CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO OF MY MACHINE AND
The Cane As A Weapon
By A.C. Cunningham
For Sale by
The Army and Navy Register
Price, Fifty Cents
By A.C. Cunningham
National Capital Press, Inc
The value of a cane as a weapon is the increased reach and space which it
covers as compared with the hand, the great variety and diversity of motions
that can be made, and the multiplication and concentration of the muscular
force applied to it. As self-defense is rarely needed in these days the use of a
cane as a weapon is not well known. Nevertheless self defense may be needed,
and that with a cane is a quick and good one when it is understood. In these
pages will be formulated a system of defense and attack with the cane which
is simple, effective and easily understood, which may be aquired without the
necessity of an instructor. A full comprehension of the system alone will be of
use, and such practice as can be given to it will greatly increase its value. It can
be made an excellent systematic exercise of a light and attractive nature with
the satisfaction of knowing that proficiency of it may prove of material value.
The work may be done in the ordinary clothing as the system would be used
in actual application. An opponent is not necessary for the understanding and
aquirement of the system, but where two persons can work together carefully a
better appreciation of the possibilites will be had. Practice assaults should not
be made without masks and padding as otherwise serious injury may result. As
a system of self-defense, much or all of it may be aquired by men of advanced
age, or not in especially good physical condition, and it is to those who are
least prepared for defense with the hands that it might prove of the greatest
value. All intricate and difficult motions have been omitted from this system
and nothing used that is not easily performed and of practical value. In case
of the system coming into use for actual self-defense it is not likely that in most
cases more than the simplest and most elementary portions would be needed.
Choice of a Cane as a Weapon
This system is applicable to any cane or stick, or even an umbrella, within its
limitations. In the case of an umbrella the point and butt are the effective
portions. A very reliable and suitable cane for a weapon is a medium weight
hickory stick, as it is of great toughness and strength and is of low cost. A
cane with a straight handle has some advantages over one with a crook or offset
handle as it can be used more uniformly from each end and blows from the butt
are more concentrated.
How to Hold the Cane
To hold a cane ready for instant attack or defense, grasp it at a distance about
one-quarter to one-third from the butt with the thumb towards the point. This
gives a balance that permits very quick motions and allows both point and
butt to be brought into use. The exact location of the grasp is a matter of individual
choice and the particular cane, but at least from four to six inches of the butt
should project back of the hand. For close direction and control the thumb may
be extended along the cane. For free swinging cuts the thumb may be grasped
around the cane. The position of the thumb is changed instantly. The grasp
should be sufficiently firm to prevent the cane from slipping through or being
knocked from the hand.
Take a position with left foot and left side of body slightly advanced. Left arm
raised from the elbow and held across the chest. Cane grasped in right hand,
point down, and right arm nearly extended downward. Legs straight, or nearly
so, and weight equally on both feet. The position should be comfortable and
easy and at the same time alert and ready for movement. A similar left-handed
guard may be used. This is the guard to use against an assault with hands.
The left hand is ready to parry or strike; the cane can not be seized, but can
be used in many directions.
Take position with right foot and right side of the body advanced. Left arm
raised from the elbow and held across the chest. Cane grasped in right hand,
point down and extended to the front. Right arm extended downward and to
the front. Legs straight or nearly so, and weight equally on both feet. A similar
left-handed guard may also be used. This is the guard to use against an assault
with a cane or similar weapon. It allows a longer and stronger defense to the
left guard, but less and shorter defense in the other directions, especially the
rear. The right and left guards may be quickly changed from one to the other by
reversing the relative position of the feet. The advantage in keeping the point
down is that the cane can not be seized or pushed to one side, and it reduces
parrying to two simple movements.
Double Guard, Right or Left
The general position of the body in this guard is the same as in right or left
guard. The cane is grasped in both hands with the thumbs toward the center,
each end projecting from the hands about six or eight inches. The hands are
bent upwards from the elbows, and the cane is held horizontally about six inches
in front of the chest. This guard is used against assaults from two or more
directions and may be used in place of the single guards. As blows may be
delivered with either hand from this guard, it is evident that both the reach
and the space are much extended. The assailant is also less certain from where
to expect a blow.
Value of Attacks.
