Cane Fighting: what cane to buy for self defense with a cane

Boomers are getting older but though most feelcane_self_defence very in-control of their lives, some have just a wee bit of edginess about self defence. Therefore many are very interested in cane fighting and self defense with a cane. I have been teaching self defence with the cane to seniors and women for over 12 years and one of the most common questions I have been asked is, “What is the best cane to buy for self defense?”

Matching the intended probable use to the person carrying it is the key. Different woods have different characteristics which are used for different strikes. Even the light weight aluminum walking aid which would fold in half if hit hard, will prove effective with the tip thrust repeatedly into the stomach and bladder area. You don’t want to weigh down your small granny with a piece of two by four, for sure. Buy her a light weight cane and teach her how to use the tip.

But the one idea I propose to everyone who asks is, “Please consider not buying a cane all tricked out with nasty features to make it a more awesome weapon.”

Such things include sharpening the end of the handle so it will gouge and cut in deep, scalloping finger grips into the bar of the cane or cross checking the bar with deep cuts which will rasp across the skin, ripping and tearing it in self defense. Some canes even come with a dart that affixes to the tip for stabbing or a blade attached to the handle hidden inside the shaft.


2 Canes:

fighting canes
As you can see, these canes are sharpened. The top has the cut angle going into the curve; the bottom has the cut angle going out of the cure. I see no advantage to these angles, both are vicious and would probably come under scrutiny by an LEO. Slammed into the face or the side of the neck, these cut angles would cause serious damage. What is not readily apparent is that the top cane a Newt Livesay special #005, has had the barrel of the shaft cut on the inside to form a triangular edge for an extra crushing or cutting effect.



combat canes

Here you can see details of these cut angles. As well, the scalloped finger grips are visible.


self defence canes

This shows the same canes with the other cut angle and the grips down at the tip for a strong thrusting grip. The more weaponized cane on top has been outfitted with a rubber tip as camoflage, though it came with a dart that fit over the tip to add lethality.

2 more canes:

combat canes for senior's self defense

The top cane is my favourite carry cane, tricked out with only a string wrap grip and white rubber on the tip. The bottom cane is a bottom of the line cane from Canemasters, very serviceable and innocuous. It does have the Canemasters logo on it which might be seen by a prosecutor as defining it as a weapon, not a walking aid. It is easily removed.



a good fighting cane

This shows the detail of the string wrap grip. It covers the Canemaster’s logo but is a bit suspicious in itself. Note the rounded end, very smooth with no cutting edges but still extrememly strong and damaging if used properly.

A stock cane:

stock cane to make a fighting cane

Here we can see the tight curve of the bottom cane, compared to the specialized martial arts cane on top. It has a much too narrow an opening to be of tactical use, and a very square cut tip. It is serviceable as a self defense cane as bought but will need oiling to keep it from splitting and the curve opened by boiling, if that is needed.

These modifications may cause the cane to be classed as a weapon after its use in self defence which might impact adversely on the cane user. Even if your jurisdiction allows weapons to be carried for self defence purposes, doing so may bring you to the attention of the police who may detain you or confiscate your weapon while they check out your mental stability.

Fancy dress straight stick canes often come with a large knob of metal fashioned into the head of a horse or wolf. If the wood is a hard wood, then these make fantastic weapons if you have the strength to wield it strongly and smoothly. One student of mine with just such a heavy cane, took classes for 6 months while buying a Bed and Breakfast lodge in Costa Rica. The number of itinerants from the city, (who all carried machetes), wandering onto his property, worried him. He was smart enough to to realise after a class or two that having the stick wouldn’t save him, and the techniques wouldn’t save him but using the stick and stick techniques while learning to face an opponent while practising mobility, agility and ‘on the move’ striking proper targets, certainly gave him a better chance.

The other consideration is whether to have a crook, T top or a straight stick.

A crook can be very useful. Aside from fighting with your cane, a crook is useful for catching onto things when you want your hands free. The crook handled cane is the mainstay of fighting cane arts. The problem with using an ordinary cane for self defense is that the crook curls in too tight towards the shaft. This limits the use of the twirling action (it catches your wrist most painfully!), and limits the hooking of limbs, ankles, the neck etc. Of course such a stick can still be used to hit, punch, smash and generally upset someone’s whole day. If you want to practice a martial art system based on a cane with a a crook, you must buy a special cane from a martial arts supply company or do up one yourself.

Stock Cane Modifications:
Many livestock feed stores sell canes at about one third the cost of a martial arts supply house. These are rough but blank canes which are used for herding stock. If the crook is too tight, boil it for some minutes and you will see it start to loosen. After it unfolds to where you want it, plunge it into ice water and “freeze” it again. Then sand and varnish it to your desire.  (And if anyone wants to gift me with a cane with a vial big enough for a tot of whiskey in the handle, I promise not to fight with it! )

The straight stick is taught most often using Irish or other European methods, Filipino styles or Japanese methods.

The straight stick is also the most useful for the two handed cqc fighting style of WWII, where little or no use of the one handed swing was taught, such as in these two books:

Scientific Self-Defense                              Get Toughcover of Get Tough
cover of Scientific Self-Defence


 or my own video, Raising Canes,ready stance with fighting cane for a tighter orientation to strict self defence available to seniors and women who have little time to practice or learn a whole martial system.

How strong must your cane be? Canemasters  (who dropped their link to me for some reason), advertised that their canes would not break even if hit with a baseball bat. That’s pretty good, for sure, but I haven’t put any of their canes to the test yet. Let me know in comments if you want to see a test video of bat against cane!  (Canemasters teaches a martial arts approach to cane use totally outside of the needs of my self defence customers.)

Here are some other links to good quality canes ranging from the handcrafted (with loving care)  from Wupen to the traditional and fanciful styles of Walking-Canes and those touching upon fancy dress sticks at The Walking Cane Store.


Further Explorations:


HAPKIDO CANE:Big Stick Fighting from the Dojo to the Street by that force of nature, Alain Burrese.







Pool Cues, Beer Bottles, and Baseball Bats: Animals Guide to Improvised Weapons for Self-Defense