Neo-Bartitsu stick fighting for “Lost Martial Art” documentary

Courtesy of photographer Riccardo Gallino, here are two images from the latest location shoot for the upcoming documentary, “Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes“. Supervised by co-director Ran Braun, these sequences included both choreographed demonstrations and free combat displays of neo-Bartitsu stickfighting. They were shot in the historic Villa Meda Battistero in the Italian town of Canzo.

The fight team included three senior instructors from the Nova Scrimia organisation and also the Italian National Stickfighting Champion, who travelled from Verona, Brescia, Saronno and Como to take part in the filming.

A gallery of pictures from the Canzo shoot is available here.

The neo-Bartitsu stickfighting footage will be edited, with Ran’s guidance, by students at the Prague Film School (one of the world’s leading film production academies) as part of a special project co-ordinated by Karin Bleiweiss.

Vancouver Bartitsu intensive

The Academie Duello historical fencing and martial arts school will host Tony Wolf teaching a two-day Bartitsu intensive on March 27th and 28th, 2010.

Each class will include the study of both canonical and neo-Bartitsu. The canonical material is based on E.W. Barton-Wright’s classic 1900 articles, “The New Art of Self Defence” and “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” and provides a platform for training in neo-Bartitsu, continuing Barton-Wright’s experiments in cross-training between jiujitsu, fisticuffs, low kicking and the Vigny system of walking stick fighting.

Details are available here at the Academie Duello website and prospective attendees can make inquiries and bookings via this page.

New Beginners’ Class In Farnborough, UK

On March 21st I’ll be starting a 6 week beginners’ course in Modern Bartitsu. Details can be found here.The course will run every Sunday for 6 weeks, and will cover the basics of punching, kicking, grappling and stick work, as well as some skills for dealing with aggressive behaviour and looking at the historical context of the art.

“Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” update

After experiencing some delays in January due to technical difficulties and the vagaries of the international mail system, we are now back on track with post-production of the upcoming Bartitsu documentary. 99% of the necessary footage is now in the hands of our editors, the Digital Room in Rome.

Also in the Italian connection, our colleagues in the Nova Scrimia organisation will be collaborating with documentary co-producer/director Ran Braun to shoot some additional footage of full-contact neo-Bartitsu stick fighting. The shoot is scheduled to take place in the town of Brescia on February 27th and will co-incide with another Bartitsu-themed collaboration between stick fighting and boxing instructors.

Bartitsu seminar in San Francisco

The Botta Secreta historical martial arts school will be hosting a Bartitsu seminar in San Francisco from 6:30 PM to 9:30PM on Thursday, March 18, 2010. The venue will be at Lowell High School:


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This seminar, taught by Tony Wolf, is open to both beginners and advanced martial artists and will introduce the study of both canonical and neo-Bartitsu. The canonical material is based on E.W. Barton-Wright’s classic c1900 articles, “The New Art of Self Defence” and “Self Defence with a Walking Stick”. These sequences provide a platform for training in neo-Bartitsu, continuing Barton-Wright’s experiments in cross-training between jiujitsu, fisticuffs, low kicking and the Vigny system of walking stick fighting.

Equipment: Please bring suitable exercise clothing, including shoes, and a sturdy cane (crook handle preferred), or strong, smooth dowel approx. 36″ long.

Fencing masks, boxing gloves and judogi jackets are useful, but are
not required.

Please contact bottasecretaproductions@yahoo.com for all other details.

Botta Secreta to perform at Steampunk Exhibition

Fresh from their successful demonstrations at the San Francisco Edwardian Ball, the Botta Secreta team will next be exhibiting singlestick fencing and Bartitsu at the upcoming Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition, March 12-14, 2010 in Emeryville, California.

See the Steampunk Exhibition website for all details.

More from Bartitsu Club Russia

Two new articles published in the January and February issues of Kalashnikov Magazine, courtesy of our colleagues in Bartitsu Club Russia. The first article details an introductory training session led by Ran Braun in November of 2009, and the second is on Bartitsu with particular reference to the Sherlock Holmes connection.

Bartitsu Club Russia is planning another seminar in April of 2010.

