19th century antagonistics at the 2012 Victorian Heritage Festival

19th century pugilism, fencing and other “manly arts of self defence” will be on display at the upcoming Port Townsend Victorian Heritage Festival (Washington, March 23-25).

Click here to read an article featuring Tim Ruzicki (pictured left above), one of the senior revivalists of classic pugilism, who will be demonstrating his skills at the festival.

Classic pugilism gloves now available

Announcing the new Empire – Broughton pugilism gloves, the first commercially manufactured gloves specifically designed with classical (“bare-knuckle”) pugilism in mind.

The gloves were named for Jack Broughton, the English champion pugilist circa 1734-1740. Broughton’s innovations included formulating a set of seven rules for the prize ring as well as a codified system of scientific defence including the skill of “hitting away” (striking on the retreat). Fittingly, Broughton is also credited with the development of the first boxing gloves, called “mufflers”, designed to “”effectually secure (his students) from the inconveniency of black eyes, broken jaws and bloody noses.”

Go to the Weapon Store website for technical and ordering information.

“Ancient Swordplay: the Revival of Elizabethan Fencing in Victorian London”

During the final decades of the 19th century, a cabal of fencers and historians led by Captain Alfred Hutton and his colleague, the writer Egerton Castle, undertook a systematic study and practical revival of combat with long-outmoded weapons such as the rapier and dagger, sword and buckler and two-handed sword. Their efforts presaged the current revival of historical fencing, a rapidly growing movement that directly parallels the modern renaissance of E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu.

The book Ancient Swordplay details the origins, colourful heyday and ultimate decline of this unusual late-Victorian revival movement. Highlights include reports on many historical fencing exhibitions throughout the 1880s and ’90s, Hutton’s and Castle’s work as theatrical fight choreographers (who paid strict attention to historical accuracy) and Hutton’s determined efforts to revolutionise military sabre fencing with an infusion of “ancient swordplay”, especially that of the Elizabethan English master, George Silver.

Of particular interest to Bartitsu enthusiasts, Ancient Swordplay includes a chapter on Captain Hutton’s collaborations with E.W. Barton-Wright. In his book The Sword and the Centuries (1902), Hutton was moved to note that “the fence of the case of rapiers, as of all the other Elizabethan weapons, is much in vogue at the present time at the Bartitsu Club, now the headquarters of ancient swordplay in this country.”

For all their efforts, though, the Hutton/Castle revival did not directly survive their own generation. The final chapters examine the reasons why, coming to a conclusion that may surprise modern readers, and attempt to trace their legacy into the following decades of the 20th century.

Including numerous rare illustrations and a foreword by author Neal Stephenson, Ancient Swordplay is available now from the Freelance Academy Press website or . For a thorough historical context and commentary, please also see the new article Renaissance Swordplay, Victorian-style on the Freelancer blog.

Open house at Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts

An “open house” afternoon featuring demonstrations of Bartitsu, historical fencing and MBC self defence will be held at the new Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts studio in Ravenswood, Chicago between 12.00-4.00 on Sunday, March 4th.

Guests will get a further “sneak peek” at the Forteza studio along with the chance to take free fitness evaluations, try out the studio’s “gymuseum” of antique exercise equipment or just enjoy a glass of wine, snacks and stimulating conversation.

Further information is available at the Forteza Fitness Facebook page.


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Bartitsu seminar in Veldhoven, Holland

Announcing a seminar in Bartitsu, a mixed martial art system created the late 19th century, which combined French boxing with the Vigny system of stick fighting, English bareknuckle boxing and jiu jitsu.

Knowledge of other martial arts is a plus but is not necessary. Given the nature of some of the techniques taught during the workshop, the minimum age for participants is 12 years (only with the consent of parents/guardians). Please wear clothes that allow freedom of movement. Only gym shoes are permitted in the gym.

Date: March 25, 2012
Instructor: J.Jozen
Register via: johjoz@yahoo.com
Time: 13.00 t/m17.00
Address: Messermaker 4 Gymnasium, Veldhoven
Cost: 10 Euro

“The Kangaroo as Prize Fighter” (1893)

Among the recent developments in the world of sports, in Australia, is the training of the kangaroo to stand up and spar or box with a human antagonist. We give an illustration which we find in a recent number of Black and White. An exhibition of this curious kind of combat now takes place regularly at the Royal Aquarium, London, and it attracts many spectators.

The way in which the natural kangaroo spars in the bush, his birthplace, is peculiar. He places his front paws gently — almost lovingly — upon the shoulders of his antagonist, and then proceeds to disembowel him with a sudden and energetic movement of one of his hind feet. From this ingenious method of practicing the noble art of self-defense the kangaroo at the Royal Aquarium has been weaned. The clever instructor of this ingenious marsupial has trained it to conduct a contest under the conditions known as the Marquis of Queensberry’s rules. It cannot be said that it adheres to these regulations quite so rigidly as the combatants who pummel one another at the National Sporting Club are required to do. On the contrary, it cannot wholly disabuse itself of the idea, favored by the French, though discountenanced by the English, that those who are attacked have as good a right to defend themselves with their feet as with their fists. It affects la savate In preference to la boxe, a predilection which, considering the force with which a kangaroo can kick, might quite conceivably cause an injury to his antagonist. However, no harm has as yet been done, and the encounter between human and marsupial is spirited and novel, and admirably illustrates the power of man to bend the brute creation to his will.

A writer in a recent number of the Overland Monthly advocates the importation and domestication of the kangaroo in this country. He gives authorities showing the feasibility of the project, and believes the animal could be introduced and raised here with profit. The flesh of the kangaroo is highly esteemed as a food, and from the hides a valuable leather is made. These are legitimate uses of the animal. But it is shocking to think of degrading so useful a creature down to the level and equal of a brutal human prize fighter.

Bartitsu at Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts (Chicago, IL)

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When threatened with an attack from an assailant who is armed with a superior stick to your own, it is wise to attack him before he realises that he has you at a disadvantage.

– E.W. Barton-Wright, 1901

Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts instructors Keith Jennings (left) and Jesse Kulla practice canonical Bartitsu cane defence techniques at the introductory seminar held at Forteza on June 22nd.

Upcoming Bartitsu stickfighting seminar in Wuppertal, Germany

On the 10th and 11th of March, Stefan Dieke of the Alte Kampfkunst historical European martial arts academy will be teaching a two day seminar on Bartitsu cane self defence, including:

– traditional 19th c. stick fencing
– canonical Bartitsu cane techniques – Pierre Vigny’s innovations
– Bartitsu Concepts: applying the concepts of the canonical material to non-canonical situations.

International guests are welcome! The seminar will be held bi-lingually in German & English.

Location: Alte Kampfkunst in Wuppertal, Germany

Cost: 130,- for two days.

Further information (in German) available here.