Classical Pugilism eBook

The cover of Martin's book

Pugilism, the earlier form of boxing is a fascinating and dynamic martial art. It’s especially of interest to Bartitsu practitioners since it works very well with jujitsu and stick play. Covering strikes, standing grappling and trapping and defensive techniques, Classical Pugilism is the art as practiced by greats such as James Figg and Daniel Mendoza.

Martin Austwick of the English Martial Arts academy is one of the most well-known instructors of this art, having taught in several countries and for many organisations. As well as teaching, he writes professionally on both martial arts and health, including for the Royal College of Surgeons. He has recently published an eBook covering the basics of traditional English bare knuckle boxing.

For those new to the art, and especially for those with experience in other arts this gives you sound and practical advice on how to punch hard and safely and how to defend against the same. The book can be downloaded here and there is also a free training guide to the Standing Chancery hold.

Bartitsu and Miss Sanderson-themed apparel

T-shirts

Esfinges is the first female international HEMA network, created to unite and support women martial artists, and to encourage and assist more women to take up the practice of Historical European Martial Arts.

The Esfinges Shop now includes a number of t-shirts, sweatshirts and other items with logos inspired by E.W. Barton-Wright and the fencer/self defence instructor known only as “Miss Sanderson”. A wide variety of styles and colour choices are available.

Your purchase will also support Esfinges projects.

Secret histories and outlaw suffragettes: an interview with “Suffrajitsu” author Tony Wolf

We’re pleased to be able to present this interview with Tony Wolf, the author of the upcoming graphic novel series Suffrajitsu.  Tony’s books will be part of the Foreworld Saga created by Neal Stephenson, Mark Teppo and others.

Both Bartitsu and the elite Bodyguard Society of the British Suffragettes play key roles in the Suffrajitsu trilogy, which will be published by Jet City Comics.

SOME LIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD …

Mrs. Pankhurst's Amazons
Above: A montage of complete and in-progress artwork for Suffrajitsu.

Q – Tony, this is your first graphic novel, but not your first book – how did you come to be asked to write this series, and did your prior work have anything to do with it?

TW – I’ve written and edited quite a lot of historical non-fiction, mostly on esoteric Victorian-era martial arts topics – that’s been my major research interest over the past fifteen years or so.  The project most directly relevant to the graphic novel was a children’s history book called Edith Garrud – the Suffragette that knew Jujitsu, which I wrote in 2009.

I actually kind of moved sideways into scripting Suffrajitsu out of my participation in brainstorming for another Foreworld project.  I think it was in late 2011 that Neal (Stephenson) first mentioned the graphic novel deal with Amazon and asked me to contribute something on the theme of the Suffragette bodyguards.

Q – How did the writing process compare to your prior books/anthologies?

TW – It was a joy in that after so many years of antiquarian research into these themes, this was my first real opportunity to get creative with them.  There was this sense of a dam, not completely bursting, but definitely exploding at certain key points.

Q – Tell us what you can about the series in your own words.

TW – Well, the events of the first book are based very closely on historical reports of actual incidents, although it’s become a kind of “secret history” in that the Suffragette Bodyguards were almost completely forgotten after the First World War.

We’re introduced to the main characters and their situation as political radicals – outlaws, really – in 1914 London.  By that time, both in real history and in my story,  the battle for women’s rights had reached a boiling point.  The suffragettes’ protests and the government’s reprisals were becoming more and more extreme.  Persephone Wright is the leader of a secret society of women known as the Amazons, who are sworn to protect their leaders, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, from arrest and assault.

Q – And that really happened, correct?

TW – Persephone is a fictional character but yes, there really was a secret bodyguard society attached to the militant suffragette movement.

The Amazons are Bartitsu-trained bodyguards and insurgents, saboteurs –  the most radical of the radicals.  They’re all under constant threat of imprisonment and worse.

Something happens in the first book that is a major divergence from actual history and that’s what spins the story off into the alternate timeline of the Foreworld universe.

Q – Where did you get the inspiration for the storyline when it veers away from history?

TW – It was clear that it would take a dramatic event to move the story into the events of the second book … I can’t say much more than that!

Q – But I understand that both historical and fictional characters appear as principal figures?

TW – Yes indeed.  Many of the characters, like Edward Barton-Wright, are lightly fictionalised versions of their historical selves – as well as I “know” them from research – transposed into the Foreworld timeline.

