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How to Defend Yourself with a Stick against the most Dangerous Kick of an Expert Kicker

Illustration from Barton-Wright’s “Self Defense with a Walking-Stick”, 1901

Two masculine habits of previous decades have fallen into sad decline in these present times: the wearing of hats and the carrying of walking sticks. It falls upon those of us who appreciate what has gone before to make up for this modern degeneration. Despite my lack of avoirdupois, I feel great kinship with Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently:

He was rounder than the average undergraduate and wore more hats. That is to say, there was just the one hat which he habitually wore, but he wore it with a passion that was rare in one so young.

Today, the hat marks its wearer as a mild eccentric (a label I do not eschew).  Sadly, the carrying of a walking stick would be truly outré.  I’ll be devilled, though, if this article by E. W. Barton-Wright (from Pearson’s Magazine, 1901) doesn’t make me want to round out my ensemble:

The student of the art of self-defence with a walking-stick might think it hardly worth while to study any particular method of defending himself which might insure him against an attack by a savater, or foot-boxer. You might suppose that there would be no great difficulty in guarding a high kick, provided you carried a stout stick in your hand. Those who have seen savaters at work, however, and realise the extraordinary swiftness of the kicks which they plant on their opponents’ bodies, will understand that scientific kicking can only be guarded with certainty by a scientific method of defence.

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