Click on the images below to view the articles (in the Russian language).

“La Jaguarina” honoured by US Fencing Association

Cause for some celebration; the wonderful Ella Hattan, a.k.a. la Jaguarina, has been inducted into the US Fencing Association’s Hall of Fame.

Ella was a fascinating 19th century character, a student of the equally colourful “Sword Prince”, Col. Thomas Hoyer Monstery. Of humble Midwestern origins, she completely re-invented herself as “La Jaguarina, Champion Amazon of the Age” and set about challenging male champions in the bizarre sport of equestrian sabre fencing. She also ran a physical culture school and worked as an actress and model.

Essentially, Jaguarina was a real-life Victorian-era American super hero. Rumour has it that her biography is presently in the works. …

Bartitsu Club Israel

Announcing the formation of Bartitsu Club Israel, a collaboration between Ran Arthur Braun (Israel/Italy) and Noah Gross (Israel/USA, Co-Founder of “ACT – Armed Combat and Tactics”.)

Training sessions are planned for Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa with courses given in both Hebrew and English. There will be an introductory class offered on the 13th of March in Tel Aviv.

For background information on the historical links between the Vigny method of stick fighting and close-combat training in Israel, please see Noah’s article, The Walking Stick in Madatory Palestine and Israel.

Contact Noahsarc3960@gmail.com for details.

“The Gentle Art of Ju-Ju-Tsu” (1907)

This article, originally written by G.G. Chatterton and published in vol. 84 of Chambers’s Journal in 1907, provides a glimpse into the Golden Square School of Jujutsu. Founded by former Bartitsu Club instructor Sadakazu Uyenishi, the Golden Square School was also the early base on Gunji Koizumi, who went on to found the London Budokwai, now the oldest martial arts school in Europe.

JU-JU-TSU—translated literally, ‘The Gentle Art’—the wonderful science deduced by patient study of the source of things, and unravelling of their reason, and consequent mastery of their knowledge, that is so essentially Japanese. It has already been exploited with approbation by medical and other authorities on physical culture; but still, perhaps a few remarks, without claiming to be profound, after a visit to its school may prove not devoid of interest.

You need pass through but a couple of streets that lead directly off the seething thoroughfares of Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus to find yourself in Golden Square, one of the quiet, green oases which here and there in London take you by surprise, and in it the Japanese School of Self Defence has now established its headquarters. And thither we went to watch the teaching of the science upon which years of a life may be spent with ever-growing interest, since it claims that there is always something to be learnt—a perfected science of self-defence, wherein brute-force takes a back seat, and size, weight, and strength surrender their importance. For the Japanese, having probed to the heart of things, can prove how the essence of self-defence is knowledge of how to overcome by yielding to an attack instead of resisting, by using the strength of your assailant in place of your own, and, getting him at an anatomical disadvantage, as they so admirably phrase it, by then applying the skilled leverage which so infallibly can maim and disable.

The school is under the supervision of its instructor-in-chief, Professor Raku Uyenishi, premier ju-ju-tsu exponent. But as he was professionally visiting Paris we were received with smiling welcome by Professor Koizumi, and courteously given advantageous seats; and, as he was engaged upon instruction on our arrival, we had an immediate opportunity of watching the science of the ‘gentle art.’

Our first impressions were belying to the title. Fearful and wonderful were the resounding slapping noises as master and pupil fell upon the
shining mats beneath them—mats made in Japan, over two inches thick and stuffed with hay under a surface of woven rice-straw, which are spread over the entire floor; slap-slap striking the ear with unnerving effect upon spectator and would-be learner, until one saw the combatants leap up again with never hurt or jar, the Japanese laughing softly through his gambols. For to fall with immunity is the skill of ju-ju-tsu, and takes the beginner in its craft months to master.

The pupil upon whose lesson we happened to arrive was no novice, but had been over three years studying, and was as well clever at his game; and yet with what smiling ease did Koizumi, so much the smaller of the two, vanquish him! At times he tossed him right over his shoulder—a curious sensation this at first experience, we are told; on the floor he was ever the man uppermost, and whether recumbent or erect he kept scoring the points by establishing the ‘lock.’ A ‘lock’ or point is scored by rendering an adversary helpless, holding him in such a way that the least resistance can be responded to by a pressure which, if continued, would entail exquisite pain and possibly serious injury. In ju-ju-tsu a lock is acknowledged by a slap on the handiest substance, human or otherwise, and the combatants arise and start afresh.

