Bartitsucon 2018 Classes and Instructors

Participants in the upcoming Bartitsucon 2018 event will experience the full range of Bartitsu training, along with some related skills, as taught by no fewer than six instructors.  In addition to the panoply of seminars, the two-day event will also feature interclub sparring in four styles: pugilism, savate assaut, grappling and cane fighting.

Bartitsucon 2018 will take place between November 10-11 at the Redditch Boxing Academy in Redditch, UK.  Click here for further details and to book your ticket!

Saturday agenda:

Open and welcome:


Session 1

10 am – 11.30:

Prize Ring Rules: Pugilism and the Science of Self Defence

Tommy Moore, The Bartitsu Lab


  • Pugilism techniques 101
  • Crafty In-play
  • Power generation
  • Pugilism vs modern boxing approaches

Session 2:

11.40 – 13.10

Close Range Cane

James Stewart, Dewskitch School of Impact Arts


  • Basic grips (and the strikes that best suit)
  • Close range cane striking
  • Defence against grabs and holds

Lunch: 13.10 – 13.40

Food to be provided. Buffet lunch and drinks.

Session 3: 13.40 – 15.10


Jennifer Garside


Practical ways to use science, subterfuge, ju jitsu and antagonistics to defeat the most seasoned policemen the Met can throw at you. Drawing on the inspirational strategies, studies and techniques of “the Bodyguard”.

Session 4: 15.10 – 16.30

Improvised weapons

Duncan Mcnulty, Bartitsu and Antagonistics Forum


  • Flexible weapons
  • Coat, cosh, weighted handkerchief
  • Improvised weaponry

Session 5: 16.40 – 18.00

Catch Wrestling

Mark Randall


  • Smashing people up
  • Ripping things off people
  • Twisting off heads

Depart / Open mat for sparring and free work 18.00 – 18.45

Sunday agenda:

Open and welcome:


Session 1

9.30 am – 11 am:

Chausson: early Savate

Tommy Moore, The Bartitsu Lab


  • Savate kicking techniques 101
  • Open hand strikes
  • Combination hitting

Session 2:

11.10 – 12.40

Bartitsu-era Ju Jitsu

Peter Smallridge, Basingstoke Bartitsu Irregulars


Joint breaks, locks and Bartitsu grappling, otherwise known as:

“Subjecting the joints of any part of his body, whether neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, back, knee, ankle, etc. to strain which they are anatomically and mechanically unable to resist.”

Lunch: 12.40 – 13.10

Food to be provided. Buffet lunch and drinks.

13.10 – 16.30: Interclub sparring

Some competitions will be simultaneous in ring / on mats. Participants to email their weight, experience levels.

Competition 1: Pugilism

Medium / controlled contact, x 1 5-minute round, grilled head guard, MMA gloves. Throws and trips allowed. Scoring based on clean shots, control of ring, and technical competence.

Competition 2: Savate

X 3 90 second rounds of Savate Assaut, light continuous contact. Scores based on clean shots, ring craft, ring control and technical competence.

Competition 3: Grappling

X 1 5-minute round.

Gi / No Gi at discretion of participants. Slams / high velocity throws to be avoided wherever possible. Three options of play:

  1. 1. Ground grappling to a pin / submit (as agreed by participants)
  2. 2. From standing to a successful throw / takedown
  3. 3. Full grappling (from standing to submit or pin)

Competition 4: Cane

X 2 2-minute rounds. Gloves, mask and padded stick / or light rattan. Contact levels agreed between participants. Additional padding optional. Striking with limbs allowed. Disarm wins the round. Otherwise scored on clean striking, mat control and technique.

“The Problem of Lancashire Kicking” (January 30, 1880)

Artwork by Anna FC Smith.

When E.W. Barton-Wright introduced Bartitsu at the turn of the 20th century, the English (or, at least, the middle-class London) bias against kicking was well-established.  The reasons for that bias are not, however, well understood.  It may simply have been that the popularity of boxing engendered a general assumption that a “fair fight” was to be fought with fists alone, and thus that any use of the feet in a fight was brutal and “unmanly”.  

