Bartitsu workshop in Foster City, CA

Botta Secreta Productions Presents:

Bartitsu Workshop

Learn how to fend off rascals and rapscallions the Victorian/Edwardian way . . .

When: June 16, 2012, 10 AM – 5 PM

Where: Fearless Fitness
1125 East Hillsdale Blvd. Suite 108
Foster City, CA 94404

What: Founded in London, England in 1899, Bartitsu was a short-lived experiment in creating a mixed martial art system, notable because it was it was the first recorded cross-training system to incorporate elements of Asian and European fighting styles. (Neo) Bartitsu is a 21st century mixed martial art that combines Vigny cane, savate, boxing, wrestling and jiujitsu.

How much? $80.00 pre-reg via PayPal, $100.00 at the door, cash or PayPal accepted.

Contact: Guro Tom Badillo at to arrange pre-reg and payment.

M. Vigny’s School of Self Defence (Daily News, 27 May, 1904)

“All good citizens will rejoice to learn that a new and efficacious method of abolishing those pests of the streets known as Hooligans Has been discovered and put into practical application by a French gentleman named M. Pierre Vigny.

Some years ago the idea occurred to M. Vigny, who, it may be mentioned, has been fencing master to a French crack cavalry regiment, that it would be possible to discover a system by which people could guard themselves against the cowardly methods of assault practiced by the blackguards of the streets. M. Vigny accordingly proceeded to study the methods of Hooligans in the slums of London and Liverpool.

When he acquired first-hand knowledge of their ways, he repaired to Paris, where he sought wisdom from the Thugs and Apaches, ruffians who assault pedestrians with sand-bags and life-preservers, and then, for the purpose of finishing his education, he spent some considerable time amongst the ruffians of Rome and Naples, who are proficient in the use of the murderous stiletto, and completed his curriculum in tho Bowery of New York and tho slums of Chicago.

He thus became conversant with every device of the street ruffian, and, what is of more importance, he discovered how to protect himself effectively from every weapon, with the exception of firearms, they use, including loaded bolts, sand-bags, bludgeons, knives, and daggers, with the instrumentality of a humble walking stick!

For the purpose of imparting this art he has established a ‘School of Self Defence’ in a street near Oxford-street, which is largely patronised by young aristocrats, city men, actors, and others whose pursuits necessitate their being out late.

Ladies also receive instruction at this unique school in large numbers, and M. Vigny maintains that anyone who has mastered the system of self-defence with a walking-stick or umbrella, which he has inaugurated, is a match for at least half a dozen street ruffians armed with belts or knives!”

“Game of Shadows” fight scenes

Commentary on the fight choreography is available in The Substance of Style: a Review of the Martial Arts Action in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”.

Review: the Empire – Broughton Pugilism Gloves

Disclosure – the Weapon Store forwarded samples of this product for review purposes.

As the practice of “revived” Western martial arts becomes better established, an increasing number of manufacturers are developing professionally-produced training equipment specific to this niche market.  So it is that the U.K.-based Weapon Store has introduced its Empire line of equipment for the practice of historical fencing and pugilism.

The Broughton pugilism gloves are appropriately named for prize fighter 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).  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.”

The Empire – Broughton gloves are very conveniently packaged in a drawstring bag of calico or similar material, which also includes a pair of natural-fibre handwraps and a printed page of information about Jack Broughton’s boxing career.  The right-out-of-the-box impression is that a great deal of thought and care has been put into the aesthetics of the whole package; although this type of glove is a modern invention, the natural materials and colours of the bag and handwraps and the tan-coloured leather of the gloves themselves are all plausibly “old school” and “old world”.  This is a thoughtful touch for practitioners of historic martial arts, who may otherwise have to make do with less aesthetically appropriate equipment.

As with any new leather product, a “breaking in” period is required.  Although comfortable over open or semi-clenched hands, the gloves are initially stiff enough that forming a tight fist is difficult.  After stretching and absorbing sweat during several training sessions, they conform to a functional semi-clenched shape and the leather naturally darkens, which further enhances their aesthetic appeal.

Specific to Bartitsu training via the Bartitsu Club of Chicago, the Broughton gloves have thus far held up admirably to bag-work, pad-work, light sparring and jujitsu/wrestling/free-grappling drills (including wrist locks). The smooth leather piping offers no risk of abrading other trainees’ skin during serious grappling. After four months of regular weekly training sessions, the stitching and padding are holding up well.

Refreshingly, the gloves offer enough mobility to comfortably grip the thick cloth of judo/jujitsu gi jackets, and do not significantly interfere with dexterity even during Indian club manipulation exercises (which is, obviously, above and beyond their brief). Similarly, although the Broughton gloves are not intended for weapon fighting, they have also demonstrated value in safely absorbing incidental impact and eliminating abrasions to the covered portions of the hand during semi-improvised sick fighting drills.

The Weapon Store plans to bring out two further gloves designed for historic pugilism and related skills; the “Molyneux”, a 16 oz. heavy duty boxing glove, and the “Barton-Wright”, a very simple protector with a completely open hand to allow full freedom of movement while still offering a degree of protection when striking with the closed fist.

Self defence training of the New Zealand Peace Scouts (1910)

The Peace Scouts, a precursor to the Girl Guide movement in New Zealand, were active between 1908 and 1923. They may well have been the first national organisation to promote self defence training for girls. The image above is taken from the book Peace Scouting for Girls (1910).

Bartitsu Club of New York City at the 19th Century Extravaganza

The Bartitsu Club of New York City participated in the NYC 19th Century Extravaganza, a three-day festival featuring historically-focused classes, hands-on experiences, and performances highlighting nineteenth-century life in New York City. The Extravaganza was presented by the BCoNYC’s parent organization, The New York Nineteenth Century Society, and was a great opportunity to introduce Bartitsu to a wider audience.