Registration now open for the 2nd International Pugilism Symposium


When? Saturday May 21 and Sunday May 22, 2016
Where? River Valley Complex in Leaf River, IL.

Two days of intensive instruction in historic bare knuckle boxing with some of the top instructors in the world!!

Gallowglass Academy is pleased to announce the following list of fabulous instructors and classes:

Tim Ruzicki: 1) The Single Time Counters of Pugilism 2) Using Your Elbows

Martin Austwick: 1) Sparring Applications in Pugilism  2) The “Dirty Tricks” of Pugilism

Ken Pfrenger: 1) Proper Use and Feeding of Focus Mitts  2) The Pugilism of Ancient Greece and Rome

Kirk Lawson: 1) Grappling in Pugilism  2) Striking the Vital Points

Allen Reed: 1) Pugilism for Self Defense

Go to the Gallowglass Academy site for further information and online registration!

Houdini and Doyle, Episode 1: The Maggie’s Redress (review)

Doyle straight right

The ten-part Edwardian mystery/drama/action series Houdini and Doyle teams friendly rivals Harry Houdini (Michael Weston) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Stephen Mangan) as freelance investigators of crimes that appear to have a supernatural slant.

The first episode begins with a murder of a senior nun in one of London’s notorious Magdalene laundries, in which young women – often unmarried mothers – were effectively imprisoned and forced to work. The twist is that the murderer is said to have been the ghost of a former “Maggie”, or young resident, who had been cruelly tormented by some of the nuns and had died some six months previously.

Both arch-skeptic Houdini and true believer Doyle are fascinated by the case because of its apparently otherworldly nature, but there the similarities end. Houdini is convinced that a mortal murderer has exploited the laundry’s resident ghost story to cover their tracks, whereas Doyle is equally convinced that a restless spirit is to blame.

Essentially bullying their way in to the Scotland Yard investigation, they are assigned the help of the progressive and forthright Adelaide Stratton (Rebecca Liddiard), the Yard’s first female police constable, by a condescending Detective Inspector who wishes to be rid of both H&D’s amateur sleuthing and of the female constable . The Inspector, of course, has significantly underestimated Houdini, Doyle and Stratton, who combine their talents to solve the mystery behind the bloody crimes.

The Maggie’s Redress is an effective procedural that strikes all the requisite beats at a rapid clip, including numerous allusions to the lives of the real Houdini and Doyle while also playing very fast and loose indeed with historical accuracy. Although Houdini and Doyle were, in reality, friends and mutual admirers, they did not actually meet until the 1920s.  That friendship only lasted a few years, ending acrimoniously due to their vehement disagreements about the reality of spiritualistic phenomena.  That said, their fictional relationship in the show is layered and the interplay between Doyle’s optimistic embrace of all things numinous and Houdini’s rational humanism is well portrayed.

The character of constable Adelaide Stratton is fictional and, in real history, the first female constables in London were not appointed until the outbreak of the First World War, some fifteen years after the period portrayed in Houdini and Doyle.

Some of the dialogue is painfully anachronistic – no more so than when Houdini actually uses the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” (!) – but the sets, costumes and other production design elements are all effectively evocative of London circa 1900.  Everything is ultimately explained, though the rationales for some of those explanations do strain credibility; if you like the show you may be inclined to forgive those trespasses, and if not, they’ll probably bother you.

The action elements in this episode are fairly minor. Houdini is shown performing his famous inverted escape from the water torture cell, Stratton uses her trusty cosh to fell a fleeing thief, Doyle belays a troublesome chap with a straight right cross and the heroes must escape a watery deathtrap.

All in all, The Maggie’s Redress is an enjoyable if lightweight 45 minutes’ worth of entertainment.

“The World We Live In: Self-Defence” – some words of wisdom from suffragette martial arts trainer Edith Garrud

The following article was first published in Votes for Women, the newspaper of the Women’s Social and Political Union, during March of 1910. At that time, Edith Garrud (right, above) had been running her “Suffragettes Self Defence Club”, which was advertised in Votes for Women, since at least December of the previous year. The club was based at Leighton Lodge in Edwardes Square, Kensington, a facility which also included a number of studios for classes in sculpture, painting and voice. The Suffragette self defence classes started at 7.00 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday evening and cost 5s, 6d per month.

