sword canes?


s&w 24
January 5, 2003, 01:55 PM
I have seen both pro and con articals on sword canes. Some say there just a cheesy import toy that will get you in to instead of out of trouble,others think its the best tool to defend yourself with besides a firearm. What do you think?

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El Tejon
January 5, 2003, 03:05 PM
The pj fighting I study emphasizes the "stick" (baton, cane, half staff, and staff over edged weapons) so I'd rather have a cane than a "sword cane." More versitile than an edged weapon and far lower mall ninja factor. YMMV.

Don Gwinn
January 5, 2003, 03:13 PM
A lot of sword canes are cheap junk made by import companies--but that doesn't mean that a sword cane is necessarily cheap imported junk. Some makers make very high quality examples.

Whether even a high-quality sword cane is worth the price is up to you. I'd probably stick to a cane, but I'm cheap.

January 5, 2003, 08:36 PM
About 10 years ago I worked with an older gentleman who used a sturdy but stylish metal cane to more easily move through the office. I found out years later that it's actually an NFA item: a 1-shot .410 shotgun. The top half unscrewed much like the typical sword cane to reveal the small muzzle. I was never able to find out where he bought it, but I still think it's a neat idea.


January 5, 2003, 09:54 PM
I recall reading that Rex Applegate used one he made out of an old sword. Someone attempted to rob him and got a bellyful of steel instead of a handful of cash.

January 6, 2003, 12:48 AM
It's an effective tool *if* you train with it. Otherwise, it is merely a novelty.

Kahr carrier
January 6, 2003, 07:00 AM
They sound cool ,maybe a nice element of surprise.;)

s&w 24
January 6, 2003, 02:15 PM
so that brings us to a second question what qualifys as good training and were would one get said training? I doubt your local dojo will have classes on sword fighting or sword/cane fighting.

Byron Quick
January 7, 2003, 12:54 AM
I recently added an antique sword cane to my collection. Carved ivory tiger head at the top of the cane. Bog oak for the cane. Brass ferrule at the bottom. Circa last quarter of the nineteenth century. The blade is triangular in cross section with a fuller running about three quarters of its length. Personally, I would say that its mall ninja quotient was rather low.

It's primary purpose to date is as an addition to my collection. I don't carry my Japanese sword either. However, physical woes have forced me to use a cane in the past. If that happens in the future, I will use the cane as a logical adjunct to my carry paraphernalia.

Chuck Dye
January 7, 2003, 01:11 PM
At least one state, California, has made possession of a sword cane a wobbler felony (Penal Code 12020 http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?WAISdocID=9631607678+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve), so it may pay to do a little research.

Before anyone launches on California, it is my understanding that the law was written in the late nineteenth century when a variety of weapons were deemed to be of use only to criminals and gangs, hence the felony status, while standard handguns and long arms, if criminalized at all, were deemed misdemeanors - not part of the current hoplophobia, though perhaps predictive.

Byron Quick
January 7, 2003, 01:23 PM
Thanks for the information but I'll never set foot in California.

s&w 24
January 7, 2003, 01:49 PM
sounds like a very nice item Mr. Quick I hope you enjoy your new aquisition

Joe Demko
January 10, 2003, 02:01 PM
The Applegate story as I heard/read it was that he used his well-publicized stick fighting abilities to beat a robber senseless with his cane.

January 10, 2003, 07:44 PM
A grounding in western fencing is a great start since most sword canes resembe a Epe or Foil. Lots of colleges and YMCA's have fencing clubs although they are getting more rare all the time. Just keep in mind as you study that most of the rules of the salle are not applicable on the street.

January 10, 2003, 09:25 PM
Hapkido will have cane elements which you can also modify for sword cane training.

I've seen a good sword cane which concealed a long knife rather than a full length blade.

I've only seen cheap sword canes where the blades are too light and flimsy and have questionable tangs for reliability.

The triangular blade of Byron Quick sounds like the right ticket.

