Inspired by a post delectably entitled “A Short History of Weaponised Umbrellas,” I decided to delve into the existing literature on the topic. What I found was a prime example of early 20th-century prose, notable for ornate turns-of-phrase that are sorely lacking in today’s self-defense manuals. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the intelligent-yet-florid glory that is the chapter on umbrella assaults from 1911’s Broad-Sword and Single-Stick:
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 arms?
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[Pg 113] 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.
Strangely, the authors come out against the umbrella dagger, a concealed weapon much loved by martial-arts enthusiasts. They claim that the proliferation of such devices would be likely to lead to excess violence in the streets of their native London. Not an unreasonable fear, based on present evidence.
More on umbrella-fighting techniques here.