The Cane as a Weapon

Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by Jason Couch, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    Weastern martial arts includes the cane, don't worry, and I hope you will stay; we WMA'ers should stick together (and stay on friendly terms with EMA'ers as well).

    In short Peace and love, and everything.

    The fact that Bear have a personal oppinion on the cane, doesn't mean that you should not be welcome to discuss cane here; welcome :D

    (Personally, I find both modern olympic fencing, and it's renissanse ancestor; the Rapier both dull, boring, overrated having gotten too much attention, and is too popular, but I'll defend Rapierists' right to discuss rapier here on this forum until I get banned, or until the net colapses) :love:

    So -on topic for the last pages of discussion; I think there are differences between a 1m stick and a 1m sword, they handle differently, bounce differently, etc, etc. But I do think that somebody doing cane would wield a sword better than someone only doing karate, and similarily; I think someone training with sword, would wield a cane far more efficiantly than someone only doing karate (And no pun intended on karate-people ;) ) There is allso the fact that many that train historical sword often start training with wooden waisters, so many swordmen knows quite a lot of how wood behaves when it hits things.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2008
  2. max Chouinard

    max Chouinard Valued Member

    I agree with Mr.Amendola here. I can understand that you have no interest in "cane" related arts, but dismissing it as innefective... How many treaties cover the use of the stick as well as the sword? Or go tell that to Richard II, who complained about those shillelagh wielding Irishmen who killed many of his soldiers.

    I've been practicing japanese sword and stick for about 10 years now. Yes there are some aspects who would look the same between the two, but if you fight with a stick like you fight with a sword, you are going to get some bones crushed or worse. A stick also offers many different possibilities in it's handling that a sword cannot.

    And where have you seen this big wave of interest in canes? In most forums I go you hear about them like once every two months.
  3. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Personally I'm looking forward to carrying around my Bata 'walking stick' when I'm an OAP (A few years to go yet). B'Jesus I'll give those neds a fright ;)

  4. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    First of all, a warm welcome to you, Chris.

    It certainly wasn't a rant. I was about to chime in and say something, but you beat me to it.

    It goes without saying that Bear is an impassioned MAist, and that he doesn't mince words. As much as I disagree with much of his posts in this thread, he does raise vaild points for the use of a cane in SD from a legal standpoint. However, the applicability of his concerns will vary from one jurisdiction to another, and this is an international board. What might land one in jail in the UK might pose no legal problem in the US. In Canada, weapon laws are largely enforced by intent. If it's my intent to stalk a person and beat them with a cane and I in fact do so, then I'm in trouble. If I'm attacked or threatened, the story changes. Here we can strike first in a threatening situation. If someone comes up to me in a boxing stance (for example), I'm legally justified to pop him one before he does like to me, IIRC. Likewise, if I've got a cane and someone pulls a knife, I'm pretty much in the clear if I use my cane to defend myself (standard legal disclaimers apply... this post is not professional legal advice), so training in cane fighting is a reasonable option.

    However, that's not the main point. We train MA first and foremost for the enjoyment of it. Certainly studying cane fighting is no less legitimate than studying the sword. I'm reasonably sure that training in one will only enhance the other. Much cane fighting (Vigny, for example) uses ambidextrous techniques, which is a very valuable thing to master.

    Such is the nature of this medium that we sometimes read posts that rub us the wrong way, or express opinions we disagree with. That's the deal. If you want to converse on th'tinerweb, bring a thick skin. Also: It puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again. ;) </silence of the lambs>

    Best regards,

  5. Damien Alexander

    Damien Alexander New Member

    This is where I got mine from.
    Scroll down and look on the left hand side.

    Well worth it in my!

  6. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    "A whole heard of martial artists get together and a fight breaks out. Quelle surprise."

    I agree.