January 10, 2003, 11:42 PM
One thing to watch out for is that even if cane swords are legal in your state. They might be considered a concealed weapon. If your state has concealed weapon laws, it might fall under that.

October 27, 2003, 01:21 AM
Burger knives (http://www.swordcane.com/) makes the best sword cane I've ever seen.

Be aware that you'll pay through the sinuses for one, but they're serious weapons.

While foil or epee fencing might give you a bit of a grounding, a Western Martial Arts group (http://alliancemartialarts.com/index.html) can probably be relied upon to have seminars involving the actual street techniques with a decent sword cane. (http://ahfaa.org/civilian.htm)

Savate Classique and Savate Dance de Rue salles also have sword cane techniques in their repetoires, but they're both dying arts and as such they're damned difficult to find these days.


October 27, 2003, 01:45 AM
Bog Oak = class act.


October 27, 2003, 09:18 AM
I believe you could adapt smallsword techniques for use with sword-canes. Unfortunately finding someone that can teach smallsword is also a problem, but you could try canvasing the local WMA community for someone. In a pinch sport fencing might get you started, but I'm sure it would give you lots of bad habits at the same time.

October 27, 2003, 09:48 AM
One would be advised to get some fencing training for use with the sword cane.

I'd be very surprised if they were not illegal in about every state in the US under either the dangerous weapons statutes or concealing a deadly weapon illegally.

Even with all the permits I have for ccw, I would not bother carry a cane with a sword in it for serious self defense purposes. It won't go well with a jury, even if it was legally justified self defense and the sword canes are not illegal.


October 27, 2003, 11:44 AM
I see canes as useful for self-defense applications, but sword canes as more of
a collection/novelty item.


Red Dragon
October 29, 2003, 08:37 PM
many sword canes have a blade that can be most closely related to a rapier, olympic style fencing is alright as far as training but there are many rules that would only get one confused in a potential combat situation. if possible I recommend getting rennaisance (sp?) style fencing. classes can be found if any local universities have SCA chapters (Society for Creative Anacrinisms (sp?) ) .

The Tengu
November 7, 2003, 11:06 AM
Sword canes are more appropriate as collectibles. They're also probably illegal to carry publically in most areas of the United States. They are also often poorly constructed.

You're better off carrying a solid, well-made walking cane constructed of a hardwood and using it as a blunt.

Becoming effective with blunt cane weapons takes less training to be effective than sword training.

Swords also have an inherent lethality, much like a handgun. The difference is you will be puncturing and cutting a human with an object in your hand. There will be resistance, impact, and blood. You will not pull a trigger and inflict damage. You will be taking a blade in your hand and slicing and stabbing an individual until they are no longer a threat to you. This kind of situation is even more personal than shooting someone.

You will probably be better off getting some cane weapons training, as well.

If you want to study a martial art that uses cane weapons, you can try finding an kali/escrima school. Also, several traditional Japanese martial arts such as Kukishin Ryu offer hanbo (cane) study. You can find this at Bujinkan schools or any number of koryu martial arts schools located here in the States.

November 7, 2003, 02:38 PM
You could carry one as our license is for deadly weapons and not just handguns.

Denny Hansen
November 7, 2003, 05:29 PM
I plan on getting some education on canes in the future.

Valhalla, a new training center in Colorado offers, among other things, cane training.


Rob Pincus
November 7, 2003, 05:39 PM
Thanks for thinking of us Denny...

If anyone follows that link, they will be able to download at least 3 videos of our Cane Fighting Course.. two demonstration and one student in a scenario. (more to come)

November 7, 2003, 11:43 PM


Modern martial fencing is different from sport fencing. A properly made sword cane could be adapted to these techniques. The problem is that such a hidden small sword would provide fewer options than a good can for less than lethal to lethal self defense. I've played at knife, sword, and cane and while the sword has great advantage over both as a lethal weapon it requires more training than either to be of much use.

