Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The gentleman's guide to beating the crap out of people with sticks

The reason I downloaded Broad-Sword and Single-Stick with Chapters on Quarter-Staff, Bayonet, Cudgel, Shillalah, Walking Stick, Umbrella, and Other Weapons of Self-Defense is because the subtitle suggested that it would show me how to injure people with umbrellas.

This is mostly a book about fencing, though, and the author makes a point to repeat over and over that before you attempt to beat the ever loving crap out of people with an umbrella or a stick or a dulled broadsword you should have a firm grounding in some kind of point-based swordsmanship.

If you know nothing about any kind of sword fighting this book is largely useless, though still entertaining because it is full of rather politically incorrect and dated anecdotes about the way that Irishmen fight and the way that gentlemen must defend themselves against the roughs of the lower classes.

There is some interesting history, and the diagrams provided throughout are actually a decent foundation for anyone in the modern world who wants to learn how to fence a little bit without having to go to a very specific and expensive gym. The image below in particular is a pretty decent drill routine if you're looking for a basic set of aerobic exercises to do with some open space and a long dowel (as I have been since I read the chapter - it's an amazing for your thighs).

I'm glad that I read Broad-Sword and Single-Stick, but I might be a weirdo and that it's probably not going to be as fun a read for most people out there as it was for me. If, however, you'd like to have a chuckle at old-timey notions of sports and honor and maybe learn how to give someone a smart whack with a walking stick, this book is a pretty good way to waste an afternoon.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank my Mother- and Father-in-Law for the Kindle they got me for Christmas - I plan on using it to read a terrifying number of books.

Allanson-Winn, R.G., C. Phillipps-Wolley. Broad-Sword and Single-Stick. William Clowes
     and Sons. London: England. 1911.

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