By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Broad-Sword and Single-Stick - With Chapters on Quarter-Staff, Bayonet, Cudgel, Shillalah, - Walking-Stick, Umbrella and Other Weapons of Self-Defence
Author: Headley, Rowland George Allanson Allanson-Winn, Baron, 1855-1935, Phillipps-Wolley, Clive, -1918
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Broad-Sword and Single-Stick - With Chapters on Quarter-Staff, Bayonet, Cudgel, Shillalah, - Walking-Stick, Umbrella and Other Weapons of Self-Defence" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.




_Small 8vo, cloth. Illustrated, price 1s. each._

_CRICKET._ By the Hon. and Rev. E. LYTTELTON.




[Double volume, 2_s._]

_GOLF._ By H. S. C. EVERARD. [Double volume, 2_s._]

_HOCKEY._ By F. S. CRESWELL. Revised by P. Collins (1909).



_SAILING._ By E. F. KNIGHT. [Double volume, 2_s._]

[Double volume, 2_s._]








_SKATING._ By DOUGLAS ADAMS. [Double volume, 2_s._]

_CYCLING._ By H. H. GRIFFIN, L.A.C. [Double volume, 2_s._]



_GYMNASTICS._ By A. F. JENKIN. [Double volume, 2_s._]





_RIDING._ By W. A. KERR, V.C. [Double volume, 2_s._]


_CAMPING OUT._ By A. A. MACDONELL. [Double vol., 2_s._]


_DANCING._ By EDWARD SCOTT. [Double volume, 2_s._]











The favour with which my little _brochure_ on boxing has been received
induces me to put together a few ideas on the subject of attack and
defence with weapons other than those with which nature has endowed us.

A glance at the table of contents will suffice to show that the scope of
the work has been somewhat extended, and that, though there is of course
a vast deal more to be said on the wide subject of self-defence, an
attempt has been made to give practical hints as to what may be effected
by a proper and prompt use of those common accessories which we may find
in our hands at almost any hour in the day.

Not having leisure to take in hand the whole of the work myself, I asked
my friend Mr. C. Phillipps-Wolley to make himself responsible for that
portion of the treatise which deals with single-stick play. This he
kindly consented to do, and those of my readers who wish to make a
special study of stick-play, I refer to p. 50 to p. 85 inclusive. The
illustrations in this portion of the work are from photographs by the
London Stereoscopic Company; all the other illustrations are from my own



  CHAPTER                                      PAGE

    I. INTRODUCTORY                               1

   II. THE QUARTER-STAFF                          4

  III. THE BROAD-SWORD                           17

   IV. SINGLE-STICK                              50

    V. THE BAYONET                               85





Our neighbours on the other side of the English Channel have been
accused of calling us a "nation of shopkeepers." No doubt the definition
is not bad; and, so long as the goods supplied bear the hall-mark of
British integrity, there is nothing to be ashamed of in the appellation;
still, with all due deference, I think we might more appropriately be
called a nation of sportsmen.

There is not an English boy breathing at this moment who does not long
to be at some sport or game, and who has not his pet idea of the channel
into which he will guide his sporting proclivities when he is a man.
There are not many grown Englishmen who don't think they know something
about a horse, would not like to attend a good assault-at-arms, or who
are not pleased when they hear of their sons' prowess with the oar, the
bat, or the gloves.

I may be quite mistaken, but it always seems to me that the
well-brought-up little foreign boy is too unwholesomely good and gentle
to fight the battle of life. Still, such little boys _do_ grow up brave
and clever men, and they _do_, taken collectively, make splendid

Then, as to sports, foreigners seem to put too much pomp and
circumstance into their efforts in pursuit of game; the impedimenta and
general accoutrements are overdone; but here again I may be wrong.

Of one thing we may be quite sure, and that is that the majority of
Englishmen are devoted to sport of _some kind_. One of the prettiest
little compliments you can pay a man is to call him "a good old

When, in addition to the advantages of a national sport or collection of
national sports, such as boxing, sword exercises, wrestling, etc., you
recognize the possibility that the games you have been indulging in with
your friends in playful contests may at almost any moment be utilized
for defeating your enemies and possibly saving your life, you are forced
to the conclusion that there are some sports at least which can be
turned to practical account.

Unfortunately there are individuals, possibly in the small minority, who
regard anything like fighting as brutal or ungentlemanly. In a sense--a
very limited sense--they may be right, for, though our environment is
such that we can never rest in perfect security, it does seem hard that
we should have to be constantly on the alert to protect that which we
think is ours by right, and ours alone.

However this may be, let us be men _first_, and aristocrats, gentlemen,
or anything else you please, _afterwards_. If we are not men, in the
larger and better sense of the word, let there be no talk of gentle
blood or lengthy pedigree. The nation is what it is through the pluck
and energy of individuals who have put their shoulders to the wheel in
bygone days--men who have laid the foundation of a glorious empire by
sturdy personal efforts--efforts, unaided by the state, emanating from
those higher qualities of the character, relying on itself, and on
itself alone, for success or failure.

From the earliest times, and in the most primitive forms of animal life,
physical efforts to obtain the mastery have been incessant.

Whether it is in the brute creation or the human race, this struggle for
existence has always required the exercise of offensive and defensive
powers. The individual has striven to gain his living, and to protect
that living when gained; nations have paid armies to increase their
territories, and retain those territories when acquired.

The exact form of weapon which first came into use will always be
doubtful, but one would think that stones, being hard and handy, as well
as plentiful, might have presented irresistible attractions to, say,
some antediluvian monster, who wished to intimate to a mammoth or
icthyosaurus, a few hundred yards distant, his readiness to engage in
mortal combat.

Are there not stories, too, of clever little apes in tropical forests
who have pelted unwary travellers with nuts, stones, and any missiles
which came handy?

Then, coming nearer home, there is the lady at an Irish fair who hangs
on the outskirts of a faction-fight, ready to do execution with a stone
in her stocking--a terrible gog-magog sort of brain-scatterer.

When man was developed, no doubt one of his first ideas was to get hold
of a really good serviceable stick--not a little modern masher's
crutch--a strong weapon, capable of assisting him in jumping, protecting
him from wild beasts, and knocking down his fellow-man.

To obtain such a stick the primitive man probably had to do a good deal
of hacking at the bough of a hard oak or tough ash, with no better knife
than a bit of sharp flint. Having secured his stick, the next thing was
to keep it, and he doubtless had to defend himself against the assaults
of envious fellow-creatures possessed of inferior sticks.

Thus we can imagine that the birth of quarter-staff play--not much
_play_ about it in those days--was a very simple affair; and we
recognize in it the origin and foundation of all the sword exercises,
and all the games in which single-stick, lance, and bayonet play a
prominent part.

As the question of who picked up the first stone and threw it at his
fellow-man, or when the first branch of a tree was brought down on the
unsuspecting head of another fellow-man, are questions for learned men
to decide, and are of no real importance, I shall not allow myself to go
on with any vague speculations, but shall turn at once to an old English
sport which, though sometimes practised at assaults-at-arms in the
present day, takes us back to Friar Tuck, Robin Hood, and

  "Maid Marian, fair as ivory bone,
   Scarlet and Much and Little John."



According to Chambers's "Encyclopædia," the quarter-staff was "formerly
a favourite weapon with the English for hand-to-hand encounters." It was
"a stout pole of heavy wood, about six and a half feet long, shod with
iron at both ends. It was grasped in the middle by one hand, and the
attack was made by giving it a rapid circular motion, which brought the
loaded ends on the adversary at unexpected points."

"Circular motion" and "shod with iron" give a nasty ring to this
description, and one pictures to one's self half a barge-pole,
twirled--"more Hibernico"--with giant fingers, bearing down on one.

Whether the fingers of our ancestors were ever strong enough to effect
this single-handed twirling or not must remain a matter of doubt, but we
may rest assured that in the quarter-staff we have, probably, the
earliest form of offensive weapon next to the handy stone. If Darwin is
correct, we can easily imagine one of our gorilla ancestors picking up a
big branch of a tree with which to hit some near member of his family.
This, to my mind, would be playing elementary quarter-staff, and the
game would have advanced a step if the assaulted one--possibly the lady
gorilla--had seized another branch and retaliated therewith.

The modern quarter-staff is supposed to be rather longer than the six
and a half feet prescribed by the above-quoted authority, and I imagine
it originally derived its name from being grasped with one hand at a
quarter of its length from the middle, and with the other hand at the

Thus, in the diagram (Fig. 1), if A E represents a quarter-staff eight
feet long, divided into four equal two-foot lengths at the points B, C,
and D, the idea would be to grasp it with the right hand at D and with
the left hand at C; or, if the player happened to be left-handed, to
grasp it with the left hand at B and with the right hand at C.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

This method of holding the quarter-staff may be well enough in certain
cases, but it seems to me that, for rapid attack and defence, the hands
should be about three feet apart: at D and M, half way between B and C;
or at B and N, half way between C and D.

Of course a great deal depends upon the height and strength of the
player, but, with the hands at a distance of three feet or so apart, it
stands to reason you have a greater command over the ends of the staff
than you have if they are only two feet apart, and that you can
consequently come quicker into "hanging guard" positions, and more
easily defend yourself from short upper strokes and from "points" than
you can when you have less command over your weapon.

[Illustration: Fig. 2.--On guard.]

Before proceeding to the more technical portions of quarter-staff play,
let me say that it is better to bar "points" in a friendly bout, for the
weight of a stick, if only a bamboo cane, of eight feet long, is so
great, that it is an easy matter to break a collar-bone or rib with a
rapid thrust. In any case, remember to be well padded and to have a good
iron-wire broad-sword mask on before engaging in a bout.

In dealing with the cuts and thrusts which may be made with the
quarter-staff, we cannot do better than consider the ordinary
broad-sword target.

In the accompanying diagram are marked the ordinary broad-sword cuts 1
to 4, 2 to 3, 3 to 2, 4 to 1, 5 to 6, 6 to 5, and 7 to 0, the centre of
the target.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

Now, we observe that the guards for these cuts must be such as to ward
off the blows in the easiest manner and with as rapid return as possible
to the attacking position.

With the quarter-staff in the hands of a right-handed man, the first cut
would be from 2 to 3, and the guard for this would be with the staff
held in the direction of _c_ to _d_. Similarly, for cut two, from 1 to
4, the guard would be from _a_ to _b_.

It must be borne in mind that this second cut, from 1 to 4, is generally
delivered with what I shall call the _butt_ of the staff, _i.e._ with
that end which is nearest the right hand, in the case of a right-handed
man; and that cut one, from 2 to 3, would be delivered with the butt in
the case of a left-handed man.

The two guards above illustrated will _almost_ cover any attack, but
_not quite_.

[Illustration: Fig. 4.--First Hit.]

On examining Fig. 8 it will be seen that the guard for the first cut,
viz. that from 2 to 3 on the target, is indicated by the position of
the staff _cd_ or _c´d´_. The guard _cd_ meets the three cuts 6 to 5, 2
to 3, and 7 to 0, but is not sufficient to protect you against cut 4 to

Similarly the guard _c´d´_ answers the purpose as far as cuts 4 to 1, 6
to 5, and 2 to 3 are concerned, but fails to ward off cut 7 to 0; and
the same remarks apply to the other side of the target, where _ab_ and
_a´b´_ represent the staff.

Of course the two guards in Fig. 5 _may_ be so used as to meet all
requirements, but it is, to my thinking, far preferable to thoroughly
master the four as represented in Fig. 9. So doing will give increased
command over the staff, and will not in any way detract from speed or
general efficiency.

[Illustration: Fig. 5]

It will be observed that in the sketches of guard 1 and guard 2, Figs. 6
and 7, the staff is, in each case, too perpendicular for cut 7 to 0;
they represent the positions of the combatants when using guards _a´b´_
and _c´d´_ in Fig. 8.

I would therefore advise attention to the following diagram, which
includes the guards, four in number, which are really sufficient for all
hits which can be made with the quarter-staff.

The lines intersecting the circumference of the circle show the
inclinations of the staff for guarding all the cuts which can be made.

We now turn to the question of position. In quarter-staff play it is
usual for a right-handed man to stand with his left foot in advance of
the right, as in boxing or bayonet exercise, and with his toe pointing
straight in the direction of his adversary, as in Fig. 2. It is,
however, often very advisable to advance the right foot suddenly to the
front when bringing the butt of the staff to play on the left side of
the enemy's head or body. As regards "points" it is well to lunge out,
as one does when making a left-handed lead-off in boxing, so as to gain
somewhat in the reach.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--First guard.]

[Illustration: Fig. 7.--Second guard.]

[Illustration: Fig. 8.]

Points, which, as before hinted, should be used with care in friendly
bouts, are generally made with the point of the staff, but may also be
effected with the butt; and this is the case when the combatants have
come to rather close quarters.

At quarter-staff play the men should be started by the Master of
Ceremonies at a distance of ten or twelve feet apart, and when they get
to close quarters, or at rough play, they should be immediately
separated, as this is a game at which feeling is apt to run somewhat

Always remember, when guarding points, to do so with that portion of the
staff which lies between your hands. This portion really corresponds
with the "forte" of a sword or stick. If you have learned fencing with
the foils it will be of the greatest possible advantage to you, for you
will then understand how slight an effort brought to bear on the foible
of your opponent's staff--in this case it will be somewhere within two
feet of the end--will suffice to turn aside the most vigorous thrust.

[Illustration: Fig. 9.--Second hit.]

It may not be out of place to add that any man who has gone through any
sort of apprenticeship in fencing--either with foils or
single-sticks--will not fail, when a quarter-staff is put into his
hands, to know what to do with his weapon. He may, at first, feel
awkward, and the length of the staff may hamper him and its weight
fatigue him, but he will, with his knowledge of general principles, very
soon get into the work and enjoy it.

[Illustration: Fig. 10.--Point.]

Though the staves used are often made of light bamboo cane, one may get
very severe hits and prods, so it is as well, before engaging in an
encounter, to have (_a_) a good mask, such as broad-swordsmen wear;
(_b_) a thick jacket of stout leather, with a high collar; (_c_)
boxing-gloves on both hands; (_d_) a good pad for the middle of the
body, from waist to knee; and (_e_) cricket pads for both legs, which
are apt to come in for nasty jars on or about the knee. Never _on any
account try to dispense with the pads_--they may save you from permanent
injury; and do they not add to your good health by promoting a
beneficial opening of the sweat-glands?

In quarter-staff, as in stick-play, broad-sword exercise, fencing, etc.,
it is better to sink down with the knees bent, for in this position you
present a smaller area for your opponent to strike at than you do when
quite erect.

In leading off it is better to slide the hand which is at M or N (see
Fig. 11) down to the hand which is at D or B; you then gain several feet
of reach added to your lunge out; only be careful to recover quickly,
and get the hand you have thus moved back to its former position.

Advancing and retreating are effected much in the same way as in bayonet
exercise; viz. for the advance, move the left foot swiftly forward in
the direction of your opponent for a distance of, say, eighteen inches
or two feet, following this up with the right foot _for the same
distance_, so that the same relative positions are maintained; for the
retreat, move the right foot back the required distance and follow up
with the left foot.

In speaking of the retreat, it must be mentioned that, from the great
length of the staff, you cannot, very often, get out of the way by the
ordinary retreat, as above described, but may have to make an
undignified jump back for five or six feet, to avoid a quick return or,
possibly, an unexpected lead-off. In a stiff bout this jumping, with all
the heavy impedimenta indispensable to the game, takes it out of one
considerably, and, on this account, it is a first-rate exercise for any
man who may wish to get into good training.

[Illustration: Fig. 11.--First hit, with slide.]

The most common mistake learners of the quarter-staff make is that they
try very long sweeping hits, which are easily guarded, instead of
shorter and sharper taps, which run up points and are much more

Your sweeping hit may be likened to the "hook-hit" at boxing, for it
lays open your weak points and leaves you for an instant in a position
from which there is a difficulty in recovery.

In all these games be well "pulled together." Watch a good fencer,
either with the foils or with the sticks; see how seldom his point
wanders far from the lines of attack, and how quick he is with the
returns! You cannot guard and return with any sort of effect if you go
in for ugly sweeping hits or hard heavy guards.

The heavy hit may come off occasionally, the clumsy guard may turn the
point, but why misdirect energy? It is surely unnecessary to put forth
great muscular effort when you know that the strength of a small child,
_if properly applied_, is ample to put aside the most powerful thrust or
the heaviest cut.

If quite unacquainted with fencing, broad-sword, stick-play, or
bayonet-exercise, never be tempted into a bout with the quarter-staff.
No one should ever go in for this game without previous knowledge.

My own idea is that learning fencing with the foils should precede all
the above-named exercises, for in this way a delicacy of touch and
nicety in the matter of guarding are acquired, which may lay a really
good foundation.

