Understanding Victorian Cultures of Violence: The Utility of Experimental Archaeology and Practical Hermeneutics

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Click the link below to read Liam Hannan’s thesis on Victorian “cultures of violence”, including an analysis of six canonical Bartitsu jiujitsu kata and stick-fighting set-plays:

UNDERSTANDING VICTORIAN CULTURES OF VIOLENCE: THE UTILITY OF EXPERIMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY AND PRACTICAL HERMENEUTICS

 

Miss Blanche Whitney, the World’s Champion Lady Wrestler (1911)

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This gallery of images from an article in the Oregon Daily Journal (April 30, 1911) showcases the combative talents of Miss Blanche Whitney.

Between 1908-11, the Philadelphian Miss Whitney travelled the US carnival and vaudeville circuit, taking on all comers as the “World’s Champion Lady Wrestler”. She challenged any woman in the audience to try their skill against hers, and would also grapple with any male wrestler weighing no more than 145 lbs (she herself weighed in at a muscular 155 lbs). She was also held to be a proficient boxer and foil fencer, and indeed an all-around athlete whose skills included bowling and gymnastics.

During April of 1910 she defied a police ban on “lady wrestling” contests in Chicago and took on Miss Belle Myers in an otherwise all-male wrestling card. She then moved on to performing tent-shows at the lakeside White City amusement park, where she proudly informed an interviewer that she was teaching up to four classes a day for “society ladies” desiring to learn how to apply half-nelsons and hammerlocks.

It may have been at the White City that she assembled her troupe of “Lady Athletes” – wrestlers, boxers, ball-punchers and gymnasts – with whom she later toured to perform at the great Appalachian Exhibition.

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Goldie Griffith, one of Miss Whitney’s Lady Athletes, strikes a pugilistic pose.

The “Americanised jiujitsu” featured in these pictures may not be strictly traditional – it may, in fact, represent something more in the nature of catch-as-catch-can wrestling plus a couple of half-learned tricks from a jiujitsu manual. Nevertheless, while Miss Whitney was self-professedly not a suffragette (“I can take care of myself without a vote”), she had no qualms about promoting her contests and classes as exemplars of women’s self-defence.

If a husband is cross and disagreeable, “advises the stalwart Miss Whitney, “just put him on his back as fast as he can get up. It will make a gentle man out of him in no time.

This clinging vine stuff is alright, but, believe me, the woman is a winner who can look her husband in the eye and say, ‘what about the coin for that new dress? Do you come across like a little man, or do I throw you down and sit on you while you make up your mind?’

Think how different the world would be if such scenes were common. The stranglehold might be useful in case hubby came home late at night.

Miss Whitney reported that she herself had applied some of these lessons one night in a Chicago alley:

(…) a tall man halted her in the semi-darkness and said something which, in her surprise, she took to be the words of a “hold up. ” Whether it meant robbery or flirtation, she didn’t waste time inquiring. She merely gripped him by the coat lapel, the simplest trick in Americanized jujitsu, and yanked him forward and downward . At the same instant she swung a clenched fist upward – the simplest blow in sparring – and landed on his jaw. The combination of descending head and ascending fist came within an ace of being a knockout. Her accoster reeled, dazed, for the instant she needed to brush past him and reach the full streetlights.

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“Should an assailant strike at your wind or heart with his right fist”: an anomalous canonical Bartitsu technique illustrated

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In April of 2010 the Bartitsu Society discovered a “new” entry into canonical Bartitsu unarmed combat.  This self defence kata or sequence appeared as part of a reprint of E.W. Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence” article series in the June, 1899 American edition of Pearson’s Magazine.  Curiously, the sequence had not appeared in the original and better-known English edition and, also curiously, it was the only sequence in the American edition to be described in text but not illustrated with photographs.

Compounding the mystery is the fact that the sequence is titled “One of Many Means of Defence when a Man Strikes at You Low or Below the Belt”, which does not actually match Barton-Wright’s subsequent description of the techniques.  This may imply that the American Pearson’s editor confused two separate titles and descriptions, in which case there may be at least one more, as yet undiscovered, entry into the Bartitsu canon.

Here follows the sequence in question, as written by Barton-Wright and now illustrated for (possibly) the first time.  Note that the camera perspective reverses between numbers 2) and 3), to afford the viewer a better look at the techniques.