The real Amazons were literally a secret society and even now we only know the names of a few of the actual women who were involved.   I took that as artistic licence to bring in several “ringers” from both fiction and history.  Judith Lee, for example, was the protagonist of Richard Marsh’s popular series of  “lady detective” short stories during the early 20th century.  Flossie le Mar, another member of my imaginary Amazons team, was a historically real person – she was a pioneer of women’s self defence in New Zealand – but she also had a sort of dime novel “alter ego” as the adventurous “Ju-jitsu Girl”, so it was a very easy decision to make her one of the Amazons.

Q – Are any of them purely invented and, if so, what purposes do those characters fulfill?

TW – The only major character that I entirely invented is Persephone Wright herself.  Even though she was partly inspired by several real suffragettes, including Gert Harding and Elizabeth Robins, I wanted the freedom of creating an original protagonist.

Persi actually surprised me several times – she’s much more of a Bohemian than I’d first imagined, and there’s a fascinating tension between her free-thinking inclinations and her disciplined drive to protect people at any cost.  She’s roughly half hippie and half samurai.  I think she’d often really rather be off partying at the Moulin Rouge or writing poetry in a Greenwich Village tea-room, but damn it, she has her duties.

Q – What do you hope will come out of the series?

TW – My dream scenario is that it will inspire readers to create their own stories set in the world of the Amazons; anything beyond that will be gravy.

Q – Do you have any trepidation about being a male author writing a graphic novel with mostly female protagonists?

TW – No, but I’m aware that some readers will have me under the microscope on that account.  My only agenda is that I think it’s amazing that a secret society of female bodyguards defied their government, putting their physical safety and freedom on the line over and over again, to secure the right to participate as equals in a democracy.  Their story was absolutely begging to be told in some medium or other and I’m honoured to have been given that chance.

One thing I tried hard to do, allowing that this is a work of alternate history fiction, was to portray the Amazons as fallible human beings.  For example, some of them have habits and attitudes that have become deeply unfashionable over the past century.  They’re also more-or-less outlaws and have that very specific ethical/political perspective of the end sometimes justifying the means; none of them are entirely “wholesome”.  Actually, none of them are “entirely” anything.  As far as I’m concerned, their foibles, ambiguities and unique perspectives make them worthwhile as characters.

Likewise, I’ve been careful to try to convey that it wasn’t just a simple matter of “righteous women versus oppressive men”.  Historically, many men energetically supported women’s suffrage and many women were vehemently opposed to it, especially as the cause became more radical.

Q – How has the process of working with Suffrajitsu been for you?

TW – It’s been an intensive, ground-up self-education in the nuts and bolts of scripting a graphic novel.  You’re constantly playing Tetris with the plot and dialogue to work everything in within strict boundaries – only so many words to a speech balloon, so many speech balloons or captions to a panel, panels to page and so-on. My editors and Joao Vieira, the artist, have been very patient with me as I’ve worked those things out.

Obviously, there’s a huge amount of sub-plot and back-story etc. that I simply couldn’t fit in.  We’re currently developing a website for the series that will help with all of that and hopefully allow for some ongoing, active engagement with readers.  There will also be some free short stories to whet readers’ appetites for further Suffragette Amazon adventures.

Q – Do you have a favourite character or a favourite moment in the series?

TW – Oh, that’s hard … my inner 13-year-old has a real weakness for cool badasses so perhaps the mysterious Miss Sanderson is a favourite in that sense.  Similarly, (name of the villain redacted because spoilers) … the fact that he was actually a real person is somehow both appalling and deeply satisfying.

I do have a favourite moment, come to think of it, but that comes late in the third book.  I haven’t even seen the art for that sequence yet, so it’ll have to wait for a future interview!

Q – Finally, then, when will the stories be released?

TW – We don’t have definite dates yet, but the website will probably be officially launched in July 2014.  All of the stories will be issued first as individual e-books via the Kindle Fire, then later together with some bonus material as a printed collector’s edition.

Q – That’s something to look forward to!  Thanks for your time.

TW – Thank you!

2013: the Bartitsu year in review

Bartitsu 2013 montage

Welcome to our traditional annual review of all things Bartitsuvian!

This year saw a continuation of the boom in new Bartitsu clubs and study groups that began in 2011, due in a large part to the huge success of the Sherlock Holmes movies and the new Sherlock TV series from the BBC. 2013 also saw an unprecedented level of mainstream exposure for both E.W. Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence” and for the “jujitsuffragette” bodyguards of 1913/14, including newspaper, television and online media and even graphic novels and video games.