    True. Still, they are practicing how to use a sword and will optimize their training for a sword. As I mentioned before, draw-cuts, snipes, back-cuts, etc. just work differently or not at all with an impact weapon. Knowing how wood acts with wood in a bind is useful but is far from the whole picture of how to make most efficient use of a stick. "Cuts" with a stick are not "cuts" with a sword. Cutting with the stick the way you perform cuts with a sword won't give you optimal results and could potentially rob you of an effective techique. Though they are similar, the aren't the same. :)

    Peace favor your sword,
  7. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Exactly, just because we have a host of cane fans doesn't mean that everyone in WMA has to love it and think it's fantastic. I don't expect rennaisance fencers to love Leichtenauer and I certainly wouldn't whine and moan when they say it's out-moded and ineffective as a weapon. The arguements I've heard :
    1. you can lock,strike thrust with it but I can do all that with a sword/spear/staff.
    2. It's legal, we have established that isn't the case in the UK.
    3. Historical significance, well maybe in a tiny subset of society. If you think that anything other than a small number of people walked around in top hats and canes and of those who studied martial arts, I think you would be ignoring historical record. Since if they were martially inclined they would be in the Army.

    Personally if I had the choice between a cane and a knife I would take the knife everytime.

    The Bear.
  8. Devon

    Devon Valued Member

    Another point of distinction between cane and sword technique is that canes lack handguards, which has a pretty major impact on defense (especially against weapons).

    An updated version of Cunningham's "Cane as a Weapon" is also available at, including many more pictures than were shown in the original book.
  9. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    What kind of weapons are you thinking about?

    The Bear.
  10. max Chouinard

    max Chouinard Valued Member

    Of course. But that doesn't mean that everyone who doesn't has to whine about it here.

    Again if you fight the same way with a stick than a sword, you get your hands crushed (at least if your opponent is also armed with a stick...), ask Louie to show you. For the staff, well it's mostly the same albeit longer, so I really son't see your point... Because canes are not covered in Liechtenauer? Albeit they are in a way in Girard.

    Too bad for you. It's still taught in France though, even to SWAT: [ame=""]YouTube[/ame] (check at 3:50, very good documentary by the way, done by a woman from Quebec on various MA traditions).

    So if you are in the army you are prohibited from wearing hats and carying canes? It seems that many people who wrote books about cane fighting were at some points in the army, like the gentleman who wrote the book this thread is about! And what about the Irish? Before the 20th century, nearly every adult had his shillelagh and knew how to use it. I'm not sure I would categorize it as a cane though, even less so the 4' lead loaded-hooks and nails garnished varieties. Calling them maces would be more appropriate.

    I was told the last person who tried this on John had his hand crushed. They really are a sweet target. :D
  11. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    I don't recall anyone saying that. What I do recall is that you said that 1) the cane doesn't deserve the attention it gets, 2) is insignificant in WMA tradition, and 3) is "a dull weapon that is not very good at anything very much." All three of these statements are simply wrong as has been demonstrated.

    Which really isn't relevant to your stated position.

    This is such a vast over-simplification as to be meaningless. If you want to talk specifics then talk specifics.

    Actually, just the opposite has been established. We've had at least on poster say that it is, in fact, legal, and, again, I know of brits who regularly carry their canes with no legal ramifications.

    Where to start on this one. I'm sorry, but this statement is completely inaccurate. First, depending on the time period, walking about with a cane was extremely popular. For the "lower class" Irish in the 18th/19th C., for instance, it was an essential necessity. For the upper class brits in Victorian/Edwardian, it was, again, a necessity. What about the Parisians when the smallsword was banned? Yup, everyone switched to canes. I mean, honestly, the statement is just wrong unless you must include Top Hats, in which case I'll grant you, not everyone wore them. :p Second, not everyone who carried the cane as a fashion accessory was a "martial artist." In fact, the evidence seems to indicate just the opposite. Though many were, it seems that, to most, it was just a fashion accessory and nothing more - sure they knew you could beat people with it, but they didn't make a study of it. Finally, I am, frankly, astounded at the suggestion that period martial experts must, perforce, be in the military. I mean, c'mon now. I.33? The Ancient Maesters? And to link it to the CANE, why on earth would the Army consider using the cane? It's universally considered a civilian weapon (when considered a weapon at all).

    Honestly, I don't expect you to love the cane as a civilian SD weapon or anything, heck, you can HATE the cane, but please, let's try to keep the statements factual.

    Having more than a passing interest and a good deal of study in both, I'd take the cane. My preference would be for a gun, of course. Failing that, a combination of the knife AND the cane. Failing that, the cane.