No. 1.—One of many Means of Defence when a Man Strikes at You Low or Below the Belt.

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Should an assailant strike at your wind or heart with his right fist, step backward with your right foot, and in doing so place your right hand over your heart, with the palm outward, and grasp his wrist by placing your left hand over his wrist (the placing of the right hand over the heart is only a precautionary measure in case you miss catching his wrist when he leads off at your body).

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As soon as you feel you have hold of his wrist, pull it towards you with a slight outward motion leftways, take a step forward with your right foot, placing it behind his right leg, and seize him by the throat, pressing your thumb into his tonsil or just under the back of the ear, which is extremely painful.

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Then with a sharp leftward pull with the left hand, and a thrust or a push leftward with the right hand (keeping your right calf or the side of your knee tightly behind his right knee), you throw him on his back.

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The photograph of this technique is modified from an essay on self defence in The Universal Book of Hobbies and Handicrafts (1935).

Retain your hold on his throat and ear, and dropping upon the right knee you pull his arm towards you so that his elbow is just across your thigh. With the slightest pressure you could break his arm. At the same time you extend your right arm vigorously and press your thumb well into the cavity under the ear, which will cause great pain, preventing him from getting up.

“Sherlock Holmes – The Solitary Cyclist” fight breakdown

Martin “Oz” Austwick of the English Martial Arts Academy offers an entertaining and educational analysis of the famous fisticuffs encounter between Sherlock Holmes and the ruffianly Mr. Woodley, from the 1980s Sherlock Holmes series starring Jeremy Brett.

“Returning kicks with interest”: counter-kicks and stop-kicks in Bartitsu unarmed combat

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Another branch of Bartitsu is that in which the feet and hands are both employed, which is an adaptation of boxing and Savate (…) The use of the feet is also done quite differently from the French Savate. This latter … is quite useless as a means of self-defence when done in the way Frenchmen employ it.

– E.W. Barton-Wright, December 1900.

In his articles, interviews and lectures, Bartitsu founder Edward Barton-Wright consistently – and rather cryptically – distinguished the type of kicking taught at the Bartitsu Club from that of French savate, which he disparaged.

This essay offers an interpretation and synthesis of those comments, taking into account their historical, social and technical contexts.  If there was a meaningful adaptation or distinction, then what was it and how may it be translated into neo-Bartitsu practice?

Canonical kicks

It may be noted that – although Pierre Vigny was clearly the senior savateur at the Bartitsu Club – Barton-Wright spoke fluent French and had studied savate in its homeland during the 1880s, probably while he was studying at a French university.

The Bartitsu canon, as demonstrated by Barton-Wright and Vigny, however, holds only a very limited arsenal of kicking techniques. The most immediately apparent is a single technique in Barton-Wright’s article series on Self Defence with a Walking Stick:

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Glossed as “How to Defend Yourself with a Stick against the most Dangerous Kick of an Expert Kicker”, the context for this technique is clearly that of the stick-wielding Bartitsu-trained defender countering a “foreign” ruffian’s stepping side kick. It’s very likely that Barton-Wright and Vigny had in mind the infamous Apache street gangsters of Paris, who were widely known to practice savate.

On this basis, while it can be reasonably inferred that Bartitsu students might train in such kicking techniques well enough to be able to “role play” as Apache savateurs for training purposes, the side kick doesn’t necessarily offer any context clues regarding how a Bartitsu practitioner might kick in self defence.

This article series also demonstrates a knee to the face attack, to be performed after the defender has hooked the attacker around the neck with the crook of his cane:

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The only other photographic evidence of kicking techniques as part of the Bartitsu canon is this image of Bartitsu Club instructor Pierre Vigny demonstrating a mid-level front or crescent kick as he simultaneously blocks his opponent’s left lead punch and counters with his own left:

Vigny demonstrates savate in Bartitsu Club

 

A later article in the Pall Mall Gazette also mentioned that the kicking methods taught at the Bartitsu Club were “somewhat different from the accepted French method.”

But how, and why?

The kick felt round the world

For historical context, it’s worth bearing in mind that – on top of the traditional and deep-rooted Anglo-French rivalries – at the time Barton-Wright was introducing his novel concept of Bartitsu to the British public, their most recent impressions of savate had been decidedly negative.

