“Baritsu” to feature in new Sherlock Holmes movie

Robert Downey, Jr., who is to star in an upcoming Sherlock Holmes feature film being directed by Guy Ritchie, was quoted in Premiere Magazine as saying:

“We’re both martial arts enthusiasts and historically, in the real origin stories of Sherlock Holmes, he’s kind of a bad-ass and a bare-knuckle boxer and studies the rare art of baritsu [fictional martial art created by Doyle for the final Holmes story, 1901’s The Adventure Of The Empty House]. If you look baritsu up, they can’t even really tell you what it is, so it gives us a lot of leeway.”

“Baritsu”, of course, was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s misspelling of Bartitsu.  Since Mr. Downey is a Wing Chun kung fu enthusiast and director Ritchie is a brown belt in Brazilian jiujitsu, their cinematic version of Holmes’ martial art may well pack quite a punch …

9 thoughts on ““Baritsu” to feature in new Sherlock Holmes movie”

  1. Nope. He’s a chunner and he’s excited about having “leeway.” There will therefore be copious deer-boxing-style centerline punches and goofy half-ass grappling. You have been warned.

  2. Hi Don, thanks for commenting.

    I’m hoping for more from the movie than that, but then what movie is ever representative of real martial arts. It’ll be a new take on Holmes regardless though, and hopefully good fun.

  3. Don,

    Robert Downey, Jr. practices Wing Chun; the director, Guy Ritchie, is a serious BJJ practitioner; the fight director, Richard Ryan (“Troy”, among others) is one of the best in the business. The Bartitsu Society donated copies of both volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium to the production, for use as reference material.

    That said, the movie will feature Holmes’ “baritsu”; Bartitsu, per se, would actually be anachronistic. Also, as James suggested, any representation of any martial art in a movie is automatically subject to artistic license. What the movie will do is to connect the character of Sherlock Holmes with the martial arts in the public imagination, and some of those people will want to learn more about Bartitsu; win-win, as far as we’re concerned.

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