The Victorian Gentleman’s Self-Defense Toolkit

When in doubt, the refined gentleman kicks him right in the face. Could be worse I suppose…

Out of This Century

LeMoine_Savate_big Above: Practitioners of French Savate, 1857.

For many today, the term “gentleman” is apt to conjure up the ridiculous image of an affected, overdressed fop with a monocle, struggling to secure a place in high society. Yet, throughout past centuries, the character of the gentleman was regarded as synonymous with that of the true ideal man, embodying “heroic bodily strength and mental firmness” and including “whatever was valuable in the cavalier and the earlier knight,”—simply put, a man with the strength of manhood.

With that in mind, it is not surprising that numerous treatises on gentlemanly conduct published in the 19th century emphasized the importance of physical fitness and self-defense training. For instance, Our Deportment (1879) states that

“Physical education is indispensable to every well-bred man and woman. A gentleman should not only know how to fence, to box, to ride, to shoot and to swim…

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About George Crawford

archaeologist, archer, primitive technologist, and wannabee fiddler...mostly
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