During late 1898, just as Barton-Wright had arrived in London from Japan, the Alhambra music hall had hosted a savate exhibition by French instructor Georges D’armoric and his students. Despite the savateurs’ best efforts and intentions, the reactions of their London audience and critics ranged from grudging appreciation to cat-calling; kicking in combat sports was widely held to be “un-manly” and offensive to insular English sensibilities.

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Above: a London newspaper artist’s impression of the Alhambra savate exhibition.

Then, during October of 1899, Charles Charlemont had won – under extremely controversial circumstances – a “savate vs. boxing” challenge match in Paris. His opponent had been Jerry Driscoll, a former British navy champion.  The British and international sporting press was outraged at the circumstances of that match, decrying the conduct of Charlemont, the referee, the French spectators and organisers and especially at the outcome, in which Charlemont was widely held to have won via an accidental but illegal groin kick.

In this environment, it’s likely that Barton-Wright deliberately de-emphasised the kicking content of Bartitsu and distanced it from the French method as a gesture towards nationalistic sentiment and social respectability. Similarly, he may have been attempting to score points by suggesting that the Bartitsu Club was promoting a “new, improved” (even an Anglicised) version of savate.

Compounding the issue was the fact that savate was, at that time, undergoing a bitter controversy between two factions in its country of origin.

The Academics vs. the Fighters

Although the ultimate cultural beginnings of savate remain obscure, researchers including Jean Francois Loudcher have traced the art to the working-class custom of “bare-knuckle honour duelling” during the early 19th century.  Over the best part of the next hundred years, it evolved in a largely haphazard fashion, played as a rough-and-tumble fighting game in back alleys and cafe cellars, with occasionally successful efforts at codification and systematisation.

By c1900 there was, on one side and in the majority, those who might be characterised as “the academics” – professional instructors, notably including Joseph and Charles Charlemont, who taught and advocated for a stylised, gymnastic form of the art, practiced at least as much as a method of physical culture and artistry as of self defence.

The aim of the academic faction was to firmly establish savate as a “respectable” activity that could be offered to French soldiers and the patrons of middle-class gymnasia, as part of organised physical culture curricula. Due to their influence, the most established and popular version of savate retained the duelling-based tradition of fighting “to the first touch”, translating into a very courteous, light contact combat sport.

It is highly likely that this was the version that Barton-Wright referred to as being “quite useless as a means of self-defence when done in the way Frenchmen employ it.”  Much the same thing had been noted by an experienced French observer of the Charlemont/Driscoll fight, who remarked that Charlemont was handicapped by his long experience of “kicking gently” in academic bouts.

The smaller, opposing faction were “the fighters”, represented by Julien Leclerc and others, who preferred an updated, hard-hitting and more pragmatic savate, influenced by the non-nonsense ethos of British and American boxing.  The “fighters” represented a counter-culture within the politicised world of fin-de-siecle savate, advocating for rule changes that would push the increasingly genteel art/sport back towards its rowdy, back-alley origins.

Also – and very controversially, at the time – many of the “fighters” were professionals, or at least wanted to have the chance to fight professionally.  This caused great indignation among the “academics”, who were largely teachers and proud amateurs and who were horrified by suggestion that their art should be marred by prize-fighting.

The Devil is in the Details

According to the December, 1900 article quoted earlier:

Mr. Barton-Wright does not profess to teach his pupils how to kick each other, but merely to know how to be able to return kicks with interest should one be attacked in this manner.

Interesting but, on the face of it, puzzling; how does one not teach people how to kick each other, but still teach them to return kicks with interest?

The strongest hint yet was given in a September, 1901 interview with the Pall Mall Gazette, in which Barton-Wright reiterated his general theme with the addition of some crucial technical and tactical details:

The fencing and boxing generally taught in schools-of-arms is too academic. Although it trains the eye to a certain extent, it is of little use except as a game played with persons who will observe the rules.

The amateur (boxer) is seldom taught how to hit really hard, which is what you must do in a row. Nor is he protected against the savate, which would certainly be used on him by foreign ruffians, or the cowardly kicks often given by the English Hooligan. A little knowledge of boxing is really rather a disadvantage to (the defender) if his assailant happens to be skilled at it, because (the assailant) will will know exactly how his victim is likely to hit and guard.

So we teach a savate not at all like the French savate, but much more deadly, and which, if properly used, will smash the opponent’s ankle or even his ribs. Even if it be not used, it is very useful in teaching the pupil to keep his feet, which are almost as important in a scrimmage as his head.

