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niall 07-14-2011 01:47 PM

Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
1 Attachment(s)

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4060/...7265a9f2_z.jpg
ukiyo-e: Lives of Modern People from the Claremont Colleges Digital Library used under creative commons licence
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
Lives of Modern People, A Supplement of the Yamato Newspaper: No. 11, Hanai, 1887
Ink on Paper
13 in. x 8 13/16 in. (330.2 mm x 223.84 mm)
Lilian Miller Collection: Gift of Mrs. Simon Bolivar Buckner
Scripps College, Claremont, CA, USA

Of course the reader will understand that in any method of self-defence it is necessary to know how to maintain the proper distance between yourself and your assailant, in order to deliver a coup-de-grāce with effect and certainty. This knowledge, together with the confidence, dash, and savoir-faire that are so essential, can only be acquired by practice; but, when once gained, it is never lost.
E W Barton-Wright, founder of bartitsu

And oh they bring to mind the grave,
so humble, so willing to be beat upon
with its awful lettering and
the body lying underneath
without an umbrella

Anne Sexton, The Fury of Rainstorms

That will be quite enough of that, thank you.
Mary Poppins, firmly closing the beak of the parrot on her umbrella handle


I love this dramatic and bloody woodblock print. If you click on the link and read the description you will find the story of Hanai Oume. A man attacked her with a knife. She used her umbrella to disarm him and then killed him with his own knife - perhaps so there would be no chance of revenge. Way to go. Calm, cool and competent. As well as admiring Hanai Oume's self-defence skills I also like her because the name of her restaurant was the same as my blog - suigetsu - moon in the water. This might be the first recorded use of an umbrella for self-defence. The most dangerous use of an umbrella was the murder of Georgi Markov in London by the KGB by stabbing him with an umbrella that shot ricin poison.

In Japan the rainy season will soon come to an end. But for now everyone is still carrying an umbrella. Recently I was asked about using an umbrella for self-defence. Learning self-defence isn't something you can do by reading about it. So ask your teacher. But one of the main themes of self-defence is making time to escape, and an umbrella can be very helpful for that.

The straight umbrella

Don't ever use an umbrella like a western sword as if you were fencing like John in Peter Pan. A while ago I wrote a blog article about the first mixed martial art, bartitsu.

Sherlock Holmes apparently studied bartitsu. It was a comprehensive martial art for all situations and all distances with kicks and boxing techniques and grappling techniques. There were some cane or stick techniques also suitable for an umbrella. Even now in Japan there is an image of English men carrying tightly-rolled umbrellas. Umbrellas are prohibited at football stadiums in the UK because they can be used as weapons.

You very, very rarely see street fights in Japan. But the stress of work and of commuting by train can make people snap. So sometimes you see people getting angry on trains. One evening on a train I saw a guy turning aggressively to someone who was being pushed into him by the crowd. He said let's take this outside. The other guy coolly agreed with him and they both got off the train. I like to think they went out of the station and had a beer instead. But once I saw an angry man get off a train and actually try to start a fight by waving his umbrella one-handed like a western fencer. Very ineffectually.

The one-handed bartitsu stick techniques related to fencing techniques are not very effective for self-defence for people who don't do martial arts. For practical self-defence two-handed thrusting techniques with the umbrella are much easier to learn. They are like some jo - Japanese staff - techniques or yari - spear - techniques. Sojutsu - the art of the spear - is mostly taught in some koryu classical martial arts styles. In modern martial arts the closest is probably jukendo, a fast and dynamic Japanese budo using rifle and bayonet. But if you look determined and take a two-handed grip ready to make a stabbing thrust it will make any attacker think twice.

The hanbo - half staff - and the wakizashi short sword are closer to the length of an umbrella than the weapons we normally use in aikido. There is a legend that Kukishin hanbo techniques started when a spear was cut in half during a battle. I have an antique iron Japanese walking stick that was probably made for self-defence against a sword.

The folding umbrella

A folding umbrella is short. It's a bit too soft to be used as a baton. It's not a great weapon for self-defence but it is probably better than bare hands for people who don't have much budo training. A folding umbrella is a little larger than a kubotan self-defence stick key ring, which is a simple and effective tool for self-defence. If you grip a folding umbrella firmly it can be used in the same way as the kubotan to strike with a thrust. You can thrust/strike with it holding it up in a hammer (or microphone) grip or strike or hook with it holding it down as if you were holding an icepick. Or you can hold it in the middle so that you can use both ends. Experienced martial artists can also use a folding umbrella for control techniques.

If you keep a slightly greater ma ai - the critical distance between you and the attacker - a folding umbrella can also be used like a tessen - an iron Japanese war fan. Tessen techniques are very interesting for irimi - entering into the attacker's space at the moment you are being attacked - but they also are not really suitable for beginners.

I have put some links to articles and to umbrella and cane suppliers. I haven't used any of the products personally.

I'd be glad for any comments about your own experiences with umbrellas or canes. Or suggestions for practical techniques for the cane or umbrella or hanbo or wakizashi or tessen or kubotan. And any interesting links.

Do as much practice as you can. The more knowledge, confidence, dash and savoir-faire we all have the better! And probably it's not a good idea to antagonize women carrying umbrellas.

Thanks,

Niall

articles
http://ejmas.com/jnc/jncart_barton-wright_0200.htm
http://ejmas.com/jnc/jncart_barton-wright_0400.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanbo
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kukishinden-ry%C5%AB
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tessen
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbrella
http://www.nowpublic.com/crime/umbre...nices-movies-1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Markov

http://www.bownsbespoke.com/jamessmith.htm
http://www.james-smith.co.uk/
http://real-self-defense.com/unbreakable-umbrella.html
http://www.canemasters.com/
http://defendyourself101.ca/articles...f-defense-cane
http://poppyposts-blog.net/2011/01/2...-at-home-boys/

nice article on the umbrella in literature
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/sep/18/10-best-brolleys-in-literature

poem
http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/annesexton/8024
Anne Sexton, The Fury of Rain Storms

music
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM2177pHMT0
The Baseballs, Umbrella


my blog on aikiweb

© niall matthews 2011
Niall Matthews lives with his family in Japan. He teaches aikibudo and community self-defence courses and has taught budo for twenty-five years. He was the senior deshi of Kinjo Asoh Sensei, 7 dan Aikikai. He was the exclusive uke of Sadateru Arikawa Sensei, 9 dan Aikikai, at the hombu dojo in Tokyo for thirteen years until Arikawa Sensei's death in 2003. He has trained in several other martial arts to complement his aikido training, including judo (he has 4 dan from the Kodokan in Tokyo), kenjutsu (for about ten years) and karate (for about three years). He originally went to Japan as a staff member of the EU almost thirty years ago. He received 5 dan from Arikawa Sensei in 1995. This 5 dan is the last aikido dan he will receive in his life. His dojo is called Aikibudo Kokkijuku 合気武道克輝塾. Arikawa Sensei personally gave him the character for ki in kokki. It is the same character as teru in Sadateru - not the normal spelling of kokki 克己. It means you make your life shining and clear yourself.

Janet Rosen 07-14-2011 02:16 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
It is also a bad idea to antagonize a woman who is wearing a hat that may have a hatpin :-)

Diana Frese 07-14-2011 03:39 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Our judo teacher taught a self defense course connected with our women's judo class at Cornell. He was from Morocco and I think his cousin, who also taught, was from France. Our teacher said that in Italy, if a woman removed a high heeled shoe, all the men within the distance of a block suddenly disappeared.....

They considered it a deadly weapon for an overhead strike.

There were other scary techniques, but I liked the one sliding past the attacker if we had good timing and running away. The teacher mentioned Aikido, which I later studied.:)

Oh, a great other defense women can use when there are people within hearing distance .... the shriek or scream.... the teacher said.

There was another rather gruesome thought other than the high heeled shoe, the finger in the side of the mouth ripping it sideways, although other people later discounted that technique, saying the defender would probably get bitten first.

Any one heard of these?

Janet Rosen 07-14-2011 03:51 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Aside from questioning its wisdom as a first choice martial response, this Public Health Nurse does NOT place her ungloved fingers in the orifices of strangers, nor does she advocate that others do so.

(I'm a community case manager which means I get to work outside the orifice anyhow!)

Hellis 07-14-2011 04:14 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 287831)
It is also a bad idea to antagonize a woman who is wearing a hat that may have a hatpin :-)

Janet

In my many years I have learned one thing - never antagonize a women whatever she may or may not be wearing :)

Henry Ellis
British Aikido
http://britishaikido.blogspot.com/

graham christian 07-14-2011 04:36 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Hi Niall.
Sounds like your wife's been buying a lot of umbrellas lately and you're getting a bit worried. Ha, ha.

No seriously though it did remind me of a story that happened here in the U.K. a while ago. Someone being stabbed by a poison umbrella by a russian spy.

I bet there's plenty on it under ninjutsu or something similar.

Regards.G.

Janet Rosen 07-14-2011 05:47 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Quote:

Henry Ellis wrote: (Post 287845)
Janet

In my many years I have learned one thing - never antagonize a women whatever she may or may not be wearing :)

Henry Ellis
British Aikido
http://britishaikido.blogspot.com/

heheheh, a wise man speaks!:D

graham christian 07-14-2011 06:33 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Ha. Just thought of another one. I once witnessed two beggars arguing outside a cafe. Went to see what all the noise was about and it was about one accusing the other of pretending to be disabled to trick people into giving him money.

He took away one of the cruthches and threatened to hit him at which point the 'disabled' one picked up his other one and bang they were at it like two swordsmen.

Regards.G.

oisin bourke 07-15-2011 07:17 AM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
As a note of interest, there are a number of techniques in Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu that use the traditional Japanese umbrella for self defense. The umbrella is used when open and closed. Kodo Horikawa was notable for using these particular techniques.

carina reinhardt 07-15-2011 02:39 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
A very interesting column Niall, thanks.
In a self- defense class I went to there were only few kubotan sticks, so we used pens instead.
I found two links using the umbrella for self defense
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO8G5zsQohg .
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbMNN0Y3-zI

And Peter Gabriel wrote the song Mercy street for Anne Sexton

niall 07-17-2011 07:23 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Great comments, thanks.

Janet some people recommend hatpins for women to strike against straying hands on crowded trains. It's a problem on some train lines in Japan.

Diana the scream is a good technique! I don't recommend ripping the mouth though except as a last resport!

Ah Henry, yes that is wise advice.

Thanks Graham. I didn't think of crutches!

Thanks Oisin. I didn't know that. I've never seen umbrella techniques demonstrated. By the way I have an iron shakuhachi which could double as an effective weapon.

Thanks for those Carina. Some hotel keyrings are about the same size as a kubotan too.

carina reinhardt 07-20-2011 01:29 AM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
You can even use the keys as you see in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_WtPpjbL_Q

and here two more of self defense with common objects
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_lT1bAUXBQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1yAyo8r8_Q

bob_stra 07-20-2011 01:35 AM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Surprised no on cited this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO8G5zsQohg

zivk 07-20-2011 04:14 AM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Hi Niall,
Thank you for this interesting column.
You've mentioned the name of Hanai Oume's restaurant and mentioned that it coincides with the name of your blog.
Recently I participated in the annual seminar of Hiroshi Tada sensei in Switzerland. It was a fantastic experience for me, and I guess I'll ponder quite a lot on the things demonstrated and explained there.
Anyway, Tada sensei talked about the three centers of the human body according to the Japanese tradition. If I remember correctly he said they are called tanden in Japanese and chakra in Sanskrit.
He said the center of the middle, I reckon it's somewhere just below the ribcage, is also called "moon in the water". I immediately thought of your blog's name. Now, that you've mentioned this name, I hope it's alright to ask whether there's somehow a connection to your blog name (or maybe to the name of the above mentioned restaurant)?

chris wright 07-20-2011 05:31 AM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Great column Niall, one of my very early Karate instructors defended himself (and then very effectively used) one of the old fashioned metal dustbin lids, once when attacked in a pub car park.

niall 07-22-2011 10:53 AM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Thanks for those, Carina. Thanks Bob - it was in the links - it was in the news recently. Thank you very much, Chris - I'm sure I've seen that in a movie!

Thanks, Ziv. No I don't know that name and I wonder if it's something to do with the translation. In Japanese that point is usually called mizu ochi or mizo ochi. In English we say solar plexus though, from latin - network of the sun.

Moon in the Water is about mushin - no mind. It comes from zen and swordsmanship. This is a passage about it from Zen and Japanese Culture by D T Suzuki:

Quote:

It is a state of mind known as munen or muso, no-thought or no-reflection. This does not mean to be without thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc., when you stand with the sword before the opponent. It means letting your natural faculties act in a consciousness free from thoughts, reflections or affections of any kind. This state of mind is also known as egolessness (muga or non-atman), in which you cherish no egoistic thoughts, no consciousness of your own attainments. The so-called spirit of sabi-shiori (solitariness), running through Saigyo or Basho, must also have come from the psychic state of egolessness. This is often likened to the lunar reflection in water. Neither the moon nor water has any preconceived idea of producing the incident designated by us as the moon in water. Water is in a state of no-mind-ness as much as the moon. But when there is a sheet of water, the moon is seen in it. The moon is but one, but its reflections are seen wherever there is water. When this is understood, your art is perfect.

sakumeikan 07-22-2011 01:12 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Hello,
In my misspent youth in the Gorbals [ a very high class rat infested slum] in Glasgow the local bad lad sometimes sewed Gillette razor blades into their cloth caps/jacket lapels. Another little dodge was a bike chain again secreted in a jacket lapel.
Lets not forget the essential tools of the semi professional hard man the well known 'Malky [Fraser]' ie Barbers open razor and the famous 'Chib'. For those who are not informed what a chib is, its a superior quality , slightly reinforced cosh.It was so well used and known the word Chib became not only a noun , but also a verb.To chib someone was to place a large dent on somebodys
dome.
For myself, being an young chap[aged 10/11] my favourite instrument was a tin can ,and utilising a piece of fine timber, flattened into a tomahawk that Geronimo would have been proud of.
Cheers, Joe
Ps .I look around and note with sadness that Tin can tomahawks have ceased to exist in the armoury of todays young tearaways.

Diana Frese 07-22-2011 02:31 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
We had air raid drills when I was a kid. We had to go to the school basement and cover the back of our necks with one forearm (or was it hand, I'm not very flexible now and memory is not so good)
and our eyes with the other. Same in the classroom or was that just for nap time.... I guess elementary school being decades ago I forgot. Anyhow my dad was a local civil defense air raid warden, probably had to do with planning safe locations for people to go to in case the war came over here....

I think this is why he had what looked like a wooden police baton in the hall closet. It had a leather loop on it. One day he decided maybe he should explain how to use it if need arose, for self defense. He said, most people (in those days) thought of hitting someone over the head with one of those, but he seemed to be saying that would be easy to block. In stead he recommended doing a slight feint as if going for an overhead strike, and instantly changing course for the solar plexus.

Dial up is difficult for videos, but I plan to check them out. I thought this example might be interesting, though, from a time when people usually thought of the baseball bat style of self defense, my childhood.

In Japan, one of our teachers did refer to the solar plexus as suigetsu, so I'm glad it was brought up in this column. I wasn't sure if I had remembered correctly. I'm finding these columns a fascinating way to continue my education. Thanks, everyone.

carina reinhardt 07-22-2011 04:25 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Quote:

Diana Frese wrote: (Post 288400)
In Japan, one of our teachers did refer to the solar plexus as suigetsu, so I'm glad it was brought up in this column. I wasn't sure if I had remembered correctly. I'm finding these columns a fascinating way to continue my education. Thanks, everyone.

I found a few links about that here one of them http://www.shitoryu.co.uk/index.php?...=59&Itemid=136
Maybe that will help you Niall to find something more about suigetsu=solar plexus.

sakumeikan 07-22-2011 05:15 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Quote:

Graham Christian wrote: (Post 287847)
Hi Niall.
Sounds like your wife's been buying a lot of umbrellas lately and you're getting a bit worried. Ha, ha.

No seriously though it did remind me of a story that happened here in the U.K. a while ago. Someone being stabbed by a poison umbrella by a russian spy.

I bet there's plenty on it under ninjutsu or something similar.

Regards.G.

Hi Graham
Perhaps Nialls wife is saving up umbrellas for a rainy day?
Cheers Joe

graham christian 07-22-2011 05:35 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Quote:

Joe Curran wrote: (Post 288413)
Hi Graham
Perhaps Nialls wife is saving up umbrellas for a rainy day?
Cheers Joe



Hope they're not like this one.

graham christian 07-22-2011 05:44 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
More for the ladies. Apparently these are called Kasana Swords.



Regards.G.

graham christian 07-22-2011 06:10 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 


Hi Niall.
This relates to the story I said earlier. It wasn't a stabbing it was that converted umbrella, a gun with a poison pellet. Woah.

It was used to assassinate a bulgarian exile named Georgi Markov in London in 1978.

Nasty.

Regards G.

hughrbeyer 07-22-2011 07:05 PM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
Quote:

Joe Curran wrote: (Post 288392)
I look around and note with sadness that Tin can tomahawks have ceased to exist in the armoury of todays young tearaways.

No more tin cans. It's all aluminum now, all you'd give people is a paper cut. :(

Jory Boling 07-23-2011 04:01 AM

Re: Improvised Weapons No. 1: The Umbrella
 
http://www.youtube.com/user/TeamWuJi.../0/7HigjxB04sc

Enjoy.


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