M. Vigny’s School of Self Defence (1904)

From the Daily News, May 27, 1904:

All good citizens will rejoice to learn that a new and efficacious method of abolishing those pests of the streets known as Hooligans has been discovered and put into practical application by a French gentleman named M. Pierre Vigny.

Some years ago the idea occurred to M. Vigny, who, it may be mentioned, has been fencing muster to a French crack cavalry regiment, that it would be possible to discover a system by which people could guard themselves against the cowardly methods of assault practised by the blackguards of the streets. M. Vigny accordingly proceeded to study the methods of Hooligans in the slums of London and Liverpool. When he acquired first-hand knowledge of their ways, he repaired to Paris, where he sought wisdom from the Thugs and Apaches, ruffians who assault pedestrians with sand-bags and life-preservers, and then, for the purpose of finishing his education, he spent considerable time amongst the ruffians of Rome and Naples, who are proficient in the use of the murderous stiletto, and completed his curriculum in the Bowery of New York and the slums of Chicago.

He thus became conversant with every device of the street ruffian, and, what is of more importance, he discovered how to protect himself effectively from every weapon, with the exception of firearms, they use, including loaded belts, sand-bags, bludgeons, knives and daggers, with the instrumentality of a humble walking stick!

For the purpose of imparting this art he has established a “School of Self Defence” in a street near Oxford-street, which is largely patronised by young aristocrats, city men, actors, and others whose pursuits necessitate their being out late. Ladies also receive instruction at this unique school in large numbers, and M. Vigny maintains that anyone who has mastered the system of self-defence with a walking-stick or umbrella, which he has inaugurated, is a match for at least half a dozen street ruffians armed with belts or knives!

“Philosophy of the walking stick” (1899)

This excerpt from the Liverpool Mercury (Friday 5th May, 1899) may be among the first news reports in English concerning Professor Pierre Vigny, who would thereafter become a key instructor at E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu Club in Soho.

Either a walking-stick or an umbrella is now considered an indispensable part of a gentleman’s attire, but few of those who carry these articles know how to use them effectively. Carlyle dealt with the philosophy of clothes in a ponderous volume, which few people have ever finished; but it has been left to Professor Pierre Vigny to illustrate in a practical manner the philosophy of the walking-stick.

On Wednesday night, in the Salle Bertrand, Warwick-street, London, he gave an exhibition of what can be done with it as a weapon of defence as well as ornament, and gained the applause of an audience which comprised many of the best foilists and escrimeurs in London. In his hands the baton became a veritable poem, and showed a capability of development undreamt of by most people, whose chief use of either cane or umbrella is to whirl it in the hand like a windmill, to the imminent danger of their neighbours.

M. Vigny walks in with a stout oak stick, looking like a countryman on his first visit to London, who does not know much about anything. A gang of sharpers surround him as easy prey, and are considerably surprised when the cudgel falls on their heads with a force and dexterity which put them to flight. The same thing happened when M. Vigny was armed with only an elegant, neatly-folded umbrella. In fact, the possibilities of defence with even a fragile stick were shown to be unbounded.

In addition to this display, which was both clever and brilliant, M. Vigny gave exhibitions of his skill with foils, single-stick, sabres, duelling-swords, French and English boxing, and club-swinging, his opponents comprising such experts as Staff – sergeant Betts, Mr. John Jenkinson, Professor Anastasie, M. Felix Bertrand, Mr. Egerton Castle, Professor Danguy, Professor Perkins, and others. The “assault” was undoubtedly one of the best seen in London for a long time.

M. Vigny’s School of Self Defence (Daily News, 27 May, 1904)

“All good citizens will rejoice to learn that a new and efficacious method of abolishing those pests of the streets known as Hooligans Has been discovered and put into practical application by a French gentleman named M. Pierre Vigny.

Some years ago the idea occurred to M. Vigny, who, it may be mentioned, has been fencing master to a French crack cavalry regiment, that it would be possible to discover a system by which people could guard themselves against the cowardly methods of assault practiced by the blackguards of the streets. M. Vigny accordingly proceeded to study the methods of Hooligans in the slums of London and Liverpool.

When he acquired first-hand knowledge of their ways, he repaired to Paris, where he sought wisdom from the Thugs and Apaches, ruffians who assault pedestrians with sand-bags and life-preservers, and then, for the purpose of finishing his education, he spent some considerable time amongst the ruffians of Rome and Naples, who are proficient in the use of the murderous stiletto, and completed his curriculum in tho Bowery of New York and tho slums of Chicago.

He thus became conversant with every device of the street ruffian, and, what is of more importance, he discovered how to protect himself effectively from every weapon, with the exception of firearms, they use, including loaded bolts, sand-bags, bludgeons, knives, and daggers, with the instrumentality of a humble walking stick!

For the purpose of imparting this art he has established a ‘School of Self Defence’ in a street near Oxford-street, which is largely patronised by young aristocrats, city men, actors, and others whose pursuits necessitate their being out late.

Ladies also receive instruction at this unique school in large numbers, and M. Vigny maintains that anyone who has mastered the system of self-defence with a walking-stick or umbrella, which he has inaugurated, is a match for at least half a dozen street ruffians armed with belts or knives!”

“… the value of the ordinary walking-stick ..” (1901)

An interesting snippet from a review of one of E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu exhibitions at London’s Tivoli Theatre during August 1901.

After a jiujitsu demonstration …

… Mr Barton-Wright, to whose initiative the present interesting exhibition in town is due, shows by his pupils the value of the ordinary walking-stick as a means of self defence against the man who attacks with any weapon other than a firearm. The ordinary Malacca cane, quite unused to responsibilities of any sort, becomes suddenly endowed with a most valuable gift, and in the grip of a well-trained man, saves his head and hands from a weapon of tenfold weight. It is not too much to say that no man can afford to neglect such a simple precaution against sudden attack …

– The Music Hall and Theatre Review, 23 August, 1901