… and the interviewer was also given a demonstration of the difference between the savate of the Bartitsu Club and the “accepted French style”, i.e. the style practiced by the majority of French savateurs:

He has also a guard in boxing on which you will hurt your own arm without getting within his distance, while he can kick you on the chin, in the wind, or on the ankle.

As to the usual brutal kick of the London rough, his guard for it (not difficult to learn) will cause the rough to break his own leg, and the harder he kicks the worse it will be for him.

Thus, it’s clear that both Barton-Wright and Pierre Vigny were in the minority “fighters” camp, advocating for a pragmatic, combat-oriented reform of savate that would allow full contact matches and the possibility of knock-outs.

“Come an’ take him orf. I’ve bruk ‘is leg.”

The techniques alluded to include kicks to low, medium and high targets as well as a destructive leg-breaking guard against the “brutal kick of the London rough”, which is possibly cognate with Barton-Wright’s description of “smashing the opponent’s ankle”.

The most famous literary expression of this tactic is certainly the following fight scene from Rudyard Kipling’s In the Matter of a Private (1888), in which Private Simmons launches a vicious kicking attack at Corporal Slane:

Within striking distance, he kicked savagely at Slane’s stomach, but the weedy Corporal knew something of Simmons’s weakness, and knew, too, the deadly guard for that kick. Bowing forward and drawing up his right leg till the heel of the right foot was set some three inches above the inside of the left knee-cap, he met the blow standing on one leg —exactly as Gonds stand when they meditate —and ready for the fall that would follow.

There was an oath, the Corporal fell over to his own left as shinbone met shinbone, and the Private collapsed, his right leg broken an inch above the ankle.

“‘Pity you don’t know that guard, Sim,” said Slane, spitting out the dust as he rose. Then raising his voice—”Come an’ take him orf. I’ve bruk ‘is leg.” This was not strictly true, for the Private had accomplished his own downfall, since it is the special merit of that leg-guard that the harder the kick the greater the kicker’s discomfiture.

Synthesis

Barton-Wright clearly and concisely explained his overall tactical conception of Bartitsu unarmed combat in his February, 1901 lecture for the Japan Society of London:

In order to ensure as far as it was possible immunity against injury in cowardly attacks or quarrels, (one) must understand boxing in order to thoroughly appreciate the danger and rapidity of a well-directed blow, and the particular parts of the body which are scientifically attacked. The same, of course, applies to the use of the foot or the stick …

judo and jiujitsu are not designed as primary means of attack and defence against a boxer or a man who kicks you, but (are) only supposed to be used after coming to close quarters, and in order to get to close quarters, it is absolutely necessary to understand boxing and the use of the foot.

This statement underscores the specifically defensive value of boxing and savate “in order to get to close quarters” against the types of attacks that might be anticipated from a London Hooligan or other ruffian, with the intention of deploying jiujitsu as a type of “secret weapon”.  His comments on boxing, like those on kicking, notably emphasise the value of destructive guards that intercept and damage the aggressor’s attacking limbs.

In his article A Few Practical Hints on Self Defence (1900), Percy Longhurst offered a cognate technique, highly reminiscent of that described by Rudyard Kipling:

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The English rough can, and does kick, although it is usually after his victim is on the ground; his kicking is barbarous and unscientific. There is, however, one kick that he sometimes uses that is very dangerous, causing terrible internal injuries if not stopped, and it is difficult to avoid if one does not know the counter. It is the running kick at the abdomen.

The defense is to raise the right knee and bring the leg across so that the side of the heel is resting on your left thigh. Your shinbone will catch his leg as it rises at its weakest park, and will probably cause it to break.

As mentioned earlier, savateur Julien Leclerc was another advocate of the “fighters” perspective and, unlike Barton-Wright or Vigny, he left a detailed record of his approach to savate in the form of his book, La Boxe Pratique: Offensive & Defensive – Conseils pour la Combat de la Rue (1903). Leclerc’s manual provided the essential, basic savate kicks detailed in the first volume of the Bartitsu Compendium (2005).

Cross-referencing Barton-Wright’s comments and Vigny’s demonstrations with Leclerc’s manual yields a focus on les coups d’arrets, or “stopping blows”; kicking into kicks, as is shown below:

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Thus, the “adaptation” and “distinction” Barton-Wright referred to was, most likely, to hit harder than would be tolerated in the mainstream French salles de savate of his era, and to employ some of the kicks and counter-kicks of savate toward a Bartitsu-specific tactical goal.