Nearly all first-rate stick-players have served their apprenticeship
with the foils, and, where this education has been omitted, one may
generally detect the ugly carving-knife-and-fork style, so unpleasant to
watch. Whereas with a good fencer--"foiler" perhaps I should
say--everything is done with neatness, whether he has in his hand a
single-stick, a cutlass, or the leg of an old chair.

So that it comes to this: We seek the aid of the newest and most
delicate weapon of attack and defence--the small-sword--to teach us how
to properly make use of the most ancient and clumsy of all weapons--the
time-honoured quarter-staff!



  "But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn,
  Brandish'd by man that's of a woman born."

  _Macbeth_, Act V., Scene vii.


In the early stages of the world's history our very remote ancestors
were unacquainted with the art of forging instruments and weapons from
metals; they were not even aware of the existence of those metals, and
had to content themselves with sharpened flints and other hard stones
for cutting purposes. Many of these weapons were fashioned with
considerable skill, and give evidence that even in the dark days of the
Stone Age men had a good idea of _form_ and the adaptation of the
roughest materials to suit the particular purpose they had in view.

To take an example from the most common forms--the spear and
javelin-heads which are found along with the bones and other remains of
the cave bear. These are admirably designed for entering the body of
any animal; for, though varying greatly in size, weight, and shape, the
double edge and sharp point render them capable of inflicting severe
wounds, and of entering into the flesh almost as easily as the point of
a modern sword.

As good specimens of these early spear-heads fetched high prices,
_finding_ them was at one time quite a profession, like finding bullets,
etc., on the field of Waterloo. Forgeries became common, and in many
cases the imitations were so perfect that the most experienced antiquary
was often puzzled to pick out the genuine article when placed next to
the spurious.

For the benefit of those who take an interest in this branch of
research, it may be mentioned that the museum at Salisbury is full of
excellent specimens both of true spear-heads and the copies "made to
meet the demand," and I may fairly say that the ordinary observer would
be utterly incapable of distinguishing the slightest difference between
the two.

The genus "cutting instrument," then, has for its archetype the sharp
flint, which was fashioned by dint of hard labour in the very early days
of man's existence on the face of the earth.

When metals were discovered and their malleability had been tested by
the application of fire, not only spear and javelin-heads were formed
from the new material, but short swords, consisting entirely of metal,
were first constructed; and this departure marked a new era in the
civilization of the world, termed by geologists and antiquarians the
Bronze Age.

In a very short treatise on a cut-and-thrust weapon like the
broad-sword, it would be out of place to enter into any speculations as
to the probable dates at which the stone, the bronze, and the iron ages
commenced their respective epochs. It seems sufficient to give the
_order_ and to mention a few of the early weapons with which we are
acquainted, either through actually finding them, or by seeing
representations of them on early works of art, such as alto-relievos or

One of the earliest forms of sword was the leaf-shaped blade of the
early Greeks. It properly belongs to the Bronze Age, as it is found
amongst the human remains of that period. It was a short, heavy-bladed
weapon, with sharp point and double edge, used, it appears from ancient
monuments, for cutting purposes.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--Early Greek sword.]

No doubt the weight of the blade, increased by the heavy deep ridge
running almost from point to hilt, made it very serviceable for cutting,
but it seems more than probable that the point was also used, and that
the idea of the edge was handed down to us because the ancient sculptor
or delineator, in his battle-piece representations, placed the swordsman
in the most spirited positions he could think of. A figure in the act of
delivering a slashing cut, say cut 1 or cut 2, looks much more
aggressive and eager for the fray than a similar figure about to give
the point.

I only advance this as a suggestion, for it seems hard to believe that
people who must have been well acquainted with the use of the point at
the end of a pole or staff--as in the case of the spear, which was the
very earliest form of thrusting weapon--should abandon it when they came
to the sword.

Be this as it may, there is no doubt that the short Roman sword, which
was practically a large heavy dagger, sharp-pointed, double-edged, and
straight-bladed, was extensively used for thrusting. For cutting
purposes, however, it could not, from the absence of curve in the edge
of the blade, have been equal to the early Greek weapon.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.--Short Roman sword.]

When iron began to play a prominent part in the construction of articles
requiring hardness, strength, and durability, a great stride was made in
the production of war-like weapons, and it was then very soon discovered
that ordinary forged iron was too soft and easily bent, and it was not
until the art of tempering began to be roughly understood that iron, or
more correctly speaking steel, swords were brought to a degree of
perfection sufficient to entitle them to a higher place than their
bronze predecessors.

It is believed that the Egyptians had some method of tempering their
bronze chisels, which is now numbered amongst the lost arts; otherwise,
how could they have carved the head of the Sphinx and innumerable other
works out of the intensely hard stone of which so many of their
monuments are cut?

The modern sword blade is constructed of steel, tempered so as to suit
the particular kind of work for which it is intended.

"Mechanical invention has not," says the "Encyclopædia Britannica,"
"been able to supersede or equal handwork in the production of good
sword blades. The swordsmiths' craft is still, no less than it was in
the Middle Ages, essentially a handicraft, and it requires a high order
of skill. His rough material is a bar of cast and hammered steel,
tapering from the centre to the ends; when this is cut in two each half
is made into a sword. The 'tang,' which fits into the handle, is not
part of the blade, but a piece of wrought iron welded on to its base.
From this first stage to the finishing of the point it is all hammer and
anvil work. Special tools are used to form grooves in the blade,
according to the regulation or other pattern desired, but the shape and
weight of the blade are fixed wholly by the skilled hand and eye of the
smith. Measuring tools are at hand, but are little used. Great care is
necessary to avoid over-heating the metal, which would produce a brittle
crystalline grain, and to keep the surface free from oxide, which would
be injurious if hammered in. In tempering the blade the workman judges
of the proper heat by the colour. Water is preferred to oil by the best
makers, notwithstanding that tempering in oil is much easier. With oil
there is not the same risk of the blade coming out distorted and having
to be forged straight again (a risk, however, which the expert
swordsmith can generally avoid); but the steel is only surface-hardened,
and the blade therefore remains liable to bend. Machinery comes into
play only for grinding and polishing, and to some extent in the
manufacture of hilts and appurtenances. The finished blade is proved by
being caused to strike a violent blow on a solid block, with the two
sides flat, with the edge, and lastly with the back; after this the
blade is bent flatwise in both directions by hand, and finally the point
is driven through a steel plate about an eighth of an inch thick. In
spite of all the care that can be used, both in choice of materials and
in workmanship, about forty per cent. of the blades thus tried fail to
stand the proof and are rejected. The process we have briefly described
is that of making a really good sword; of course plenty of cheaper and
commoner weapons are in the market, but they are hardly fit to trust a
man's life to. It is an interesting fact that the peculiar skill of the
swordsmith is in England so far hereditary that it can be traced back in
the same families for several generations.

"The best Eastern blades are justly celebrated, but they are not better
than the best European ones; in fact, European swords are often met with
in Asiatic hands, remounted in Eastern fashion. The 'damascening' or
'watering' of choice Persian and Indian is not a secret of workmanship,
but is due to the peculiar manner of making the Indian steel itself, in
which a crystallizing process is set up; when metal of this texture is
forged out, the result is a more or less regular wavy pattern running
through it. No difference is made by this in the practical qualities of
the blade."

The above-quoted description, though short and superficial, is
sufficient to indicate some of the chief difficulties of the
swordsmith's art, and it sets one thinking, too, as to the various uses
to which cutting instruments are put, and gradations of hardness, from
the high temper of razors and certain chisels to the low temper of
hunters' and sailors' knives, which should always be of rather soft
steel, for they are sharpened more easily, and the saw-like edge is
better suited for cutting flesh, ropes, etc., than a very fine edge
would be.

A comparatively soft steel does well enough for the heavy cutlass used
for cutting lead or dividing a sheep, and the edge, though sharp and
keen, need not, and, indeed, cannot, approach the razor-edge necessary
for cutting a silk pocket-handkerchief or a feather.

_Every_ edge, when closely examined by a microscope, presents a more or
less saw-like and jagged appearance. It is merely a question of
_degree_, and, in a sword to be used for ordinary cutting and thrusting,
you want to secure hardness sufficient to produce a good edge and an
instant return to its former shape after any reasonable bending, and you
want to avoid anything like brittleness or liability to snap. If the
disposition of the molecules is such as to give too great hardness, the
blade, though capable of taking a fine edge, will probably snap, or the
edge will crack and shiver on meeting any hard obstacle. For example, if
you put razor steel into a cutlass, and then try to cut lead, the blade
will either snap off or the edge will break away in large pieces. If, on
the other hand, you make the blade of too soft steel, the edge will be
readily dented or turned on one side.

Though there are wonderful reports of the excellence of Eastern blades
manufactured at Damascus, it is probable that European work was quite as
good, and that the tempering of steel was quite as well understood at
Toledo, in Spain, where, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
splendid rapiers were produced. It seems highly probable that the rapier
was an extension or refinement of the earlier heavy cut-and-thrust
sword, because, though the superior value of the point was beginning
then to assert itself, there was an evident attempt to preserve in the
rapier the strength and cutting properties of the long straight sword of
a previous time.

The Italian and Spanish rapiers were sometimes of great length, three
feet or three feet six inches and more in the blade, and they were often
beautifully finished, the work of the hilts being frequently both
elaborate and costly. The blade itself, which was double-edged and
inclined to be flat, tapered gradually from hilt to point, and was
strengthened by a ridge running almost its entire length.

The French duelling-sword of modern days is sometimes spoken of as a
"rapier;" but this is incorrect, as the popular Gallic dispute-settler
is three-sided, and is, as it has no edge, exclusively used for

For _details_ of historical research, and other particulars, the reader
is referred to Mr. Egerton Castle's work on the sword.


The word "Broad-sword" may be taken to include all kinds of
cut-and-thrust swords. It is the generic term for ship's cutlass,
infantry sword, and heavy cavalry sabre, which are all cutting weapons,
and, though varying in length and curvature of blade, can be used for

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--Grip for the light cutlass.]

The method of holding the broad-sword depends entirely upon the weight
and length of the blade. If you have a light cutlass weighing, say,
about one and a half pound, and measuring about thirty-four inches in
the blade, you may hold it in the same way as in single-stick play, viz.
with the thumb on the back of the hilt, as in the sketch, and you will
probably find that in this way the guards are made with greater
facility. At the same time, when guarding, say, with the hanging guard
(_see_ Fig. 15), the thumb is liable to a severe sprain; and this is
more particularly the case when the opposing blade meets the foible, or
half nearest the point of your blade, at right angles, or nearly so.

To be more explicit. If A B C, in Fig. 16, represent your blade lying
flat on the paper, _d o_ the intersection of a plane at right angles to
the plane of the paper and also at right angles to the tangent to the
curve at the point _o_, where we will suppose the edges of the blades to
meet, it will be seen at a glance that the leverage from _o_ to C is
considerable, and that a great strain is thrown upon the thumb which is
endeavouring to keep the guard in position.

[Illustration: Fig. 15--Low hanging guard.]

In this case the cut has been received on the "foible," or half of the
blade nearest the point. All guards should, if possible, be made with
the "forte," or half nearest the hilt.

It is important to bear in mind that the cut should be received with the
guard as much as possible on the slant; _i.e._ you should endeavour to
make the opponent's blade glance off yours at an angle such as _d´ o_.
The difficulty of bringing about this "glance off" is certainly
increased by having the thumb on the hilt, because your hanging
guard--which is perhaps the most important and constantly recurring of
all the guards--is apt to be higher, _so far as the point is concerned_,
and there is the chance of letting in cuts 3 or 5 at the left side,
which is exposed by an elevated point.

If, in the hanging guard, the arm is well extended, with the hand
slightly above the level of the shoulder, the point dropped well to the
left, and the edge turned outwards to the left, as in the illustration
(Fig. 15), a very good general guard will be formed. Remember, too, that
in all cuts, points, or guards, the second knuckles of the fingers
should be in a line with the edge. The only exception to this rule is,
perhaps, to be found in the third point, where a shifting of the hand,
so as to enable the edge to be more completely directed upwards, is
sometimes recommended.

[Illustration: Fig. 16--The broad-sword.]

The hanging guard, or modifications thereof, is capable of warding off
all cuts made at the left side of the head and body, and is also
effective against cut 7. Then, by bringing the hand slightly to the
right, with the elbow held well in to the right side, it is extremely
easy to come into the position for guarding cut 2.

We may, I think, assume that, on the whole, the thumb held at the back
of the hilt gives, in the case of a very light sword, an advantage in
speed, especially with short quick cuts and points.

Turning to the heavy sabre used by the cavalry of this and other
countries, we observe that to keep the thumb on the back of the hilt
would lead to constant sprains. No man is strong enough to wield with
effect a blade weighing about two and a half pounds and measuring little
short of three feet--thirty-five inches is the regulation length of the
British cavalry sabre--unless he holds it as indicated in Fig. 17.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.--Grip for the heavy sabre.]

Most cuts made with the heavy sword are more sweeping in their nature,
more "swinging," so to speak, than the short quick cuts which can be
effected with the lighter and more handy weapon; indeed, it is only to
be expected that the weight of the blade and length of the sweep should
give great force to the sabre; but it must not be forgotten that what
is thus gained in power is lost in speed, and that in nine cases out of
ten a well-directed "point" would be immeasurably superior both in speed
and effect than the most sweeping cut.

Such very different weapons are required to be thoroughly effective in
different circumstances. A light, thin-bladed sword, though admirable
for a man on foot, would not be of nearly so much use to a cavalry man,
whose slashing cut through shield or helmet renders _weight_ an absolute
necessity. The light blade might be brought to bear with all the speed
and force of the strongest man, but would be of no avail in those cases
where hard, dense, and heavy substances have to be cut through.

A fly may dash against a pane of plate-glass with the utmost speed and
yet fail to break the glass; but a cricket-ball thrown with a tenth part
of the velocity will smash the window to pieces. This is only an
analagous case, which indicates very fully the existence of the two
factors in the _vis-viva_ necessary to produce a certain result.

If you get your blade too light it will not be serviceable for
heavy-cutting work, whatever the speed of the cut; and if you get the
blade too heavy, it will be impossible to use it effectively on account
of its weight.

Everything depends upon what a sword is expected to do; and in selecting
a blade this cannot be too carefully borne in mind.

The Easterns have not, and indeed never had, any idea of using the
point; but they are far and away our superiors at edge work, and their
curved scimitars are admirably adapted for effective cutting, because
the edge, meeting the object aimed at on the slant, has great cutting or
slicing power.

This brings us to the most important matter in connection with cutting
weapons--the "draw."

If you take a razor in one hand and _hit_ the palm of the other hand a
smart _blow_ with the edge, no harm will be done; but if you vary this
hit, by making it lighter and putting the slightest possible _draw_ into
it, a cut will be the result, and blood will flow freely. That is to
say, anything like _drawing_ the edge along the skin will produce a cut.

Turn to the case of the scimitar. It will be seen that the curved form
of the blade _from hilt to point_ renders it impossible for a sweeping
cut, given with the arm extended its full length and with the shoulder
as centre of the circle, which the hand traces out in making the cut, to
be other than a "draw," because the edge _must_ meet the object to be
severed on the slant.

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--The scimitar.]

Excellent examples of this kind of cutting are to be found in the
circular saw and the chaff-cutting machine.

But this is not the case with a nearly straight-bladed broad-sword,
which requires what may be termed an artificial draw, either backward or
forward, in order that the cut may have its full effect. Of course the
draw back is by far the most common form of the "draw;" and on reference
to the accompanying sketch (Fig. 19) it will be seen that the edge, if
the hand retains its position _throughout the entire sweep_, on the
circumference of the circle B D, will meet the object to be cut simply
as a _hit_, and not as a _cut_. This is just what we want to avoid.

[Illustration: Fig. 19.]

Suppose the cut is being made parallel to the plane of the paper, and
that the hilt of the sword is, in the first part of the sweep, moving on
the circumference of the circle from B to D. Suppose, too, that the edge
first meets the obstacle to be cut at the point _n_. Then slightly
before _n_ is reached the "draw" should commence, the hand coming into
position at F, and the point _n_ being necessarily drawn down to _n´_
by the time the object has been severed. That is to say, the portion of
the blade between _m_ and _n_ will have been made effective in the
drawing cut, the point _n_ having travelled in the direction of the
dotted lines till it arrives at _n´_.

The point _n_ is taken at random: it might be nearer the hilt or nearer
the point, according to the distance of the object aimed at. It may also
be observed that the "draw" _might_ continue during the entire sweep
from B to F, but a very slight consideration will show clearly the
advantage of keeping the arm fully extended until the edge is quite
close to the object, as, by this means, the reach is increased and the
_power of the cut gains considerably_. The dynamical proof of this
latter advantage would take up too much space, and I regret that it is
rather outside the scope of this little work.

