Aw, nuts.

Those of my Gentle Readers who have met me in the paint usually notice that I’ve got a blackthorn walking stick somewhere about my person.

I started carrying it in 1994 after a minor matter of zagging when zigging was the correct option rendered me hors de combat for a couple of weeks; during said recovery period I came to the conclusion that there were more than a few times when it behooved a gentleman to carry a weapon firmly in paw, so to speak.

Unfortunately, Texas etiquette tends to frown upon the practice of appearing in public places with a pistol super-glued to your right paw. In addition there are occasional times when violence — or the display of the capability of violence — is necessary, but sticking a blade into the other guy or putting two 9mm’s betwixt his running lights is a bit excessive.

During my recovery period I spent a great deal of time gimping about on a cane, and I was struck one day by the fact that there are no laws rendering the carry of canes or walking sticks verboten.

I had already done a little training in European and Filipino stick-fighting, and had taken multiple law enforcement baton classes. These were rounded out with a couple of seminars in hanbo-jitsu, a little WWII combative stick training and voila! I had myself a very discrete, very effective weapon that could be openly carried anytime I felt the need.

On top of which, I discovered that one can stand with a walking stick in such a manner as to cause various sub-groups of the Societally Challenged to rethink their intentions, without causing Suzy Soccermommy to run down the street in a blind panic, screaming “OhMyGawdhehasaGUN!” every other step.

Which sounds catastrophic only if you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing the Standard Sheeple Response to you not unsheathing a knife as discretely as one might wish.

I carried my blackthorn when the State of New Jersey ordered me to stow my sidearm and not retrieve it until after I had left the State, it has accompanied me during tours of a couple of government facilities where I was cordially relieved of my knife(s) and pistol, and I have carried through more than a couple of post-9/11 TSA checkpoints without so much as a raised eyebrow.

While it has served more than adequately in a scuffle or three, it has also served quite well as an emergency splint, a window-breaker, a brace, a leverage tool, a reach extender, a dog dissuader, and — believe it or not — as a walking aid.

Friends of mine have borrowed it post-knee-surgery, and others have used it during short-term hikes in the Wichita Mountains.

Handy little thing.

Unfortunately I think I’ve just cracked it.


Damn it.


Run that by me again?
I'm not one...

28 thoughts on “Aw, nuts.”

  1. Bummer about the stick.

    Friend of mine has a custom made cane from Canemasters. Solid, beautiful stuff.

  2. I’ve *long* had the idea of making a gentleman’s umbrella with a carbon fiber or spring steel shaft and a straight cast-iron handle and spur.

    If you want to bruise, smack them with the spur. If you want to break, turn it around and give ’em a wallop with the pound-and-a-half iron handle.

  3. Cold Steel makes a couple of different skull-crackers…i mean walking sticks! very elegant and very hard hitting.

  4. Friends elderly Dad was put upon by three yutes in wonderful down-town Orange, NJ. He carried a cane. When the local constables arrived, the yute who was still concious accused the old timer of attacking them!
    Since I now have a “Handicapped” poster for my car (youthful experiences gone bad – I will not have either knee replaced, let alone my shoulder) and since my CO carry license does not work for my NJ visits, I think you’ve given me the perfect late-Father’s Day gift. Pray tell, where can I find “Cold Steel” and “Canemasters”? OldeForce

  5. “…discovered that one can stand with a walking stick in such a manner as to cause various sub-groups of the Societally Challenged to rethink their intentions.”

    A discription or photo would be much appreciated.

    Flintlock Tom

  6. My ever-indulgent wife and I picked up one of Cold Steel’s whacking – I mean walking sticks. Looks just like any other black stick with a shiny silver knob on top. You’d have to handle it and be paying attention to realize it’s all steel. is their site but I’m having trouble finding the canes. I did find a video called “Stun, Stagger, and Stop” about using a cane…

    Ah! Found it! I’m checking that on my Treo which has a small screen and can make graphics hard to see (but at least it’s not net nanny’d). Click ‘Speciality’ and the second graphic is for Sticks. I believe ours is the ‘City Stick’ which you can also get with a spiffy ‘Skull’ head if you so desire.

    I’ve also got a nice walnut stick I picked up at the local RenFest. It’s about 2″ thick with a knob the size of my fist. My much-smaller ever-indulgent wife used it as a staff as part of a Halloween costume. It was chosen to bear my weight if my bad knee goes out and to withstand use as an AAD (Attitude Adjustment Device).

  7. A Google search for “Blackthorn walking stick” produced the following results:
    Note that there are sizing issues for a stick that is intended to be used as a cane. With the arm straight down at your side and your hand held flat, the head should rest comfortably in your palm. This assumes you’re not carrying the stick as a legal, low-signature substitute for something that could get you arrested…
    (Hope this isn’t a dupe. Blasted security schemes…)

  8. Lawdog, have your next cane made out of the femurs of society turds, then right before you may have to use it you can explain to the anti-socials what it is from. That would help you avoid 99.999 of the fights out there. 😛

  9. “You’d have to handle it and be paying attention to realize it’s all steel.”

