“Introductory Bartitsu” DVD review

Introductory Bartitsu

“Introductory Bartitsu” is a new instructional DVD by Allen Reed of the Gallowglass Academy.

Allen begins with an accurate precis of Bartitsu history and then takes viewers through American catch-as-catch-can wrestler Farmer Burns’ warmup routine, focusing on isometric and calisthenic exercises.

The next section introduces basic jiujitsu ukemi techniques (side, front and rear breakfalls) and this is followed by an introduction to some of Barton-Wright’s atemi-waza (striking techniques) as detailed in his Pearson’s Magazine articles.

Subsequent sections take us through many of the jiujitsu techniques demonstrated in B-W’s “New Art of Self Defence” articles, with occasional neo-Bartitsu variations based on Allen’s background in Miyama-ryu jiujitsu and Paracombatives; a complementary section on throwing and counter-throwing from classic pugilism; basic boxing, drawing largely from “Boxing” by R.G. Allanson-Winn; two fundamental low kicks drawn from the savate repertoire and a thorough sampling of the Vigny/Bartitsu cane fighting techniques from B-W’s “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” articles.

The presentation is simple and straightforward, as a progression of individual techniques demonstrated from both sides, often several times.  Allen explains the techniques as they are being demonstrated by himself and his assistant Chris Vail.  The video and sound quality is clear.

In sum, this 1 hour, 33 minute DVD from Gallowglass is a concise, no-frills introduction to largely canonical Bartitsu techniques.  It should be of particular use to beginners, especially those working from volume I of the Bartitsu Compendium.

You can purchase the DVD from Allen’s site.

Bartitsu Compendia on Amazon.com

Both volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium are now available via Amazon.com:

The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume I: History and Canonical Syllabus

The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume II: Antagonistics

All proceeds from sales of these books have been dedicated towards funding a memorial for E.W. Barton-Wright and to furthering the study of Bartitsu.

Members of the Original Bartitsu Club

Although E.W. Barton-Wright’s martial arts school was only open for a few years, it attracted some notable members and students.

Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon was a keen fencer who also studied Swiss wrestling at the Club, under the tutelage of Armand Cherpillod.  Gordon later achieved notoriety as one of the few adult male survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic; he was charged with having bribed the lifeboat crew members not to rescue others from the water, though his defence was that he was grateful to them and was trying to reward their courage.

Captain Alfred Hutton taught historical fencing classes at the Bartitsu Club and also appears to have studied jiujitsu there.  Along with his colleague, the novelist Egerton Castle, Hutton was largely responsible for reviving the practice of competitive fencing in England during the late 19th century, and their studies of “ancient swordplay” – the use of the rapier and dagger, two-handed sword, etc. – presaged the modern Historical European Martial Arts movement by the best part of a century.

Captain (later Sir) Ernest George Stenson Cooke and Captain Frank Herbert Whittow were members of both the Bartitsu Club and of Hutton’s training group at the London Rifle Brigade’s School of Arms.  They participated in numerous martial arts exhibitions, including several that combined Bartitsu with historical fencing, at the turn of the 20th century.

Captain F.C. Laing was a keen Bartitsu student who cross-trained in jiujitsu and Vigny stick fighting while on leave from the Army.  Returning to active duty in India, Laing wrote an article describing his training and detailing a number of Vigny/Bartitsu walking stick defence techniques.

William Henry Grenfell, the 1st Baron Desborough, was described by a contemporary as being “the very pattern and model of an English sporting gentleman.”  A fencer, big-game hunter and mountaineer, he swam the rapids at Niagara Falls twice, climbed the Matterhorn three times, rowed across the English Channel and was the amateur punting champion of the upper Thames.  Bartitsu would probably have counted amongst his milder pursuits.

The Oldest Gym in America?

Among the interests of the Bartitsu Society is the study of 19th century physical culture; the panoply of diverse exercise systems that were practiced in public and private gymnasia throughout Europe, North America and Australasia.  E.W. Barton-Wright commented that Bartitsu included a “system of physical culture which is as complete and thorough as the art of self defence”.


The Hegeler Carus mansion in LaSalle, Illinois, features an extremely rare surviving example of a 19th century gymnasium.  The Hegeler Carus gym remained virtually unchanged throughout the 20th century, and still contains numerous, some probably unique, items of exercise apparatus, including wooden dumbbells and Indian clubs, a “teeter ladder”, parallel bars and “Roman rings” suspended from the ceiling.  The gym also features a climbing pole that D.T. Suzuki used as a “meditation pole” during his long stay at the mansion.



For information on the project towards restoring the Hegeler Carus mansion gymnasium as a living museum of physical culture, see the Turnhall Project PDF.  You will need to rotate the PDF into portrait orientation.