“… the value of the ordinary walking-stick ..” (1901)

An interesting snippet from a review of one of E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu exhibitions at London’s Tivoli Theatre during August 1901.

After a jiujitsu demonstration …

… Mr Barton-Wright, to whose initiative the present interesting exhibition in town is due, shows by his pupils the value of the ordinary walking-stick as a means of self defence against the man who attacks with any weapon other than a firearm. The ordinary Malacca cane, quite unused to responsibilities of any sort, becomes suddenly endowed with a most valuable gift, and in the grip of a well-trained man, saves his head and hands from a weapon of tenfold weight. It is not too much to say that no man can afford to neglect such a simple precaution against sudden attack …

– The Music Hall and Theatre Review, 23 August, 1901

Bartitsu lecture in Zagreb, Croatia

Bartitsu enthusiast Goran Dimic recently delivered an illustrated lecture/demonstration on Bartitsu for the Parni Zakon steampunk conference in Zagreb, Croatia.

The lecture included information on the origins and nature of Bartitsu and the life and times of founder E.W. Barton-Wright. Goran then demonstrated some basic fisticuffs, low kicks, a jiujitsu escort hold and some cane techniques.

The audience was enthusiastic and their response bodes well for the establishment of a Bartitsu study group in Croatia.

Report on Bartitsu classes at the Steampunk World’s Fair

Instructor Mark Donnelly demonstrates self defence with a walking stick.

Thanks to Rachel Klingberg for this detailed report on Mark Donnelly’s three Bartitsu classes at the recent Steampunk World’s Fair conference in New Jersey.

Bartitsu classes at the 1900 America Chautauqua (Rockford, IL)

Instructor Allen Reed will be teaching Bartitsu classes at the 1900 America Chautauqua. The Chautauqua (June 11-12, Midway Village Museum, Rockford, IL) is set during the year 1900 and will offer numerous educational and entertainment events from that period.

Alongside 1900-era celebrities such as Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley, Allen (as a “Professor of Antagonistics” recently returned from studies at the Bartitsu Club in London) will teach the skills of pugilism and self defence with a walking stick:

Prof. Reed is honored to be the first American to bring this new art back to his students in the United States. Prof. Reed will be offering two classes, one in pugilism and one on cane fighting for those attending this year’s Chautauqua. The class on pugilism will help introduce this manly art to all comers. The class on M. Vigny’s cane fighting system will teach how a common walking stick, cane or umbrella can be used for self defense. A few canes and sticks will be available from the instructor, but interested guests are encouraged to provide their own cane or umbrella. Ladies are also encouraged to attend. Classes offered both days of the Chautauqua.

Bartitsu training at WMAW 2011

Instructor Tony Wolf will be teaching two intermediate/advanced level Bartitsu sessions at the Western Martial Arts Weekend conference in Racine, Wisconsin, USA. The conference runs between September 15-18.

The WMAW is the premiere event of its type in the USA, attracting hundreds of participants for an intensive four day series of Western martial arts classes, lectures and seminars. It is held at the beautiful DeKoven Center, a 19th century university campus that has been converted into a conference and retreat center.

The Bartitsu sessions include:

Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes

Instructor: Tony Wolf
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: A sturdy crook-handled walking stick or 36 inch dowel with any edges smoothed away; fencing mask or similar face/head protection.

In the year 1899, Edward William Barton-Wright founded Bartitsu as a process of cross-training between walking stick fighting, boxing, savate and jiujitsu. It was the first example of an eclectic self-defence system blending Asian and European combat styles, intended to beat hooligans and street gangsters at their own game.

Barton-Wright defined the principles of Bartitsu as:

(1) to disturb the equilibrium of your assailant; (2) to surprise him before he has time to regain his balance and use his strength; (3) if necessary to subject the joints of any part of his body … to strains which they are anatomically and mechanically unable to resist.

He also noted that:

“It is quite unnecessary to try and get your opponent in any particular position, as the system embraces every possible eventuality, and your defence and counter attack must be entirely based upon the tactics of your opponent.”

Drawing from a selection of classical Bartitsu unarmed and walking-stick fighting set-plays, we will take up the challenge implied by Barton-Wright’s precepts of adaptability and improvisation, thereby continuing the “mixed martial arts” experiment that he began in late Victorian London.

“Belabour him as you see fit”: Bartitsu combat improvisation

Instructor: Tony Wolf
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Class Length: 1 hr 30 min
Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Intensity Level: Moderate to High
Pre-Requisites: Familiarity with the cane and unarmed sub-systems of Bartitsu.
Required Equipment: A sturdy crook-handled walking stick or 36 inch dowel with any edges smoothed away; fencing mask or similar face/head protection.

This class is a development of the material introduced in the “Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” intensive, dealing more specifically with the process of combining the various sub-systems of Bartitsu. We will practice spontaneity drills designed to “twist” the canonical self defense sequences as a bridge between pre-arranged set-plays and free bouting.

Antagonistics: Bartitsu seminar in New York City

Announcing the Antagonistics Weekend, a two-day long Bartitsu seminar with Professor Mark Donnelly in New York City:

Learn to fight like Sherlock Holmes! London’s Bartitsu Club was all the rage in 1899, but only recently has this lost martial art been rediscovered. Learn the “gentlemanly art of self-defense” at workshops taught by Professor Mark Donnelly, a world-renowned expert on historical combat.

Be part of history at Bartitsu’s NYC debut!

* Learn to use a walking stick, parasol, jacket, and other accessories for protection
* No martial arts experience required.
* A study in self-defense and in history.


Saturday and Sunday, July 23-24, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
34 West 28th Street
Fifth Floor
New York, NY 10001

Check out the NYCSteampunk website for further information!

May 14th is Worldwide Undershaw Preservation Day

“I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu …”

– Sherlock Holmes on his defeat of Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls

While the real martial art of Bartitsu was almost completely forgotten throughout the 20th century, this immortal line penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle provided the vital clue that led to its modern revival.

The Undershaw Preservation Trust has designated May 14th as Worldwide Undershaw Preservation Day. Supporters of the plan to save and restore Doyle’s former residence, where he wrote The Return of Sherlock Holmes and the lines about Holmes’ use of “baritsu” against Moriarty, are encouraged to wear something Sherlockian on that day and to help promote the preservation project.

All details, including video, historical images, essays and messages of support are available at the Preservation Trust’s website.