    The cold steel sticks are not all steel. They are very strong multi-layer fiberglass shaft with a nice solid steel nob threaded onto one end and good rubber foot on the other.

  10. If you’ve got a friend in the Pacific Northwest, have him send you a length of vine maple. You can make a gorgeous slender walking stick that will be harder to break than an oak 4’4.

    Gerry N.

  11. Jeff,

    I read that on the site after I’d already typed my description. It’s a very sturdy stick. I might be able to break it beating on something, but it would have to be something a lot tougher than a person.

  12. What about getting one of those .50 caliber muzzle loading cane guns like I used to see advertised in the old survivalist magazines.

    If you were in a generous mood you could load it with dust shot or rock salt.

    If the rock salt didn’t finish the job I’m sure you could still flip it around and whack someone with that iron barrel.

  13. On a recent trip to Europe, I carried a Surefire Executive flashlight with the crown bezels. Fits in your pockets perfectly, and if you had to knock someone in the noggin with it, I feel fairly confident that it would get their attention.

    It also attracted zip, zero, nada attention going through numerous checkpoints….

  14. Lawdog,

    Found this online, its from a way back (early 70’s I think) Brit TV show – with your Brit connection, be it over the G&T thought you and other of the same might get a giggle out of it.
    Constable Savage in all his glory … and if anyone even thinks of taking issue or getting serious about this – remember Mr Bean is the Inspector (LT)- all responses will be treated in the same manner!

  15. live in NJ have had a cane on my dashboard for three years. been pulled over by Jeresy cops several times, never said a word about it.

  16. I live in the Pacific NW. I never knew vine maple was tougher than oak. Gorgeous tree that it is. We planted a couple small humble trees in the back oasis a few years ago. Up in the mountains, they are so eloquent to take your breath away.

  17. vic303,

    If you check the manuals, hickory and Osage Orange have the best mechanical properties of “common” woods. Canemaster makes fine hickory canes. The round cross-section models are more durable than those with triangular cross-sections. Based on my experience, osage canes are very hard to come by.

    Where does one find a commercial Osage Orange cane? Thanks.

  18. Dear LawDog,

    I was reading your recent blogs aloud to my husband as he sits reloading .500 magnum rounds for his S&W. He was reminded of the movie “The Killer Elite” when hearing about the canes. The movie has an excellent treatise on combat with a cane, he says. Might want to check it out.

    By the way, my wedding present to my wonderful hubby 26 1/2 years ago was a Ruger Superblackhawk 44 magnum.

    We love your blogs, Lawdog. Keep going!

  19. Cool reminder, Lawdog. Myself, I have had a fraction of your training with sticks, but training I have had. Including a brown belt in Judo. I made myself a cane out of a 1″ oak rod. I put a small head at the top; like a very stubby handle; a teardrop-shape maybe 1 1/2″ thick and 2″ long; enough to give me a grip and nothing to snag (I’d have to learn how to use a cane with a big handle). I actually use it to help me walk when my knees are acting up, and since I’m tall and prefer my arm slighly bent when using a cane, it’s a full 42″ inches long. I used to take it with me on the bus, and could see the “disadvantaged yutes” and such eyeing it out of the corners of their eyes.

    It’s a good feeling.

    Thanks for telling us, and bringing the topic up.


    LogEyed Roman

  20. Been lurking here for a while. Back in 1986, in Garland, Texas of all places, my shillelagh came in handy. My wife and I were walking our 10 week old Rottweiler puppy, Bocephus*. I’ve found the blackthorn to be a tremendous dog training aid. Half a block from Albertson’s a young immigrant gentleman jumped out of some bushes and, brandishing a $2 switchblade, demanded our money. The first stroke of the stick shattered the so-called “knife” and from the sound, most of the bones in his right wrist. The second strike rendered his probiscis and sinus cavities inoperable. The tears that flowed shortly thereafter were an awesome sight. The third strike, using a Jack Nicklaus grip, stance, backswing and follow-through ruined his wedding tackle for the foreseeable future. As he was retching in the gutter, Bocephus rendered the coup de grace by lifting his little leg and planting a stream of snow yellowing fluid in the general direction of said gentleman’s bleeding face. We then discovered that Albertson’s didn’t sell beer.
    *Bo grew up to 165 pounds and lived to a ripe old 15 years. RIP buddy.

    Remind me to tell you about Bo’s Memphis adventure.

  21. Ken Bounds used to be chief-of-security at the well-known Greenbrier Hotel (resort) with the underground bunker, etc. He was recently retired FBI, baton instructor. In those days he had to be WV Resident 6 months before he could apply for CHL. “That’s OK, I’ve got my stick”

  22. Huh. Had no idea you were into blackthorn canes. Own one myself (you’ll see it in my right paw, with Miss Emma in the other, in our wedding photo). Might have to talk to you about canefighting for self-defense purposes sometime.

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