An advertisement for the Great Anglo-Japanese Tournament in Nottingham, from the Nottingham Evening Post, 21 March 1902:
A short account and illustration of the famous Bartitsu and historical fencing exhibition at the London Bath Club, courtesy of the The Sussex Agricultural Express, 17 March 1899:
One of the most popular clubs in the West End is the Bath Club, which has been holding its Ladies’ Night, when a curious and amusing entertainment was provided. Swordsmanship, swimming and Bartitsu were the special features. The great bath, with its clear water shining beneath the lights, the platform extending across it and roped round to form a ring for athletic display, the galleries crowded with fashionable people in full dress, all made up a picturesque and unique scene such as cannot be witnessed elsewhere.
Bartitsu is a new style of self defence, which embodies all the best and most practical points in boxing, la savate, the use of the dagger and of the walking stick, combined with a most scientific and secret style of Japanese wrestling. The whole principle is based upon balance and leverage, and the art of throwing an adversary by yielding, and not by resisting; in other words, to make use of your adversary’s strength against himself.
From The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 29 August 1901:
We confess to grave misgivings with regards to the Japanese system of self defence known as Bartitsu, which a Mr. Barton Wright has been privately booming in London for some time, and has now introduced to the music-halls. It consists in a knowledge of many curious fouls. This kind of thing might be defensible if it were taught only to gentlemen of unimpeachable character and poor physique who live in dread of garroting and burglary. But these do not constitute the whole, or perhaps the mass, of music-hall patrons.
It seems possible that, here or there, a burglar or garroter may mistake the purpose of the exhibition in spite of Mr. Barton Wright’s assurances, and admire some ingenuities of the system for his own use. It will then, we believe, be easy for him, having asked a passer-by for a match, to throw him down, however strong and big he is, by the hand with which he generously offers half-a-dozen; or to overturn in an instant the six foot policeman who takes the exponent of Bartitsu with both arms firmly by the collar. We should have much preferred if Englishmen were left to do their best or worst in the light of Nature.
From the Adelaide Daily Herald, April 13, 1912:
One result of the recent disturbance (escalating industrial unrest and strikes) has been to give a real impetus to the civilian police movement. Hundreds of men have been enrolled during the past few days, and there are now over a thousand in London alone. A number of these were put on duty in Victoria street on Monday evening, and should occasion arise they will be used more and more.
It first seemed as though Mr. Churchill’s idea bf volunteer police whose services were to be used solely in case of emergency would fall flat. The average man did not care to book himself to take service, possibly at the most inconvenient time and for a cause in which he is not at all interested. Now, however, that the men see what is being done, volunteers are coming in more freely. They are drawn from all classes — doctors and lawyers, K.-C.’s, bank directors, university tutors, and Stock Exchange men.
They receive no pay. They have a uniform of their own with grey helmets, long dark-colored police overcoats, and blue and white armlets. They are taught how to handle roughs, and, in particular, they have been acquiring the Vigny system of walking-stick defence which was devised to enable the French police men to deal with the apache.
One thing that prevented many men joining at the beginning was the fear that they might be used as strike-breakers. They will not be liable for this service, although it is true that one of the objects of the force is “to ensure the public against starvation, famine, or deprivation of food, milk, coal, or other necessities of life when a paralysis of the existing sources of supply is threatened.”
Two caricatures of Bartitsu Club instructor Sadakazu Uyenishi, who used the stage name “Raku”, first published during his 1907/08 exhibition tour of Spain.
We’re happy to announce the publication of The Sword and the Pen in both print and e-book formats.
Egerton Castle, famous as a pioneer of the late-Victorian revival of Elizabethan swordsmanship, was also a very accomplished novelist. The Sword and the Pen compiles Castle’s two greatest short stories of swashbuckling romance and intrigue, both set at the turn of the 1600s.
My Rapier and My Daughter is a witty, lighthearted tale of star-crossed lovers, played out almost entirely within the rapier fencing academy of Master Vincentio Saviolo.
The Great Todescan’s Secret Thrust concerns the quest of a young English bravo to learn the invincible killing stroke of a mysterious master swordsman.
As a bonus, Tony Wolf’s biographical essay Egerton Castle, the Romantic Swordsman describes Castle’s many achievements as a Renaissance man of the late 19th century.
Highly recommended for all lovers of fencing fiction!
A tip of the straw boater hat to Threadless.com user mmviolet for her clever melding of classic Bartitsu stick fighting images with the stick figure cypher motif from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Dancing Men. This design is an entry in a competition to develop a Sherlock Holmes-themed t-shirt.