In this ingenious and curious style of wrestling, athletes contend over the possession of a solid rubber ring, with the winner being the grappler who is able to wrest the ring away from their opponent. This ’20s-vintage sport was revived some years ago by members of the Bartitsu Club of Chicago, who endorse Ring-Combat as a strenuously enjoyable form of recreation.
Striking drills from the Vigny style double-handed guard and front guard, courtesy of the Bartitsu Club of Cologne:
(…) hit him rapidly on both sides of his face, disengaging between each blow as explained; the rapidity of these blows will generally be sufficient to disconcert him. – Captain F.C. Laing, The “Bartitsu” Method of Self Defence (1902)
In this experimental sparring match, Chilean Andres Morales (in the fencing mask with the white trim) employs the Vigny cane style opposed to the doble bastón (double stick) sub-system of Filipino stick fighting.
Note Andres’ expert use of measure (fighting distance) maximising his reach advantage, both offensively and via the Guard by Distance tactic:
It is always most desirable to try to entice your adversary to deliver a certain blow, and so place yourself at a great advantage by being prepared to guard it, and to deliver your counter-blow. – E.W. Barton-Wright
… combined with tactical use of ambidextrous attacks from the front, double-handed and rear guards to keep the opponent guessing:
(…) the rapid transference of the walking-stick from one hand to the other was one of the most powerful factors in offence and defence, and one likely to prove most puzzling to the opponent. – Guy’s Hospital Gazette, March 31 1900
Made of combat-worthy rattan and featuring solid rubber ball handles, these canes effectively simulate the asymmetrical balance and handling characteristics of the fighting canes originally designed by Pierre Vigny and used at the Bartitsu School of Arms circa 1901.
Worth bearing in mind when one’s martial practice starts to become too academic; there is gently going through the motions, and then there is Extreme Stick Fighting. These two combatants demonstrate impressive toughness and courage in fighting full-contact and unarmoured, with very few apparent rules, on uneven, natural terrain.
While it can be argued that, for example, a classic Vigny cane would be expected to do more damage than a shorter, evenly-weighted rattan stick, it’s also important to note that adrenaline can allow a fighter to ignore many strikes that might be assumed to be fight-stoppers under less extreme circumstances. It follows that grappling, including ground-fighting, is a crucial skill. Endurance, luck, improvisation under pressure and will-power are all important factors in surviving, let alone winning, a combat of this nature.
In the above experimental sparring bout, Andres Morales (wearing the fencing mask with white trim) sticks closely to the Vigny style in contending with an opponent fighting in a more generic, free style.
In the second video, Andres and his sparring partner both employ the Vigny style. Note Andres’ tactical advantages in switching between the double-handed, rear and front guards, employing ambidextrous striking and even some double-handed strikes: