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French “La Canne” stick defense in the New York Sun, 1887

December 14, 2014

Canne2

The following article on stick defense appeared in the November 20, 1887 issue of the New York Sun. Much of the technical information in the article came from Regis Senac, a notable New York City fencing master. A native of France, and a graduate of the military academy at Joinville-le-Pont, Senac had arrived in the city in 1872, and had set up a fencing school on University Place in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

Above: Regis Senac in later years, from “The Art of Fencing,” 1904.

Above: Regis Senac in later years, from “The Art of Fencing,” 1904.

Senac’s 1904 book, The Art of Fencing, provides the following biographical details about him:

“Regis Senac, father of [fencing master] Louis Senac, was for many years instructor of fencing in the French army, the soldiers of which have won a world wide reputation as exponents of the highest form of the foil, sword and sabre wielder’s art. M. Senac came to the United States in 1872. Shortly after his arrival here he won the fencing championship of America in a contest held in Tammany Hall, New York. He established a fencing school in 1874, which has continued to this day, graduates of which are leaders in both amateur and professional ranks…In addition to his wide experience as an instructor, Regis Senac has also found occasion to put his fencing ability to more serious purposes. In France he participated in three duels and in each encounter was victorious, escaping without a single scratch, while every one of his opponents was seriously disabled.”

Although the following article was printed under the title “Contests at Single Stick,” the weapon and techniques pictured are actually those of French La Canne, or Canne Royale:

1887-11-20_NYSun_LaCanne1

1887-11-20_NYSun_LaCanne2

Those interested in reading more about La Canne, and who are fluent in the French language, can consult Eugene Humé’s Traité et théorie de canne royale (1862).

 

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