Nevertheless, kicking folk-sports are well-documented in several regions of England, some dating back at least as far as the 16th century.   These styles included several variations depending on local custom and time period; some were contests of agility and endurance in which low-kicking was the only legal technique, and others were styles of wrestling that allowed low kicks along with foot-sweeps and trips.  The best-known historical variant today was known as purring and was introduced to the United States during the late 1800s, primarily via Cornish miners; another style is currently practiced as part of the revived Cotswold Olympicks, as seen here:

The anonymous author of the following article from the London Daily News was clearly not aware of the prevalence of English kicking sports. He does, however, offer an interesting description of a Lancashire variant called “puncing”, a term that may well be a cognate of “purring”. 

The moral climate of middle-class England during the 1880s was very much in favour of the “civilising impulse” that had by then suppressed duelling and even pugilism.  Typically of London-based commentary on kick-fighting during this period, the author takes a disapproving tone, conflating the practice of kicking as rough and tumble sport with street assaults by “cornermen” (gangsters) and even with domestic violence.  

We have already commented on the sentence which Lord Justice Brett recently passed upon two Lancashire kickers, and on the circumstances of the crime which provoked that severe but most just punishment. The prevalence of this peculiar form of brutality, however, in Lancashire—or rather in parts of it—is a sufficiently remarkable fact to deserve more attention than that somewhat fitful interest which occasional cases excite.

It is not more than three or four years since a similar outrage first attracted the notice of Londoners and residents of the South of England generally. Although there is unfortunately a good deal of brutality all over England, it cannot said that any particular form of it prevails remarkably in districts other than Lancashire. That “wives are made to be trampled on” is a maxim which is taken literally by ruffianly husbands all over the country as it is uttered metaphorically by enraged and slightly-shrewish wives. Fists, though the scientific use of them is sadly on the decline, are too frequently employed for the purpose, not of self-defence, but offence of a very definite and inexcusable kind.

But the Cornish miner, the Dorsetshire labourer, and the Sussex or Wiltshire shepherd do not usually confine themselves to any special method of avenging themselves against their enemies or giving vent to their feelings.  Even in the “Black Country,” the coal districts of Durham and Northumberland, the manufacturing towns of Yorkshire —though in the first two, at any rate, a sufficiently unpolished code of manners prevails —neither kicking nor any similar practice has been brought the level of fine art.

Lancashire – and not the whole of the county, but only in certain of its large towns—stands alone in the rather unenviable possession of this “specialty.” In the towns in which kicking does most prevail, it is practised on a very much larger scale and with very much more precision than the stranger who merely reads a case now and then would suspect. It may perhaps news to some people that kicking does not come by nature, though a little practice at the game of football soon will convince them of the fact. Neither foot nor hand will strike heavily aud accurately without a considerable amount of education; and, as the foot is as used for fewer purposes than the hand, its unhandiness (if an unavoidable pun may be allowed) is far greater.

The Lancashire kicker therefore practises his unamiable art from early age. But in truth he does not call it— at least in its finer forms—kicking. The proper term is “puncing,” and the highest branch of art is a “run punce.”  It is, indeed, in good running kicks that the great difficulty of the more harmless game consists, and it is not surprising to find that, in the kicking of men and women, the same obstacles to perfection are found.  Practice, however, makes both the Rugby boy and the Lancashire corner-man perfect; the latter, like the former, beginning at a very early age.

It is not to be supposed that the carnivals of brutality which culminate in twenty years’ penal servitude occur constantly, though their occurrence is only too frequent. But lesser opportunities for the practice of the art are probably at least as frequent as opportunities for the display fistic skill were not very many years ago. The alleys and closes of certain Lancashire towns, the corners of the streets, and the doors of the public-houses are frequently the scenes of milder skirmishes, in which this unlovely version of the exercise called in French savate is brought into play.

Fighting footwear; clogs worn in foot-combat matches were often augmented with nail studs and iron plates, producing truly fearsome weapons.

The heavy clogged boot which is usually worn in these districts has sometimes been taken to be a contributory cause of the practice, on the well-known principle of the connection between the means to do ill deeds and the doing of them. It is, course, clear that whether this is so or not, the boots are a very important factor in the question. Moreover, whatever may be thought about the origin or causes, the fact of the existence of the custom is quite unquestioned. It is an extremely local one, and there are Lancashire towns in which it is possible to reside for months and years without seeing or hearing anything of the practice.

But, on the contrary, there are others in which it is rife, and where, if murder is not done frequently, it is only because the “puncer” is a sufficiently skilful and accomplished practitioner to able to inflict grievous bodily harm without running the risk of the last penalty of the law.