No matter how extended the arm may be when commencing the cut--and the
more extended the better in the case of a long heavy sword--the "draw"
should always come in towards the end of the sweep, the first part of
which is merely intended to give the required impetus to the effective
portion of the cut.

How is it that an apple or potato can be divided by a straight cut when
placed in the folds of a silk pocket-handkerchief, which remains
uninjured? Simply because there is a complete absence of "draw," and the
apple or potato is broken or split in two, much as the flesh is indented
by the edge of the razor whilst the skin escapes without the slightest

In cavalry charges, etc., our soldiers too often forget that they have
in their hands _pointing_ and _cutting_ weapons, and make slashing
_hits_, which lead to a large percentage of broken blades. I should
myself always place the point before the edge, as it is quicker and far
more deadly; but as there are numerous instances where cutting is
necessary, it is as well to remember that a mere _hit_ with the true
edge of a straight-bladed sword is little better than a blow from a
heavy stick having an oval section.

This brings us to another very important part of the subject, viz. the
consideration of the best form of weapon for ordinary practice.

To many it may seem that in these few pages on swordsmanship the cart
has been placed before the horse, and that a discussion on cuts and
guards should have preceded the somewhat intricate questions we have
been considering. I have, however, thought it advisable to leave what
may be termed the "drudgery" to the end of the chapter, in the hope of
thereby creating a more lively interest in the subject. It must,
nevertheless, be remembered that, to attain to any sort of proficiency
with the sword, a long apprenticeship must be served.

Though stick-play is invaluable as an aid to work with the sword, it may
be remarked that there are two reasons, and those important ones, why
the single-stick should not be first placed in the hands of the
beginner, and why it should never altogether usurp the place of the more
lethal weapon. The reasons are--

(_a._) The stick is very light, and short smart hits can be made, which
are impossible with a sword.

(_b._) The hit with the stick is really a hit, and there need be no
draw, which, as already explained, is so important in sword-play.

To these may be added a third reason. With the stick there is always the
temptation not to cut with the true edge, and it is very hard to detect
faults in this direction--faults which are hard to cure, and which may
quite spoil good swordsmanship.

Remembering, then, that every cut and guard must be made with the true
edge, and with the second or middle knuckles of the fingers in the
direction of the edge, a navy cutlass may be placed in the beginner's
hand, and he may be gradually taught all the cuts and guards by means of
the target, a sketch of which is here given.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--The target.]

In the manual on sword-exercises at present in use in the army, it is
stated that there are "four cuts and four guards, so arranged for the
sake of clearness, though practically there are only two cuts--from
right to left and from left to right, high and low--and two guards, one
a variation of the 'hanging' or 'engaging guard,' formed high or low,
right or left, according to the part attacked, and the other the 'second
guard,' where the point of the sword is necessarily directed upwards, to
guard the right cheek and shoulder."

This is very brief, and, to my mind, the effort to be concise has tended
to somewhat confuse. It may, however, be well enough for the army, where
there are plenty of instructors ready to explain the meanings of terms,
etc. For ordinary beginners it is certainly better to take the old
target and thoroughly master the seven cuts and three points, with the
corresponding guards and parries, as by so doing the learner will more
readily acquire a thorough appreciation of true edge-cutting. The
general statement that there are two cuts--viz. variations from right to
left, and variations from left to right--is correct enough, and a
swordsman understands it; but it is bad for beginners to start with
loose notions on the subject. Better far learn all the cuts, and learn
them _well_, in the first instance. By this means a man and his sword
become one, as it were, and the point and edge of the weapon are in time
brought so completely under control that they can be directed as easily
as the pencil and brush are directed by the hand of a skilful

As the reader will have surmised, the lines drawn through the centre of
the circle indicate the directions of the cuts; but a little further
explanation is necessary, for it must not be supposed that a mere
following of these lines with the point of the sword is all that is
required. The flat of the blade (or, more accurately, a plane passing
through the edge and a line drawn down the centre of the back of the
blade from hilt to point) should, throughout the entire cut, coincide
with the plane intersecting the plane of the target at right angles in
the particular line in which the cut is being made.

Careful attention to this will ensure cutting with the true edge, and,
in the first instance, all the cuts should be made slowly and
deliberately, so that errors may be instantly corrected. This may be
somewhat tedious to the impetuous learner, but it really saves time in
the end.

The target should be hung up on a wall with the centre about the height
of a man's shoulder from the ground. Directly below the centre a
straight line should be drawn on the ground from the wall, and at right
angles to it.

The beginner should be stationed on this line in the position of
"Attention," at about nine or ten feet from the wall, so that when he
comes into the first position of the exercise his right foot may be on
the line, and may point directly towards the wall.

Instructions as to drawing swords, etc., will be given later on with the
Extension Motions and rules for loose play (_vide_ p. 44). At this stage
it may possibly be less confusing to merely give the following
positions, leaving to the concluding portions of the chapter a few
amplifications which may materially assist the swordsman when he has
begun to take a genuine interest in the subject.

_Attention._--Having taken the cutlass in the right hand, stand facing
the target, body and head erect, and the heels close together and
meeting at an angle of sixty degrees on the line drawn from the wall.

With the sword hand in front of, and on a level with, the elbow, which
should be close to the body, and with the blade pointing perpendicularly
upwards with the edge to the front, you will be in the position of
"Carry swords." Now relax the grasp of the last three fingers, and,
without altering the position of the hand, let the back of the blade
fall on the shoulder half-way between the neck and the point of the
shoulder. This forms the position of "Slope swords," with which the
exercise begins.

_First Position._--Bring the right heel before the left; feet at right
angles, right foot pointing towards target; shoulders square to left,
and weight of body chiefly resting on left leg.

_Second Position._--Bend both knees, keeping them well apart, without
raising the heels or altering the erect position of the body. Step out
with the right foot along the line for about eighteen or twenty inches
straight in direction of the target, still retaining most of the weight
of the body on the left leg.

_Third Position._--Step out still further along the line--about a yard
or so (according to the height of the individual)--keeping the shin-bone
as nearly as possible perpendicular to the instep. The left leg should
be straight and the left heel should not leave the ground. The heels
should be both on the line, and the shoulders should be square to the
left; _i.e._ the right shoulder should be well extended and the left
held back. The weight is now, of course, principally on the right leg.

At the word "Attention," then, the pupil should come into the position
of "Slope swords," already described.

_Prepare for Sword Exercise._--Turning on the heels, come into the
"first position," with the left forearm well behind the back and the
hand closed.

_Right, Prove Distance._--Bring the upper part of the hilt of the sword
on a level with the mouth, blade pointing perpendicularly upwards, edge
to the left, and the elbow close to the side. This forms the position
"Recover swords." Now extend the arm to the right, and lower the blade
in a horizontal position straight out from the right shoulder, edge to
the rear, shoulders square to the front, and the head and eyes turned to
the right in the direction in which the sword is pointing.

Return to the position "Slope swords."

_Front, Prove Distance._--"Recover swords" as before, and, extending the
arm with the point of the sword directed towards the centre of the
target, step out into the third position, taking care that the edge is
towards the right.

Return to the position "Slope swords."

In proving distance Right and Front, the forefinger and thumb may be
stretched along the handle of the hilt, the thumb being on the back and
the pommel of the hilt in the palm of the hand.

_Assault._--Come into First Position; raise the right arm to the front
with the wrist opposite No. 1 and the elbow rather bent, and inclining
towards the centre of the target, the back of the blade, near the point,
resting on the shoulder, with the edge inclined to the right.

_Cut One._--With an extension of the arm direct the cut diagonally from
No. 1 to No. 4 (_remembering in this, and all the following cuts, to use
the true edge_), and as the point clears the circle, turn the knuckles
upwards, continuing the sweep of the sword until the point comes to the
rear of the left shoulder, with edge to the left and the wrist opposite
No. 2.

_Cut Two._--Now cut diagonally from left to right from No. 2 to No. 3.
Continue the motion till the arm is extended to the right, on a level
with the shoulder, edge to the rear.

_Cut Three._--Now turn the wrist so that the knuckles and edge face to
the front, and cut diagonally upwards from No. 3 to No. 2, and continue
the sweep until the wrist rests in the hollow of the left shoulder,
with the point of the sword pointing upwards and the edge to the rear;
turn the wrist so that the edge faces to the front, and drop the point
until the blade is in the position for the next cut.

_Cut Four._--Cut diagonally upwards from No. 4 to No. 1 until the blade
is nearly perpendicular, edge and knuckles to the rear. Bring the arm,
still fully extended, to the position of "Right, prove distance," and
turn the wrist so that the knuckles and edge face to the front, the
blade being horizontal and on a level with the shoulders.

_Cut Five._--Cut horizontally from No. 5 to No. 6. The edge will now be
to the left and the point to the rear, over the left shoulder.

_Cut Six._--Turn the wrist so that knuckles and edge face to the front,
and cut horizontally from No. 6 to No. 5. Continuing the sweep until the
hand is nearly over the head and in the direction of No. 7, the sword
being on the same line over the head, point lowered to the rear, and the
edge directed vertically upwards.

_Cut Seven._--Cut vertically downwards from No. 7 to the centre of the
target, and remain with the arm extended.

_First Point._--Turn the wrist, with the edge of the sword upwards, to
the right. Bring the hand upwards on a level with the eyes, elbow bent
and raised, the point of the sword directed towards the centre of the
target, and the left shoulder advanced. Now, by an extension of the arm,
deliver the point smartly to the front, with the edge of the sword still
inclined upwards to the right and the point accurately directed to the
centre. The right shoulder should now be well advanced and the left
drawn back--this motion of the shoulders being applicable to all the

_Second Point._--Turn the edge upwards to the left, draw the elbow
close to the body and let the wrist be as high as, and in front of, the
left breast. Now deliver the point, as before directed, accurately
towards the centre of the target, the wrist inclining towards No. 2.

_Third Point._--Draw in the arm till the inside of the wrist touches the
right hip, the edge being raised upwards to the right, the left shoulder
slightly advanced and the hips well thrown back. Now deliver the point
accurately towards the lowest point on the target, the edge being
carefully directed upwards to the right throughout the motion.

_Guards._--Having gone through the cuts and points, the pupil should now
give his attention to the guards and parries.

A reference to Fig. 20, in which the directions of the blade are
indicated by means of the hilt and dotted lines, will make it easy for
the beginner to place his sword in the seven guarding positions which

_Guard One._--Grasp the hilt as shown in Fig. 17, turn the edge to the
left with the elbow held close to the body, the wrist well to the front.
Let the blade be as nearly as possible parallel to the direction of cut
1, and let it slope in the direction of the target at an angle of about
forty-five degrees with the ground: _i.e._ let the point in this, and
indeed all the guards, be well advanced to the front.

_Guard Two._--Turn the knuckles up, draw the elbow nearer the right side
and let the edge face to the right, and let the blade be parallel to cut
2. In this guard the forearm will be more directly pointing towards the

_Guard Three._--Turn wrist and edge to the left, the hand being rather
below the left shoulder, and the blade following the dotted lines marked
"third guard."

_Guard Four._--Bring the wrist and hand across the body to the right,
edge to right and blade following dotted line marked "fourth guard."

_Guard Five._--Wrist and edge to the left, with blade pointing
vertically downwards.

_Guard Six._--Wrist and edge to the right, with blade pointing
vertically downwards. [It will be observed that these two guards, five
and six, are but extensions of guards three and four, the difference
being merely in the height of the hand and inclination of the blade.]

_Guard Seven._--Raise the hand well above the level of the eyes, so that
the target can be seen under the wrist; let the arm be extended, the
point of the sword dropped forward to the left and parallel to dotted
lines marked "seventh guard," and let the edge face vertically upwards.

It may be here again mentioned that with all guards and parries in
actual practice, the "forte," or half nearest the hilt, should be the
portion of the blade which meets the opponent's sword when the attack is

_Left Parry._--Let the wrist be drawn back to within eight or ten inches
of the right shoulder, the blade pointing in the direction of the
perpendicular line on the target, and let the edge be turned to the
right. Now, by a second motion, turn the wrist so that the point drops
to the left and forms a circle from left to right and then returns to
the former position.

_Right Parry._--Drop the point to the rear and form the circle from
right to left of your body, the sword returning to its position as

Both these circular parries should be learnt and practised for the sake
of adding to the strength and suppleness of the wrist; but for actual
use it is better to turn the point aside by one of the simple guards,
remembering not to let the hand wander far from the line of attack. In
other words, you should let your "forte" catch the "foible" of the
adversary's blade just sufficiently to turn aside the point, and then
instantly give your point or come back to whatever guard you may have
assumed in the first instance.

Some diversity of opinion exists as to the best "Engaging Guard" to take
up. In the two Figs., 21 and 22, I am inclined to favour the former for
use when opposed either to the small sword or the bayonet, and give
preference to the latter when facing another broad-swordsman. In Fig.
21, it will be observed, the point is well forward, and it is easy with
a light pressure to turn aside the opposing point and instantly lunge
out in the return. The engagement is here in Tierce, but it might just
as well be in Quarte, in which case the edge would be turned to the left
instead of to the right.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.--Engaging guard, A.]

At the same time, the more common engaging guard, the very low hanging
guard in Fig. 22, has many merits not possessed by the other. It will be
better to constantly practise _both_ these guarding positions and then
come to a decision as to which you can do best in. Two things are
certain, viz., you can, if proficient at both, puzzle an opponent who is
at home only in one, and the change of position is a great rest in a
long succession of bouts.

[Illustration: Fig. 22.--Engaging guard, B.]

It will now be well to combine the cuts and guards, and, for this, take
up the second position in front of the target, and in making each cut
lunge well out into the third position, not allowing the blade to cut
further than the centre of the target. Then spring back to the position
from which you lunged and form the guard for the cut you have just made.
For instance, having made cut 1 as far as the centre of the target,
return to the second position and form guard 1. Similarly for cut 2 and
all the other cuts.

In the same way make the points in the lunge, in position three, and the
corresponding parries in the second position.

In many works on the subject, the foregoing exercises are given with the
return in each case to the first position instead of, as above, to the
second. It is, however, advisable to accustom yourself as much as
possible to rapid returns from the lunge to the engaging position in
which you habitually face an opponent. The change from position one to
position three involves a long stretch out, and the return is, of
course, harder than the return to position two, and, for this very
reason, it is well to practise the exercises from both initial
positions--one and two.

[Illustration: Fig. 23.--Point, with lunge.]

At the risk of being considered old-fashioned, I have given the sword
exercise with seven cuts and three points, with corresponding guards and
parries, and it is my conviction that the beginner will do well to
follow the advice given on p. 34.

The following instructions are taken from the Manual on the Infantry
Sword, now used in the army.


_Draw Swords._--Take hold of the scabbard of the sword, with the left
hand below the hilt, which should be raised as high as the hip, then
bring the right hand smartly across the body, grasping the hilt and
turning it at the same time to the rear, raise the hand the height of
the elbow, the arm being close to the body.

_Two._--Draw the sword from the scabbard, the edge being to the rear,
and lower the hand until the upper part of the hilt is opposite the
mouth, the blade perpendicular, edge to the left, elbow close to the
body, which forms the position "Recover swords."

_Three._--Bring the sword smartly down until the hand is in front of the
elbow and little finger in line with it, the elbow close to the body,
blade perpendicular, edge to the front; which forms the position of
"Carry swords;" the left hand resumes the position of "Attention"
directly the sword is drawn.

_Slope Swords._--Relax the grasp of the last three fingers, and, without
disturbing the position of the hand, allow the back of the sword to
fall lightly on the shoulder, midway between the neck and the point of
the shoulder.

_Return Swords._--Carry the hilt to the hollow of the left shoulder (the
left hand, as before, raising the scabbard), with the blade
perpendicular and the back of the hand to the front, then by a quick
turn of the wrist drop the point into the scabbard, turning the edge to
the rear until the hand and elbow are in line with each other square
across the body.

_Two._--Replace the sword in the scabbard, keeping the hand upon the

_Three._--The hands are brought back to the position of "Attention."

_Draw Swords._--As before.

_Slope Swords._--As before.

_Stand at Ease._--Keeping the sword at the "Slope," draw back the right
foot six inches, and bend the left knee.

THE FOUR CUTS (from Second Position).

_Assault._--Raise the hand and sword to the rear, arm bent, wrist
rounded, the back of the sword resting upon the shoulder, with the edge
inclined to the right.

_One._--Extend the arm, and direct the cut diagonally downwards from
right to left, and, continuing the sweep of the sword, prepare for cut
"two," the back of the sword upon the left shoulder, edge inclined to
the left.

