“Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes”

Announcing the long-awaited DVD release of the first feature documentary on Bartitsu, the “gentlemanly art of self defence”!

At the end of the Victorian era, E.W. Barton-Wright founded Bartitsu as a pioneering “mixed martial art” combining jiujitsu, kickboxing and self defence with a walking stick. It was also the means by which Sherlock Holmes was said to have defeated his arch-nemesis, the evil Professor Moriarty, in their famous battle at Reichenbach Waterfall.

This groundbreaking documentary was shot on location in Italy, Switzerland, England and the USA. Through numerous interviews, animations, re-enactment sequences, rare archival film footage and historical images, it explores the history, rediscovery and modern revival of Bartitsu.

Please visit the Freelance Academy Press website to view a new preview trailer and photo gallery, read an article about Bartitsu and the documentary production, and to place your DVD order!

More Bartitsu SteamPunkery

Allen Reed will be teaching classes at the Oklahoma Steampunk Exhibition in April.

Vigny’s Walking Stick Defense

Do you know a rogue and a scoundrel who deserves to be thrashed on the steps of his club? Then this is the class for you. The class will provide a short introduction to the use of the walking stick or cane for self defense. Prof. Reed will have a few loaner canes/sticks for use during the class but recommends bringing your own.

English Bare Knuckle Boxing

Every gentleman and woman should learn to defend themselves with their bare hands against the hooligans and thugs who prowl the streets of our big cities. This class will introduce the student to the basic stance, blows and defenses of English pugilism.

Conan Doyle and Houdini: private investigators

Not one, not two, but three upcoming media productions will pose the question; what if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini had teamed up as detectives?

In reality, master escapologist Houdini and Sherlock Holmes creator Doyle were close friends during the early 1920s, until disagreements over the reality of the “supernatural” strained their mutual admiration too far. Houdini was an arch-skeptic, wise to the tricks of confidence swindlers posing as spirit mediums, while Doyle was a passionate believer in, and defender of Spiritualism.

Dreamworks has acquired a script called Voices from the Dead from screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski (Changling, Babylon 5), about Houdini and Doyle joining forces with a medium to solve a bizarre series of murders in 1920s New York.

Jon Vinson’s self-published comic book series, Edge of the Unknown, is scheduled to be adapted into a live-action movie by Jack Reher (Red Machine). This project teams Houdini and Doyle in 1923 Hollywood, where they solve a supernatural mystery with the aid of horror author H.P. Lovecraft.

Meanwhile, Syfy has started pre-production on a series called Among the Spirits, based on a self-published graphic novel by Steve Valentine and Paul Chart. The series will center on Houdini and Doyle as, with the help of a policewoman, they use steampunk technologies to try to solve apparent hauntings.

Chances are very good that we can look forward to some fine antagonistic action from these projects …

Baritsu in “Art of Deduction: Inside the Mind of Sherlock Holmes”

A stylised baritsu fight sequence performed by teen and college-age actors in the play Art of Deduction, which recently featured at the Weathervane Playhouse in Akron, Ohio. Director John Davis also choreographed the fight scenes.

19th century/Steampunk martial arts at CombatCon

A partial class list is now on-line for Combat Con Las Vegas.

There are four ways to look at the classes based on how you study Western Martial Arts. You can view the classes along with their short descriptions or you can look at the list via System/Style or via Weapon. Lastly, each instructor’s bio page lists their classes at the bottom.

The 19th century/Steampunk classes listed so far include Manly Arts of Self Defence (singlestick, pugilism and wrestling), Bartitsu: The Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes, Radellian Sabre, Victorian Cane, Singlestick and Repelling boarders against Sky Pirates.

From the organisers:

Nearly half of the classes are online right now and the organisers will be adding more soon, so be sure to check back often. Attendees will be able to choose between more intensive 2 hr classes or a variety of one hour classes. There’s a lot to do at Combat Con so choosing between the classes and the exciting Panels, Activities and Demonstrations will be difficult! Please go to the CombatCon website to register and to see a draft schedule layout under the WMA tab.

There are still many more classes coming, along with the list of Demonstrations, Panels and Activities. More details will appear on the CombatCon website soon.