A variety of blows may be given with a cane, some of which are derived from or
merge into others. All of these blows have their uses and application, and for a
correct understanding they will be considered in detail.
Kind and Direction of Blows.
Jabs are short stabbing blows given with the point or butt of cane. They
are preceded by a drawing back of the hand to impart more force, and may be
delivered high or low. The jab is one of the quickest attacks with the cane, and
one of the hardest to avoid. Point jabs are best made with the thumb on the
cane. Butt jabs may be made with the thumb on or around the cane.
The thrust is a stabbing blow and varies from the jab in being
delivered over a longer distance and with a full extension of the arm. The hand
is not first drawn back as in the case of the jab, but is extended directly forward
and the weight of the body may be put into the blow. The jab and thrust are
among the most effective blows that can be given with a cane as they are very
concentrated and their force will penetrate clothing where a cut would have
little or no effect. As a cane decreases in weight, the more effective become jabs
and thrusts as compared with cuts. Jabs and thrusts are also the most effective
blows with an umbrella. The thrust is given with the point or long end of cane
and with the thumb extended on the cane for better directing the point. The
knuckles may be turned up, down, or to either side.
Upper cuts are made from downwards up, and may be delivered
from the positions of guard without preparatory motion. They are not strong
cuts, but are valuable as there are no preliminary indications and they are hard
to parry or avoid.
RIGHT CUTS, LEFT CUTS, DOWN CUTS
These cuts are delivered in the directions
named, either high or low. They require more or less preparatory motion in the
opposite direction. They are given with the knuckles turned in the direction of
the blow, and the thumb may be on or around the cane. Down cuts are very
strong and harder to parry than left or right cuts. Right cuts are somewhat
stronger than left cuts.
Diagonal cuts are in an angular direction from the vertical or
horizontal, and may be upward or downward, right or left. They are a valuable
variation on the right, left, down and upper-cuts.
Circular cuts are full continuous swings, the first part of
which is away from the object and the continuation of which is towards the
object. They may be made in all directions and accumulate force during the
delivery. They are valuable cuts and very deceptive, as the point of delivery
may be changed without stopping the motion.
Back-handed cuts are made with the knuckles turned
away from the direction of the blow. Upper and left cuts are most successfully
made backhanded. They are not strong cuts, but may be used in connection
with direct cuts and are valuable in deceptions.
Character of Cuts
In addition to their kind and direction, the character or quality of cuts with a
cane are of importance and the leading characteristics will be given.
Snap cuts are short and quick and receive most of their motion
and force from the wrist. They are very quickly made and much force can be put
into them. They are good cuts to use against the hands and do not carry the
cane out of line.
Half arm cuts start from the elbow and include a wrist
motion. The preliminary position will start from the shoulder, but when the
cut is delivered it will be mostly from the elbow. These half-arm cuts are of
more general use than any others and may be finished with a wrist snap.
Full-arm cuts are delivered from the shoulder and include
more or less elbow and wrist motion. They are instinctive cuts and great force
can be put into them. Unless there is a reasonable certainty of landing, the full-arm
cut is not a good one to use. It is very plainly indicated and the slowest in
delivery, and, in consequence, is more easily avoided or parried. The recovery
of guard is also slower, which gives a better chance for a return attack from the
assailant. Full-arm cuts may be used to advantage in making feints.
Swinging cuts are made in a horizontal plane over a long arc
and may be continued back and forth. Great force is not put into them until an
opening may appear for landing. One of their principal uses is for keeping the
CUTS IN GENERAL
In delivering a cut there should be a definitive idea of
landing on a certain point where the full force of the blow will be developed.
The force should be cumulative up to the objective point, and should cease as
soon as possible after this is reached. Otherwise, if the blow is not landed, the
cut goes wide and before control of the cane can be gained the assailant may
deliver a counter attack. The force of a blow lies as much in the skill with which
it is delivered as in the strength applied.
POINTS OF ATTACK
The assault from an adversary, whether with or without a weapon, must be
started with the hands, unless it happens to be a kick. The kick should be kept
in mind and is not difficult to evade from the position of guard. A kick may
also lead to an assailants defeat, as it places him in unstable balance and for a
few instants he is unable to retreat. Should a kick be attempted deliver a snap
cut to the assailant’s shin, if possible.
