“‘Engagement'” Rings: Knuckle-Duster Jewellery” (1911)

Subtitled “Ingenious Weapons Favoured by Apaches – for ‘Engagements’ with Law-Abiding Citizens”, these pictures were originally published as a photo-feature in The Sketch of Wednesday, 1st March 1911. The Apaches (pronounced “Ah-pahsh”) were members of the criminal underworld of Paris during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, nick-named in honour of the Native American … Continue reading ““‘Engagement’” Rings: Knuckle-Duster Jewellery” (1911)”

Inside Edith Garrud’s dojo (1910-11)

By March of 1910,  jiujitsu instructor Edith Garrud was becoming increasingly involved with the radical women’s rights movement, teaching her “Suffragettes Self-Defence” classes at Leighton Lodge in Edwardes Square, Kensington and performing politically charged demonstrations in which she defeated men dressed in police uniforms. Edith’s jiujitsu dojo in Regent Street was the setting for the above … Continue reading “Inside Edith Garrud’s dojo (1910-11)”

John Steed’s Gentlemanly Art of Umbrella Fighting

The recent blockbuster successes of the Kingsman movie and of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows have firmly re-established umbrellas as the signature weapons of gentlemen-adventurers.  This article pays tribute to the trope-setter, debonair superspy John Steed of The Avengers TV series (1961-9, 1976-7); read this article for more information on the use of weaponised umbrellas in … Continue reading “John Steed’s Gentlemanly Art of Umbrella Fighting”

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

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 … Continue reading “Miss Blanche Whitney, the World’s Champion Lady Wrestler (1911)”

“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.

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

“The cumbersome boxing glove superseded” (Punch Magazine, September 4, 1869)

Cartoonist George du Maurier offers a helpful suggestion for boxers.  The caption reads: Sparring without pain or loss of temper – the cumbersome boxing-glove superseded. For more on this topic, see The Eccentric Evolution of Boxing Armour.

“Engaging Toughs” – The Bartitsu Sparring Video Competition

… by engaging toughs I trained myself until I was satisfied in practical application. –  E.W. Barton-Wright, 1950 Announcing the first international Bartitsu sparring video competition, for prizes of up to US$1000!  The contest is open to martial artists and combat athletes of any style(s) and its object is to help fulfil the Bartitsu Society’s mission: … Continue reading ““Engaging Toughs” – The Bartitsu Sparring Video Competition”

Shades of Esme Beringer: double-weapon fencing in “Penny Dreadful”

The final season of the popular dark fantasy/drama series Penny Dreadful introduced the character of Catriona Hartdegen, a historian, thanatologist and expert swordswoman played by actress Perdita Weeks. As the series is set primarily in London during the 1890s, Hartdegen’s skill at a stylised form of double-weapon fencing is an interesting creative choice.  In real history, that … Continue reading “Shades of Esme Beringer: double-weapon fencing in “Penny Dreadful””