If it is asked what the public opinion of the class which chiefly indulges in this brutal pastime is on the subject, the question is not an easy one to answer. Such public opinion on such points is never very easy to get at. But it would seem to the effect that “puncing,” though not exactly a laudable amusement, is at least not more brutal nor revolting than fighting with the fists.  We are not concerned to indulge in any casuistry as to the two exercises. But it may be at least pointed out that even noted bruisers do not generally run amuck through the streets of a town, getting the heads of the casual public into Chancery, and performing the other operations to which the picturesque and metaphorical, though slightly obsolete, terms of the ring are applied.

It takes two to make a fight, in the old sense. In the literal sense, doubtless, it takes two to make the amusement which is the corner-man’s delight. But as in love, in puncing—there is one who punces and another who very unwillingly allows himself to be punced. The highest delight of the puncer, indeed, appears to be to hunt in company, and to toss the victim from boot to boot with a cheerful precision which has something indescribably diabolical about it to those who have not been born and bred to the manner.

The great object of kicking of this kind appears to be the display of skill and the enjoyment of an invigorating pastime, much more than the punishment of injuries or the solace of an irritated temper. Yet, it would appear that in the kicking districts puncing is sometimes regarded by respectable persons as a legitimate, though perhaps extreme, method of showing displeasure. Occasionally in a Lancashire story the villain meets with chastisement in this form, and the agent is not held up to anything like the moral reprobation which would attend the act elsewhere.

Of course, all this shows the need of a very decided reformation of manners; but this reflection, which everybody will agree, leaves untouched the strangeness of the fact that in one district, and in one district alone, of the United Kingdom this peculiar form of brutality has attained something like the proportions and the vitality of an institution. There are no particular elements in the population of the county of Witches which are not present elsewhere. Drunkenness is, unfortunately, by no means confined to Lancashire, and, though the dreary appearance of but too many of her towns might fancifully supposed to roughen the manners of the inhabitants. Yorkshire and Warwickshire, Northumberland and Durham, not mention Glasgow and the towns of the Scotch black country, can fearlessly enter the lists with the blackest town in Lancashire in this respect. The sociologist, who must have a theory, is therefore thrown back upon the boots.

But, whatever may have been the beginning of the practice, whatever may have been the reasons of its continuance and spread, there can be no two opinions about the desirability of its speedily coming to an end. To the antiquary it may possibly be an interesting subject tor investigation and discussion, but to the contemporary historian and student of manners it is anything but satisfactory. There is a certain glib way talking about “relics of barbarism”; but this particular habit, though it is certainly worthy of any barbarism that ever existed, would seem to have grown up in the full civilization of nineteenth-century England.

Bartitsu at the Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Launch Event

Instructor James Garvey (right, above) demonstrates Bartitsu during a recent London media event launching the Vacheron Constantin FiftySix collectiona range of luxury watches.

The three-day event drew more than 100 international journalists and also included vinyl hunting in Soho and an exploration of the photoshoot locations of Pink Floyd or David Bowie’s most famous album covers, rounded off by a “cosy and resolutely London-style soirée” held at the exclusive Mayfair private club, Loulou’s.

“Bartitsu vs. Boxing” (July 1901 – May 1902)

Pierre Vigny strikes a pugilistic pose.

Mid-late 1901 was undoubtedly the heyday of the Bartitsu School of Arms, not least because it was during that period that the School’s champions were put to their greatest tests in public competition. Following a series of more-or-less academic displays and several novel style-vs-style challenge matches, both the sporting public and England’s combat champions were eager to see Bartitsu exponents pitted against “name” fighters.

It seems to have been widely accepted that sparring exhibitions of Bartitsu as a complete style -resembling a Dog Brothers gathering, in its combination of stickfighting, kickboxing and submission wrestling – would have been considered “brawling in a public place” under Edwardian English law.

Therefore, the next best option was to hold competitions in the various component styles.  E.W. Barton-Wright was keen to oblige, proffering a series of open challenges via the pages of the Sporting Life, as was the custom then.

While the greatest controversy attended the exotic art of jiujitsu (and whether champions of that style would prevail against expert European wrestlers), Barton-Wright was also eager to locate a worthy boxer to challenge Pierre Vigny.  Therefore, the following notification appeared in the Sporting Life of Wednesday, 10 July 1901:

Mr. E. W. Barton-Wright is anxious to find a good boxer who would willing to oppose one of his men for exhibition work to demonstrate the merits of English boxing against his system of boxing. No boxer under middle-weight need apply, as be that his man shall have no advantage in weight, therefore a heavy-weight would given the preference. Weight of his own man; 11 st. 4 lbs. Apply to the Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture, 67b, Shaftesbury Avenue, W.C.