As the hands are, generally, the most advanced portion of an assailants’s
body , they should be made one of the principal points of attack. Not only are
they much exposed but comparativly light blows on them with a cane will cause
disablement. Should the assailant be armed with a knife or other short weapon,
his hands are all the more important as a point of attack. A pistol may even be
knocked from an assailant’s hand by a quick and unexpected blow.
The face, head, and neck are important points of attack. They can not
always reached on a direct attack, but may be on a return attack or after a feint
at some other point.
The lower half of the trunk is much exposed and is difficult to guard strongly.
It may frequently reached on direct attack and is sensitive to jabs and thrusts.
The elbows, knees and shins are sensitive to comparativly light blows and
may be attacked to advantage when exposed.
In defense against a knife, cane or other striking weapon, parries may be neces-
sary, and they are the best and most strongly made fron the right guard. In this
guard the cane is entirely in front of the body and may be freely moved to the
right and left. From the position of right guard with the point of cane down,
two circular parried upward, one to the left, and one to the right may be made
to cover the entire person. A parry should be in the nature of a counter blow
against the assailant's weapon, sufficiently strong to break the force of his blow.
A parry with a cane should not be made by simply holding it in opposition to a
blow, as this gives the assailant a chance to divert his attack to the hand holding
the cane, which the counter blow parry prevents. When the attack is made with
a knife or another sort weapon the counter blow parry may be directed agaisnt
the assailant’s hand or forearm. Parries are the strongest when made with the
thumb on the cane and the knuckles turned in the direction of the parry. The
same right and left parries may be made from the left guard, but are more limited
in their extent. From the position of double guard, right or left parries may be
made with either hand, and as the cane is in a middle position, some will be
down strokes and some up strokes. Thrusts with a cane may be safely parried
with the disengaged hand or arm which gives an excellent chance for a counter
attack at the same time.
Having parried or evaded an assailant's attack, an opportunity generally exists
for a few instants when a return attack can be made to advantage. Thus a
successful left parry may be continued and converted into a right cut for the
head, or a right parry may be converted into a left cut. In evasions, as will
be later explained under foot work, the assailant’s attack is avoided by change
of position, and a return attack may be made at the same time. As a general
rule, return attacks have a better chance of success than direct attacks as the
adversary is not in the best position for defense while his attack is being diverted.
If the assailant succeeds in parrying a cut he may attempt a return attack as
described. This is met by dipping the point of the cane under the assailant’s
weapon with a circular motion in the direction from which the counter attack
is delivered. Counter parries are the quickest made backhanded, or with the
knuckles turned away from the direction of the parry. This is the position of
the hand when the parried blow was struck.
Feints are simulated or false attacks made to induce a parry, or hold an adversary
in check. The feint, or series of feints, may be followed by a real attack. Thus a
cut to the right may be started; if a right parry is induced from the adversary,
instead of finishing the attack as a cut the point of the cane may be passed under
the adversary’s parry and the attack finished as a thrust. When a feint is used
the direction of attack should change before the adversary’s parry has touched
the cane. If the adversary appears proficient in the use of feints, be careful not
to over parry, and if the feints are not strong a parry may be reserved until the
real attack is delivered.
PASSING THE CANE
One of the great advantages of the cane as a weapon is the possibility of passing
it from one hand to the other and back. As either end of the cane may be
used for attack or defense, this possibility of passing it from one hand to the
other gives it a range and variety of application possessed by no other striking
weapon. On account of this possibility it is worthwhile to familiarize the left
hand with carrying and using the cane in alternation with the right.
For the full development of the cane as a weapon of attack and defense it is
necessary to be able to quickly change the location and position of the body
without loss of balance or control. This is accomplished by movements of the
feet which are executed from either the left or the right guard, and which will
In making an attack to the front it may be necessary to increase
the reach in order to make a hit. To do so, advance the forward foot a short
distance at the same time the cut or thrust is made, the rear foot remaining in
place. This advance should not be overdone for fear of slipping or losing the
balance and for the further reason that the longer the extension the slower is
To recover is to resume the position from which the movement was
The rear foot is moved back a short distance, the advanced
foot remaining in place. The motion is followed by a recovery. There are two
uses for this motion. First to evade an attack from the front, and second to
temporarily bring one in closer striking distance to the rear.