_Two._--Cut diagonally downwards from left to right, and turning the
wrist let the sword continue its motion until it rests upon the right
shoulder, edge to the right.

_Three._--Cut horizontally from right to left, and prepare for cut
"four," the flat of the sword resting upon the left shoulder.

_Four._--Cut horizontally from left to right, and come to the "Engaging
Guard" (_vide_ Fig. 22).


_First._--Raise the hand smartly above the head, and a little in advance
of it, the point of the sword lowered to the left front, edge upwards.

_Second._--Draw back the elbow to the right, and bring the sword to a
diagonal position, covering the right cheek and shoulder, point upwards,
inclining to the left, edge to the right.

_Third._--Bring the hand across the body towards the left shoulder, edge
of the sword to the left, point down and inclining to the front.

_Fourth._--Square the upper arm with the shoulder, the forearm to be in
front line with the elbow, and wrist slightly below it, point of the
sword inclined to the front, edge to the right.

_Engage._--As before.


_First._--With a quick motion, direct the point to the front by
extending the arm, the arm moving in a straight line to the front of the
"First Guard" position, and without altering the direction of the edge.

_Parry._--Brace up the arm quickly and parry upwards by forming "First

_Second._--Deliver the point quickly by extending the arm and sword to
the front.

_Parry._--Draw back the arm and parry to the right, by forming "Second

_Third._--Lowering the point, extend the arm.

_Parry._--Draw back the arm, and parry to the left by forming "Third

_Fourth._--Raise the point and deliver the thrust.

_Parry._--Parry downwards to the right by forming "Fourth Guard."

It will be worth the reader's while to compare carefully the preceding
four cuts and points and their guards and parries, with the earlier
exercises, the description of which commences on p. 37.

It will be seen that the third and fifth guards (old style) are merged
in one, that the fourth and sixth are also merged in one, and the first
guard--the old guard in quarte--is dispensed with altogether, and its
place taken by a low hanging guard, which is a variation of the old
seventh guard, formed with the hand held rather more to the left.

It will also be observed that the parries for the points are also very
different. My advice is, "Learn in the old style and then glean all you
can from the new."


It is a good plan to practise the following movements every morning
before beginning the sword exercises. To avoid confusion they are here
given as in the little Manual on the Infantry Sword; they are effected
without any accessories, and you commence by being in the position of
"Attention," _i.e._ stand with the heels close together at an angle of
about sixty degrees, arms hanging down by the sides, chest expanded,
back straight, shoulders back, and head well up.


_One._--Bring the hands, arms, and shoulders to the front, the fingers
lightly touching at the points, nails downwards; then raise them in a
circular direction well above the head, the ends of the fingers still
touching, the thumbs pointing to the rear, the elbows pressed back and
shoulders kept down.

_Two._--Separate and extend the arms and fingers upwards, forcing them
obliquely back until they are extended on a line with the shoulders, and
as they fall gradually from thence to the original position of
"Attention," endeavour as much as possible to elevate the neck and

_Three._--Turn the palms of the hands to the front, press back the
thumbs with the arms extended, and raise them to the rear until they
meet above the head, the fingers pointing upwards and the thumbs locked,
with the left thumb in front.

_Four._--Keep the knees and arms straight, and bend over until the hands
touch the feet, the head being brought down in the same direction, and
resume the "Third motion" slowly by raising the arms to the front.

_Five._--Resume the position of "Attention," as directed in "Second

The whole of these motions should be done very slowly, so as to feel the
exertion of the muscles throughout.


_One._--Move the hands smartly to the rear, the left grasping the right
just above the elbow, and the right supporting the left arm under the

_Two._--Half turn to the left, turning on the heels, so that the back of
the left touches the inside of the right heel, the head retaining its
position to the front.

_Three._--Bring the right heel before the left, the feet at right
angles, the right foot pointing to the front.


_One._--Bend the knees gradually, keeping them as much apart as possible
without raising the heels, or changing the erect position of the body.

_Two._--Step out smartly with the right foot about eighteen inches in
line with the left heel, bringing the foreleg to the perpendicular, and
retaining the left as in preceding motion, the weight of the body
resting equally upon both legs.


_One._--Step forward to about thirty-six inches, the right knee
remaining perpendicular to the instep, the left knee straight and firm,
and foot flat upon the ground, the body upright, and the shoulders
square to the left.


In practising with broadswords the blades should be as light as
possible, and I believe an eminent firm has brought out a special sword
for the purpose. The following rules and suggestions may be of use in
independent practice.

1. Helmets, jackets, gauntlets, body pads, and leg pads should
invariably be worn.

2. No hits or points to be attempted until the swords have been crossed.
The parties should engage out of distance, _i.e._ after crossing the
blades, step back about eight inches and come to the "Engage" _just_ out
of distance.

3. All cuts and thrusts must be delivered lightly and with the true edge
or point. Heavy sweeping cuts should not, under any pretence whatever,
or however thickly the parties may be padded, be allowed.

4. Only one cut or thrust should be made on the same lunge.

5. In case the opponents both attack at once, the hit counts to the one
in the third position, or on the lunge. If both parties lunge
simultaneously, and both bring the hit home at the same instant, no hit
is to be scored to either.

6. If one party is disarmed, a hit is scored to his opponent.

7. Care should be taken to protect the inside of the right knee with an
extra pad, as this is a particularly tender spot, and a hard hit there
may cause serious injury.

When the beginner has established some command over the cutlass he
should learn the cavalry sword-exercise, for a description of which the
reader is referred to Colonel Bowdler Bell's Manual.



_Contributed by C. Phillipps-Wolley._

Single-stick is to the sabre what the foil is to the rapier, and while
foil-play is the science of using the point only, sabre-play is the
science of using a weapon, which has both point and edge, to the best
advantage. In almost every treatise upon fencing my subject has been
treated with scant ceremony. "Fencing" is assumed to mean the use of the
point only, or, perhaps it would not be too much to say, the use of the
foils; whereas fencing means simply (in English) the art of of-fending
another and de-fending yourself with _any weapons_, but perhaps
especially with all manner of swords.

In France or Spain, from which countries the use of the thrusting-sword
was introduced into England, it would be natural enough to consider
fencing as the science of using the point of the sword only, but here
the thrusting-sword is a comparatively modern importation, and is still
only a naturalized foreigner, whereas broad-sword and sabre and
single-stick play are older than, and were once as popular as, boxing.
On the other hand, the rapier was in old days a foreigner of peculiarly
shady reputation on these shores, its introducer being always alluded to
in the current literature of that day, with anathemas, as "that
desperate traitour, Rowland Yorke."

"L'Escrime" is, no doubt, the national sword-play of France, and, for
Frenchmen, fencing may mean the use of the foil, but broad-sword and
sabre-play are indigenous here, and if fencing is to mean only one kind
of sword-play or sword-exercise, it should mean single-stick.

Like the swordsmen of India, our gallant forefathers (according to
Fuller, in his "Worthies of England") accounted it unmanly to strike
below the knee or with the point. But necessity has no laws, still less
has it any sense of honour, so that before long English swordsmen
realized that the point was much more deadly than the edge, and that,
unless they were prepared to be "spitted like cats or rabbits," it was
necessary for them either to give up fighting or condescend to learn the
new fashion of fence.

As in boxing, it was found that the straight hit from the shoulder came
in quicker than the round-arm blow, so in fencing it was found that the
thrust got home sooner than the cut, and hence it came that the more
deadly style of fighting with the rapier supplanted the old broad-sword

Single-stick really combines both styles of fencing. In it the player is
taught to use the point whenever he can do so most effectively; but he
is also reminded that his sword has an edge, which may on occasion do
him good service. It seems, then, to me, that single-stick is the most
thoroughly practical form of sword-play for use in those "tight places"
where men care nothing for rules, but only want to make the most out of
that weapon which the chance of the moment has put into their hands. It
may further be said that as the sabre is still supplied to our soldiers,
though rarely used for anything more dangerous than a military salute,
whereas no one except a French journalist has probably ever seen, what I
may be allowed to call, a foil for active service, the science of
single-stick has some claim to practical utility even in the nineteenth
century, the only sound objection to single-stick being that the sticks
used are so light as not to properly represent the sabre.

This is a grave objection to the game, when the game is regarded as
representing real business; but for all that, the lessons learnt with
the stick are invaluable to the swordsman. The true way to meet the
difficulty would be to supplement stick-play by a course with
broad-swords, such as are in use in different London gymnasiums, with
blunt edges and rounded points.

But gunpowder has taken the place of "cold steel," and arms of precision
at a thousand yards have ousted the "white arm" of the chivalrous ages,
so that it is really only of single-stick as a sport that men think, if
they think of it at all, to-day. As a sport it is second to none of
those which can be indulged in in the gymnasium, unless it be boxing;
and even boxing has its disadvantages. What the ordinary Englishman
wants is a game with which he may fill up the hours during which he
cannot play cricket and need not work; a game in which he may exercise
those muscles with which good mother Nature meant him to earn his
living, but which custom has condemned to rust, while the brain wears
out; a game in which he may hurt some one else, is extremely likely to
be hurt himself, and is certain to earn an appetite for dinner. If any
one tells me that my views of amusement are barbaric or brutal, that no
reasonable man ever wants to hurt any one else or to risk his own
precious carcase, I accept the charge of brutality, merely remarking
that it was the national love of hard knocks which made this little
island famous, and I for one do not want to be thought any better than
the old folk of England's fighting days.

There is just enough pain about the use of the sticks to make
self-control during the use of them a necessity; just enough danger to a
sensitive hide to make the game thoroughly English, for no game which
puts a strain upon the player's strength and agility only, and none on
his nerve, endurance, and temper, should take rank with the best of our
national pastimes.

Gallant Lindsey Gordon knew the people he was writing for when he

  "No game was ever yet worth a rap,
    For a rational man to play,
  Into which no accident, no mishap,
    Could possibly find its way."

Still, there comes a time, alas! in the lives of all of us, when, though
the hand is still ready to smite, the over-worked brain resents the
infliction of too many "merry cross-counters," and we cannot afford to
go about with black eyes, except as an occasional indulgence. Then it is
that single-stick comes in. Boxing is the game of youth, and fencing
with foils, we have been assured, improves as men fall into the sere and
yellow leaf. Single-stick, then, may be looked upon as a gentle
exercise, suitable for early middle age.

There is just enough sting in the ash-plant's kiss, when it catches you
on the softer parts of your thigh, your funny bone, or your wrist, to
keep you wide awake, and remind you of the good old rule of "grin and
bear it;" but the ash-plant leaves no marks which are likely to offend
the eyes of squeamish clients or female relations.

Another advantage which single-stick possesses is that you may learn to
play fairly well even if you take it up as late in life as at five and
twenty; whereas I understand that, though many of my fencing friends
were introduced to the foil almost as soon as to the corrective birch,
and though their heads are now growing grey, they still consider
themselves mere tyros in their art.

That single-stick is a national game of very considerable antiquity, and
at one time in great repute on our country greens, no one is likely to
deny, nor have I time to argue with them even if I would in this little
_brochure_. Those who are interested in spadroon, back-sword, and
broad-sword will find the subjects very exhaustively treated in such
admirable works as Mr. Egerton Castle's "Schools and Masters of Fence."
These pages are merely intended for the tyro--they are, at best, a
compilation of those notes written during the last ten years in black
and white upon my epidermis by the ash-plants of Serjeants Waite and
Ottaway, and Corporal-Major Blackburn. Two of them, unfortunately, will
never handle a stick again, but the last-named is still left, and to him
especially I am indebted for anything which may be worth remembering in
these pages. A book may teach you the rudiments of any game, but it is
only face to face with a _better_ player than yourself that you will
ever make any real advance in any of the sciences of self-defence.

And here, then, is my first hint, taught by years of experience: If you
want to learn to play quickly, if you want to get the most out of your
lessons, whether in boxing or stick-play, never encourage your teacher
to spare you too much. If you get a stinging cross-counter early in your
career as a boxer, which lays you out senseless for thirty seconds, you
will find that future antagonists have the greatest possible difficulty
in getting home on that spot again. It is the same in single-stick. If
you are not spared too much, and are not too securely padded, you will,
after the ash-plant has curled once or twice round your thighs, acquire
a guard so instinctively accurate, so marvellously quick, that you will
yourself be delighted at your cheaply purchased dexterity. The old
English players used no pads and no masks, but, instead, took off their
coats, and put up their elbows to shield one side of their heads.

There are to-day in England several distinct schools of single-stick,
the English navy having, I believe, a school of its own; but all these
different schools are separated from one another merely by sets of
rules, directing, for the most part, where you may and where you may not
hit your adversary.

The best school appears to be that in which all hits are allowed, which
might be given by a rough in a street row, or a Soudanese running
a-muck. The old trial for teachers of fencing was not a bad test of real
excellence in the mastery of their weapon--a fight with three skilled
masters of fence (one at a time, of course), then three bouts with
valiant unskilled men, and then three bouts against three half-drunken
men. A man who could pass this test was a man whose sword could be
relied upon to keep his head, and this is what is wanted. All rules,
then, which provide artificial protection, as it were--protection other
than that afforded by the swordsman's guard--to any part of the body
are wrong, and to be avoided.

Let me illustrate my position. I remember well, at Waite's rooms, in
Brewer Street, seeing a big Belgian engaged with a gentleman who at that
time occupied the honourable position of chopping-block to the rooms.
The Belgian had come over to take part in some competition, and was an
incomparably better player than the Englishman, but then the Belgian
wished to play according to the rules of his own school. It was arranged
at last that each should do his worst in his own way, and it was hoped
that Providence would take care of the better man.

Unfortunately the worse man of the two had been very much in the habit
of taking care of himself when subjected to the attacks of such
punishing players as Ottaway and Mr. Jack Angle.

The Belgian's legs had been protected by a rule of fence, which made it
illegal to hit below the waist, or some such point, and now naturally
they fell an easy prey to the Englishman's ash-plant. The result was, of
course, that in a very short time that Belgian's thigh was so wealed
that at every feint in that direction he was ready to be drawn, and to
uncover head or arm or any well-padded spot, not already sore, to the
other man's attack.

Let me touch lightly on one or two little points before plunging _in
medias res_. In spite of what I have said about hard hitting, please
remember that I have recommended my pupil only to suffer it gladly for
his own sake. It will improve his temper and his play. On the other
hand, hard, indiscriminate hitting is to be discountenanced for many
reasons, and principally because, as a rule, a hard hit means a slow
one. Always remember that all the time taken to draw your hand back for
a blow is time given to the enemy to get his point in, and that a blow
delivered from wrist and arm (bent only as much as it should be when you
"engage") would suffice to disable your adversary if the sticks were
what they pretend to be, "sharp swords." Again, in ordinary loose play,
remember you are playing, or are supposed to be playing, with the
weapons of gentlemen, and should show the fine old-fashioned courtesy to
one another which is due to a foeman worthy of your steel. If there is a
question as to a hit, acknowledge it as against yourself, as in the cut
below, by springing up to attention and bringing the hilt up to the
level of the mouth, blade upright, and knuckles turned to your front.

[Illustration: Fig. 24.--Acknowledging.]

Again, if you should get an awkward cut, do all you can not to return
savagely. If you make any difference at all, play more lightly for the
next five minutes, otherwise you may drift into a clumsy slogging match,
ending in bad blood. Finally, if you do get hold of a vicious opponent,
do not, whatever you do, show that you mind his blows. If he sees that a
cut at a particular place makes you flinch, he will keep on feinting at
it until he hits you wherever he pleases; but if, on the contrary, you
take no notice of punishment, you are apt to dishearten the adversary,
who feels that your blows hurt him, and is uncertain whether his tell
upon you in like manner. I may as well say here that throughout this
paper, I have, as far as possible, used English words to explain my
meaning, abstaining from the French terms of the fencing school, as
being likely to confuse a beginner, who may not want to learn French as
an introduction to fencing.


The accessories necessary for single-stick are much more numerous now
than in the old days on the village green. Then two stout ash-plants,
and the old North-country prayer (beautifully terse), "God, spare our
eyes!" were considered all that was necessary. Now a complete equipment
costs rather more than a five-pound note.

First, then, there is the helmet, constructed more solidly than that
used for foil play, although the wire mesh of which it is made is
generally a good deal wider than the mesh of the fencing mask. The best
helmet is made of stout wire, with a top of buffalo hide, completely
covering the head, and with padded ear-pieces to take off the effect of
a slashing cut. These are better than those made of cane, which are apt
to give way before a stout thrust and let in the enemy's point to the
detriment of eyes and complexion. Be careful, in choosing your helmet,
to see that it fits you exactly, as a nodding helm may, in a close
thing, so interfere with your sight as to give your adversary a very
considerable advantage. The jacket generally used for this play is made
like a pea-jacket, with two sleeves, and should be of stout leather. If
this is loose fitting, it will afford ample protection, and is not so
hot as the padded coat sometimes seen. Besides being too hot, the
handsome white kid padded jackets soon get holes made in them by the
ash-plant, whereas the brown leather is seldom torn.

