Hit Upon the Fingers”

Under “Bar-titsu ” I comprise boxing, or the use of the fist as a hitting medium, the use of the feet both in an offensive and defensive sense, the use of the walking-stick as a means of self-defence in such a way as to make it practically impossible to be hit upon the fingers.

– E.W. Barton-Wright, “Ju-Jitsu and Ju-Do”; Transactions and Proceedings of the Japan Society, London (1901)

Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright’s articles and presentations repeatedly highlighted the Vigny system’s innovative guard structure, which was geared around protecting the defender’s weapon-wielding hand.

The basic combative logic of this style of guarding was clearly explained by Barton-Wright in 1901:

It must be understood that the new art of self-defence with a walking-stick, herewith introduced for the first time, differs essentially from single-stick or sword-play; for a man may be a champion in the use of sword or single-stick and yet be quite unable to put a walking-stick to any effective use as a weapon of defence.

The simple and sufficient reason to account for this is that both in single-stick and sword-play a cut is always taken up by the hilt of the weapon, whereas if you attempted to guard a blow with a walking-stick — which has no hilt — in the same way as you would with a sword, the blow would slide down your stick onto your hand and disable you.

Therefore, in order to make a stick a real means of self-defence, it has been necessary to devise a system by which one can guard a blow in such a way as to cause it to slide away from the hand instead of toward it, and thus obviate the risk of being disarmed by being hit upon the fingers.

After some fifteen years of hard work, such a system has been devised by a Swiss professor of arms, M. Vigny. It has recently been assimilated by me into my system of self-defence called “Bartitsu.”

– Barton-Wright, “Self-defence with a Walking-stick: The Different Methods of Defending Oneself with a Walking-Stick or Umbrella when Attacked under Unequal Conditions (Part I)”, Pearson’s Magazine, 11 (January 1901)

Within the scheme of Vigny’s style, protecting the weapon-wielding hand was accomplished by:

1) Guards by Distance

Like many martial arts and fencing instructors, Vigny favoured “guards by distance”, i.e. avoiding an opponent’s attack while simultaneously counter-attacking:

2) High Guard Positions

Vigny’s implicit critique of more traditional stick fighting systems was that these styles essentially treated the cane as if it were a substitute sabre.  Crucially, that meant that they included the standard sabre-style parries of tierce and quarte, in which the weapon-wielding hand is held lower than the point of impact, leading to the risks referred to above by Barton-Wright:

Above: a mid-level parry in tierce.

Students in more traditional cane defence classes wore heavily padded gloves to mitigate the chance of injuries to their hands and fingers in training, but of course these items, like hilts, are not present in spontaneous street altercations.  Therefore, Vigny eliminated tierce- and quarte-style parries from his own system, which was specifically designed for self-defence rather than academic fencing.

Similarly, being further spatially removed from the opposing weapon, the characteristic high guard positions of the Vigny style – particularly the Rear Guard, shown in the centre above – reduce the chances of the weapon-wielding hand being targetted and “sniped” by an alert opponent.

Casual perusers of Barton-Wright’s articles on stick fighting are sometimes confused by the incidence of fighting stances in which the defender’s cane appears to be held in tierce/quarte.  Those stances, however, fall into two specific categories:

  • representations of the (presumably not Bartitsu-trained) “opponent” assuming a tierce/quarte-type guard stance for purposes of demonstration, as Pierre Vigny (right) does here:

  • representations of the Bartitsu-trained defender assuming a position of invitation, in which the defender deliberately lowers, widens or otherwise modifies his front guard stance in order to “bait” the opponent’s attack to an apparently exposed target, as Vigny does here:

The defences that emerge out of those positions include hanging guard parries, pre-emptive strikes and closing in to grapple with the opponent at close quarters.  They never include actual parries in the tierce or quarte positions, which contradict the basic strategy of the Vigny style.

3) Hanging Guards

“Hanging” guards are those in which the defender’s weapon-wielding hand is positioned higher than the point of impact between the two weapons at the moment the attack is parried.  This position has the effect of deflecting or “shedding” an attack downward along the shaft of the cane:

The combination of the “guard by distance” tactic, the default to high guard positions and the options of hanging guards as backup defences represents the combative ideal of “striking without being struck” and offers the optimal chance of avoiding disarms and hand injuries in a stick fight.

 

Tommy Joe Moore Bartitsu Seminar in Southend-on-Sea (UK)

An introductory Bartitsu seminar taught by Tommy Joe Moore of the Bartitsu Lab will be offered via  Paper Street Bartitsu and the Southend Combat Academy.

The seminar will be held on July 22, 2018 and is open to all skill levels.  Further information and contact details are available via this link.

“Sherlock” Actor Benedict Cumberbatch Fends Off Real-Life Muggers Near London’s Baker Street

LONDON (Reuters) – British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, known for his portrayal of fictional crime-fighter Sherlock Holmes and comic book superhero Doctor Strange in the Marvel movies, has been hailed a hero for chasing away four assailants as they mugged a cyclist in London.

Cumberbatch, 41, jumped out of his taxi and ran to the aid of the man working for food delivery company Deliveroo as he was set upon by the muggers, the Sun newspaper reported.

“The cyclist was lucky, Benedict’s a superhero,” Cumberbatch’s Uber driver Manuel Dias told the Sun. “Then it all got a bit surreal. Here was Sherlock Holmes fighting off four attackers just round the corner from Baker Street,” said Dias.

“I had hold of one lad and Benedict another. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He was very brave. He did most of it, to be honest.

They tried to hit him but he defended himself and pushed them away. He wasn’t injured. Then I think they also recognized it was Benedict and ran away.

Benedict was courageous, brave and selfless. If he hadn’t stepped in, the cyclist could have been seriously injured.”

He said the actor embraced the cyclist after the scuffle.

The attempted robbery took place on Marylebone High Street, just around the corner from Holmes’ fictional home on Baker Street.

“One of the males attempted to grab the victim’s cycle … He was then punched in the face, struck on the head and hit with his helmet,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement, adding that the incident took place in November last year.

“Nothing was reported stolen. The victim did not require hospital treatment. No arrests have been made,” the statement added.

Cumberbatch, who has played the fictional detective in TV series Sherlock since 2010, has also starred in films such as The Hobbit, Avengers: Infinity War and The Imitation Game, where he portrayed British World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing.

Cumberbatch told the Sun he was not a hero.

“I did it out of, well, I had to, you know ,” he was quoted as saying.