Advance the forward foot a short distance and follow with the rear
foot to the position of guard. This motion is for shortening the distance to the
front. It does not disturb the position of guard and maintains a good balance
and strong foot hold. An advance should be made with caution, as it may be
the signal for an attack.
Move the rear foot a short distance to the rear and follow with the
forward foot to the position of guard. This motion is for increasing the distance
to the front. The retreat may be combined with a parry or a return attack.
Move the rear foot in line with or slightly in advance of the
leading foot, then quickly move the leading foot to the position of guard. This
motion is used to quickly shorten the distance to the front by a greater amount
than is covered by the advance.
Move the leading foot in line with or slightly in rear of the rear
foot, then quickly move the rear foot to the position of guard. This motion
is used to quickly increase the distance to the front by a greater amount than
is covered by the retreat. Before the second foot motion is made the original
guard may be recovered in both front and rear pass.
CHANGE GUARD FORWARD
Swing on the ball or heel of the leading foot, bringing
the rear foot in front to the position of guard. This quickly shortens the distance
to the front and changes from one guard to the other at the same time. This
motion may be combined with an attack.
CHANGE GUARD BACKWARD
Swing on the ball or heel of the rear foot, bringing
the leading foot to the rear to the position of guard. This increases the distance
to the front and changes from one guard to the other at the same time. The
motion may be combined with a parry or counter attack.
MOVE RIGHT OR LEFT
Move the rear foot in the direction in which distance is
to be gained, and follow with the forward foot to the position of guard. These
motions may also be made beginning with the forward foot. When the rear
foot is moved first, the motion may more quickly be changed to a retreat.
TURN RIGHT OR LEFT
Swing on the ball, or heel of the advanced foot to the
direction desired, following with the rear foot to the position of guard.
Turn on the balls or heels of both feet in place and face to the
rear. This motion changes the guard.
Swing on the ball or heel of the advanced foot, either right or left
as most convenient, until facing the rear, and bring the rear foot to the position
DEFENSE AND ATTACK
This subject will be generally considered from the defensive point of view as one
must meet whatever attack is offered. When it can be done, an attack should
be received in front, but as it is not always possible on the start, or there may
be more than one attack, defense will be considered in four principal directions.
DEFENCE TO FRONT
If an attack is threatened from the front, the left guard is quickly and easily
assumed, and as it is not an especially belligerent position it need not precipitate
the attack. All of the cuts, thrusts, and parries may be executed to the front
from the left guard, and it is a good one to use if the attack is with the hands.
Distance may be increased or lessened at will by foot work. The following is a
odd way to meet an attack with the hands. As the assailant advances use snap
and half-arm cuts at his hands, being careful that the cane is not seized. If the
assailant gets within striking or grappling distance parry with the left hand and
jab low at the body with point of cane. A rear extension may also be made to
avoid the blow or grapple and for a firmer position. If a high grapple is made
continue jabbing low at the body. If a low grapple is made raise the right arm
and jab with the butt of cane at assailant’s head and neck. If the assailant
does not close or rush, there is a choice of attacks that can be made with a
combination of the various blows and foot work. An attack on an adversary
should be preceded by one or more feints to secure an opening.
If an attack from the front is with a striking weapon the right guard should be
assumed as this brings the cane into full prominence and use for entirely covering
and protecting the person. All of the cuts, thrusts and parries can be executed
from the right guard to their fullest extent and advantage, and combined with
foot work as to quickly secure the greatest distance both in advance and retreat.
If the assailant opens the attack, be prepared for left and right parry and evasion,
and immediate return or counter attack. If the attack is with a cane it is likely
to be appparent whether the assailant is familiar with its use or not. If he is not,
defense is not difficult. The position of right guard invites a down cut at the
head; this can be thrown off with a left parry, and a strong right return cut can
be made at the same time. Every chance should be watched for an attack the
assailant’s hand. Care should be taken to prevent the assailant from getting
inside the guard, or effective striking and thrusting distance of the cane. Should
this happen, however, change to left guard backward and jab and snap cut,
seizing assailant’s cane with left hand, if possible. If the attack is with a knife,
the assailant’s hand should be the object of short continuous attacks varied with
thrusts and jabs at the body when opportunity offers. The cane should never
be much out of line as the object is to keep assailant outside of the guard. If he
can be kept moving backwards an opening may be made for a successful blow.
