R. G. Allanson-Winn on “The Umbrella as a Weapon of Self-Defence” (1890)

Rowland George Allanson-Winn, the 5th Baron Headley, was a man of diverse interests and an interesting man. Born in London in 1855, he went on to study mathematics at Cambridge University and law at the Middle Temple before settling on a career in civil engineering, supervising numerous roadwork and land reclamation projects in Ireland and … Continue reading “R. G. Allanson-Winn on “The Umbrella as a Weapon of Self-Defence” (1890)”

The Belt as a Weapon (1890)

Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright frequently referred to the utility of Pierre Vigny’s stick fighting art against common street weapons, including the fearsome, heavy-buckled belt favoured by gangsters in large English cities.  Here follows an excerpt from the Warminster & Westbury Journal and Wilts County Advertiser of Saturday, 13 September 1890, detailing how members of the Manchester scuttler … Continue reading “The Belt as a Weapon (1890)”

Martial arts displays at the Japan-British Exhibition of 1910

Although jiujitsu had been introduced to England circa 1900 via the efforts of E.W. Barton-Wright, Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi, the Japan-British Exhibition was the first opportunity for many British citizens to witness other forms of Japanese antagonistics.  Sumo, kendo and naginata-jutsu were all on display at this event, which ran from May to October of … Continue reading “Martial arts displays at the Japan-British Exhibition of 1910”

“‘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. Nick-named in honour of the Native American tribes, the Apaches (pronounced “Ah-pahsh”) were members of the criminal underworld of Paris during the late 19th and early 20th … 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)”