Please note that, in general, the events recorded here are those for which we received detailed reports after the fact, as opposed to those for which we only received announcements.

January

The Canadian InnerSPACE TV show features a Bartitsu demo in celebration of the release of author Adrienne Kress’ book The Friday Society. Instructor Mark Donnelly is featured on the Mansome series of short web documentaries and Roberto Munter’s extensive series of Bartitsu articles in the Italian language premieres online.

February

The major BBC documentary Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: The Rise of the Martial Arts in Britain features a 13-minute section on Bartitsu and the jujitsuffragette phenomenon, including interviews with instructor Tony Wolf and historian Emelyne Godfrey and demonstrations by instructors James Marwood and George Stokoe.

March

We feature an exclusive interview with director and film theorist Noel Burch, the auteur of the 1982 documentary The Year of the Bodyguard, as well as a detailed, illustrated summary of the documentary itself. We also unearth a historically significant 1912 Pathe Company film featuring jujitsu demonstrations. The Bartitsu Club of New York City is featured on the Edge of America series, Jujitsuffragette trainer Edith Garrud is “officially” named the “Badass of the Week” and Detective Inspector Archibald Brock of the popular Grandville graphic novel series is revealed as a Bartitsu enthusiast.

April

Edith Garrud is honoured with a commemorative “portrait sculpture” and the Bartitsu Club of New York City’s lecture/demonstration at the Observatory arts and events space in Brooklyn is recorded in a short video memoir. Bartitsu.org runs a series of articles on newly-discovered c1900 self defence topics including Bowie knife fighting(1890), women’s self-defence in Boston (1904), E.W. Barton-Wright vs. the Georgia Magnet (1895-1899) and the Latson Method of Self Defence (1906-1911). We also discover what may be the only three surviving photographs of jujitsuffragettes in training.

May

Mark Donnelly and the Bartitsu Club of New York City are featured in both print and video articles by the Wall Street Journal and in Time Online. The Victorian-themed Captain Alfred Hutton Lounge is officially opened at the Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts studio, home of the Bartitsu Club of Chicago. Announcement of Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons, a graphic novel trilogy by Tony Wolf showcasing both Bartitsu and the jujitsuffragettes. A Harrisburg, PA newspaper runs a feature on Bartitsu training at the Keystone Academy of Dueling. Bartitsu seminars take place in Niwot, Colorado and in New York City.

June

Bartitsu in Sunderland, UK is featured in video and print media and a new course in announced via the Idler Academy (London). A newly-discovered 1913 article reveals that electrical stun-gloves were once proposed as a self-defence and restraint tool for Philadelphia police officers.

July

Bartitsu action scenes are extensively featured in the Book of Shadows web-comic and both Bartitsu and the jujitsuffragettes are showcased in an article for FIGHT! Magazine.   A Victorian Martial Arts Symposium is held at the Gear Con 2013 steampunk gathering in Portland, Oregon, featuring instructors David McCormick, Tom Badillo and Jeff Richardson. Instructor William Trumpler presents a seminar for the Cowford Steampunk Society. We discover records of one of the very last c1900 Bartitsu exhibitions, which took place in Nottingham during March of 1902.

August

We interview Kathrynne Wolf, auteur of the Scarlet Line action/drama web-series, which posits a secret survival of the jujitsuffragette Bodyguard tradition beyond WW1 and into the present day. Mark Donnelly offers a Bartitsu intensive in Merchantville, New Jersey. The character “Flint” in the popular online video game Urban Rivals is a Bartitsu-fighting flamingo, for some reason. We look at the life and career of Alice Clement, a jujitsu-trained detective and one of the first female members of the Chicago police department. Instructor Stefan Dieke is featured in a Bartitsu article for the German Schwert & Klinge magazine.

September

The Bartitsu Club of New York City is featured in an article by the Epoch Times and Kathrynne Wolf’s The Scarlet Line is the subject of an interview with the Bad Reputation web magazine.

We feature an article on the importance of sparring and pressure testing in Bartitsu training and a detailed report on the third annual Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture international conference/seminar event, which took place at Beamish Museum near Newcastle, UK. Mark Donnelly offers a Bartitsu intensive for the Malta Historical Fencing Association and James Marwood is interviewed by The Perfect Gentleman.