If one is making a series of short advances, a very quick and long advance may
be made by using a front pass combined with a front extension.
DEFENSE TO THE RIGHT
Defense to the right from the left guard is fairly good. Right and down cuts
can be made strongly. Left cuts and point thrusts are poor. Foot work in this
direction is limited and the position of body is not stable. Parries can be well
made. In case of closure, butt jabs can be made, or, by passing the cane to
left hand, both butt and point jabs. Defense to the right from right guard is
poor. Right cuts, down cuts and upper cuts can be made. Point thrusts and
left cuts are poor. Parries are poor. Foot work in this direction is limited and
the position is unstable; in the case that a closure can be made, or, by passing the
cane to the left hand, both point and butt jabs.
DEFENSE TO THE LEFT
Defense to the left from the left guard is poor. All cuts and thrusts are limited
and not strong. Foot work is limited and the position unstable in this direction.
By passing the cane to left hand, longer down, left and upper cuts can be made,
and also butt jabs.
Defense to the left from the right guard is fairly good. Left and down cuts
can be made strongly. Right cuts and thrusts are fair. Parries can be well made.
Foot work is limited and the position in this direction is not stable. Point jabs
can be made high and low, and butt jabs high.
DEFENSE TO REAR
Defense to the rear from the left guard is fair. Down, right and upper cuts are
fairly strong. Left cuts and thrusts are poor. Butt jabs are good. Parries are
poor. Foot work is good and the position is stable in this direction. By passing
the cane to left hand, point and butt jabs are possible. Defense to the rear
from the right guard is very poor. Only short and weak left and down cuts,
and short point and butt jabs can be made. By passing cane to the left hand the
possibility of cuts is improved. The foot work is good and the position stable
in this direction.
DEFENSE IN TWO OR MORE DIRECTIONS
This is a situation requiring quick judgement and rapid action. The position
of double guard, left gives the most uniform reach all around, and with the
cane held in both hands, ready to strike with either, there is the greatest choice
of direction in which to strike or thrust. Change of location and direction by
foot work becomes of great importance. The quickest change of direction is a
face rear, and it may be alternateley reversed for quick action all round. The
assailants must be kept from acting in unison, if possible, by attacking them
rapidly and in turn. More chances of being struck must be taken for the sake of
making more effective blows. Feints of cuts followed by strong jabs may give the
quickest results. The most powerful jabs of all may be given with the cane held
in both hands, and they may be delivered high and low and in all directions.
Very strong short blows may also be struck with the middle of the cane when it
is held in both hands. This two handed jabbing and striking is very useful when
closely surrounded. Strong parries against the hands may also be made with
the cane held in both hands, and there is the least chance of loosing it. As soon
as possible get through the circle of attack so as to bring the assailants more
nearly in one direction. Strike the hands of assailants whenever possible. Having
delivered a blow on one assailant do not watch for its efffect, but immediatly
threaten or attack another. An assault from four directions is a serious matter,
but it is not as hopeless as it might seem, if quickly and skillfully met.
OFF GUARD, FRONT OR REAR GRAPPLE
When off guard and holding the cane in ordinary
manner one could be grappled in front without warning. The cane cannot then
be used effectively with the existing hold. To bring the cane into play, pass
it behind the body and grasp it with the other hand near the point and jab
forward. If the grapple is from the rear, the cane is passed in front of the body
and backwards jabs made.
GUARD AGAINST A DOG
A dog is wary and active and rather difficult to strike.
The right guard is the most suitable with the cane well in the line of attack.
