Review of Eugene, Oregon Bartitsu seminar

Classical fencing maestro and historical fencing instructor Sean Hayes offers a review of the recent Bartitsu seminar in Eugene, Oregon:

We had a fantastic seminar with Tony this past Saturday/Sunday! Each day began with exercises from the Wolf system, Tony’s training paradigm for martial arts and physical movement skills. These included fully cooperative and semi-cooperative balance exercises: in the former, partners work together to form a physical system of shared balance which they then explore; in the latter, the exercises shift to deliberate attempts to explore your partner’s balance system and exploit weaknesses. All of the exercises involve warm-up and stretching components, as well as spatial and body awareness components, and safe falling exercises. Towards the end they are combined in a series of spontaneous partner drills. It’s all tightly integrated and proves to be a perfect warm-up for martial arts practice, far superior to anything I’ve experienced previously. (My students can expect to see it incorporated into our regular practice.)

Tony then segued into Bartitsu practice. He began us with canonical Bartitsu exercises, exploring the major components of Barton-Wright’s established practiced (time wouldn’t permit all the canonical materils, of course) and getting the correct practice mastered as well as limited time permits. As the day developed, and we began to integrate boxing, kicking, jiujitsu, and walking-stick, Tony then developed the transitions between the various arts and showed how they were intended for use as an integrated system.

He incorporated neo-Bartitsu in a manner that brought us directly back to the Wolf system exercises. At various points, increasing as each day progressed, we would be given one of the kata or set-pieces to perform, with one partner “breaking” the exercise and the other partner responding. The responses were derived naturally and intuitively as a combination of the balance exercises with which we had begun the day (Barton-Wright was clear that disrupting the opponent’s balance was an immediate priority) and the individual Bartitsu techniques. By the end of Sunday we were performing fairly complicated semi-spontaneous exercises with confidence and skill.

Here’s a photo from a neo-Bartitsu demonstration at the end of the weekend, where we start a drill at speed, I “break” it by changing the expected action into something unexpected, and Tony responds by countering, breaking my balance and throwing me, striking me as I fall, and then belaboring me as he sees fit:

If you’re near, or know someone near, the remaining cities on this tour, then GO! This is a rare opportunity to train with a highly skilled professional martial artist.

I’d like to thank Tony for his effort, energy and dedication – and I’d like to thank the students for the same!

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