The lesson finished, after many resounding falls and endless locks declared, the pupil retired to the enjoyment of a hot shower-bath, and Professor Koizumi kindly gave us a display of falls broken into harmlessness, throwing himself down backwards, forwards, sideways, as if flung with violence, to leap up easy and unshaken.

The pupil is first taught to break a fall on his back, and next to break one on his head, saving himself by learning to come down first on his hands outspread and relaxed—the hands which make the slapping noises on the mats. The gist of breaking falls in ju-ju-tsu is keeping all the muscles relaxed for them —nothing may be rigid, or as it were in protest; and the seat of balance—and knowledge of balance is a portion of its science—comes from the waist, not from the shoulders. Knees are kept always bent, the feet move quickly, and, as in boxing, the gaze is fixed on the opponent’s eyes.

The pupil is provided with a costume identical with that of the instructors: a Japanese jacket with loose, short sleeves, which leaves bare the chest and wraps across in double-breasted fashion, and is girdled with a strong band round the waist; drawers like bathing-drawers, and legs and feet bare; and the English tyro will find that his toes catch in the fine straw-work of the mats, the unaccustomed big-toe sometimes catching with unpleasant effects.

Inflexible rules find no place in the ‘gentle art,’ etiquette typically Japanese alone governing its friendly practice. This etiquette ordains that combatants courteously shake hands before and after a contest, and prohibits the infliction of any unseemly indignity on an opponent, at the same time allowing ample scope for placing him at an anatomical disadvantage.

So as to know how to inflict these anatomical disadvantages, bones and muscles are given careful study—where pressure exerted sideways can break or dislocate, and where lie sensitive parts pressure against which can force the assailant to desist. Prominently sensitive parts lie about the elbow — can one not imagine desistance enforced by skilled elaboration of ‘funny-bone’ tortures ? — and in the back of the calf of the leg ; and pressure beneath the chin, forcing backwards the opponent’s head, lays him at your mercy for throttling.

Quickness and agility, resource, simultaneous thought and action, must be acquired by those who would master the science of ju-jutsu, in which even partial proficiency would form a valuable equipment; and the English aspirant must cast aside his stubborn English principles to conform to those discovered for him so excellently by the Japanese. Different they may be—for are not most Japanese principles diametrically different from English ones? In the simple craft of threading a needle there seems to lie a keynote suggestive of their whole scheme of opposition. The English girl is taught to pass her thread through the eye of her needle, the Japanese one to pass the eye of her needle over her thread.

Englishwomen learn ju-ju-tsu, and as the ‘gentle art’ unfolded its power before us we fell to wondering what might have been the end had the suffragettes mastered it before their great display in the House of Commons. When, with lamentable lack of manly chivalry, screams and kicks were set at nought and overborne, ju-ju-tsu would have aided the maltreated ladies. Instead of being ignobly carried out shrieking, with arms round the policeman’s neck, the baffled suffragette might still further have defied the law, and, grasping his chin to his anatomical disadvantage, have quietly throttled him in his brutal progress. Instead of being dragged down from her lofty position as she gained it, she might have broken or dislocated arms that thwarted her, and the whole lobby of the House might have been held up by ladies triumphing in victory, and proving by their example in thus supporting the law and order of their country how admirably they were adapted for being granted a vote in its management. Then, when they had obtained their rights, ladies endowed with votes and as well a knowledge of the ‘gentle art’. But we shuddered away from the imagination.

More pleasing was it to watch the merry little Japanese instructors chatting so gaily amongst themselves or with their pupils, and to exchange a few more words with Professor Koizumi, who, in an interlude before taking on another pupil, had appeared clad in a dark-blue kimono, with matting sandals on his feet and a Japanese book in his hand. Then we left him to his reading, and he took farewell of us with smiling courtesy.