In addition to the jacket, an apron of leather, extending from the waist
almost to the knee, should be worn, covering both thighs, and saving
the wearer from dangerously low hits.

Some men wear a cricket pad on the right leg. This, I think, makes a man
slow on his feet, and is besides unnecessary. The calf of any one in
condition should be able to despise ash-plants; and, as I said before, a
bare leg makes you wonderfully quick with your low guards.

Stick play is a fine test of a man's condition. At first every hit
leaves an ugly mark, but as soon as the player gets really "fit," it
takes a very heavy blow indeed to bruise him. The sticks themselves
should be ash-plants, about forty inches in length and as thick as a
man's thumb, without knots and unpeeled.

If you want them to last any time it is as well to keep a trough of
water in the gymnasium, and leave your ash-plants to soak in it until
they are wanted. If you omit to do this, two eager players, in half an
hour's loose play, will destroy half a dozen sticks, which adds
considerably to the cost of the amusement.

The old English sword hilt was a mere cross-piece; but in play it has
always been customary to protect the fingers with a basket. This may be
either of wicker or of buffalo hide. The latter is infinitely the best,
as wearing much longer, affording a better protection to the fingers,
and not scraping the skin off the knuckles as the wicker-baskets too
often do. The basket has a hole on either side; one close to the rim,
and the other about a couple of inches from the edge. In putting your
basket on, put your stick through the former first, as otherwise you
will not be able to get a grip of your stick or any room for the play of
your wrist.

There is only one other thing necessary, and then you may consider
yourself safe as a schoolboy with the seat of his trousers full of the
dormitory towels: and that is either a stout elastic ring round your
wrist--a ring as thick as your thumb--or a good long gauntlet. I rather
recommend the ring as interfering less with the freedom of your hand,
and as protecting more effectually that weak spot in your wrist where
the big veins are. If a blow catches you squarely across this spot, when
it is unprotected, you may expect your right hand to lose its cunning
for a good many minutes. By the way, it is as well to see that the
collar of your jacket is sufficiently high and well supplied with
buttons, otherwise there is apt to be a dangerous gap between the
shoulder and the bottom of the helmet.

One last word: if you see that the point of your stick is broken, don't
go on playing; stop at once. A split ash-plant is as dangerous as a
buttonless foil, and just as likely as not to go through the meshes of a
mask, and blind where you only meant to score. As the chief fault of
single-stick as a training for the use of the sabre is that the stick
does not properly represent the weight of the weapon which it simulates,
it is not a bad thing to accustom yourself to using the heaviest sticks
in the gymnasium. This will strengthen your wrist, and when in a
competition you get hold of a light ash-plant, you will be all the
quicker for your practice with a heavier stick.

A cut on p. 57 by Mr. Graham Simpson represents the way to acknowledge a
hit, and a cut by the same artist on p. 61 illustrates, as far as we
know it, the less careful method of our forefathers. The use of the
elbow to shield the head, though common in the contests on the village
greens, was in its way no doubt more foolish than our pads; for though a
sturdy yokel might take a severe blow from a cudgel on his bare arm,
without wincing, the toughest arm in England would have had no chance
against a sabre.

[Illustration: Fig. 25.--Old style.]


Having now secured the necessary implements, let us begin to learn how
to use them. First, as to the stick, which, you will remember,
represents for the present a sabre, and consequently a weapon of which
one edge only is sharpened. In order that every blow dealt with the
stick should be dealt with what represents the sharp or "true" edge of
the sword, it is only necessary to see that you get a proper grip of
your weapon in the first instance. To do this shut your fingers round
the hilt, and straighten your thumb along the back of the hilt, thus
bringing your middle knuckles (or second joints of your fingers) and the
true edge into the same line. If you keep this grip you may rest
assured that every blow you deal will be with the edge.

And now as to position--the first position from which every attack,
feint, or guard, begins. Ned Donelly, the great boxer, used to tell his
pupils that if a man knew how to use his feet, his hands would take care
of themselves. And what is undoubtedly true in boxing is equally true in
fencing. "Look that your foundations are sure" should be every fighting
man's motto. Take trouble, then, about the position of the feet from the
first. To come on to the engaging guard, as shown in Fig. 26, stand
upright, your heels together, your feet at right angles to one another,
your right foot pointing to your front, your left foot to your left,
your stick in your right hand, loosely grasped and sloped over your
right shoulder, your right elbow against your side, and your right hand
about on a level with it, your left hand behind your back, out of harm's

[Illustration: Fig. 26.--Engaging guard.]

It is not a bad plan to put the fingers of the left hand through the
belt at the back of the waist. If this is done, it counteracts, to a
certain extent, that tendency to bring the left hand in front, which a
good many beginners display, and for which they get punished by many an
unpleasant rap on the knuckles.

Now take a short pace to the front with the right foot, and, in the
words of the instructor, "sit down," _i.e._ bend both legs at the knee,
so that the calves are almost at right angles to the thighs. This
position will be found a severe strain upon the muscles at first, but
they will soon get used to it. The object of the position is twofold.
First, the muscles are thus coiled, as it were, ready for a spring at
the shortest notice; and in the second place, the surface which your
stick has to guard is thus considerably reduced. Be careful to keep the
right heel in a line with the left heel, a space equal to about twice
the length of your own foot intervening between them, and see that your
right toe points squarely to the front and your left toe to your left.
If your right toe is turned in, you will never advance straight to your
front; and if your left toe is turned in, you contract the base upon
which your body rests, and very soon will begin to roll and lose your
balance altogether. As far as the legs and feet are concerned you are
now in your proper position, which you will only leave when you lunge,
or when you straighten yourself to acknowledge a hit, and to which you
will invariably return as soon as you engage.

If you wish to advance, advance the right foot a short pace, bringing
the left after it at once, so that the two resume their relative
positions to one another, half a pace nearer your enemy. If you wish to
retire, reverse this movement, retiring with the left foot and following
it with the right. In both cases keep your eyes to the front, your feet
at right angles, and your knees bent.

Now as to the stick. There are two forms of guard in common use amongst
players, the hanging and the upright guard, of both of which
illustrations will be found in these pages. In Rowland Yorke's time men
sought for what I think they called "the universal parry" almost as
anxiously as they did for the alchemist's stone which should turn all
things to gold. Of course such a thing has never been found, but either
of these guards, if truly taken and _kept_, will stop the attacks of
most men as long as you keep them at their proper distance.

In passing, let me say that if a man _will_ try to overwhelm you with
rushes, the best thing you can do is to straighten your stick, thrust,
and _don't let the stick run through the basket_. This has a wonderfully
soothing effect upon an excitable player.

In Fig. 27 the upright guard (or high tierce) is shown, in which the
right elbow should be close in to the side, the forearm at right angles
to the body, wrist bent, so as to turn the knuckles outwards, and the
stick pointed upwards, at an angle of about 45°. In Fig. 26, the hanging
guard, the point of the stick should be inclined slightly downwards, the
knuckles turned upwards, the forearm should be kept slightly bent, the
hilt a little outside the right knee, the point of the stick a little
low and in the direction of the left front.

If the point of the stick be kept up, the adversary finds a way in by
cutting upwards under the point; if the hilt is not outside the right
knee, the back of the sword arm will be unprotected; and if the sword
arm itself is not kept slightly bent, no effective blow can be
delivered by it without first drawing back the hand.

[Illustration: Fig. 27.--Upright guard, or high tierce.]

This, of course, is a fatal fault. The moment your adversary sees your
hand go back, he will come out. As you retire for the spring, he will
spring. _Time_ is the very essence of single-stick, and the chief object
of the player should be to make his attack in the fewest possible
motions. For this reason a slightly bent arm is necessary when on guard.
Of course if the arm is unduly bent the elbow will be exposed, but a
little practice will soon enable any moderately supple man to so hold
his arm as to be ready to cut direct from his guard and yet keep his
elbow out of peril. And this brings me to a question often discussed
amongst players, viz. which is the better guard, the upright or the
hanging guard, for general purposes. Although I have been taught to use
the hanging guard myself ever since I began to play, I unhesitatingly
say that the upright guard is the better one, as enabling a player to
save time in the attack. In the hanging guard the knuckles (_i.e._ the
edge) are up and away from the enemy; the wrist must be turned before
the edge can be brought into contact with his body, and this takes time,
however little. In the upright guard the knuckles (_i.e._ the edge) are
towards your opponent, the arm is ready flexed, everything is in
readiness for the blow. If, then, as I believe, the advantages of the
two guards, as guards, are equal, the advantage of the upright guard as
a position to attack from seems to me undeniable.

In all guards remember that it is not sufficient to oppose some part of
your weapon to your adversary's. You must meet him, if possible, with
what the old masters called the "forte" of your blade, that is, the part
from the hilt to the middle of the sword, with which you have naturally
more power of resistance than with the lower half of the blade. Of
course all guards must be made with the edge of the sword outwards, and
make sure that you really _feel_ your enemy's blade (_i.e._ make a good
clean guard) before attempting to return his attack.

There is another matter to which many teachers pay too little attention,
but which is as important as any point in the fencer's art. It is
obvious that the player should try, if possible, to hit without being
hit. To do this effectively it is necessary in attacking to maintain
what fencers call a good "opposition," that is to say, to so carry your
stick in cutting or thrusting at him as to protect yourself in the line
in which you are attacking.

This is easier to explain in practice than on paper, but it may perhaps
be sufficiently explained by examples. If, for instance, you are cutting
at the left side of your opponent's head, you must, to stop a possible
counter from him, keep your hilt almost as high as the top of your own
head and carry your hand well across to your own left. If you do this
correctly, you will, in case he should cut at your left cheek as you cut
at his, stop his cut with the upper part of your stick.

Again, in thrusting at him, if you keep your hand as high as your
shoulder, and in a line with your right shoulder, you will protect the
upper half of your own body from a counter, so that, even if your thrust
fails and does not get home, the upper part of your blade will stop his

It is necessary to study so to attack your opponent that, in the very
act of delivering a cut or thrust, you may stop him in as many lines or
directions of attack as possible.

If you find your man will counter in spite of all that you can do, take
advantage of this habit of his by feinting a cut to draw his counter,
stop this, and return.

This will have the effect of making him do the leading, which will be
all in your favour.


For the purposes of instruction and description, the principal hits in
single-stick have been numbered and described according to the parts of
the body at which they are aimed.

There are four principal hits: (1) a cut at your opponent's left cheek;
(2) a cut at his right cheek; (3) a cut at his left ribs; (4) a cut at
his right ribs. 5 and 6 are mere repetitions of 3 and 4 on a lower
level, guarded in the same way, and aimed at the inside and outside of
the right leg instead of at the ribs.

In the accompanying cuts numbered 28, 29, 30, 31, the four principal
attacks and the stops for them have been illustrated, and with their
help and a long looking-glass in front of him the young player ought to
be able to put himself into fairly good position.

[Illustration: Fig. 28.--Cut 1 and guard.]

[Illustration: Fig. 29.--Cut 2 and guard.]

In addition to the cuts there is the point, which, as our forefathers
discovered, is far more deadly than the edge. Of this more later on.

Almost every cut is executed upon the lunge. As you and your adversary
engage, you are practically out of each other's range unless you lunge.

Standing in the first position the heels are two feet apart. On the
lunge, I have seen Corporal-Major Blackburn, a man, it is true, over six
feet in height, measure, from his left heel to a point on the floor,
level with his sword point, nearly ten feet. This gives some idea of
what is to be expected from a man who can lunge properly. To do this,
throw out the right foot as far as it will go to the front, keeping the
heels still in line and the right foot straight.

Keep the outside edge of the left foot firmly down upon the floor, and
keep it still at right angles to the right foot. If your left foot
begins to leave the ground you have over-reached yourself; you will find
it impossible to get back, and you will be at your opponent's mercy. See
that your right knee is exactly over your right ankle, your left leg
straight, your chest square to the front, and your head well up. If you
can get yourself into this position, you will have no difficulty in
recovering yourself if your lunge fails, and you will gain nothing by
bending your body forward from the waist. On the contrary, you will
spoil your balance.

This lunge will do for every cut and every point.

To recover after a lunge, throw your weight well back upon your left
leg, and use the muscles of the right thigh and calf to shoot yourself
back into position. If the knee of the right leg has been kept exactly
over the ankle, the impetus necessary to regain your original position
will be easily obtained. If, however, the right foot has been protruded
too far, and the caution as to the knee and ankle disregarded, you will
find yourself unable to return quickly from the lunging position, and
will consequently be at your opponent's mercy. It is in the operation of
returning from the lunge that the player realizes to the full the
advantage of keeping the shoulders well back and head erect.

[Illustration: Fig. 30.--Cut 3 and guard.]

The illustrations should speak for themselves, but perhaps I had better
explain them.

In cut 1 (Fig. 28), lunge out and cut at the left cheek of your
opponent, straightening the arm and turning the knuckles down.

To stop this cut, raise the engaging guard (hanging guard, Fig. 26)
slightly, and bring the hand somewhat nearer the head, as shown in the
illustration, or stop it with the upright guard, with the elbow kept
well in and the right hand about on a level with the left shoulder.

In cut 2 (Fig. 29), lunge out and cut at your opponent's right cheek,
with your arm straight and knuckles up. The natural guard for this is
the high upright guard, with the elbow well in to the right side, the
arm bent and turned slightly outwards, and wrist and knuckles turned
well to the right.

In cut 3 (Fig. 30), make free use of the wrist, bringing your blade
round in the smallest space possible, and come in on your man's ribs
with your arm straight and knuckles turned downwards.

To stop this cut you may either use a low hanging guard, brought across
to the left side, the right hand about on a level with the left
shoulder, or a low upright guard, with the hilt just outside the left

The hanging guard is the safer one of the two, as it is difficult in
practice to get low enough with the hilt in the upright guard to stop a
low cut of this kind.

In cut 4 (Fig. 31), cut at your adversary's right ribs, and keep your
knuckles up, and when he attacks you on this line, stop him with the
hanging guard held low on your right side, or with the upright guard,
with arm, wrist, and knuckles turned outwards.

[Illustration: Fig. 31.--Cut 4 and guard.]

Cuts 5 and 6 are made like cuts 3 and 4 respectively, and must be met in
all cases by a low hanging guard. It is well to practise these low
hanging guards continually, as a man's legs are perhaps the most exposed
part of his body.

The point when used is given by a simple straightening of the arm on the
lunge, the knuckles being kept upwards, and, in ordinary play, the grip
on the stick loosened, in order that it may run freely through the hilt,
and thus save your opponent from an ugly bruise, a torn jacket, or
possibly a broken rib. When the knuckles are kept up in giving point,
the sword hand should be opposite the right shoulder. But the point may
also be delivered with the knuckles down, in which case the hand should
be opposite to the left shoulder.

[Illustration: Fig. 32.--The point.]

The point may be parried with any of the guards previously described.

It is well to remember that one of the most effective returns which can
be made from any guard is a point, and that a point can be made
certainly from every hanging guard by merely straightening the arm from
the guard, lunging, and coming in under your opponent's weapon. But
perhaps this is a thing to be learnt rather from practical play than
from a book.

Now, it is obvious that if any of the foregoing guards are as good as
they have been described, it is necessary to induce your adversary to
abandon them if you are ever to score a point.

This may be done in a variety of ways, when you have assured yourself
that he is invulnerable to a direct attack, not to be flurried by a
fierce onslaught, or slow enough to let you score a "remise"--that is, a
second hit--the first having been parried, but not returned.

The first ruse to adopt, of course, is the feint--a feint being a false
attack, or rather a move as if to attack in a line which you threaten,
but in which you do not intend to attack. All feints should be _strongly
pronounced_ or clearly shown. A half-hearted feint is worse than
useless; it is dangerous. If you have a foeman worthy of your steel
facing you, he will detect the fraud at once, and use the time wasted by
you over a feeble feint to put in a time thrust.