    Now, of course, there are strategies for the knife to penetrate inside to the cane, but, honestly, they mostly boil down to, "I accept that I am going to sacrifice taking at least one hit on the way in." Equally, there are strategies for the cane facing a knife who accepts the likelihood of taking a hit in order to "pass the point" (so to speak).

    Peace favor your sword,
  12. Devon

    Devon Valued Member

    Any weapon met by the defending cane, if you're fighting with the cane in one hand and using an orthodox fencing parry (tierce or quarte) to defend. The danger is that because the cane lacks a handguard, parries in these positions can cause the attacking weapon to glance down into the defender's hand.

    Pierre Vigny's criticism of the competitive/artistic canne fencing popular in his day (late 1800s and early 1900s) was that, in adopting its parries wholesale from sabre fencing, it was impractical for street fighting; canne fencers wore large padded gloves to protect their hands. His solution in adapting the cane for actual combat was to protect the weapon-wielding hand by position and distance from the opponent's weapon, and always to parry with the hand up, point down (as in the prime and seconde positions in fencing) so that the attacking weapon was deflected down and away from the hand.
  13. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    Yes. This is one of the primary targets. A knifer going against a cane would be best served adopting a Folsom stance and accepting a minimum of one hit while "passing the guard" on the cane - frequently by sacrificing the "live hand" arm while protecting the head.

    If the knifer can force initiative and use footwork to "triangle step" into the arc of the swing before it gains significant momentum then he is golden. But that's often a leap of faith and nothing is 100%.

    Of course, that doesn't affect a bayonette style response from the cane such as Tony Wolf's "Falcon Cane System."

    Peace favor your sword,
  14. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Got the same right as everyone else to state my opinion. You don't like it take it up with the mods.

    I train with Louie every week. I have also trained single stick with Louie.

    Oh well then if the French use it, it must be the ultimate weapon, bien sur.

    I guess the guys who left the army maybe perhaps based their cane stuff on the swordsmanship they learned in the Army? Which was exactly the point I was making.
    No I wouldn't categorise it as a cane either, I would call it a short staff and to be honest under British occupation it was probably about as much at they were permitted to carry.

    The Bear.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2008
  15. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Yes but you lose the advantage of range on that which is exactly what you need if your going to go up against a knife. Knifes are too quick and too damaging to fight close in. You almost always end up getting gutted.

    The Bear.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2008
  16. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    I agree.

    I will say that Tony's work does take this into account. Nevertheless, I agree that, in general, you want to keep the range back against a knife.

    I agree, again. One of the biggest problems I've found with some new to the knife is the excessive willingness to close distance when fighting knive-vs-knive (essentially a "duel" scenario). Yes, you can gut him but it's a Pyrrhic Victory if you also are gutted in the process. There's an old saying, "The winner of a knife fight is the man who dies the NEXT day." :p

    Seriously, people are usually not playing enough of a "defensive game" (by a long shot) when doing their knife sparring.

    Peace favor your sword,
  17. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    I see the cane as a hold-out weapon. It's a last resort when you have nothing better to hand. Unlike the heavier staff, it doesn't have the same stopping power. Neither does it have the cutting edge of a sword or knife. It lacks the speed of the shorter club.

    The Bear.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2008
  18. max Chouinard

    max Chouinard Valued Member

    That's the point. Louie was shown some bata by John Ramsay.

    Loosely. If you look at their techniques you clearly see that there is much more than fencing involved.

    Never said it was. It's their guns or even the A-bomb. But for the cane, it's use by them (and 3/4 of all cultures) still shows it's considered practical by men who must learn to fight.

    Not necessarily, arms restrictions were not very tightly governed. Many fought with axes, knives, sickles (still do) or occasional swords. But the stick was still more popular and had served as a weapon much before the arrival of the English.
  19. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Can you point me to the sources for this?

    The Bear.
  20. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member


    Someone might say:

    "I see the cane as a nearly ideal civilian weapon and is the first resort. It has greater speed than the more unwield though longer staff. It has heavy crushing and bludgeoning power for blocking and parying which the sword and knife lack. It has more stopping power and greater reach than the lighter short club."

    I mean, honestly, when you speak of it in these terms, it's a matter of which trade-off you feel most comfortable with, on a personal level.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2008

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