The unarmed or disarmed Bartitsu practitioner should be prepared to counter kicks with hard coups d’arret, chopping into the opponent’s ankles or shins, as part of an aggressive defence strategy. While one might follow with boxing punches, atemi-waza strikes or further kicks as required by the needs of the moment, the tactical aim is to damage the opponent’s limbs and disrupt their balance en route to finishing the fight at close-quarters via jiujitsu – a legitimately “secret weapon” circa 1900, when the Bartitsu Club was the only school in the Western world where a student could study Japanese unarmed combat.

In this video, Bartitsu instructor Alex Kiermayer teaches a set of savate-based low kicks, evasions and stop-kicks:

 

“What To Do When A Thug Attacks You”: still more on the Latson Method of Self-Defense

The following article dated July 16, 1911 serves as a further explication of the curious “Latson Method of Self Defence”.  Aside from its clear parallels with Bartitsu, as a combination of jiujitsu with savate and umbrella self defence, the Latson method is notable for the bizarre tragedy and scandal that enveloped its only two known practitioners – Dr. William Latson and his apprentice, secretary and lover Ida Rosenthal, also known as Alta Marhevka.

Dr. Latson died, under very mysterious circumstances, about two months before this anonymous article was published.

 

Last week several methods of self-defense by which any woman may protect yourself against footpads and rowdies were given in this paper. Today we are able to present some further suggestions along the same line.

It was pointed out last week, but the caution may well be repeated, that in these days of rowdy–infested streets, minding one’s “own business” is by no means a guarantee against insult or attack. Nothing short of the power to take the law into one’s own hands and administer summary punishment to the offender really meets the situation.

Every woman of average physical strength, courage and self-control owes it to herself and to her weaker sisters to acquire a few of these serviceable tricks, by the help of which she can put the boldest thug at a disadvantage and discourage others of his calling.

The art of striking a blow with the utmost force and efficiency is to be gained only by years of careful study and training. To describe, however, how a blow should be struck, can be done in a few words.

The first step is to gain thorough ease and freedom by the practice of the simple physical exercises described below. This once gained, all that is needed is to practice the same exercises, increasing the amount of swing used in moving the arms forward and backward in a circular direction. Then, as the arms are moved forward, clench the fist and strike, not forcibly, but easily and lightly at an imagined antagonist. A punching bag will prove of great assistance in practice.

It must always be remembered that the power of the blow depends not upon the strength of the individual scratching it, but on the rapidity with which the fist is moving forward, and upon the weight which is thrown behind it.

The following tricks of defense can be acquired by almost any woman who is willing to devote a little bit of her time to the task. There is no telling when one may be called to put them in to practice:

In defending oneself with the naked hands, as well as in self-defense with walking stick or umbrella, the most important point is the position of the body. As has been said, to stand correctly with arms extended and stick in the hand, will of itself put the body into a position in which it is not easy to be attacked. It is equally true that to take a position, even approximately correct, with the arm outstretched in front, is to put the untrained adversary at a most striking disadvantage.

To one who has gained this simple art of placing the body in the method best adapted for self-defense with the naked hands, it will be very easy matter to learn to strike a blow which will posses many of the characteristics distinguishing the attacks of the trained pugilist. Of course, the average woman will be unable to strike with a force at all comparable to that of the skilled prize fighter, but the ease, freedom and rapidity which are most valuable in fist fighting she can easily acquire.

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The illustration above shows how effectively a blow delivered by a footpad either with the bare fist or a weapon may be blocked with an umbrella skillfully handled.

A simple exercise to develop skill in the use of the umbrella as a weapon of defense is as follows:

Hold the umbrella extended straight out in front of you, grasping it about two-thirds from the end. Swing body and umbrella making a wide circle. Then, approaching a pad or pillow placed upon a table or mantelpiece, strike it a hard blow, making this part of the general swing of the body from left to right.

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The position which would naturally be taken by a woman in delivering a telling blow is well illustrated in the above photograph, the effectiveness of a blow depends largely upon the manner in which the body is controlled.