November 8, 2003, 09:31 AM
Not a sword cane but a cane weapon, check out http://www.valoisknives.com/canes.htm I saw Valois products at the NY Knife show. This cane weapon is assailant activated. The belt buckle knives are pretty cool as well.

The Tengu
November 11, 2003, 03:12 PM
Ed Martin of the Bujinkan also offers a video about cane techniques.

You can get his cane video and his other video (Self-Defense for Everyone) at http://www.ninjutsu.com/cgi/searchdb.cgi?Action=search&Category1=Ninjutsu+Videos&SubCategory1=Ninjutsu+Masters+Videos&SearchBy=SubSubCategory1&Query=Ed+Martin

November 16, 2003, 09:04 PM
Barry Dawson makes an exceptional sword cane by mounting one of his custom blades in a heavy-duty aluminum orthopedic cane. these are highest quality and fully functional, both as walking aids and PDWs

walking arsenal
November 17, 2003, 07:27 PM
just entertaining a thought here.

Sword canes, pro's and con's.
Could these things be a viable choice for a conceiled weapon when the trusty rosco is not allowed?

Jeff White
November 17, 2003, 08:50 PM
I'm going to move this to Non-Firearms Weapons. Probably get more replies there.


November 17, 2003, 09:07 PM
look here

November 17, 2003, 11:13 PM
I have been reading this with some interest. I fenced many years ago in high school and want to point out some things.

1. a sword cane with the sheath in place can be used as any other cane.

2. If you are going to use western fencing as practice learn saber. Neither foil or epee prepare you mentally for combat.

The exact blade design will determine if you can use the weapon for slashing or if it will restrict you to stabbing. If the weapon is restricted to stabbing then the techniques of foil and epee are important but only saber will prepare the mind.

November 18, 2003, 02:17 AM
sw24: If you want stick/knife fighting the Kali group in Twin Cities is very good (I would say that the quality is on par with Thunder Ranch only for blades and sticks not guns). IF my schedule ever allows I would probably go there once or twice a week myself.

With your size I would suggest one of the big Spyderco or Cold Steel folders as more practical. Remember Murderapolis has some specific city laws against blades and it is still unclear if CCW permit would allow legal carry of the longer blades. Joel mentioned some of this in the CCW class, I would ask him for update when you take the class.

BTW have you seen my Endura yet? Remind me next time we get together.

November 18, 2003, 03:57 PM
"...conceiled(sic) weapon..." If you're not supposed to be armed, how is this different? And it takes much more training, practice and willingness to defend yourself with a knife of any kind. Especially if you think you can weild a sword from watching Zorro on TV.

November 20, 2003, 01:45 PM
Okay...sport fencing is not going to help you out much with learning to use a sword - especially in cane form. I learned strategy and have spectacular reflexes from fencing, but I never claim to be able use a 3 lb sword effectivly. The main reasons are:

1. Right-of-way - sabre fencing's got it and a ref to enforce it. Bad guys don't follow rules.
2. Sabre = 35" and 21oz (Epee = 27oz) with CG near the guard. Sword canes are usually both heavy canes, and poorly weighted swords.
3. Use of protective gear - no fear of getting hit/hurt makes one artifically aggressive and imports a sense of false confidence.
4. Linear playing field.

You get the same benefits from fencing that you would from any martial art, none of which are learning how to use a specific weapon.

It's a fun sport, though. I was probably one of the few kids who was encouraged by her parents to beat her brother over the head with a weapon. :D

November 20, 2003, 09:44 PM
As I understand it, sword canes are illegal to carry around just about anywhere. I don't know whether they are allowed with a CCW, I think probably not because you aren't concealing the weapon, but the fact that it's a weapon.

Ignoring their legality, the cheap sword canes are useless. They have low quality blades that would be far less effective than a simple cane/club. And since the cane is hollowed out to accomodate the 'sword', it is probably too weak to make an effective club. Also, the cheap sword canse have to be unscrewed, which takes several seconds, and alerts your attacker that you have something hidden in the cane.