Barton-Wright’s curious mention of “his system of boxing”, rather than savate per se, was probably an oblique reference to the “secret style of boxing” that he had devised via collaboration with Vigny.  It was likely also due to Barton-Wright’s ongoing reluctance to publicly align Bartitsu with French kickboxing .

Charlemont (savate) vs. Driscoll (boxing).

The timing of the infamous October, 1899 Driscoll/Charlemont fight in Paris had been especially unfortunate from Barton-Wright’s point of view.  The scandal resulting from that fight had generated massive ill-will against the French style among the English sporting public at exactly the time when he was attempting to introduce a “new art of self-defence” that incorporated French martial arts.

Thus, despite Vigny’s status as the Chief Instructor of the Bartitsu Club, Barton-Wright’s public pronouncements had tended to de-emphasise or even disparage savate per se, in favour of promoting their “new and improved” method of kickboxing that was unique to Bartitsu.

Within the week, Barton-Wright’s Sporting Life notice was answered by Professor Newton, a well-known boxing coach and partisan of the English style:

“Bartitsu vs. Boxing”: In answer to Mr. Barton-Wright’s challenge, which appeared the Sporting Life of the 10th last, Professor Newton, who is teacher of and firm believer in the British art of self-defence, has several pupils who have expressed their willingness to compete against Mr. Barton-Wright’s pupils at their respective weights in order to prove which is the better system. If a series of contests can be arranged, Mr. Barton-Wright will oblige by forwarding copy of his rules to the North London School of Arms and Physical Culture, 55, Barnsbury-road, London, N.

Unfortunately, but not uncommonly, nothing seems to have come of this proposed encounter. Beyond the formalities of public notifications in the newspapers,  combat sports challenges were subject to behind-the-scenes negotiations and many never came to fruition, often due to personality clashes, logistical issues or disagreements over terms.

A short time later Vigny did, however, fight the boxer Jem Barry at a Bartitsu Club assault-at-arms event. As reported in the Sporting Life of November 25th:

Two minutes per round. Sharp work right and left. Barry knocked Vigny down after nearly getting the right on the jaw with sufficient force. Vigny got up and kicked right and left. Severe business.

Round 2. Sharp and severe work at close quarters. Both on ground twice, and toppled over in an embrace among the people.

Round 3. Barry led. Vigny had a rough time of it, and they frequently clinched. To the end, a splendid encounter. Vigny kicked and boxed hard. Barry punched with might and main. When time was called, honours were to the advantage of Barry on points.

The results of this hard-fought bout were not widely reported; another journalist said that the fight was inconclusive.

The next prominent boxer to publicly accept Barton-Wright’s challenge was none other than Jerry Driscoll himself.  Shortly after the Vigny/Barry fight, Driscoll wrote the following letter to the editor of The Sportsman (a similar notice appeared in The Sporting Life on the same day):

Sir,—As an Englishman who has beaten the best Savate boxer, viz, feet and hands, against my hands only, I should be pleased to compete against Mr. Barton-Wright’s man, for from £50 aside, upwards, and largest parse. Match to come off early in January. I will also wager a good side bet that I stop Mr. Barton-Wright’s man inside ten rounds, Mr. Barton-Wright’s man to have his feet padded, the same as when he competed against Jim (sic) Barry. I only stipulate that we must have one English and one French judge, and the Sporting Life to appoint referee. No 30-second rounds, nor either man allowed to rest fifteen minutes, was the case when I met Charlemont.

Yours, etc., Jerry Driscoll (Instructor to the principal English amateur boxing clubs). Railway Cottage, Barnes.

Driscoll’s claim to have “beaten the best Savate boxer” would, itself, have been mildly controversial.  Although Driscoll was widely held to have been handily winning the fight until his opponent landed a probably accidental, but definitely illegal groin kick, as a matter of record, Charles Charlemont had won that fight.

Driscoll shortly followed up with another letter:

Seeing Mr. Barton-Wright is on the warpath with his savate instructor, and matching him against our past boxers, I will box his Frenchman ten rounds for £100 aside, National Sporting Club’s rules, any time he chooses make a match. Money ready as soon as Mr Barton-Wright makes an appointment through the columns of the Sporting Life.