Adeptness in this respect will be developed by practicing the following exercise:
Stand with feet about fifteen inches apart, left foot in advance. Head is lowered and turned toward left. Rise upon the balls of the feet; swing easily up and down without touching heels. Swing weight easily back and forth.  Extend arms straight up in front of the body, left hand on a level with face, right a little lower and nearer to body.  Move slowly up and down the room swinging the arms and body with the utmost freedom possible but always return to about the same position.

Kicking as a means of defense is demonstrated most perfectly in the French system known as savate. Skill in kicking may be obtained by any woman by practicing the following exercises.

Exercise one – stand easily. Take weight upon left foot. Swing right easily back and forth, gradually increasing movement.

Exercise two – same as preceding, save that the weight is taken upon right foot and the left leg is swung.

Exercise three – stand easily, take weight upon left foot and swing the right in a circle as far upward, outward and backward as possible. Circles should be made both forward and back.

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How to deliver the rapid and effective kick is shown in the illustration directly above. The French system of kicking is most complex. It consists of various kicks, guards and counters made with both feet.

The system as taught by leading French exponents is one of the most superb methods of exercise known. It provides attacks which are absolutely indefensible even to its own experts.

As a means of defense, it is, of course, most valuable when used against those who are not versed in its tactics.

The Japanese art of jiujitsu in its entirety is far too intricate for the average woman to master.

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There are several little tricks in the system, however, which may be readily acquired. The illustration above shows one of them.

The man in the picture advanced towards the woman with his right foot forward and his right arm extended either to strike or grasp her. Grasping the man’s extended hand and wrist, the woman steps forward so that her right foot is behind his right and twists his hand upward and backward.

This trick, effectively executed, will place the assailant at the woman’s mercy.

In the advanced jujitsu there are many tricks by which a woman might render her assailant unconscious or even cause his death.

Such knowledge, and its justifiable use, will be invaluable to women when attacked under atrocious circumstances. Even then it is not necessary to kill, as jujitsu provides many ways in which an assailant may be rendered in sensible, and kept so until help arrives.

But, for ordinary purposes, the simpler tricks will suffice to protect the woman who is obliged to face the perils of city streets unescorted at night.

The “Dwarf of Blood” on Bartitsu (June-October, 1900)

The following accounts were written for the Sporting Times by a journalist styling himself as “The Dwarf of Blood”.  Many Sporting Times writers used similarly colourful pseudonyms – “The Pitcher”, “The Shifter”, “The Master”, et al.

The author of these articles was actually Colonel Nathaniel Newnham-Davis, a gourmet and bon vivant who was best known as a London restaurant critic.  Newnham-Davis had received his nickname during the preparations for an impromptu pantomime, performed as an after-dinner entertainment under the direction of famed music hall chanteuse, Miss Bessie Bellwood.  The principal parts having been cast, Miss Bellwood assigned to the Colonel the role of the Dwarf of Blood, tasked with emerging from beneath the dinner table and groaning “at the appropriate time”.  The nickname stuck with him for life.

Colonel Newnham-Davis, who was also a founding member of the “Order of the Black Heart”, took an ongoing interest in Bartitsu and produced a series of entries on that subject for “the Dwarf of Blood’s” regular Sporting Times column, “Around the Town”, between 1899 and 1901.

Sporting Times –Saturday, 09 June, 1900

If Mr. Barton-Wright wants advertisement for Bartitsu, he has got it very thoroughly through Otojiro Kawakami and his company, who have been playing at the Coronet Theatre. To see the gallant Samurai in the second act of the little play, by twists, catches, and kicks, dispose of four assailants at once is a lesson in the art of using skill against brute strength. Nor is the gentle Madame Soda Yacco behind him in this art. She, as a Geisha, sends four Buddhist priests sprawling to earth. Theatrical criticism is in Bill of the Play’s department, otherwise I should like to rave for half column over the quaint intensity of the principal players. If the company revisits London after the Paris Exhibition I should advise all and sundry to and see them.

Sporting Times – Saturday, 20 October, 1900

(N.B. that the term “Jap” had no pejorative meaning in Edwardian English, being more in the nature of a simple abbreviation like “Aussie” for Australian or “Brit” for British.)