The good sword canes have full length 'epee' type blades. These are triangular blades with little or no edge. Kindof like a really big ice pick. Also, the good canes are typically a bit sturdier and the cane can be retained in the offhand as an effective parrying/clubbing device. Also, the handle and sword are easily and quickly released.

But again, if you don't know how to use the 'sword', you are probably better off using the whole thing as a club.

It is very important for you to realize that a sword cane is almost useless as a slashing weapon, even the ones that have an edge. The blade is simply too light, and too long for you to get enough leverage to inflict more than a minor cut. If you can't stab the bad guy with it, you can't hurt him.

I am one of the senior members of my universities fencing team, and I specialize in epee (which is supposed to emulate a duel). While this by no means makes me an expert in the use of a sword for defensive purposes, it does make it's limitations painfully obvious, especially when watching how the newbies try to wield them. Most of their attacks flat out miss thier opponents, they simply haven't developed the necessary point control to make their blade go where they want it to, especially when there is some sort of contact or defensive action involved. If you are fighting someone with a knife and you miss, you are at their mercy because your point will be behind them, and they can gut you at their leisure. Unless you really know what you are doing, infighting with a sword is almost impossible.

Unless you are skilled enough with your sword cane to stab the bad guy in the wrist without getting close enough for him to swipe at your arm, you probably shouldn't bother with one because you will be forced to get close enough to stab him in the body, and he will take out your arm.

I typed this fairly quickly, so I will probably have to edit and clarify a few things. Bear in mind that this is coming from a fencer's standpoint, not a truly practical one. In real life you could kick, etc, and I am used to fencing against people who are armed and trained in a similar fashion to me.

November 20, 2003, 10:16 PM
In response to CatsDieNow:

The right of way rules of foil and saber are supposed to force a fencer to develop good habits. They exist to counter the fact that a fencer is not afraid of his opponents blade in practice. Without right of way rules, it is very easy to get in the habit of attacking into an attack launched by your opponent if you think you can hit him first. This would not normally prevent your opponent from stabbing you and in real life often resulted in two dead duelists. So right of way rules were developed that basically, force a fencer who is being attacked to save his own life by stopping that attack before he launches his own. The target are in foil is limited to the torso. This is so when you end up in a sword fight, you don't screw around with stupid non-lethal moves like toe shots that will only put you at risk of getting stabbed. Basically: Don't screw around, and kill the person as efficiently as possible.

Saber was designed to teach cavalry soldiers how to fight on horseback with their cavalry sabers. It too has a bunch of rules, most of them are sabers version of right of way, but others are designed to slow the action down (the hobble rule). It will teach you how to defend against slashing attacks. (as well as how to launch them).

Epee is designed to simulate a duel as closesly as possible, and there is no right of way. The target is your whole body from head to toe, and the only thing that matters is who stabs the other person first. The weapons we use are, except for cosmetic and safety changes, almost identical to the last generation dueling swords. In fact, the pressure required to push the electric button on the tip of an eppee is enough to put a dueling epee through a side of beef. Every time you get a touch in epee, you would have inflicted a serious injury. Epee teaches you how to win a duel, though not necessarily how to survive one. You learn how to stop-thrust into a persons arm, preventing their attack from landing, and you learn protect your entire body from attack. There is no slashing in epee or foil for the simple reason that it just doesn't normally make sense. The dueling weapons of the day (except sabres) were, like sword canes, too light to inflict serious injury with a slash. Furthermore, you would wast too much time by cocking your arm back in order to slash. A competent epeeist will stab you before your blow ever lands.

In order to be truly proficient with a sword, you have to be proficient with all three weapons.