… and he raised the stakes again in The Sportsman of February 14th, 1902:

If Barton Wright wishes to match his Frenchman with me, and is not out for advertisement, he will attend the N.S.C. (National Sporting Club) at one o’clock on Saturday next. Vigny can have a match for £lOO or £3OO aside, and as the distance is but of one hundred yards, I hope that Mr. Wright will be on hand.

A similar notice from Driscoll was published in mid-April.  On April 22nd, Vigny replied:

Pierre Vigny, Instructor of the Bartitsu School of Arms, is prepared to box Jerry Driscoll, in the English style, Queensberry Rules, if the National Sporting Club will offer a purse worth competing for. Jerry Driscoll has refused to take Vigny on in the French style.

Two days later:

In answer to Jerry Driscoll’s offer to wager up to £300 that he will beat Vigny in the match to be decided during Coronation Week, Pierre Vigny writes accepting the offer, and is also ready to find the backing for that amount, feeling confident that he will be able to defeat Driscoll inside ten rounds. It Driscoll will make an appointment with his backer the National Sporting Club, Vigny will be pleased meet him, and will be prepared to make the deposit at once.

Driscoll, on April 26th:

In answer to Pierre Vigny, Driscoll says that if Mr. Barton Wright will post £100 at the Sporting Life Office, his (Driscoll’s) backer will wager £300 to £100 that be beats Vigny inside ten rounds, under Queensberry Rules.

Two days later, Driscoll wrote again noting that his backer was  then away on business, but that as soon as he returned, the money for the side-bet would be delivered to The Sportsman office.

Then, on the 29th of May, Barton-Wright re-entered the fray:

Mr. Barton-Wright has written calling attention to the fact that the authorities of a certain club, after offering a purse of £300 for a contest between (Vigny and Driscoll) to decide the merits of boxing versus savate and after getting the consent of both men to this arrangement, have suddenly withdrawn their original offer and now are prepared to give only £lOO. Although both men are most anxious to meet each other, naturally they do not intend engage in a serious contest of this kind without some real inducement. The training expenses would cost about £25, so that the loser would practically get his bare expenses paid be receiving 25 per cent of the purse. Mr. Barton-Wright would therefore be very glad to hear from anybody interested this matter, and who, perhaps with others, will be willing to assist in the financing of same, and so to make this match possible.

The Editor of The Sporting Life also quoted Barton-Wright to the effect that the proposed stakes of £100 were too low to represent the fighting worth of either Vigny or Driscoll, and at that point the proposed challenge seems to have fizzled out.

Ironically, the mysterious reduction of stakes by Driscoll’s backers – as well as Barton-Wright’s insistence that Vigny would not fight for less than a £300 stake – may have allowed the Bartitsu Club to dodge a public relations bullet.

Given his persistent efforts to distance Bartitsu from savate, and from the negative fallout of the 1899 Charlemont/Driscoll fight in particular, Driscoll’s challenges clearly put Barton-Wright in a very difficult PR position.  Regardless of the outcome (and of the Bartitsu Club’s modifications to the techniques and rules of the French style), a Vigny vs. Driscoll fight would inevitably have been perceived as a “rematch” between savate and boxing.  With feelings about the Charlemont/Driscoll fight still raw, English public sentiment would have been overwhelmingly in Jerry Driscoll’s favour, likely casting Vigny, Barton-Wright and Bartitsu as the unpatriotic villains.

Even worse, from Barton-Wright’s point of view, would have been the public perception that he and Vigny were symbolically aligned with Driscoll’s former opponent.  In reality, there was seriously bad blood between the Bartitsu camp and the Charlemont camp.  Barton-Wright had actually used the outcome of the Driscoll/Charlemont fight as ammunition during his acrimonious exchange of letters with Charlemont, thereby morally aligning himself and the Bartitsu Club with Driscoll.

Thus, if the Driscoll/Vigny fight had gone ahead, Barton-Wright would have been forced into an unenviable position.  Even if Vigny had won against Driscoll, in the hyper-partisan social climate of the early 1900s, the “optics” would have been damaging for the Bartitsu School of Arms.

The Bartitsu Club continued to stage assault-at-arms displays in Nottingham, Oxford and other regional locations during early 1902.   Ultimately, Vigny’s regular opponent on that tour was the jobbing heavyweight boxer Woolf Bendoff.  Though Bendoff’s professional record  wasn’t especially impressive, it’s likely that he represented a diplomatic compromise away from the politically fraught possibilities of Pierre Vigny taking on Jerry Driscoll.