The ordinary feint is made by an extension of the arm as if to cut
without moving the foot to lunge, the lunge being made the moment you
have drawn off your enemy's guard and laid bare the real object of your

Sometimes, however, if you cannot succeed otherwise, a half or short
lunge for your feint, to be turned into a full lunge as you see your
opening, may be found a very useful variation of the ordinary feint. If
you find feints useless, you may try to compass your adversary's
downfall by "a draw." All the time that you are playing you should try
to be using your head, to be thinking out your plans and trying to
discover his. In nine cases out of ten he has some favourite form of
attack. If you discover what it is, and know how to stop it, indulge
him, and invite him even to make it, having previously formed some
little scheme of attack of your own upon this opening. Let me illustrate
my meaning by examples. If you notice a hungry eye fixed yearningly on
your tender calf, let your calf stray ever so little from under the
protection of the hanging guard. If this bait takes your friend in, and
he comes with a reckless lunge at it, throwing all his heart into the
cut, spring up to your full height, heels together, and leg well out of
danger, and gently let your avenging rod fall along his spine. This, by
the way, is the only occasion, except when you are acknowledging a hit,
on which you may be allowed to desert the first position for legs and

But this is a very old ruse, and most players know it: a much better one
may be founded upon it. If, for instance, you think you detect any
coquettish symptoms in the right leg of your adversary, you may know at
once what he is meditating. Oblige him at once. Lunge freely out at his
leg, which will of course be at once withdrawn. This, however, you were
expecting, and as his leg goes back your hand goes up to the high
hanging guard, covering your head from his cut. This cut stopped, he is
at your mercy, and you may cut him in halves or crimp his thigh at your
leisure. This position is illustrated in Fig. 33.

[Illustration: Fig. 33.--A ruse.]

Once again: some men set their whole hearts on your sleeve, and you may,
if yours is the hanging guard, lure them to their destruction through
this lust of theirs. Gradually, as the play goes on, your arm tires,
your hand sinks, your arm at last is bare, and the enemy comes in with a
cut which would almost lay open the gauntlet, were it not that at that
moment you come to the low upright guard and return at his left cheek.

These are what are known as draws, and their number is unlimited.

Another thing sometimes heard of in single-stick play is "a gain." This
is a ruse for deceiving your opponent as to distance, and is achieved by
bringing the left heel up to the right, in the course of the play,
without abandoning the normal crouching position. This, of course, makes
your lunge two feet longer than your victim has any reason for believing
it to be.

A false beat is another very common form of attack, consisting of a cut
aimed at the hilt or at the forte of your stick, the object being to
make you raise your point, if possible, so that the attacker may come in
under with cut three.

This is very well met by a thrust, the arm being merely straightened
from the guard, and the lunge delivered directly the "beat" is made.

A pretty feint having the same effect as the "beat," as opening up cut
three, is a long feint with the point at the chest, cut three being
given as the sword rises to parry the point.

But probably I have already transgressed the limits of my paper. What
remains to be taught, and I know full well that it is everything except
the merest rudiments, must be learned stick in hand. I can only wish the
beginner luck, and envy him every hour which he is able to devote to
acquiring a knowledge of sword-play.


Although the salute is a mere piece of sword drill, of no use for
practical purposes, it is still worth learning, as being the preliminary
flourish common at all assaults-at-arms, and valuable in itself as
reminding the players that they are engaged in a knightly game, and one
which insists on the display of the greatest courtesy by one opponent to
the other. Even if you are playing with bare steel, it is expected of
you that you should kill your enemy like a knight, and not like a
butcher; much more then, when you are only playing a friendly bout with
him, should you show him all possible politeness. On entering the ring
you should have all your harness on except your mask; this you should
carry in your left hand until you are face to face with your antagonist.
When in the ring, lay your helmet down on your left hand and come to the
slope swords--your blade upon your right shoulder, your elbow against
your side and your hilt in a line with your elbow, your knuckles
outwards. Your body should be erect, your head up, your heels together,
your right foot pointing straight to your front, your left foot at right
angles to it pointing to the left.

Both men acting together now come to the engaging guard, and beat twice,
stick against stick; they then come back to the "recover" by bringing
the right foot back to the left, and bringing the stick into an upright
position in front of the face, basket outwards, and thumb on a level
with the mouth.

After a slight pause, salute to the left in quarte, _i.e._ extend the
stick to your left front across the body, keeping the elbow fairly close
to the side and the finger-nails upwards; then pause again for a second,
and salute to the right in tierce (the back of the hand up); pause
again, and salute to the front, by extending the arm in that direction,
the point of the stick towards your left front. Now step forward about
two feet with the right foot and come to the engaging guard, beat twice,
draw the left foot up to the right, draw yourself up to your full
height, and come again to the recover, drop your stick to the second
guard (_i.e._ low hanging guard for the outside of the leg), making a
slight inclination of the body at the same time (probably this is meant
for a bow ceremonious), and then you may consider yourself at liberty to
put on your mask and begin.

Don't forget, when you cross sticks, to step out of distance again at
once. This salute, of course, is only usual at assaults-at-arms, which
are modern tournaments arranged for the display of the men's skill and
the entertainment of their friends. At the assault-at-arms, as we
understand it generally, there is no element of competition, there are
no prizes to be played for, and therefore, so long as a good display is
made, every one is satisfied, and nobody cares who gets the most points
in any particular bout.

In competitions this is not so, and time is an object; so that as soon
as the men can be got into the ring they are told to put their masks on
and begin.

In assaults and in general play you cannot be too careful to acknowledge
your adversary's hits. In a competition do nothing of the kind. The
judges will see that every point made is scored, and you may safely
relieve your mind from any anxiety on that ground. But in general play
it is different, and you cannot be too careful in scoring your
adversary's points, or be too liberal in allowing them, even if some of
them are a little bit questionable.


The ordinary form of acknowledgment (and a very graceful one it is) is
accomplished as follows:--On being hit, spring to attention, with your
heels together and body erect, at the same time bringing your sword to
the recover, _i.e._ sword upright in front of your face, thumb in a line
with your mouth, and knuckles outwards.

The acknowledgment should be only a matter of seconds, and when made the
player should come back to the engaging guard and continue the bout.


Of course there are occasions on which the best player cannot help
dealing a foul hit. When this happens there is nothing to be done except
to apologize; but most of these hits may be avoided by a little care and
command of temper. By a foul hit is meant a blow dealt to your opponent
on receiving a blow from him--a hit given, not as an attempt to "time,"
but instead of a guard and, as a matter of fact, given very often on the
"blow for blow" principle.

This, of course, is great nonsense, if you assume, as you should do,
that the weapons are sharp, when such exchanges would be a little more
severe than even the veriest glutton for punishment would care for.

If you only want to see who can stand most hammering with an ash-plant,
then your pads are a mistake and a waste of time. Ten minutes without
them will do more to settle that question than an hour with them on.

There ought to be some way of penalizing the player who, after receiving
a palpable hit himself, fails to acknowledge it, and seizes the
opportunity instead to strike the hardest blow he is able to at the
unprotected shoulder or arm of his adversary.

One more word and we have done with the courtesies of sword-play.

Don't make any remarks either in a competition (this, of course, is
worst of all) or in an ordinary bout. Don't argue, except with the
sticks. Remember that the beau-ideal swordsman is one who fights hard,
with "silent lips and striking hand."


Once a man has mastered the rudiments of any game and acquired some
considerable amount of dexterity in "loose play," he begins to long to
be pitted against some one else in order to measure his strength. Before
long the limits of his own gymnasium grow too small for his ambition,
and then it is that we may expect to find him looking round for a chance
of earning substantial laurels in public competitions. Unfortunately the
stick-player will not find many opportunities of displaying his skill in
public. As far as the present writer knows, there are only two prizes
offered annually in London for single-stick, and neither of these
attract much attention. One of them is given at the Military Tournament
at Islington, in June, and one at the German Gymnasium, in December. The
former of these prizes is open only to soldiers, militia-men, or
volunteers, the latter to any member of a respectable athletic club, who
is prepared to pay 2_s._ 6_d._ for his entrance fee. The attendance of
spectators at both shows is very poor, which is to be regretted, as the
interest of the public in any game generally goes a long way towards
insuring improvement in the play.

It is just as well, before entering for either of these competitions,
to know something about the conditions under which they take place, and
the rules which govern them. The bouts are generally played in a
fourteen foot ring, at least that is the statement in the notice to
players, and it is as well to be prepared to confine your movements to
such a limited area. As a matter of fact, no objection ever seems to be
raised to a competitor who transgresses this rule, and we remember to
have seen a nimble player skipping about like an electrified eel outside
the magic circle, until stopped by a barrier of chairs at the edge of
the big arena.

At the Military Tournament the play is for the best out of three hits,
_i.e._ the man who scores the first two points wins. At the German
Gymnasium the competitor who first scores five wins the bout. This is
better than at the Tournament, although it will seem to some that even
this is hardly a sufficient test of the merits of each player. The bouts
seem too short, but probably this is unavoidable; that which is to be
regretted and might be remedied, being that no points are given for
"form:" the result is that, in many cases, the anxiety to score the
necessary points as soon as possible results in very ugly and
unscientific rushes, in which no guards are attempted and from which the
most reckless and rapid hitter comes out the winner. This, of course, is
the same for every one, and therefore perfectly fair, but it does not
tend to elevate the style of play.

But the great difficulty at these competitions appears to be the
difficulty of judging. And here let me say at once that it is as far
from my intention to find fault with any individual judge as it possibly
can be. Being English, I believe them to be above suspicion; being
sometimes a competitor myself, it would not be for me to impugn their
honesty if they were not. Whatever he does, I would always advise the
athlete to preserve his faith in judges and a stoical silence when he
does not quite agree with them.

All I would suggest for the benefit of judges and judged alike in these
trials of skill which test the eyesight and quickness of the umpires
almost as much as the eyesight and quickness of the competitors, is that
some definite code of scoring should be established and recognized
amongst the different schools-of-arms in England.

In order to facilitate the scoring they have a very good plan at the
Military Tournament of chalking the competitors' sticks. This precaution
ensures a mark upon the jacket every time the ash-plant hits it; but
even this is not always sufficient, for it is quite possible for a true
guard to be opposed to a hard cut with a pliant stick, with the result
that the attacker's stick whips over and leaves a mark which ought not
to be scored, for had the weapons been of steel this could not have

This, however, is a point which would generally be detected by one of
the three judges in the ring.

What gives rise to question in players' minds is not any small point
like this, so much as the question of timing and countering.

To take the last first: If A and B lunge together, both making direct
attacks, and both get home simultaneously, it is generally admitted that
the result is a counter, and nothing is to be scored to any one.

But if A makes a direct attack, and B, ignoring it, stands fast and
counters, this is a wilful omission to protect himself on his part; and
even if his cut should get home as soon as A's it should not count, nor,
I think, should it be allowed to cancel A's point, for A led, as the
movement of his foot in lunging showed, and B's plain duty was to stop
A's attack before returning it. This he would have done naturally
enough if he had had the fear of a sharp edge before his eyes.

I even doubt whether a time-thrust or cut should ever be allowed to
score, unless the result of it be such as would have rendered the direct
attack ineffectual in real fighting. Should not the rule be, either that
the point scores to the person making the direct attack, as shown by the
action of his foot in lunging (unless, indeed, the attacked person has
guarded and returned, when, of course, the point is his), or else make
the rule a harder one, but equally fair for every one, and say no hits
shall count except those made clean without a counter, _i.e._ to score a
point the player must hit his adversary without being hit himself?

Of course bouts would take longer to finish if this were the rule, but
such a rule would greatly simplify matters.

The really expert swordsman is surely he who inflicts injuries without
receiving any, not he who is content to get rather the best of an
exchange of cuts, the least of which would with sharp steel put any man
_hors de combat_.

In connection with public competitions, I may as well warn the tyro
against what is called "a surprise." On entering the ring the men face
each other, come on the engaging guard, and begin at the judge's word of
command. The sticks must have been fairly crossed before hits may be
counted. But it is as well the moment your stick has crossed your
opponent's to step out of distance again, by taking a short pace to the
rear with the left foot and bringing the right foot, after it. You can
always come in again at short notice; but if you do not keep a sharp
look out, a very alert opponent may cross swords with you and tap you on
the arm almost in the same movement. If he does you may think it rather
sharp practice, but you will find that it scores one to him
nevertheless. As no word of practical advice founded on experience
should be valueless, let me add one here to would-be competitors. Do not
rely upon other people for masks, aprons, or other necessaries of the
game. You cannot expect a gymnasium to which you do not belong to
furnish such things for you, and even if they were provided they
probably would not fit you. Bring all you want for yourself; and if you
value your own comfort or personal appearance when you leave the scene
of the competition, let your bag, on arriving, contain towels, brushes,
and such other simple toilet necessaries as you are likely to require.



History tells us that firearms of sorts were in existence as far back as
the fourteenth century, and that they were probably of Flemish origin.
Certain it is that, prior to 1500, there were large bodies of troops
armed with what may be called portable _culverins_, and in 1485 the
English yeomen of the guard were armed with these clumsy weapons. Later
on, in the middle of the sixteenth century, we hear of the
long-barrelled _harquebus_ being used in Spain, and before the close of
the century the _muschite_ was in use in the English army. This was a
heavier weapon than the harquebus, and the soldiers were provided with a
long spiked stake with a fork at the upper end in which to rest the
ponderous barrel whilst they took aim.

The method of discharging these weapons was primitive in the extreme, as
it was necessary to hold a lighted match to the priming, in a pan at the
right side of the barrel, and one can imagine what a lot of fizzing,
spluttering, and swearing there must have been in damp weather!

Improvements in the _harquebus_ and _musket_, as it got to be called
later on, continued to be developed from time to time. In the early
days, matchlocks were sneered at as being inferior to crossbows, much in
the same way that the first railway engine was contemptuously spoken of
and written about by the coaching men at the beginning of this century;
but when in 1700 the flintlock musket made its appearance popular
prejudice was shaken, and it was completely removed in 1820 when
percussion guns came into pretty general use.

This may appear to be a digression and somewhat outside the scope of
this little work. I give it, however, to show the origin of the rifle,
to which, after all, the bayonet is but an adjunct.

About the middle of the seventeenth century it occurred to the sapient
mind of one Puséygur, a native of Bayonne, in France, that it would be a
grand thing to have a sharp point on which to receive an advancing
adversary after one had missed him, or the fizzling matchlock had failed
to go off. The weapon devised was a sharp-bladed knife, about eighteen
inches long, with a rounded handle six or eight inches long, to fit like
a plug into the muzzle of the musket, and the bayonet in this form was
used in England and France about the year 1675. It was, of course,
impossible to fire the piece with the bayonet fixed; it was a case of
fire first and then fix bayonets with all possible dispatch. One can
imagine what receiving a cavalry charge must have meant in those days.
Towards the close of the seventeenth century an important step was made
in the right direction. Bayonets were then for the first time attached
to the barrel by two rings, by which means the gun could be fired whilst
the bayonet was in its place and ready for instant use. Very early in
the eighteenth century a further improvement was invented, in the shape
of a socketed bayonet, which was firmer and more satisfactory than
anything previously devised.

The British bayonet in the hands of our soldiers has over and over again
carried victory into the serried ranks of our adversaries, but, now that
arms of precision have reached such a pitch of perfection, and are still
on the advance in the matter of rapid firing, it is to be doubted
whether hand-to-hand conflicts will play a very prominent part in the
battles of the future.

A distinction must be drawn between the ordinary weapon with which the
Guards and army generally were till recently provided (I refer to the
triangular-fluted bayonet, used exclusively for thrusting purposes), and
the sword-bayonet, which serves both for cutting and thrusting. The
advantage of the former was evidently its lightness and handiness; but
it must be remembered that, save for thrusting, spiking a gun, or boring
a hole in a leather strap, it was practically useless, whereas the sharp
edge of the sword-bayonet makes it an excellent companion to Tommy
Atkins on all sorts of occasions, too numerous to mention.

In the early months of the present year the new rifle and bayonet placed
in the hands of the Guards caused a good deal of comment. As my readers
are aware, the new arm is a magazine small-bore rifle, carrying a long
conical ball. It is not a pretty-looking weapon, and its serviceable
qualities have yet to be tested in actual warfare. But it is with the
bayonet we are now chiefly concerned. At first sight it reminds one of
an extra strong sardine-box opener, but on closer inspection it is
evident that, though quite capable of dealing with tinned-meat cans,
etc., it has very many merits which are wanting in all the other
bayonets which have gone before it. It is a strong double-edged,
sharp-pointed knife, twelve inches long, rather more than an inch wide,
and about a fifth of an inch deep through the strong ridge which runs
down the centre of the blade from point to hilt. The handle is of wood,
and it is fastened to the muzzle of the rifle by means of a ring and
strong spring catch or clip. Altogether it is almost a model of the
early Roman sword.

From this short description it will be seen that, though the soldier
loses a good many inches in reach, he is provided with an excellent
hunting-knife, which can be turned to any of the uses of a knife--from
slaughtering a foe to cutting up tobacco.

Then, again, it is possible that the loss in actual reach may be more
than compensated for at very close quarters by the greater ease with
which a man can "shorten arms" effectively as well as by the double
edge. Every ounce saved in the weight of a soldier's accoutrements is a
great gain, and these new bayonets are light and, as I have hinted, are
likely to be extremely useful for the every-day work of a long march.

