The Story of the Jujitsuffragettes, Courtesy of “Drunk History UK”

In these excerpts from a recent episode of “Drunk History UK”, inebriated comedienne Luisa Omielan attempts to relate the history of the jujitsu-trained suffragette Bodyguard team: Bonus points for the casting of actress and real-life suffragette history enthusiast Jessica Hynes as WSPU leader Emmeline Pankhurst. Ms. Omielan also struggled valiantly to recall the name of … Continue reading “The Story of the Jujitsuffragettes, Courtesy of “Drunk History UK””

The Japanese School of Ju-jitsu in Oxford Street (1904-08)

After the closure of the Bartitsu School of Arms in mid-1902, the various specialist instructors went their separate ways.  Wrestling and physical culture tutor Armand Cherpillod returned to Switzerland, where he became instrumental in introducing Japanese unarmed combat to the European mainland.  Pierre Vigny eventually established a successful self-defence and fencing academy in London’s Berners … Continue reading “The Japanese School of Ju-jitsu in Oxford Street (1904-08)”

Rare mid-20th century film of Vigny/Lang stickfighting

It’s well-known that the method of walking stick defence taught at the Bartitsu Club circa 1900 was devised by Pierre Vigny. Vigny himself instructed Bartitsu students in his system, and then taught it for some years thereafter at his own London self-defence school.  Curiously, however, there are only sporadic records of Vigny teaching walking stick … Continue reading “Rare mid-20th century film of Vigny/Lang stickfighting”

“At Them, Girls!” How the Amazon Defence Corps Trained to Take on Nazi Invaders

During the fraught summer of 1940, the people of England were bracing themselves for a seemingly inevitable invasion by the German army.  While politicians dithered over whether women should be allowed to serve as “Home Defenders” – and some women planned suicides – others began training themselves to repel the Nazis by force. Venetia Foster’s … Continue reading ““At Them, Girls!” How the Amazon Defence Corps Trained to Take on Nazi Invaders”

“Fighting with pot lids” – nabebuta displays at the London Budokwai

Exhibitions of kobudo (weaponed martial arts) by members of the London Budokwai during 1919, 1922 and 1924 included displays of combat with a highly unusual weapon – the nabebuta or “pot lid”.  Described by one journalist as resembling “wooden cymbals”, the nabebuta are rare even in koryu bujutsu (“old-school martial arts”), being particularly associated with … Continue reading ““Fighting with pot lids” – nabebuta displays at the London Budokwai”

“Proof of great strength”: grappling with the Kibbo Kift Kindred

Exemplifying the virtues and limitations of the early 20th century “self-taught man”, John Hargrave (1894-1982) was accomplished in a variety of fields.  A senior scoutmaster possessing great powers of imagination, energy and charisma, Hargrave’s experience of war during the Battle of Gallipoli caused him to become bitterly disillusioned with the nationalism and militarism of Sir Robert … Continue reading ““Proof of great strength”: grappling with the Kibbo Kift Kindred”

“Queensberry Justice”

Over the past ten years or so, the martial arts of Bartitsu and (especially) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “baritsu” have been incorporated into numerous Sherlock Holmes pastiche stories. Frequently, Holmes’ antagonistic skills are given but a passing mention, but some storytellers have produced tales in which the Great Detective’s fighting prowess is brought front and centre. Most … Continue reading ““Queensberry Justice””

“The Gentle Art of Self-Defence” – a Bartitsu parody

Here follows a biting satire of E.W. Barton-Wright’s first “New Art of Self Defence” article for Pearson’s Magazine.  “The Gentle Art of Self-Defence” was published in the March, 1899 edition of William Dunkerley’s To-Day Magazine: ONE of the monthly magazines which has been with us for a little time has in its current issue published … Continue reading ““The Gentle Art of Self-Defence” – a Bartitsu parody”

“How I Became a Ju-Jitsu Champion” by Taro Miyake (1905)

This detailed interview with Taro Miyake was published in the Sunday Times of September 3, 1905. Miyake, who rose to fame by defeating former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani in a London challenge match during September, 1904, subsequently joined forces with Tani in opening the Japanese School of Jujutsu in Oxford Street and in producing … Continue reading ““How I Became a Ju-Jitsu Champion” by Taro Miyake (1905)”

Bartitsu exhibition at Shorncliffe Army Camp (1902)

During early 1902, the instructors of the Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture hit the road for a series of touring martial arts exhibitions in Oxford, Cambridge and Nottingham. This recently-discovered report from the Sporting Life of 15 February, 1902 confirms a fourth venue – the gymnasium of the historic Shorncliffe Army Camp near … Continue reading “Bartitsu exhibition at Shorncliffe Army Camp (1902)”