“Stick Fighting in Trinidad” (Diss Express – 14 March, 1919)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Sunday, 18th March 2018
Above: lithograph of Dominican stick fighting painted by Agostino Brunias; engraved print published London (1779).

The following short article is notable for its reference to the Trinidadian stick fighting style of “playing bois”, which is closely cognate to the Grenadian bois stick style that was amalgamated with Pierre Vigny’s art of self defence with a walking stick by H.G. Lang during the early 1920s.  Although Grenadian bois seems to have evolved into a ceremonial dance, similar stick fighting sports can still be found throughout the Caribbean island chain.

Single combat in various forms survives all over the world, and different peoples have different methods of showing their prowess. In the island of Trinidad, for instance, the natives, who speak mixture of French patois and English, call their method “playing bois” (literally stick-fighting).

The stick used is about a yard long and usually made from the “puie” tree, a very hard wood. This is held at each end diagonally in front of the body, and the blow’s are struck releasing one hand and striking with either the left the right. the carnival season bands from the various districts are made and contests take place whenever two bands meet.

The stick-men are extraordinarily clever at parrying blows, and an expert will stop a cricket ball thrown at him.

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