Left back-handed cuts may be used as feints, quickly followed by right snap cuts
GUARD WITH THE HAT
In case of an assailant with a knife a very valuable guard
can be made by holding the hat in the left hand by the brim. It should be firmly
grasped at the side, and can be removed from the head in one motion. The hat
can then be used to catch a blow from the knife, and before it can be repeated,
it should be possible to deal an effective blow or jab with the cane. In case of
an attack with a pistol, a chance may occur to shy the hat into the opponent’s
face and thus secure a chance to strike with the cane. The use of the hat as a
guard is, of course, not confined to the knife, but it may be used against any
weapon. The only disadvantage is that it pevents passing the cane from hand
The following exercises are based on the matter explained in the foregoing pages,
and their practice will give a fuller understanding and appreciation of the sys-
tem. The cuts, thrusts , and foot work, made from each guard should be first
well understood, and their practice forms a simple exercise in itself. A rea-
sonable amount of practice will make self-defense with the cane an instinctive
matter, should it be needed. The exercises should be done slowly at first, and
the speed increased as they are mastered. Unless otherwise stated the motions
are to the front. These exercieseS are but a few of the combinations that can be made
Left guard. Advance, snap down cut at the hands, parry with left hand, rear
extension, jab front low, recover.
Left guard. Retreat, back handed upper cut at the hands, down cut at the
head with front extension, recover
Left guard. Back handed left cut for the hands, advance, right cut to the
Left guard. Upper cut to the rear, pass cane to left hand, and down cut for
Left guard. Cut left at head, extend front and cut right at head, recover.
Left guard. Face rear, circular down cut at hands, face front, jab low, recover.
Left guard. Move right, point jab left low, turn left, upper right diagonal cut
at hands, recover.
Left guard. Turn right, butt jab rear, pass cane to left hand, upper cut to
Left guard. Front pass, start full arm down cut at head, then jab for face
with butt, recover.
Left guard. Right high cut to right, left swinging cut to left, change guard
forward, right high cut, recover.
Left guard. Change guard backward, snap cut at shin, thrust front low, front
Left guard. Extend rear, parry down cut at the head with right parry,
continue as a left diagonal cut at the head, recover.
Right guard. Parry right high, left high, right diagonal down cut at head,
Right guard. Down snap cut at hand, continue as a circular half-arm down
cut at head, thrust low with front extension, recover.
Right guard. Start full-arm down cut, parry thrust with left hand, change
guard forward, jab at face with butt, recover.
Right guard. Half arm cut at head, thrust low with front extension, recover.
Right guard. Back-handed upper cut at hand, snap down cut at head with
front extension, recover.
Right guard. Face rear, pass cane, left cut at head, face front, jab front low
with left hand, recover.
Right guard. Cut right high, parry left high, return right cut, recover.
Right guard. Advance, half arm right cut at hand, rear pass and parry left
high, thrust front high with front extension.
Right guard. Thrust low with front extension, parry right high and recover.
Right guard. Change guard backward with rear extension, pass cane, upper
cut forward, change guard backward, pass cane, recover.
Right guard. Cut left high, counter parry right, down cut at head with front
Right guard. Turn rear with swinging right cut, front pass with circular
down cut at head, recover.
Double guard, left. Cut left with the left hand, turn right, cut right with
right hand, jab left with point, circular down cut to right, turn rear, right cut,
Double guard, left. Left high cut to front with right hand, continue as swing-
ing left cut to rear, continue as low point jab to left, continue as circular down
cut to right, recover.
Double guard, left. Front pass, right hand upper cut to rear, continue as
circular down cut to front, pass cane, cut to left, cut to right, recover.
Double guard, left. Downward cut to front, right hand, face rear with swing-
ing right cut, face front with swinging left cut, recover.
Double guard, left. With both hands, jab front with the point high, jab rear
with the butt low, jab left with the point low, jab right with the butt high.
Double guard, left. Change guard backwards, cut left to the rear with left
hand, pass cane, change guard backwards, cut right to the rear with right hand,
Double guard, right. With both hands, jab right with the butt, strike front
with the point, jab rear with the point, strike left with the butt, recover.
Double guard, right. With both hands, jab front, rear, right, left, recover.
Double guard, right. With both hands, strike left with the middle of cane,
parry downwards to the front with middle of the cane, strike left with the butt, recover.
Double guard, right. With both hands, advance and jab front with the butt,
face rear and jab rear with the point, turn left and cut left with left hand, pass
cane, cut right to rear, recover.
Double guard, right. Swinging cut to right with right hand, and back to
guard, face rear, swinging cut to left with left hand, and back to guard, repeat.
Double guard, right. With right hand, upper cut to front, continue as a
circular down cut to rear, continue as upper cut to left, continue as circular
down cut to right, recover.