Click on the article to read it at full size:

The World We Live In

Eight months after this article was written, the intensity of the “suffrage question” was dramatically boosted when a large but ostensibly peaceful suffragette rally in central London escalated into the violent confrontation that became known as the Black Friday riot. That event forced the urgency and evolution of Mrs. Garrud’s training and by 1912 her Votes for Women advertisements read:

Ju-Jutsu (self-defence) for Suffragettes, private or class lessons daily, 10.30 to 7.30; special terms to W. S. P. U. members; Sunday class by arrangement; Boxing and Fencing by specialists. — Edith Garrud, 9, Argyll Place, Regent Street

By 1913 – in response to the Cat and Mouse Act, which allowed hunger-striking suffragette prisoners to be released and then re-arrested once they had recovered their health – Mrs. Garrud was training the secret Bodyguard Society, also known as the Amazons, in preparation for their violent confrontations with the police.

The Japanese Wrestlers (The Sketch, October 2, 1901)

This very ordinary short report on one of E.W. Barton-Wright’s 1901 jiujitsu promotions includes a distinctly unusual photograph. The man on the left is probably Yukio Tani who was, along with Sadakazu Uyenishi, performing this type of exhibition for Barton-Wright at this time. The man on the right, however, does not look at all like Uyenishi, who was closely comparable to Tani in both age and physique. No other Japanese jiujitsuka are known to have been active in London during 1901, let alone to have been performing martial arts demonstrations and challenge matches under the Bartitsu banner.

It’s possible that the Sketch made use of an archival photograph and that the man on the right was actually either Yukio Tani’s older brother, who is known to us only by his initial, K., or S. Yamamoto. Along with Yukio, K. Tani and Yamamoto had been among the first group of jiujitsuka that Barton-Wright had brought to England in late 1899. The elder Tani and Yamamoto left after only a few months, apparently due to a miscommunication or misunderstanding about the type of work they would be asked to do. Yukio stayed on and was joined by Uyenishi in early 1900.

No other photographs of either K. Tani or S. Yamamoto are confirmed to exist.


Tani Yamamoto

So much enthusiasm has been created by the introduction into this country of the Japanese Secret Art of Self Defence that the Management have entered into an agreement with Mr. Barton-Wright for the appearance of his two Japanese Champions at the Empire Theatre from Monday last.  New features have been introduced, and, in order that the utility of these methods may be properly tested, members of the audience are invited to go upon the stage.  Mr. Barton-Wright has already arranged some important contests with three English Champion Wrestlers.

Combining Vigny cane and jiujitsu in canonical Bartitsu

If I have been fortunate enough to interest the readers of this Journal in one of the many forms of “Bartitsu,” I shall hope to describe later in another article a further series of “walking-stick defence” tactics, combined with some of the most useful and punishing falls and grips used in Japanese wrestling (…)

– Captain F.C. Laing, “The ‘Bartitsu’ Method of Self Defence”, Journal of the United Service Institution of India (1903)

For a period of several months during 1901, Frederick Laing, a Captain with the 12th Regiment of the Bengal Infantry, studied at the Bartitsu Club while on furlough from the army.  Although it seems that Laing did not actually write a follow-up article addressing the combination of walking stick defence with Japanese wrestling, his quote above is one of the few concrete records of the fact that the Bartitsu curriculum actively combined those two styles. One hundred and fifteen years later, this essay is an attempt to address that combination in the context of the Bartitsu canon.

Vigny poster

Savate and stick fighting instructor Pierre Vigny appears to have arrived in London during early/mid-1899. While it’s evident that at least one of his style’s signature characteristics (an emphasis on ambidexterity) was already present during that period, reports on his early demonstrations do not make any reference to tripping, throwing nor other wrestling techniques.