Of course, there is also much to do in the evenings. After dinner there will be tournaments, free fencing, movies, games and that’s all without leaving the hotel After all, you’re in Las Vegas!

To celebrate the class list online there is a 10% discount until April 5th, so use WMA2011 in the Promo Box and get your registration in now!

Edith Garrud: the votes are in!

As reported in this earlier post, the Islington Borough Council recently ran a poll to determine which five of ten candidates, all former residents of, or events associated with Islington, should be commemorated with permanent memorial plaques.

We’re pleased to announce that suffragette and jujitsu pioneer Edith Garrud was among the top five candidates. The final results were:

– John Wright (founder of the Angel Theatre) – 634 votes
– Author Douglas Adams – 489 votes
– Suffragette Edith Garrud – 356 votes
– The Peasants’ Revolt at Highbury – 290 votes
– Boat club pioneer Crystal Hale – 274 votes

Edith Garrud may have been among the original female students of the Bartitsu Club in Shaftesbury Avenue. She later ran her own jujitsu school and became the chief trainer of the Suffragette Bodyguard, the group of twenty-five women who volunteered to physically protect the leaders of their movement from arrest and assault. Her achievements are recorded in the book Edith Garrud: the suffragette who knew jujutsu.

The results of the Islington Borough Council’s poll are now available online and her plaque will be unveiled later this year. We will endeavour to post updates regarding the unveiling ceremony.

Thanks to all who voted and congratulations to Edith Garrud’s descendants, who lobbied for her inclusion in the People’s Plaques scheme.


Steampunk applies post-modern artistic imagination to 19th century culture and technology. There is an undeniable affinity between Steampunk and neo-Bartitsu, which is likewise inspired by (and experiments with) Victorian-era aesthetics and resources; both can be appreciated as aspects of the neo-Victorian movement.

Over the past several years there have been numerous Bartitsu classes and demonstrations at science fiction/Steampunk gatherings including V-Con, SteamCon III, the World Steam Expo, StarFest, the Steam Century Mystery weekend and the San Francisco Edwardian Ball. The upcoming CombatCon event in Las Vegas will feature the interplay between 19th century “antagonistics” and Steampunk fiction as one of its major themes.

John Reppion’s article, Baritsu, Bartitsu and the Jujitsuffragettes was featured in issue #6 of Steampunk Magazine, while Nick Mamatas’ Bartitsu: the Martial Art for the Steampunk Set appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine. The Scatha Combat Guild’s forthcoming Steampunk Self Defence Manual promises to offer a light-hearted take on Bartitsu and other Victorian-era antagonistics.

In addition to providing music for the documentary Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes, top Steampunk band Abney Park has produced the song Victorian Vigilante, whose protagonist “brings his baritsu” to the task of taking down his supernatural prey.

Finally, the Steam Fu discussion forum at Steampunk Empire frequently cites Bartitsu, and likewise, Steampunk (as it is related to martial arts) is a frequent topic on the Bartitsu Forum.

Uyenishi vs. the Guardsman

An interesting snippet from the August 4th, 1905 edition of the Auckland Star, describing a contest between former Bartitsu Club instructor Sadakazu Uyenishi and the wrestling champion of the Royal Horse Guards.

A tremendous struggle took place in the riding school at Windsor recently between Corporal Shoeingsmith Fraser, of the Royal Horse Guards (of which regiment he is champion wrestler), and Professor S. K. Uyenishi, the well-known instructor in the art of Japanese self-defence, of Golden Square, W.C. Mr Uyenishi, who has been appointed instructor in his art in the Aldershot Gymnasium, came over by motor-car from the famous camp to give a display.

On his request for an opponent from the audience, Corporal Fraser came forward amid loud applause. The little man certainly took on a stiff bargain, as the giant guardsman must have weighed nearly twice as much as he, but after a truly Titanic struggle he succeeded in hurling the soldier clean over his head on to the platform. Mr Uyenishi admitted that Fraser was the most difficult man he had ever had to deal with, and it must be confessed that the contest was a wonderful example of how futile the greatest strength is made to appear when pitted against the wonderful Japanese science. Two very interested spectators were Prince Alexander of Teck and Major-General Baden-Powell.