It is not my intention to deal with the bayonet-exercise as practised by
squads of infantry, but, before proceeding to deal with some of the more
important situations in attack and defence, I would advise those who
wish to become proficient to learn the drill. The best way to do this is
to join the Volunteers, and get all the squad work possible as a means
of gaining a _command_ over the weapon--the continued use of which for
any length of time is extremely fatiguing. When the rudiments are
mastered, and you know fairly well how to respond to the reiterated
words of command: "High Guard"--"Pint;" "Low Guard"--"Pint," etc., and
can form the "pints" and guards in a respectable manner, it will be well
to join some school of arms with a proficient and painstaking military
instructor who is also an expert swordsman. I say _swordsman_ advisedly,
because I am convinced that it is only one who is a fencer who can be
really qualified to impart knowledge on the subject of weapons chiefly
used for pointing.

No man can be said to use the bayonet efficiently who is not able to
tackle another man similarly armed--a swordsman on foot or a mounted man
armed with the cavalry sabre.

For ordinary practice the first thing to be secured is a good
spring-bayonet musket, somewhere about the weight of the ordinary rifle,
provided with a bayonet which, by means of a strong spiral spring inside
the barrel, can be pressed back eighteen inches or so when it comes in
contact with the object thrust against. It is hardly necessary to
observe that the point of the bayonet must be covered with a good
button, similar to those used on fencing foils, only much larger. The
button should be tightly encased with layer upon layer of soft leather,
and then bound over with stout parchment or stiff leather, and tied very
strongly with whipcord or silk just behind the button. This precaution
is very necessary to guard against broken ribs, collar-bones, etc.

The illustrations which embellish or disfigure this chapter do not
profess to do more than indicate a few of the more important positions,
points, and guards which occur in bayonet-exercise: for fuller details
the reader is referred to the various manuals issued from time to time
by the Horse Guards and War Office authorities. In these little books
will be found all the words of command and, I believe, illustrations of
every point and parry.

At an assault, and opposed to a man armed also with a bayonet, the first
position is indicated by the accompanying sketch. The head should be
held well up, the chest expanded, and the weight of the body nearly
evenly balanced on both feet, which should be about eighteen or twenty
inches apart, so as to give a good firm base without detracting from the
rapidity of advance and retreat. In the case of a tall man, the feet
will be rather further apart than with a short man; but this is a matter
which can be easily adjusted to suit the requirements of each particular

[Illustration: Fig. 34.--On guard.]

[Illustration: Fig. 35.--Point, from guard.]

The great thing is to get accustomed to the position--to feel "at home"
in it--and to be able to shift it at a moment's notice, and, when
necessary, to make a firm stand. The drill work is very good for all
this, and though it is tedious and irritating to many, it is worth what
it costs.

In Fig. 35 we have the point from guard, and in delivering this point
the feet retain their positions, flat upon the ground, the right leg is
straightened, the left knee bent, and the body advanced over the left
knee as far as possible consistent with stability. The left shoulder is
necessarily somewhat in advance of the right, and the arms are stretched
out horizontally, and quite on a level with the shoulders. The barrel of
the rifle, too, is to be held horizontally, with the bayonet pointing to
the adversary's throat and chest.

In Fig. 36 we have the point from guard with the lunge, which ought to
give an extra reach of a foot or more. Here, as in the point without the
lunge, the sole of the right foot should remain flat upon the ground,
whilst the left is advanced about a foot or fifteen inches smartly on
the straight line between the right heel and the adversary.

It is most important to remember that in all lunges the step-out should
be bold and decided, but that to over-stretch the distance is worse than
stepping short, because it leaves one in a position from which it is
hard to recover. Having made your attack, you want to be in a position
of easy retreat to the base of operations, which is "on guard."

We next come to what is called the "Throw-point," by which a little
extra reach is obtained over the ordinary point with lunge. This is a
point which may be very effective, but unless a man is strong in the arm
he should not use it much on account of the difficulty in rapidly
regaining hold of the rifle with both hands. The throw-point comes in
when in making the ordinary lunge you feel that you are going to be
just ever so little short; you then release your hold of the barrel with
the left hand, and, bringing the right shoulder well forward, you
continue the lunge, holding the rifle by the thin part of the stock
alone. The _very instant_ your right arm is _fully_ extended, and the
point of the bayonet has reached its furthest limit, you should draw
back the rifle, regain possession of the barrel with the left hand, and
come into the "on guard" position.

[Illustration: Fig. 36.--Point, with lunge.]

[Illustration: Fig. 37.--Throw point.]

[Illustration: Fig. 38.--Guard--opposed to Swordsman.]

As previously hinted, a knowledge of fencing is of the first importance
in studying the use of weapons where the point is the main factor, and
the longer the weapon the more this fact is forced upon us. It is of
course true for all weapons, but the leverage being so great in the
case of the rifle and bayonet, it becomes more apparent. For example,
the slightest touch from the thin blade of a foil is sufficient, when
applied near the point of the bayonet, to bring about the necessary
deflection of the weapon. Indeed I cannot help thinking that if two men
fought, one armed with the small-sword or light rapier and the other
with the rifle and bayonet, the swordsman would win--always supposing
that they were equally expert in the use of their respective weapons. It
would seem that the lightness and consequent "handiness" of the rapier
must more than make up for the length and strength of the more ponderous

[Illustration: Fig. 39.--Shorten arms.]

[Illustration: Fig. 40.--Low guard.]

[Illustration: Fig. 41.--Point from low guard.]

Conflicts between the sword and bayonet are common enough, but it is the
broad-sword, as a rule; and one does not often see the bayonet, opposed
to the small-sword, used exclusively for thrusting.

In Fig. 38 is given the best general position for coming on guard when
opposed by a swordsman. The great object is to keep the opponent at a
distance; directly he gets _your_ side of your point you are in
difficulties. Therefore never let the point of your bayonet wander far
from the lines leading straight to his body.

There is, of course, the "Shorten-arms," shown in Fig. 39; but in actual
conflict you might be a dead man twice over before you could get the
bayonet back to the position indicated. When the swordsman gets to close
quarters, and has possibly missed you, a good plan is to knock him down
with the butt of the rifle--using the weapon like the quarter-staff
(_vide_ Fig. 9).

The next two sketches show the positions in "Low Guard" and "Point from
Low Guard"--the latter being particularly effective on broken ground
when an enemy is rushing up a hill at you, or when you want to spike a
fellow hiding in long grass.

[Illustration: Fig. 42.--High guard--opposed to mounted man.]

[Illustration: Fig. 43.--Head parry.]

The "High Guard" and "Head Parry" are chiefly used when dealing with
cavalry. It seems to me hardly necessary to give the points of these
guards, as they simply amount to extending the arms straight in the
direction of the foe.

A man on foot possesses one or two great advantages over a mounted man,
for his movements are quicker, and if he can only avoid being ridden
down and can keep on the horseman's bridle-hand side, he ought to have a
good chance of delivering his point in the left side. It is most
important that the man on foot should be ready to spring back so as to
avoid a sudden sweep to the left, which will bring him, if the horse is
spurred forward at the same time, right under the rider's sword arm.

It is almost superfluous to add that in practice the general habiliments
should be much the same as those used when playing quarter-staff. In the
illustrations the hands are left bare in order to show the grip of the
rifle, but boxing-gloves should invariably be worn, or a broken finger
may be the result.



One remembers reading somewhere, I think in Bunyan's "Pilgrim's
Progress," of a certain "grievous crab-tree cudgel," and the impression
left by this description is that the weapon, gnarled and knotty, was
capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Any thick stick under two feet long, such as a watchman's staff or a
policeman's truncheon, may be fairly called a cudgel, and it is not so
long ago that cudgel-play formed one of the chief attractions at country
fairs in many parts of England.

A stage was erected, and the young fellows of the neighbourhood were
wont to try conclusions with their friends or those celebrities from
more distant parts of the country who were anxious to lower their

The game was at times pretty rough, and the object of each combatant was
to break the skin on the scalp or forehead of his antagonist, _so as to
cause blood to flow_. As soon as the little red stream was seen to
trickle down the face of one or other the battle was at an end, and the
man who was successful in drawing first blood was declared the victor.
Similarly, German students, squabbling over love affairs or other
trivial matters, fight with a long sort of foil, which has a very short
lancet blade at the extreme point. Their object, like our old
cudgel-players, is to draw first blood, only our Teutonic cousins, in
drawing the blood, often lop off their friends' noses or slit open their
cheeks from ear to mouth.

There is a great similarity in these two games, because in each the
head, and the head alone, is the object aimed at. In the one case the
defeated party went away with a pretty severe bump on his head, and in
the other he hies him to a surgeon to have his nose fixed on, or his
cheek stitched up with silver wire.

I have never been fortunate enough to witness a bout with the cudgels,
but those who have been more lucky say that the combatants stood very
close to each other, making all the hits nearly straight on to the top
of their adversaries' heads, and guarding the returns and attacks with
their cudgels and with their left arms.

Considering the cudgel as a modern weapon, I am inclined to advocate its
use for prodding an enemy in the pit of the stomach, for, with the extra
eighteen inches or so of reach which your cudgel gives you, it is likely
that you may get your thrust well home, at any rate before the opponent
can hit you with his fist. Many of us know what a blow on the "mark"
with the naked fist will do. Well, the area of the knuckles is very much
greater than the area of the end of even a very stout stick, so that, if
you can put anything like the same force into the thrust that you can
into the blow, you will bring a smaller area to bear on a vital point,
and consequently work on that point with greater effect.

A grievous crab-tree (or blackthorn) cudgel, with two or three ounces of
lead let into one end, is a good thing to have under your pillow at
night. Armed with this instrument, you can steal up behind your burglar
whilst he is opening your wife's jewel case or bagging your favourite
gold snuff-box; but don't get excited about it, and remember to hit his
head rather on the _sides_ than on the back or front.

Some authorities advocate "life-preservers," but later on I hope to
give my reasons for not caring much about this combination of lead and


In Ireland they were formerly very partial to the use of the shillalah,
and even to this day there is a little bit of fun in this line to be
seen at most of the fairs.

The shillalah proper is about four feet long and is usually made of
blackthorn, oak, ash, or hazel; and it is a great point to get it
uniform in thickness and in weight throughout its entire length. It is
held somewhere about eight inches or so from the centre, and my
countrymen, who are always pretty active on their pins when fighting,
use their left forearms to protect the left side of their heads.

It is extraordinary what a lot of knocking about a sturdy Irishman can
put up with, and what whacks he can receive on the head without any
apparent damage. One cannot help thinking that the Celtic skull must be
thicker than the Saxon. The brains in the former are certainly more
capable than those in the latter of producing brilliant and amusing, if
incorrect, ideas and expressions. The history of the Emerald Isle swarms
with Boyle-Rocheisms as the country itself has long been said to swarm
with absentee landlords.

After a certain fair, where the whisky and the whacks had contended
pretty severely for the first place as regards strength, a certain Paddy
was found lying, as Mrs. Malaprop would say, "in a state of como," in a
ditch hard by the scene of conflict. A friend solicitous, and fearing
the worst, said, "Och, Paddy, what ails ye? Are ye dead?" A feeble voice
replied, "Ochone, no, Jack. I'm not dead, but I'm spacheless."

The length of the shillalah gives it a great advantage over a shorter
stick, for, when held about a third of its length from the end, the
shorter portion serves to guard the right side of the head and the right
forearm. Indeed, the definition of the quarter-staff, given at the
commencement of Chapter II., seems to me to apply far better to the
shillalah, which may in a sense be regarded as the link between the
ordinary walking-stick and the mighty weapon which Robin Hood wielded so
deftly in his combat with Little John.

The use of the point is almost unknown in Irish conflicts. My countrymen
twirl their shillalahs above their heads with a whirring noise, and
endeavour to knock off their opponents' hats so as to get at their
heads. Then begins the fun of the fair--all is slashing and whacking,
and the hardest skull generally comes off the best. Sometimes a great
deal of skill is displayed, and I often wonder whether a really expert
swordsman would be much more than a match for some quick, strong, Kerry
boys I could pick out. Be it remembered, a swordsman invariably keeps
his left hand behind his back, whilst an Irishman nearly always makes
his left forearm the guard for the left side of his head, and so has
more scope for hitting than he would otherwise have. One is here
reminded of the conflict between Fitz-James and the Highland Chieftain,
Roderick Dhu:--

  "Ill fared it then with Roderick Dhu,
   That on the field his targe he threw,
   Whose brazen studs and tough bull-hide
   Had death so often dashed aside;
   For, trained abroad his arms to wield,
   Fitz-James's blade was sword and shield."

The left arm, supplying the place of the targe, alluded to in Scott's
lines, is doubtless an advantage; but, in the case of the two combatants
whose merits we are considering, the ordinary swordsman possesses
superior reach, can lunge out further, and knows full well the value of
the point.

A melée at an Irish fair is worth seeing, but it is better not to join
in it, if possible.

A number of the "boys," from Cork or an adjacent county, were once had
up before Judge Keogh for beating a certain man within an inch of his
life. A witness under examination--after graphically describing how one
of the prisoners had beaten the poor man "wid a stone, and he lying
senseless in the road;" how another had hit the "crater wid a thick
wattle;" and how a third had kicked him in the back--was asked what one
Michael O'Flannagan, another of the prisoners, had done. "Begorra, your
honour," said the witness, "devil a hap'orth was Micky doing at all, at
all; he was just walking round searching for a vacancy."

A similar story is told of about a dozen tinkers who had set upon one
man and were unmercifully beating him. Presently there was a lull in the
proceedings, and a little deformed man, brandishing a very big stick,
elbowed his way through the crowd, shouting, "Och, now, boys, for the
love of mercy let a poor little cripple have just one stroke at him."

[Illustration: The fun of the fair--"Whirroo."]


The choice of this useful adjunct is by no means as easy as many people
suppose, for it involves not only a knowledge of the prerequisities--in
the matter of various kinds of woods, etc.--but also an acquaintance
with the situations a man may find himself in, and the uses to which he
may have to put his walking-stick.

First, then, as to the matter of the best wood. There are, roughly
speaking, two headings under which we may class our types of raw
material--strong and stiff wood, such as the oak and the hazel; and
strong and pliable, such as the ash-plant and various kinds of canes.
What one really wants to secure is a sufficient amount of stiffness and
strength to enable one to make an effective hit or longe, without any
chance of snapping, and a degree of pliability and spring combined with
that lightness which makes a stick handy and lively in actual encounter.

The oak has plenty of power and about the right density, but, unless you
get a rather big stick--too big for all-round usefulness,--it is apt to
snap. The hazel is perhaps rather too stiff, and it is certainly too
light, though for this very reason it is _handy_. Then, again, there is
no bending a hazel without a great chance of breaking it. A good strong
ground-ash is not to be despised if cut at the right time, but it is
always apt to split or break. Turning to the rattan-cane, we find a
capital solid cane--almost unbreakable--but with rather _too_ much bend
in it for thrusting, or warding off the rush of a savage dog. The
rattan, too, is very apt to split if by any chance the ferrule comes
off; and when once it has _really_ split you might just as well have a
birch-rod in your hands.

Where, then, shall we look for a stick which combines all the good
qualities and is free from the drawbacks just enumerated? Without the
slightest hesitation I refer you to the Irish blackthorn, which can be
chosen of such convenient size and weight as not to be cumbersome, and
which, if carefully selected, possesses all the strength of the oak,
plus enormous toughness, and a pliability which makes it a truly
charming weapon to work with.

It is a matter of some difficulty to obtain a _real_ blackthorn in
London or any big town. You go into a shop, and they show you a
smart-looking stick which has been peeled and deprived of most of its
knobs, dyed black, and varnished. That is _not_ the genuine article,
and, if you buy it, you will become the possessor of a stick as inferior
to a blackthorn as a pewter skewer is inferior to a Damascus blade.

The best way is to send over to Kerry, Cork, or some other county in the
Emerald Isle, and ask a friend to secure the proper thing as _prepared
by the inhabitants_.

The sticks are cut out of the hedges at that time of year when the sap
is not rising; they are then carefully prepared and dried in the peat
smoke for some considerable time, the bark of course being left on and
the knobs not cut off too close; and, when ready, they are hard, tough,
and thoroughly reliable weapons.

As regards appearance, too, I think, when the hard surface of the
rich-coloured bark has been rubbed up with a little oil and a nice
silver mount fixed on the handle, no man need feel ashamed of being seen
with one of them in Piccadilly or Bond Street.

The section of these sticks is seldom a true circle, but bear in mind,
when giving your order, to ask for those which are _rather flat than
otherwise_. I mean that the section should be elliptical, and not
circular. The shape of the stick then more nearly approaches that of
the blade of a sabre, and if you understand sword exercise and make all
cuts and guards with the true edge, you are far more likely to do
effective work.