Otherwise, in fact, very little is known of Pierre Vigny’s stick fighting style prior to its presentation in Barton-Wright’s two-part article “Self Defence with a Walking Stick”, which appeared in Pearson’s Magazine during January and February of 1901.  In his introduction, Barton-Wright wrote that Vigny’s style had “recently been assimilated by me into my system of self-defence called ‘Bartitsu’.”  It’s likely that, by the time this article appeared, Vigny and Barton-Wright had already been collaborating, more or less formally,  for at least one year.


Vigny’s style as recorded in SDwaWS and thereafter was highly idiosyncratic by comparison with the cane styles that were then commonly taught on the European mainland, particularly in France and Italy, which more closely resembled sabre fencing.  Most notably, the c1901 Vigny style placed an unusual emphasis on ambidexterity in attacking and defending; operated largely from a variety of high guard positions, excluding the standard fencing parries of 3 and 4; and incorporated a variety of trapping, tripping and takedown techniques.  These latter techniques were particularly unusual in comparison with the more mainstream cane fighting styles that had preceded the Bartitsu Club.

Of the twenty-two set-play sequences illustrated in SDwaWS, Vigny is shown as the active defender in every sequence involving counter-strikes and the use of the crook in hooking techniques, the latter techniques appearing in three separate sequences. Barton-Wright is shown as the active defender in every set-play involving joint-locks and leg trips.  The only (quasi-)exception to this pattern is shown in SDwaWS 1/10, in which Vigny demonstrates the use of the cane in levering the attacker to the floor by pressure against his lead thigh.

As a working hypothesis, therefore, it seems not unlikely that the joint-locking and takedown content evident in the Pearson’s articles was at least partly the result of the collaboration between Vigny and Barton-Wright during the year 1900, resulting in the series of hybrid cane/jiujitsu close-combat techniques referred to by Captain Laing.  Significantly, all of these techniques are presented in the tactical context of following a high-line attack intended to force a better-armed opponent to guard high, at which point the defender enters to close-quarters and either grapples or trips the opponent to the floor.

Here follows a selection of the relevant SDwaWS set-plays, with corresponding jiujitsu techniques for comparison:

Stick takedown 2

An elbow and shoulder lock leading into a rear takedown, with variants from “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” and “The New Art of Self Defence”.

Stick takedown 3

Throwing the opponent backwards over the thigh, again with variants from “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” and “The New Art of Self Defence”.

Stick takedown 1

A sweeping trip to the lead foot, with variants from “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” and Bartitsu Club instructor Sadakazu Uyenishi’s “Text-Book of Ju-jitsu”.

Society Women Wrestlers: Ladies’ Craze for Japanese Ju-jitsu (Daily Mirror, April 4, 1904)

Note – “Lady Clara Vere de Vere”, referred to below, is actually a character in an 1840s poem of the same title by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; the author of this article is using the name generically to refer to “ladies of the upper crust”.

Latest Drawing-Room Craze

Yukio Tani, the great Japanese exponent of ju-jitsu, who is quite confident of beating his English opponent in the great match for £200 a side, puts in several hours a week instructing the dames and damsels of Mayfair in the noble art of (Japanese) self-defence. Lady Clara Vere de Vere has taken up Ju-jitsu , as the science is called, with vigour, and is rapidly making herself competent to tackle the burliest hooligan who ever donned cap and muffler. The writer on Saturday received the testimony of “Apollo,” the Jap’s manager, on the subject.

The strong man was at breakfast when our reporter called at his cozy flat in Shaftesbury avenue, but he readily consented to talk.

Makes Women Graceful

“Ju-jitsu”, said he, “is particularly adapted for ladies for several reasons. In the first place, no muscular strength is required, for it is all a question of ‘knack’ and quickness. In the second the science, apart from its usefulness as a means of self-defence, induces grace of carriage and develops the’ figure. You see, to be a competent ju-jitsuist you must hold yourself upright. Whereas, in other styles of wrestling, one has to adopt a crouching attitude, which contracts the chest and makes the figure ugly.”

