I don't use a cane in the office... mostly while walking a few miles each day during commute. On the street I try to stay very plain, subtle, and predictable. It's only when I get home that I start to juggle and twirl. ;-)
On the street, I've significantly changed my style in the last few months. Here are some of the things which affected it:
- Lighter canes: Most of the early literature I found was in the martial-arts/self-defense field. These often involved bone-breaking strikes, in which I'm not particularly interested. A few good Malacca canes in varying weights showed me the advantage of lighter, faster handlings, trading mass for velocity. The types of movement which can be accomplished with a light cane are significantly different than those for a heavy cane, with the advantage of holding something which cannot be later characterized as a bludgeon.
- Reverse grip: Usually we hold in "forward grip", with the shaft coming out of the thumb side of the hand. These days I more often hold the cane with the shaft coming out of the hand towards the pinky finger. Two big advantages: it allows in-hand twirls ("Charlie Chaplin style" twirls) with the palm held down... more angles available. A reverse-grip also allows you to slide up to "ready position" (hand sliding to top of the shaft below the hook) without raising the tip... much less of a threatening position. Matter of fact, it works well with the open hands held palm-outwards at chest level, in the basic "hey cool down, back off" position, yet with excellent ability to block high or low strikes. Subtle change, from forward-grip to reverse-grip, but it opens up many more possibilities, with less risk of escalation.
- Walking in three: My leg is stronger, and I no longer need to support each and every step of the weak-side leg. On straight, clear, easy sections of sidewalk I now often place the cane on the ground at every third step, alternating between support for weak-side and strong-side steps. I'll still "walk in two" through complex paths, but will walk-in-three when loping along. Has the extra advantage in that either hand can hold the cane and the rhythmic pattern will remain the same. (I got this move from Fred Astaire in "Easter Parade", when he's on the street just before the "Drum Crazy" sequence. ;-) I've seen variants... often times with a full-height staff someone will "walk in four" with four footsteps for every cane placement... but switching fluidly between walking-in-two and walking-in-three has really opened up how I use a cane on the street.
For self-defense... most resources don't describe my needs. They often come out of a martial-arts background and focus on wrecking an attacker. I'd just as well get along well with everyone, and avoid a confrontation rather than "win" it. Using a cane is effective at defining a personal space... deterring someone from trying to walk through me. People often (regretfully) show more concern at avoiding an object than avoiding another person... a little bit of unpredicted extra motion with the cane can easily prompt a poor walker to share enough extra space, without costing anyone "face".
At home I often like to use a cane while doing chores... changing grips, tucking it, using it as a three-foot arm-extension... using the cane as part of my body instead of just as an extra thing to hold. In-between I can juggle it, twirl it, balance it in different ways.
(For juggling, I'm doing a lot of contact-work now, balancing it on the back of the hand or upper arm, doing slow wrist rolls and changing direction, trying to make it seem as though the cane is mysteriously moving around the body counter to gravity. A toy. ;-)
That's where I'm at with cane on the street these days. It's a fun tool, useful in many ways, and I'm glad I have the chance to learn about it.