Fencing used to be done in 'rounds' and attacks were launched tangent to the circle your oppenent could sweep out with his weapon. This changed in about 1594 when a gentleman by the name of Kappa Ferra published a book that said basically: "don't wast time running around in circles, line up at your opponent, and kill him directly." Basically he pointed out that the big, indirect attacks of the day were almost ineffective against a person who just pivoted in place and lunged straight towards their opponent. This boils down to economy of motion. It is simply more efficient to focus your energy on either moving directly towards your opponent or away from him.

Linear fencing was developed because it was the most effective way of winning a sword fight, not for sport purposes. This can be seen when a sport fencer goes to an SCA fencing tournament, where they still allow you to run around in circles. It is easy for the sport fencer to turn and face their opponent who is running around, and it is also easy for them to win. The SCA fencers are, by and large, simply too inefficient with their movements.

I will conclude by saying that sport fencing (which has remained more or less the same for hundreds of years) is the best training possible for dueling. For any other purpose, all bets are off.

November 20, 2003, 10:33 PM
Good info, and I think I agree. Welcome to THR!


November 20, 2003, 10:47 PM
I would agree that a lot of sword canes are poorly weighted, but not all of them are. I was shown a britsh sword cane from the late 19th century that would not take a back seat in balance to your finest fencing saber. I don't know the exact weight but it was not significantly different from my practice saber. It was about 3ft long with a 3/4 inch wide blade. I believe the oversized pommel made of brass help balance the blade. With the scabbard in place it was an ornate gentlmans cane shed of its scabbard it was a superb weapon.

November 22, 2003, 10:35 PM
I will conclude by saying that sport fencing (which has remained more or less the same for hundreds of years) is the best training possible for dueling.

Hmm. If, by 'sport-fencing' we are speaking of the version of fencing which is showcased in the Olympic Games, and is the staple of the fencing programs of most colleges, I'm going to have to disagree with you on this point.


Byron Quick
November 23, 2003, 08:52 AM
Heh. Kinda off topic but this reminded me of a bout a couple of old friends had once. One was a kendoka and the other was a foil fencer. They got to arguing about the relative merits of their styles....:rolleyes:

Decided to have a bout to decide the matter.

Well, the foil fencer scored several points with thrust to the kendoists armored chest. Then the kendoka slashed from right to left. His shinai caught the fencer's sword arm from elbow to hand-disarming him and smashing his foil to pieces. Unfortunately, he was already flowing into his next move and brought the shinai squarely down onto his opponent's head. End of bout.

November 24, 2003, 09:22 PM
I am on vacation this week, but apparently I am still a THR addict...geez. :rolleyes:


I am well aware of the historical background of fencing, as I used to be a nationally ranked sabre fencer for many years. I have also fenced foil before I switched to sabre; epee I never liked. Actually, the sport has changed quite a bit during just the time that I did it - electric scoring, no more fleche (in sabre), better blade steel, no priority, etc... these all significantly changed the style in which people fence. In the end, however, it is still just a game with rules and the most successful fencers know how to use those rules to their advantage, unlike the real world.

Does anyone actually duel anymore?

Fencing taught me to stratagize on the move, and to have the confidence to attempt to execute that plan. This is what I believe is the most important skill to be learned from any martial art.


I would love to see any neato old swords that you have. I simply meant that most of the stuff pandered on the market today is merely shiny, cheap junk.

Byron Quick,

I have always said that if I was in a situation as you describe, I would hit early and often, but if the guy with the bigger sword ever managed to connect, I would be in some serious trouble.

November 24, 2003, 11:06 PM
CatsDieNow, unfortunately the aformentioned swordcane was owned by a family friend in the antique business. I agree that most of what is out there is junk but it is not all junk. The use of the swordcane is different than in fencing or a duel because it is unlikely that your opponent would be armed with a sword. I recognize that the light weight blade in a swordcane could not be used to fatally slash an opponent it could be used to disarm one, by slashing at the hand or forarm, real damage would require a thrust. The biggest reason I recommmended saber because of the combat mind set need to be good at it.

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