The Gemeiner Academy once again pushed Australian savate development forward by offering classes in la canne Vigny, also known as the walking stick method, at the 2006 AHSF convention held in Brisbane.
The focus at this year’s event was mobility and foot work patterns relating to the western fighting arts.
Footwork played a major role in Vigny’s approach to stick fighting.
‘Guards by distance’ was favoured by practitioners as a means of “keeping out of range of ones adversary’s stick, and the keeping of him within one’s own”.
Students began the class with a stretching routine which covered a series of la canne stretching exercises and circular cutting drills.
‘Bayonet thrusts on the move’ was next. This required students to strike out at various angles as if fighting a hostile mob. This was followed by a technique called ‘clearing manoeuvre’ designed to create distance by using rapid single handed sweeping patterns .
Finally the inclusion of leg attacks by way of stomping various strike pads on the ground was included. By utilizing the above three offensive actions students were able to integrate two ranges of stand up striking skills along with follow ups against grounded adversaries – all in one drill.
This was followed by students pairing off and working single hand cuts from the high front guard. Discussions on correct grip and the problems associated with placing the thumb along the shaft of the cane were touched on.
The use of the extended pommel to counter balance the heavier distal end of the cane was also explored, students soon began appreciate the specialized approach that made up the Vigny method.
Appropriate responses to single handed cuts directed at the head and body involved “guards by resistance”, while strikes to the knee and wrist were countered with evasion. The class then focused on the rear guard and the application of “guards by resistance”
Stance and guard assessment was covered; students were taught that weight must be distributed evenly over both legs for the successful application of” guards by distance.”
The inherited problems of propping back on the rear leg were discussed. Lead hand placement for the purpose of baiting or drawing an attack was then covered. This was followed by the bio-mechanics of arm extensions used to both remove the target and shift the body back into a safe distance.
The focus of the class then moved into offensive strikes delivered from the rear guard. Contrary to popular belief the number of attacking options from this guard is extensive. Stick switching , which was documented as being utilized by Vigny, involved shifting the stick from one hand to another when used from the high rear guard the success rate of these types of attacks are indeed high.
The session ended on an extra high note with selected individuals trying their hand at a pressure drill called ‘monkey in the middle’. This drill forced one person armed with a cane to continuously fight and fend off two training partners armed with large strike shields The object of the shield men was to push, shove and smother the single cane fighter who in turn had to fight back using nothing but two handed bayonet thrusts -with out stopping.
A simple drill designed to bring out fighting spirit under pressure.
In typical Australian spirit the rest of the students got behind each single stick fighter encouraging them to fight on and not give in.
A great class enjoyed by both students and instructor.