The fad, it appears, commenced when Tani began to take engagements to appear at private houses and give exhibitions’ of wrestling in the Japanese style. Fashionable hostesses began to vote Hungarian fiddlers and Polish tenors altogether out-moded after they had seen the lithe and graceful Jap and his manager give a glimpse of ju-jitsu. Sometimes, at dances, the wrestling-mats were spread on the ball-room floor between waltzes, and looking on at a bout of ju-jitsu gave the dancers a rest. The grace, the quickness, and the absence of violence which are the distinguishing marks of ju-jitsu fascinated Lady Clara Vere de Vere, and from seeing it done to wanting to do it herself was but a step. Now, Tani has his hands full putting fair and aristocratic aspirants up to the various locks and holds which constitute the Japanese art of self-defence.

Keenness of the Ladies

“A girl,” says the authority, “will learn ju-jitsu in one-third of the time, and with one-half the trouble, compared with a man. For one thing, they are keener about it; and for another, we cannot get the men to take it seriously enough to moderate their drinking, smoking and late hours – all of which are not conducive to excellence in ju-jitsu.

“Again, a girl is more anxious to improve her general physique than the male thing – and there is no doubt that this style of wrestling is a first-class thing for health and beauty.

An ever-present terror to women living in the country is the prowling tramp. But, armed with a knowledge of ju-jitsu, madame or mademoiselle may take her unattended walks abroad, and in the event of an encounter with the ‘hobo,’ may give him the alternative of crying quarter or having an arm broken.”

So fashionable is the new craze becoming that some West End stationers are printing invitation cards with “Wrestling” in the corner where “Dancing” or “Music” was wont to stand.

The life’s work of Percy Longhurst

Percy William Longhurst (1874-1959) was a lifelong wrestling and antagonistics enthusiast, a prolific writer and a significant figure in the history of Bartitsu.

Unfortunately, comparatively little is known of Longhurst’s biography, especially his early life.  As an adult he served the National Amateur Wrestling Association of Great Britain in various official capacities, including Treasurer, Secretary and President.  In 1899 he won the English Light-Weight Wrestling Competition and, in the same year, became one of the very first European-style wrestlers to challenge E.W. Barton-Wright’s Japanese jiujitsuka.  Losing both experimental matches, Longhurst became an enthusiastic proponent of Japanese unarmed combat for sport and, especially, as a means of self defence.

Longhurst’s 1900 article, A Few Practical Hints On Self-Defence, and his subsequent references to having learned some jiujitsu from Barton-Wright himself, strongly suggest that he was at least a sometime-member of the Bartitsu Club in Shaftesbury Avenue.  He also studied with both Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi, but the chronology there is unclear.

Longhurst’s first major contribution to the self defence milieu was his seminal book Jiu-Jitsu and Other Methods of Self Defence, originally published in 1906 and in print, via at least ten subsequent editions, for many decades thereafter.  This book is, for most practical purposes, the closest thing to a “Bartitsu manual” published in English, covering Longhurst’s idiosyncratic blend of various British regional wrestling styles with Japanese jiujitsu and also including some techniques of boxing and walking stick self defence.  It remains a valuable resource towards the development of neo-Bartitsu styles.

During the heated “boxing vs. jiujitsu” debate that played out in the pages of Health and Strength magazine during 1906, Longhurst produced a notably balanced and realistic illustrated article on the subject.  Despite “mixed” boxing vs. wrestling or jiujitsu contests being at least theoretically illegal under the then-current law, which would have defined such contests as “brawling in a public place”, Longhurst had clearly participated in these types of matches “behind closed doors”.

Unlike several of his contemporaries, notably including William and Edith Garrud and W. Bruce Sutherland, Longhurst does not appear to have ever set up his own school, nor even to have taught public self defence classes.  However, it is clear from his writings on the subjects of jiujitsu and “combined” self defence that he was both  knowledgeable and practically experienced, so it’s not unlikely that he trained informally, albeit over a long period, probably with his colleagues in the wrestling community.