Sparring with a Ball-Handled Cane

Andres Morales of the Santiago Stickfighters (wearing shorts) wields a ball-handled cane in this recent sparring match:

Sparring walking stick con cabeza de pelota de golf.

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op Vrijdag 5 oktober 2018

The length and asymmetrical balance of the Vigny self-defence cane has a substantial impact on the fighting style itself, affording a versatile weapon with a mace-like “heavy hitting” end and a whip-like “fast striking” end.  This was the inspiration behind the design of the Vigny sparring cane now offered by Purpleheart Armory, which features a solid rubber ball handle.

Mary Russell, the “Flying Duchess”

Emily (Diana) Watts‘ 1905 book The Fine Art of Jujutsu is historically significant as the first Japanese unarmed combat manual to have been written by a woman, and also the first English-language manual to represent Kodokan judo.

Mrs. Watts’ book was dedicated to “Her Grace the Duchess of Bedford, with grateful affection”, and the photographs illustrating the Fine Art were taken on the lawns of Bedford Abbey in Bedfordshire, which was one of the Duchess’s homes.  According to Meriel Buxton, the author of the biography The Flying Duchess: Mary du Caurroy Bedford, 1865-1937, the Duchess not only leant her property and patronage to Mrs. Watts’ project, but also took an active part in its production as a demonstrator in many of the photographs.

Confirming the Duchess’s role in The Fine Art of Jujutsu is complicated by the claim by some modern researchers that she also wrote the book’s introduction.  In fact, Mrs. Watts wrote the introduction herself, following a preface written by Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton.  Newspaper archive searches fail to bring up any other connection between the Duchess of Bedford and jujutsu training.

However, although Mrs. Watts only named Sadakazu Uyenishi among the several people photographed assisting her in the technical photos, one of her female sparring partners does closely resemble the Duchess.  Speculatively, she may have been a private student of the art.

The Duchess of Bedford led an adventurous life as a sportswoman and organiser of charities, notably establishing and working in a series of cottage hospitals on the grounds of Bedford Abbey to care for wounded soldiers during the First World War.  She was also a pioneering aviatrix, gaining her pilot’s license during her mid-60s and accomplishing several long-distance flights.  She died at the age of 71, in March of 1937, when her plane went down in the North Sea; her body was never recovered.

“Jiu-jitsu Against Boxing” (1906)

Victor Breyer’s rather intricate article from La Vie au Grand Air of January 12, 1906 illustrates some of the puzzles faced by European fighters in adapting to Japanese jiujitsu.  

Breyer was writing in the midst of Paris’ brief but intense “jiujitsu vogue”, which began on November 3rd of the previous year.  When jiujitsuka Ernest Regnier, fighting under the quasi-Japanese nom de guerre “Professor Re-Nie”, defeated savateur Georges Dubois in mere seconds, the victory of jiujitsu sent shock-waves through French sporting society.  Very quickly, Regnier found himself teaching overflowing classes in his sponsor Edmond Desbonnet’s fashionable gymnasium.  He was also asked to train the Parisian police, and jiujitsu rapidly entered the pop-culture lexicon as the subject of newspaper cartoons, music hall songs and popular novels.

Meanwhile, in both France and England, fighters representing traditional European styles were forced to contend with the novelty of submission grappling.  As Breyer points out, unless a striker is able to deal an unusually conclusive knock-out blow early in the fight, the odds favoured the grappler; and as wrestlers discovered, simply lifting, thowing or even pinning their opponent was no guarantee of success under jiujitsu rules.  With tongue somewhat in cheek, Breyer also hints at some of the extreme tactics that an “orthodox” combatant might have to resort to in order to win under these unusual circumstances.

The translation of M. Breyer’s article begins:


(…) It is very difficult to draw rigorous conclusions from the avalanche of bizarre and more or less sporting encounters (in general rather less than more) provided by the recent the introduction of jiu-jitsu. There is no doubt that the measure has been surpassed, in that the truly sporting side has been neglected for the benefit of show business, and that the music hall has played too large of a role in the organization of these encounters, many of which really smelt of the “collusion” dear to our “fairground athletes”.

Also, the importers of the Japanese method desired to prove too much, instead of presenting reasonable demonstrations of their evidence to the press.