October

Seminars and/or new ongoing courses are offered by the newly-formed Manchester Bartitsu Club, the Bartitsu Club of New York City and the Idler Academy in London. The magazines His Vintage Life and Tweed both feature Bartitsu articles, the latter showcasing the Bartitsu Club: Isle of Wight. Video and guidelines for hard-contact sparring are offered by the Bartitsu Club of Chicago and BWAHAHAHA (the Barton-Wright/Alfred Hutton Alliance for Historically Accurate Hoplology and Antagonistics) performs an exhibition at the 2013 Sherlock Seattle Convention.

November

Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons is previewed at the Jet City Comics Show in Tacoma, Washington. Instructor James Garvey of the Idler Club is featured in UK media, including an appearance on the Sunday Brunch show and a feature article in The Libertine. Tony Wolf lectures on Bartitsu history for the Criterion Bar Association of Chicago and is interviewed, along with Los Angeles Bartitsu Club instructor Matt Franta , for Catherine Townsend’s article on Bartitsu for The Atlantic Magazine. We feature an English translation of a memoir by Russian fight choreographer Nikolay Vaschilin on his staging of the climactic Holmes/Moriarty “baritsu” battle for the 1980 Russian TV show The Deadly Combat, a close adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Final Problem.

December

We feature an exclusive interview with author Tony Wolf regarding the inspirations behind the Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons graphic novel series, in which Bartitsu plays a key role.

“Self-Defence as a Fine Art” (1904)

From The World’s News, Saturday 15 October 1904:

Some little time ago an illustrated article was published in “The World’s News” giving some valuable hints on the use of a walking stick as a means of defending oneself against street attacks by one or more assailants. The perfecter and teacher of this particular system was Professor Pierre Vigny, who has a school of self-defence in Berners-street, London.

Now the professor puts forward an equally excellent system of self-defence against every form of street ruffianism, and which he claims to have thoroughly tested in the most practical manner.

One of the sketches herewith shows the pose that ought to be assumed in the event of being attacked by a man armed with a knife or a belt.

Vigny knife-pistol defence

Should you be well practiced in assuming the pose there shown, it is easy to step aside when your assailant stabs, clutch his wrist, and throw him to the ground by a well known wrestling device. Should that fail, however, the foot can be brought into play, and your adversary prostrated.

The defence against a belt is somewhat different. You raise your arm, with the hand open, to meet the belt when your opponent strikes, taking care to let the belt meet your arm near the end which is being held. The result is that the belt coils round your arm, without hurting you in the slightest; and its user is amazed to find his wrist firmly grasped, and that he is unable to resist being thrown on his back, or to protect his face from terrible punishment from the fist.

Should he have a companion, a well-known la savate movement will dispose of him, and the attacked citizen may then contentedly await the arrival of the police to give his assailants into custody.

The movements depicted require a good deal of practice, but in course of time they will become, as in ordinary boxing and fencing, so rapid as to be almost instinctive.

It is interesting to note that, according to the “Pictorial Magazine,” from which our sketches are taken, the professor makes a point of spending his holidays in the dangerous quarters of some large city in order to gain practical experience of any new devices adopted by the larrikins as well as to put into practice his system of self-defence when the occasion arises.

“The best self defence” (1910)

From The Northern Star newspaper, 25 November, 1910:

Although boxing is called “the noble art of self-defence,” there are forms of attack against which it would require the co-operation of other defensive arts. Man is a fighting animal, not because there is anything innately savage in his composition, but because he has to fight in order to hold his own in the struggle for existence. We may be the most peaceably inclined nation in the world, but because our neighbours are aggressive as the result of either ambitiousness or envy, we have to make warlike preparations against possible attack. As with the nation, so with the individual.

Mr. Citizen might be a most amiable gentleman. He may be strolling along, full of the utmost benignity and charity towards all mankind, when, from behind the shadow of a temporary lurking place, a murderous footpad rudely disturbs his peaceful meditations, by rushing out upon him, on robbery and violence bent. Much as he may, in the abstract, dislike inflicting injury upon a fellow being, our worthy burgher must disable his assailant or be left battered and plundered on the roadside. The fittest of the two will survive. Our citizen may have a stout walking stick, and, thanks to a military training, may be able to use it dexterously, so that on recovering from the first shock that the footpad’s rush has occasioned, he may elude an attempt to sandbag him, and then bring his weighty stick down heavily upon the unguarded head of the would-be robber, and thus render him hors de combat.