There was private show of “Jujitsu,” the new Japanese art of self-defence, at the Alhambra on Wednesday last. Mr. Barton-Wright was in the place of showman, and his usual bad luck on these occasions stuck to him, for he had to begin the proceedings with an explanation and an apology. The Japanese professors of Jujitsu — which Mr. Barton-Wright says means “fighting to the last,” but which I had always understood to mean “the gentle art”—who have come to this country are three in number; but, when they understood that they were to appear place where money is taken, they made difficulties in the matter, and Mr. Barton-Wright was looking forward to an interview with them before the consul of their country to try and have matters put square.

The reluctance of the professors to do anything that they consider might be disparaging to their position or their art comes from the curious origin of Jujitsu. At one time it was secret art, and to those to whom it was taught an oath was administered that its principles should not be communicated except under conditions that would render its abuse almost impossible, and the recipients of the knowledge had to be men of perfect self-command and of good moral character.

Mr. Kano Jigoro, however, the principal of the higher normal school in Tokio, who is himself splendid athlete, established throughout Japan schools of the art, in order that, by learning it, the Japanese gentleman, in spite his small size, might be at no disadvantage in rough and tumble fight. He also invented Judo, form of fighting in which the falls are given standing. Therefore the art has a particular status of its own, and the semi-sacred mystery which surrounded it at one time has scarcely yet worn off.

Mr. Kano, the inventor of Judo, is splendid exponent of the two arts, men who have seen him give exposition of them tell me. Part of the training for Jujitsu—and it takes three years to make a perfectly trained man, they say in Japan, and seven to make professors – is to harden the muscles of the neck so thoroughly, that strangulation is impossible. To show how hard his muscles are, Mr. Kano puts a pine wood pole across his throat and lets two 14st men sit on the ends, releasing himself by jerk given with the throat muscles. A parallel feat, though not so effective, was performed by one the professors at the Alhambra.

Above: Yukio Tani’s version of the pole trick.

The other bit of bad news that Mr. Wright had to tell on Wednesday was that the bout with canes promised between two of his professors was off, for one of the two Bartitsu gentlemen had been having a bout with a Jap the day before, and had been thrown so violently that his shoulder was badly hurt.

A large square of matting had been nailed down on the floor, and the two Japanese professors, one a powerful man, who looked as if be weighed somewhere between 12st and 14st, and the other an 8st man, came on the stage. They were dressed in the orthodox costume of a wadded cotton coat with short broad sleeves, cotton belt, and wide silken trousers; but they omitted the orthodox salutes of touching the mat with their foreheads.

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Above: Bartitsu Club instructors demonstrate jiujitsu.

The first exhibition of series of grips and throws was difficult to follow, so quickly were they done. Then the two men wrestled and fought couple of bouts at Jujitsu, a form of fight in which there is no such thing foul play, and the smaller man was, in the first one, held in such grip that his arm would be broken if did not declare him self vanquished. Then followed the tour de force of supporting the weighted pole on the throat; but the rod used was too lissom for the feat to convincing. Next the smaller man, taking as his subject the biggest man in the audience, showed how easy it was to give him a fall by using his adversary’s weight against him.

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Above: Tani demonstrates two pole tricks.

The bigger man of the two then put the end of the pole against muscles his throat, and allowed one of the audience to push against him with one hand.

Then the talking began, for a gentleman of ripe years, alluded to affectionately by most of the audience as “Charley,” was not quite satisfied with the pushing experiment of arm against throat, and had something to say as to leverage and the Georgia Magnet. Whether he wanted make a match between the little American lady and the big Jap, we in the stalls could not quite catch; but when the discussion was at its height, Mr. Barton Wright appeared from behind the scenes with a message from the big Jap. He (the big Jap) would stand against the wall, and let the doubting gentleman push with the pole as hard as be could against his throat, if afterwards the doubler would wrestle a fall with him.

There was general feeling amongst the pressmen present that the weather was too cold to attend funerals, so the champion of the Georgia Magnet was dissuaded from accepting the offer.

Whether Mr. Barton Wright will persuade the Japanese to appear in public, and whether, if they do, it will be show that an ordinary British audience will understand, I cannot tell; but that has no bearing the value of Jujitsu and Bartitsu, into which the catches, grips and throws of Jujitsu have been absorbed. It is a training by which a light but athletic gentleman can overcome the brutal and heavy rough, and I should like to see in all the great public schools when there are gymnasiums, the art made part of the physical training. Every boy is taught how to put up his hands so that he can give account of himself in a fair fight; he should be trained in Jujitsu, or Bartitsu, so that he can make good struggle of it if beset upon by Hooligans.