All this, I repeat, is unfortunate, but does not detract from the high value of jiu-jitsu as a method of combat. I remain convinced (and am certain that the future will demonstrate it to us) that this method is of the first order.

Both opponents are on guard. The boxer’s tactic is to hold the jiu-jitsuan at a certain distance.

It involves putting into practice some techniques based on a much more perfect knowledge of human anatomy than our athletes had hitherto worried about.  Also, there is no doubt that a small and light fighter, knowing jiu-jitsu, will be able to defend himself against an opponent of greater height, weight and muscular strength. Simply using our boxing and French wrestling, he would not last for a moment.

This is especially the case since the Japanese method, when applied to a real fight, does not prohibit any strike or grip. It is perfectly permissible for the jiu-jitsuan to punch with his fist, if the opportunity arises. That is why it is, in my opinion, utterly absurd to insist that a man, using all the weapons that nature has put at his disposal, will be defeated by a man who has foresworn in advance the use of three quarters of these weapons.

But this is what they would make us believe, those who defy jiu-jitsu champions with boxing.

The best boxer in the world will not put a man out of action with one punch.

I can assure you that I have, for the “noble art” of the Marquis of Queensberry, the most ardent admiration.  It’s a superb fighting sport, but it is ridiculous to consider an athlete invincible simply because he has a background as a boxer. I have already, by the way, had the opportunity to test this theory that in a fight between a jiu-jitsuan which every trick would be allowed and a boxer knowing English boxing, and nothing more, the “Japanese” victory is assured.  And I intend to prove it very clearly.

First defence: dodge and then seek to close in.

But first, you have to admit that, except for excessively rare cases, a trained athlete will never be put out of action by one punch, even if delivered by Jeffries.  If you are doubtful, I will remind you that the world champion, even when contending with “second-raters”, never vanquished an opponent with less than fifty puches, let alone one single punch.  And if you object to me that these matches involve the use of gloves, I will remind you of that time long-past when we fought with bare fists.  Those fights lasted even longer, the bare hand being less potent than the leather of the boxing glove.

Now, going back to Jeffries, you’ll admit that during the six months in question, his opponents were often able to clinch – especially if their only tactic was to close in – as will the
jiu-jitsuan, of course.  Well, that is the moment when the boxer will be caught; it being specified, I repeat again, that boxing per se is his only resource.  Here he is absolutely at the mercy of one of these terrible tricks of Japanese wrestling – or free-style wrestling,  if you prefer – which will fell in a few seconds a man ignorant of this method.

After dodging, parrying or even receiving a punch, the jiu-jitsuan will surely reply to the boxer.

Note, moreover, that the “Japanese” fighter, especially if he has studied a little bit of boxing, is not even sure to receive a stopping blow.

Second defence – parry the blow, closing in to counterattack.

Three options are available to him; dodging, parrying and “smothering”, to use a term of the most expressively sporty slang.

The third, and clearly the worst, option!

And what of the boxer?  The first two options – and especially on the first, which brings the two adversaries “belt to belt”, will be accompanied by a quick trip that will imbalance you before you can say “Phew!”  He is almost safe, if not on the first try, at least in the second or the third.  As for the third solution – to absorb the blow – I have just shown that it will hardly protect the boxer from the famous counters of jiu-jitsu.

What is the boxer to do now that the iiu-jitsuan has dodged, parried or absorbed his strike?

It is the same when the jiu-jitsuan is opposed by a fighter who it is forbidden to use his feet and his fists, and who cannot call to service those strikes which might prevent his opponent from closing.

This is what happened when Chemialkine met recently with Yukio Tani at the Hippodrome.  The giant Russian wrestler twirled the little Japanese man around his head in vain, as if Goliath had transformed David into the sling.  The Jiu-jitsuan was content to “play dead”, knowing although he was going to secure one of his favourite holds as soon as he was returned to the mat.

But if Chemialkine had been able to punch the man already stupefied by this unusual exercise, the outcome of their fight would have been quite different.

It would also have been quite different if, instead of trying to squeeze Tani’s throat as if trying to strangle him, the Russian could have done to his adversary what our good Apaches call the “trick of the postage stamp”, an energetic expression implying to stomp on the opponent’s head once he has fallen to the ground.  This is the trick that Charlemont would prefer in such an encounter, he told us recently.

Unless, of course, all of this has been done in advance, which would certainly secure the outcome!