He was, however, along with Garrud, Sutherland and Percy Bickerdike, among the founding members of the British Ju Jitsu Society, which formed in 1920.  The BJJS may have been established somewhat in reaction to the London Budokwai, which represented a shift away from the “old guard” of eclectic British jiujitsu and towards the new model of Kodokan judo.  The Society produced a newsletter and several detailed monographs on subjects such as atemi-waza (pressure-point techniques) and ne-waza (ground-fighting techniques).

Percy Longhurst continued to write prolifically throughout the early and mid-20th century, producing dozens of books and articles mostly on the subjects of athletics, wrestling and self-defence.  In writing for “Boy’s Own” magazines he occasionally used the pen-name Brian Kingston.  His output included juvenile adventure stories (such as “The Secret Lock“, written in 1911, which reads very much like a jiujitsu-themed prototype for the Karate Kid movies) as well as histories and expositions of various British wrestling styles.  His essay “The Hunt for the Man Monkey”, a purportedly true cryptozoological adventure describing a tragic encounter with an unknown, ferocious ape-like creature in the wild jungles of Borneo, was especially popular.

During the 1930s Longhurst was involved in an interesting project to create a new calisthenic wrestling style referred to as “standing catch-as-catch-can”, in which the object was to lift opponents off the floor rather than to throw them to the floor.  He also produced introductions for reprints and revisions of a number of books that had been written by his Edwardian-era colleagues, including Sadakazu Uyenishi’s Text-Book of Jujitsu, W.H. Collingridge’s Tricks of Self Defence and William Garrud’s The Complete Jujitsuan.

In the fraught summer of 1940, when many people in England feared an imminent invasion by Nazi soldiers, Longhurst produced a series of morale-building self-defence photo-features for the Daily Mail newspaper, showing women how they might defend themselves against enemy soldiers with jiujitsu and weapons such as walking sticks and fireplace pokers.

Percy Longhurst passed away at the respectable age of 85, having made a number of unique and valuable contributions to his chosen field.

Portraits of Sadakazu “Raku” Uyenishi

Sadakazu Uyenishi was aged just twenty years when he arrived in London to join E.W. Barton-Wright’s new Bartitsu enterprise during the year 1900. Although he was young, Uyenishi was already a highly experienced martial artist, skilled at kenjutsu (swordplay) as well as the use of the rokushakubo and hanbo (the six foot staff and three foot baton, respectively). His unarmed combat training had been with sensei Yataro Handa in Osaka.

Uyenishi and his training partner Yukio Tani both taught jiujitsu classes at the Bartitsu Club, also performing demonstrations and competing in open “challenge” contests against all comers in the great London music halls.

After the closure of the Bartitsu Club in 1902, Uyenishi continued to teach via his own dojo in London’s Golden Square district, as well as wrestling in challenge bouts. In 1905, with the assistance of his student E.H. Nelson and writing under his professional wrestling alias of “Raku”, Uyenishi produced his Text-Book of Ju-Jutsu, which was illustrated with cinematographic photo-series and which became a popular reference work. He also taught what may have been the first jiujitsu classes for English soldiers, at Aldershot Camp.

During 1908 Uyenishi left England and embarked on a successful teaching and demonstration tour of Spain and Portugal, but little is known of his life after that period. Percy Longhurst, writing an updated biography of Uyenishi for the 9th edition of his “Text-Book” published just after the Second World War, noted that Uyenishi had died “some years before”.




An Exhibition of Ju-Jitsu at Aldershot: A Lady Throws a Man (The Graphic – Saturday, 08 April 1905)

Uyenishi pupil at Aldershot

Ju-jitsu or the Japanese scientific wrestling, now being taught by a Japanese professor, Professor Uyenishi, of Seibouhan, Japan, to the Aldershot Gymnastic Staff, formed, perhaps, the greatest attraction at the annual gathering of the public schools at Aldershot on Friday last. The wrestling display was given after the boxing championships at the Gymnasium, Queen’s Avenue. One of the professor’s lady pupils from London more than once triumphantly floored her male opponent. Those who witnessed the exhibition came away with the conviction that the Japanese system of training wrestlers will long hold the field against all comers. Our photograph is by Charles Knight, Aldershot.