Live Blogging RMFW: Terry Kroenung & Janet Smith, Victorian Violence

At very long last, I’m posting my liveblogging from RMFW Gold Conference. Apologies for the incredible tardiness of this.

Victorian London - Regent Street

Victorian London – Regent Street

Victorian Violence: Fisticuffs, Life-Preservers, and Jiu Jitsu Suffragettes

Terry Kroenung & Janet Smith

* Compose a scene set in late 1800’s London involving a violent altercation between two men and a woman at night.

The gaslamp at the corner flickered and spit, flaring abruptly before going out. Clarice Thorne pushed her way past the other working girls, presenting herself exposed bosom very much first, to the two “gentlemen” who’d apparently judged the now-darkened alley a most excellent situs for their escapade.

As they approached, the other girl jostled behind her, vying for the attention Clarice already owned and had since the moment her carefully thrown dart had put out the lantern. “Will it be the both of you together, then?” she asked, a hint of relish in her voice to entice them that much more.

The taller of the two lads grinned, sharp and gap-toothed. “Izzat what ye fancy, missy?”

“Oh, aye,” she agreed, and made as though to lift her skirts as they advanced.

Pity the lads, she yanked and tore out a heavy fabric layer, then charged and snapped it up around their faces. It caught the shorter one in the eyes and around the neck, and his reaching hands went up to his head instead of her. As she intended, and giving her time to pull the sap from the pocket she’d sewn in, and then promptly smack him on the wrist. The crack was loud in the quiet night and his screech even louder.

Mighty satisfying that, but not enough. Not nearly enough, as the first had recovered and come at her now with forcing in his eyes. She let him come, moving in toward him to catch him behind the knee with her sap. When he pitched sidewise, the point of her elbow came down on the back of his neck.

The other had recovered and charged in to grab her off her feet. It left Clarice a bit at loose ends, but only for a moment. She swung her weight toward the wall and ran along it with her feet.



Traffic – no stoplights, pedestrians, carriages no horns

Employment: child labor, coal mines, factories

Ripper Street is fairly accurate in the amount of violence.

Gated communities on the west side of London were more


Discipline – flogging on ships, in the home (spare the rod and spoil anyone who gets in your way, man’s roost by law)

Robery/Assault – 1862 a member of Parliament was garroted—choked, leaned back, and a friend comes by and takes the wallet—Pall Mall, broad daylight

finding cops on foot if they existed took a long time. Most people learned to defend themselves—sticks, umbrellas, boxing, pugilism, pistols

Murder – dead people are easier to search and easier to escape from

Execution — official violence, sanction, hanging with a short rope and strangling you; then long drop more scientific. Short drop strangulation could take 30 minutes.

War – a lot of that. Britain is a superpower. Lots of war in Afghanistan, lost twice; East Africa—Zulu Wars. Sun didn’t set on British Empire literal. Injured coming home didn’t have vet benefits, sometimes rob some people.


Pugilism—taught in schools, confidence, protecting yourself; mannerly fighting.

Bare-Knuckle Fights

—rules in late 18th century

—replaced fencing, became a fad

—practiced by men of quality

—1867 Queensberry Rules — “fair play”

—rules may have been a disadvantage in a street brawl, but the discipline and confidence did help




Loaded hunting crop, steel with leather wrapped around it – standard use on wrist and arms; c 18 inches

single stick, training weapons for using Army saber techniques

Cudgels – stout club shorter than arm’s length, police truncheon decorated and it went in a pocket in the trousers — whack head, whack wrist, whack kidneys

Life-Preserver or Knobstick – leather wrapped weight, lean ball wrapped in string, about a foot long

Knuckleduster — easy to conceal, close-quarters, if darkened easy to conceal because hands were dirty, made by the gangs

Apache Ring – French street gangs called themselves Apaches, named after Geronimo/badass, mostly Southern France. Brass knuckle with knife at one end, revolve at the other. The Ring either ring or goes between fingers; animal shapes etc, mostly to mark a person

Walking Stick – always at hand, jewelry, not an obvious weapon, good for helping you walk, hook good for defense, army saber techniques

System Stick – weapons built into stick – sword/dagger, firearms, razors; can stab someone 4 times in one second, that’s why cops shoot people with knives

La Terrible—spring-loaded razor blades that pop out of the shaft (messy to put back in)\

umbrella/parasol – best use for hooks and stabs

Hatpins – long, sharp, face attacks

Firearms – Golden Age of firearms, scientists are gods, smokeless powder is the very end of the 19th center; gun crimes not prevalent until 1880s., flintlocks replaced by percussion caps

up until the late V period, 6 shots would fill the conference rooms; in the Civil War, they had to crouch to see the color of the pant legs.

cordite was proprietary

no one cleaned black powder rifles

could prime guns for the first shot, but reloading and stuff took too much time, so mostly bayonets and knives

pouches for balls, powder, caps, etc.

Colt Revolver – 6 shooter ubiquitous

self-contained ammo not until after the Civil War; had to powder and seal each shot

Webley – nose goes down, rear-loading. 455 cartridge, big boom, big bullet

invention, interesting guns – clockwork spring on one,

Broomhandle Mauser 1896, ten round box magazine; magazines and breech-loader experiment in Civil War and on. (Solo’s ray gun)

Luger 1900 9 mm parabellum

Knives – cheap, quiet, easy to hide, intimidating

folded razors – Sweeny Todd, early Victorian

pen knives for slicing open newspapers

Bartitsu, first European mixed martial art since Pankration. Barton Wright brought Japanese jujitsu masters never lost

Blend of boxing, wrestling, savage (French kickboxing, jiujitsu, and stick fighting

Sparked a jujitsu craze in late Victorian & Edwardian era – from exotic East

Holmes used against Moriarty

British suffragettes against police

Learn them all separately and put them together

No sport form

A response to received rise in street crime

throw coat, throw hat, sailors used savate (means little boots)

Jiu Jitsu

The art of yielding

developed by samurai in case they were disarmed

uses opponent’s strength & Momentum against him

joint locks to force surrender

disturb foe’s equilibrium

invite attack

defend with an offensive move

British women used it when savagely attacked by police

5 ft Edith Garrud studied with Barton-Write & his jiu jitsu master

trained fellow suffragettes in self-defense, military tactics, and deception — cardboard armor inside corsets (police told not to hit faces) — created trellises with razor wire to run police through

fought documented battles with police

first professional Western woman martial arts teacher

if you can run, do it.

IF going to hit you on the head, block with wrist, grab and push down on elbow. spin into wall.

Get inside, to get a less bad hit

hand to tonsils to tilt the head and pulls them off balance

punch? grab wrist, and then kick the knee, or spin hand up over back

use point of sticks

make the other person miss

use hook to redirect, pull them around elbow in the face

aim at wrist, come in closer and re-angle toward face

umbrella – points into face, neck, arms, groin; absorb blow on umbrella

hatpin to ear, neck, etc — if gets up close

corsets with steel boning, stuffed with newspaper, etc

heavy fabrics protected women