Or the footpad may be trusting to his fistic and garrotting powers, and Mr. Citizen may have no walking-stick. So then it would be a case of a contest with nature’s weapons.

Footpads are notoriously what are known in the parlance of the ring as “foul” fighters. That is to say, they kick as well as hit, and are not particular about hitting only above the belt. Consequently, the citizen who finds himself set upon by one of this gang of criminals requires something more than, a knowledge of the hits and guards that a rudimentary knowledge of boxing gives. Many a good boxer who suddenly found himself in holds with a wrestler would be at a disadvantage unless he had also a smattering of the science of wrestling, and, therefore, the art of self-defence to be thorough should take in not only a knowledge of how to hit, but also how to grapple and throw. While a Britisher has a leaning for boxing as a defensive art more than for wrestling, the fact is patent that not only does he want to know how to wrestle, should occasion require it, but he should know how to wield a walking stick or an umbrella for defensive purposes.

Maybe the most effective way of escaping or warding off threatened danger would be to “run for it,” if the opposing forces are too numerous, but we are taking the case where this discretion that is said to be the better part of valour cannot be resorted to, and a man has to stand and fight it out in a corner, with one or two assailants. A stroke across the shins is a most effective way of disabling an assailant, and a good single-stick player could effectively deal with any aggressor by such a means in very short order.

Footpads are not generally courteous and chivalrous Claude Duvals, and a favorite mode of attack with them is the use of the boot. Opposed to the citizen possessing a knowledge of the art of the Japanese Ju-jitsu or the French method of fighting with the feet, the thief wildly letting fly his boots would promptly be stood on his head. Such methods of attack are practised in ju-jitsu, the science of Ju-jitsu being in brief how to defend oneself from attack when deprived of any weapon. Once a Britisher gets a man on the ground his instinct is to let him up again, but with the Japanese that is just the stage of the combat at which the fun really begins. The Japanese practise so that, even though they may be underneath in the fall, they contrive to turn the table on the “top dog.” We Britishers are apt to decry Ju-Jitsu because of the severity of some of the holds and methods invoked, forgetful that it is intended for defensive purposes in mortal combat. The fact that the London police have been instructed in Ju-Jitsu holds shows that there is a lot in it for the man who would know how to take care of himself in an emergency where his life may be hanging the balance.

The garotte, or the grip of the Indian thug, is the ordinary stranglihg-hold, for which there are several effective stops, and these apparently deadly modes of attack upon citizens can be guarded against in a fairly simple way if the citizen, in his youth, will only set about learning how. But our fancy runs so much with the direction of our national pastime that the very essential sport of wrestling is relegated to the background. Wrestling does not rank second to boxing as a defensive art, and as such it deserves every encouragement. The reason for the unimportant position it occupies in public estimation lies, to some extent, in the fact that wrestling matches are easily “faked” and several big matches have occurred in which the public felt that the combatants were not triers. But, quite apart from wrestling as a method of entertaining sporting patrons, its value as an exercise and one likely to stand a man in good stead at some time in his life, cannot be gainsaid.

“Jiu-jitsu: An Editor’s Experience” (1917)

The Globe and Sunday Times War Pictorial, Monday, 32 April, 1917 –

In Sir Arthur Pearson’s reminiscences in the January number of Pearson’s Magazine, is his account of how he came to be convinced of the usefulness of jiu-jitsu:

“I well remember the day on which a small man, one Mr. Barton-Wright, appeared in my office and talked to me enthusiastically of the merits of the art which he had studied in Japan and was anxious to write about. I asked him to show me something of it.

He stood before me in a most casual attitude and invited me to throw him down. I have always kept myself very fit, and was in those days rather proud of my strength. Without any further ado I essayed the apparently simple task of putting the little man on the floor. What really happened was that in less time than it takes to dictate these words I struck the wall some 15 ft. away with quite enough force to be unpleasant! Mr. Barton-Wright had sunk before my assault and, as its violence upset my balance, had delicately poised me upon the soles of his feet and shot me into space.

‘That was simple!’ he said cheerily, as I gathered myself up. ‘Now let us go along to some more elaborate …’

‘Thank you!’ I said. ‘Go away and write me something, but I absolutely refuse to be demonstrated on any more.'”