Again, the blow comes in with greater severity on account of the
curvature at either end of the major axis of the ellipse being sharper
than it is at the end of any diameter of the circle, the sectional
areas, of course, being taken as equal.

The length of the blackthorn depends on the length of the man for whom
it is intended, but always go in for a good long stick. Useful lengths
range between 2 ft. 10 in. and 3 ft., and even 3 ft. 6 in. for a very
tall man.

The blackthorn, being stiff and covered with sharp knots, is a
first-rate weapon for defence at very close quarters. When, therefore,
your efforts at distance-work have failed, and you begin to be "hemmed
in," seize the stick very firmly with both hands, and dash the point and
hilt alternately into the faces and sides of your opponents.

Always have a good ferrule at the end of your stick. An inch and a half
from an old gun barrel is the best; and do not fix it on by means of a
rivet running through the stick. Let it be fixed in its place either by
a deep dent in the side, or by cutting out two little notches and
pressing the saw-like tooth into the wood. It is also a good plan to
carry these saw-like teeth all round the ferrule and then press the
points well into the wood; there is then no chance of the fastening-on
causing a split or crack in the wood.

The weight of the stick is an important matter to consider. Some
blackthorns are so enormously heavy that it is next to impossible to do
any quick effective work with them, and one is reminded, on seeing a man
"over sticked,"--if I may be allowed such an expression--of Lord
Dundreary's riddle, "Why does a dog wag his tail? Because the dog is
stronger than the tail," or of David in Saul's armour. Some time ago it
was rather the fashion for very young men to affect gigantic
walking-sticks--possibly with the view of intimidating would-be
plunderers and robbers, and investing themselves generally with a magic
sort of _noli me tangere_ air.

Without wishing to detract from the undoubted merits, _in certain
special cases_, of these very big sticks, I am bound to say that, only
being useful to a limited extent, they should not be encouraged. Let the
stick you habitually carry be one well within your compass. If it comes
up to guard readily and without any apparent effort or straining of your
wrist, and if you find you can make all the broadsword cuts, grasping it
as shown in Fig. 14, without the least spraining your thumb, then you
may be pretty sure that you are not "over-sticked," and that your cuts
and thrusts will be smart to an extent not to be acquired if you carried
a stick ever so little too heavy for you.

Though it is a good plan to be accustomed to the feel of the weapon
which is most likely to serve you in time of need, it is nevertheless a
grand mistake to get into a way of imagining that you can only use one
kind of stick or one kind of sword effectively.

This is one reason why it is so advisable to range wide in fencing
matters. I would always say, commence with the foils and work hard,
under some good master, for a year or so without touching any other
branch. Then go on to broad-sword, and keep to alternate days with
foils. Later on take up the single-stick, and then go on to
bayonet-exercise, quarter-staff, and anything else you please.

This extended range of work will give you a wonderful general capability
for adapting yourself at a moment's notice to any weapon chance may
place in your hands: the leg of an old chair, the joint of a fishing
rod, or the common or garden spade; any of these may be used with great
effect by an accomplished all-round swordsman.

There is one point on which a few words may not be out of place in this

Good men, with their fists, and those who are proficient with the sword
or stick, often complain that, in actual conflict with the rough and
ready, though ignorant, assailant, they are worsted because the
adversary does something diametrically opposed to what a scientific
exponent of either art would do in similar circumstances.

It is certainly trying, when you square up to a rough and expect him to
hit out with his fists, to receive a violent doubling-up kick in the
stomach; and similarly annoying is it, when attacked by a man with a
stick, to experience treatment quite different to anything you ever came
across in your own particular School-of-Arms.

But after all this is only what you ought to expect. It is absolutely
necessary to suit yourself to your environment for the time being, and
be ready for _anything_.

Depend upon it science must tell, and there is always this very
consoling reflection to fall back upon: if your opponent misses you, or
you are quick enough to avoid his clumsy attack--either of which is
extremely likely to happen--it is highly probable that you will be able
to make good your own attack, for, as a rule, the unscientific man hits
out of distance or wide of the mark, and this is rarely the case with a
scientific man.

It once fell to my lot to be set upon by a couple of very disagreeable
roughs in Dublin, one of whom did manage to get the first blow, but it
was "all round" and did not do much harm. Before he could deliver a
second hit I managed to lay him out with a very severe cut from my
blackthorn, which came in contact with his head just between the rim of
his hat and the collar of his coat. Now, had my knowledge of stick-play
been insufficient to enable me to accurately direct this cut (cut 5) to
its destination, I might not now be scribbling these pages. As it turned
out, this poor injured rough was placed _hors de combat_, and was
afterwards conveyed to the hospital, and I only had to tackle his
friend, a stubborn varlet, who, after knocking me about a good deal and
also receiving some rough treatment at my hands, ran away. He was
"wanted" by the police for some time, but was never caught.

This little episode is only given to show that the proper delivery of
one blow or hit is often enough to turn the tables, and how advisable it
is to practise _often_, so as to keep the eye and hand both steady and

When walking along a country road it is a good plan to make cuts with
your stick at weeds, etc., in the hedges, always using the true edge,
_i.e._ if aiming at a certain part of a bramble or nettle, to cut at it,
just as though you were using a sabre. By this sort of practice, which,
by the way, is to be deprecated in a young plantation or in a friend's
garden, you may greatly increase the accuracy of your eye.

It is merely an application of the principle which enables a fly-fisher
to place his fly directly under such and such over-hanging boughs, or
gives the experienced driver such control over his whip that he can
flick a midge off the ear of one of his galloping leaders.

Much does not, in all probability, depend upon the success or failure of
the piscator's cast, and very likely the midge might safely be allowed
to remain on the leader's ear; but if you are walking in a lonely suburb
or country lane, your _life_ may depend upon the accuracy with which you
can deliver one single cut or thrust with your faithful blackthorn.

I can almost hear people say, "Oh, this is all rubbish; I'm not going to
be attacked; life would not be worth living if one had to be always 'on
guard' in this way." Well, considering that this world, from the time we
are born to the time we die, is made up of uncertainties, and that we
are never really secure from attack at any moment of our lives, it does
seem worth while to devote a little attention to the pursuit of a
science, which is not only healthful and most fascinating, but which
may, in a second of time, enable you to turn a defeat into a victory,
and save yourself from being mauled and possibly killed in a fight which
was none of your own making. Added to all this, science gives a
consciousness of power and ability to assist the weak and defenceless,
which ought to be most welcome to the mind of any man. Though always
anxious to avoid anything like "a row," there are times when it may be
necessary to interfere for the sake of humanity, and how much more easy
is it to make that interference dignified and effective if you take your
stand with a certainty that you can, if pushed to extreme measures, make
matters very warm indeed for the aggressor? The consciousness of power
gives you your real authority, and with it you are far more likely to be
calm and to gain your point than you would be without the knowledge.
Backed up by science, you can both talk and act in a way which is likely
to lead to a peaceful solution of a difficulty, whereas, if the science
is absent, you _dare_ not, from very uncertainty, use those very words
which you know ought to be used on the occasion.

There are necessarily a good many difficulties to be faced in becoming
at all proficient in the art of self-defence, but the advantages to be
gained are doubtless very great.

An expert swordsman, and by this I mean one who is really _au fait_ with
any weapon you may put into his hand, who is also a good boxer and
wrestler, is a very nasty customer for any one or even two footpads to
make up to.

The worst of it is that it takes so long to become really good in any
branch of athletics. When you know all, or nearly all, that is to be
learned, you get a bit stiff and past work! But this, after all, need
not trouble one much, since it applies to all relations of life. As a
wise man once said, with a touch of sorrow and regret in his tone, "By
the time you have learned how to live, you die."


As a weapon of modern warfare this implement has not been given a fair
place. It has, indeed, too often been spoken of with contempt and
disdain, but there is no doubt that, even in the hands of a strong and
angry old woman, a gamp of solid proportions may be the cause of much
damage to an adversary. Has not an umbrella, opened suddenly and with a
good flourish, stopped the deadly onslaught of the infuriated bull, and
caused the monarch of the fields to turn tail? Has it not, when
similarly brought into action, been the means of stopping a runaway
horse, whose mad career might otherwise have caused many broken legs and

If, then, there are these uses beyond those which the dampness of our
insular climate forces upon us, it may be well to inquire how they can
be brought to bear when a man, who is an expert swordsman, or one who
has given attention to his fencing lessons, is attacked without anything
in his hands save the homely umbrella.

It is, of course, an extremely risky operation prodding a
fellow-creature in the eye with the point of an umbrella; and I once
knew a man who, being attacked by many roughs, and in danger of losing
his life through their brutality, in a despairing effort made a
desperate thrust at the face of one of his assailants. The point entered
the eye _and the brain_, and the man fell stone dead at his feet. I
would therefore only advocate the thrusting when extreme danger
threatens--as a _dernier resort_, in fact, and when it is a case of who
shall be killed, you or your assailant.

There are two methods of using the umbrella, viz. holding it like a
fencing foil--and for this reason umbrellas should always be chosen with
strong straight handles--for long thrusts when at a distance, or
grasping it firmly with both hands, as one grasps the military rifle
when at bayonet-exercise. In the latter case one has a splendid weapon
for use against several assailants at close quarters. Both the arms
should be bent and held close to the body, which should be made to work
freely from the hips, so as to put plenty of weight into the short sharp
prods with which you can alternately visit your opponents' faces and
ribs. If you have the handle in your right hand, and the left hand
grasps the silk (or alpaca), not more than a foot from the point, it
will be found most effective to use the forward and upward strokes with
the point for the faces, and the back-thrusts with the handle for the
bodies. Whatever you do, let your strokes be made very quickly and
forcibly, for when it comes to such close work as this your danger lies
in being altogether overpowered, thrown down, and possibly kicked to
death; and, as I have before hinted, when there is a choice of evils,
choose the lesser, and don't be the least squeamish about hurting those
who will not hesitate to make a football of your devoted head should it
unfortunately be laid low.

Then, again, there is no better weapon for guarding a heavy blow aimed
at you with a thick bludgeon than an umbrella, which, with its wire
ribs and soft covering, is almost unbreakable, when all its ribs are
held tightly with _both_ hands; it is also, for the same reason, when
thus grasped with both hands, an excellent defence against the attack of
a large powerful dog, which may spring at your throat; but, in this
case, remember to get one of your legs well behind the other so as to
bring most of the weight of your body on the foremost leg, and, if you
are lucky, you may have the satisfaction of throwing the animal on his

Thrusting, prodding, and guarding, then, may be called the strong points
of the gamp; it is no use for hitting purposes, and invariably tumbles
to pieces, comes undone, and gets into a demoralized condition when one
tries to make it fulfil all the conditions of the unclothed
walking-stick. Besides which, the handles are _never_ made strong enough
for hitting, and the hittee is protected by the folds of silk.

Hitting, then, is the weak point of the gamp. Try to remember this when
you feel inclined to administer a castigation to man or beast, and bear
in mind that a comic scene may ensue, when, hot and angry, you stand
with your best umbrella broken and half open, with the silk torn and the
ribs sticking out in all directions.

Sometimes umbrellas have been made even more effective weapons by what
is called a spring dagger, which consists of a short, strong knife or
dirk let into the handle, and is readily brought into play by a sudden
jerk, or by touching a spring. This may be all very well for travellers
in the out-of-the-way regions of Spain, Sicily, or Italy, but I don't
like these dangerous accessories for English use, as they _may_ be
unfortunately liable to abuse by excitable persons.

In addition to the weapons already alluded to, there are others which,
though not so generally known, or so generally useful, may be turned to
good account on certain occasions.

The "life-preserver" consists of a stout piece of cane about a foot
long, with a ball of five or six ounces of lead attached firmly to one
end by catgut netting, whilst the other end is furnished with a strong
leather or catgut loop to go round the wrist and prevent the weapon
flying from or being snatched from the hand.

Of course this instrument _may_ be very effective, very deadly, but what
you have to consider is this: the serviceable portion is so small--no
bigger than a hen's egg--that unless you are almost an expert, or
circumstances greatly favour you, there is more than a chance of
altogether missing your mark. With the life-preserver you have, say, at
most a couple of inches only of effective weapon to rely on, whereas
with the cudgel at least a foot of hard and heavy wood may be depended
upon for bowling over the adversary.

A leaded rattan cane is a dangerous instrument in expert hands, but my
objections to it are very similar to those advanced with regard to the
shorter weapon. Leaded walking-sticks are not "handy," for the presence
of so much weight in the hitting portion makes them extremely bad for
quick returns, recovery, and for guarding purposes.

To my mind the leaded rattan is to the well-chosen blackthorn what the
life-preserver is to the cudgel--an inferior weapon.

One does not want to _kill_ but to _disable_, even those who have taken
the mean advantage of trying to catch one unprepared in the highways and
byways. To take an ordinary common-sense view of the matter: it is
surely better far to have a three to one chance in favour of disabling
than an even chance of killing a fellow-creature? The disablement is all
you want, and, having secured that, the best thing is to get out of the
way as soon as possible, so as to avoid further complications.

The sword-stick is an instrument I thoroughly detest and abominate, and
could not possibly advocate the use of in any circumstances whatever.

These wretched apologies for swords are to outward appearance ordinary
straight canes--usually of Malacca cane. On pulling the handle of one of
these weapons, however, a nasty piece of steel is revealed, and then you
draw forth a blade something between a fencing-foil and a skewer.

They are poor things as regards length and strength, and "not in it"
with a good solid stick. In the hands of a hasty, hot-tempered
individual they may lead to the shedding of blood over some trivial,
senseless squabble. The hollowing out of the cane, to make the scabbard,
renders them almost useless for hitting purposes.

In the environs of our big cities there is always a chance of attack by
some fellow who asks the time, wants a match to light his cigar, or asks
the way to some place. When accosted never stop, never draw out watch or
box of lights, and never know the way anywhere. Always make a good guess
at the time, and swear you have no matches about you. It is wonderful to
notice kind-hearted ladies stopping to give to stalwart beggars who are
only waiting for an opportunity to snatch purses, and it would be
interesting to know how many annually lose their purses and watches
through this mistaken method of distributing largess.

Let me conclude by saying that, if you want to be as safe as possible in
a doubtful neighbourhood, your best friends are a quick ear, a quick
eye, a quick step, and a predilection for the middle of the road. The
two former help you to detect, as the two latter may enable you to avoid
a sudden onslaught.


_Illustrated._      _Price 1s._

400 Gymnastic Competition & Display Exercises



Edited by F. GRAF, Orion Gymnastic Club.

The book also contains an Illustrated Glossary of the Principal
Gymnastic Terms; the Exercises for the Second and Third Class Badge of
the A.G. and F.A. (Illustrated); 42 Exercises for Developing Muscles;
and an article on Training for Competitions, by A. BARNARD, Captain of
the Orion Gymnasium Club.

On Sheets 17" × 27". Price 6d.; or Mounted on Cardboard, 1s.

  Exercises on the Instruments





_Numerous Illustrations._      BOXING.      _Price 1s._


  CAMBRIDGE, 1876-7; HEAVY WEIGHTS, 1877-8.

"Mr. Winn's book is worthy of great praise, for it is at once one of the
cheapest and best on the subject."--_Field._

"His (Mr. Allanson-Winn's) book gives ample testimony of his ability to
write on boxing. If only for the illustrations that enable the novice to
see what he should do with the gloves and what he should not do with
them, the brochure is well worth the modest price charged for
it."--PENDRAGON in the _Referee._

"The art of self-defence is here treated from a thoroughly practical
point of view. Clear as the text is, its value is no little enhanced by
the numerous and admirably executed illustrations."--_St. James's


_Illustrated._      WRESTLING.      _Price 1s._



"'Wrestling' needs no praise at our hands. It is sufficient to say that
the handbook is the work of Mr. Walter Armstrong."--_Field._

"No one is better qualified to deal with such a subject than the
'Cross-buttocker,' who for the last thirty years has been known as a
clever light-weight wrestler, and whose remarks are, therefore, not mere
theories, but founded on the results of long experience."--_Sporting

"The handy little volume will be largely acceptable in these northern
parts, where wrestling is a distinctive pastime."--_West Cumberland


Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

Underlined passages indicated by =underline=.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "cutlas" corrected to "cutlass" (page 23)
  "two" corrected to "too" (page 81)
  "once" corrected to "one" (page 86)
  "spilt" corrected to "split" (page 105)

Other than the corrections listed above, printer's inconsistencies
in spelling and hyphenation usage have been retained.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Broad-Sword and Single-Stick - With Chapters on Quarter-Staff, Bayonet, Cudgel, Shillalah, - Walking-Stick, Umbrella and Other Weapons of Self-Defence" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.