Above: participants in the May 4th Colorado Bartitsu workshop engage in a vigorous stick-grappling drill.
About twenty participants, including experienced martial artists, stage combat students and steampunk enthusiasts attended the workshop, which introduced a “combat improv” approach to E.W. Barton-Wright’s canonical armed and unarmed combat sequences. Each of a number of formal set-plays was first practiced verbatim, as presented in Barton-Wright’s article series for Pearson’s Magazine circa 1900, and then pressure tested via a progression of “challenge” drills introducing layers of opponent resistance and spontaneity.
The seminar also included discussions of Bartitsu history, with special asides into the “Apache” street gangs of Paris and the secret society of Jiujitsuffragette Bodyguards during the first decade of the 20th century.
Enthusiasm was such that an ongoing Bartitsu study group, based in Boulder, CO, may be formed to continue Barton-Wright’s experiments into the 21st century.