Congratulations to the winners of the Bartitsu Sparring Video Competition!

The Bartitsu Sparring Video Competition was initiated in November of 2016. The object was to encourage experimentation with a set of sparring guidelines inspired by the styles practiced at the original Bartitsu Club in London, circa 1901.

The Sparring Video Competition was open to martial artists and combat sport athletes of all styles and received entries from the UK, USA and Latin America.

We are now pleased to be able to announce the winners:

The second prize of US$500 is awarded to the Santiago Stickfighting club based in Santiago, Chile, for the following videos:




The first prize of US$1000 is awarded to the Waterloo Sparring Group based in London, England, for the following compilation video:

The winning videos were judged to have met the conditions imposed by the guidelines and to have best represented both historical/stylistic accuracy and martial intent.

Congratulations to the winners and our thanks to all who entered the competition!

3 thoughts on “Congratulations to the winners of the Bartitsu Sparring Video Competition!”

  1. I am not sure about the Vignyness of the winner. Good use of the guards, but those cut mechanics look a little too much like club or sabre-like swings, which Vigny was specifically designing his system to not be replicating. I would love to hear your guys opinion on how you differentiate Vigny specifics, from general stick fighting principles.

    Please don’t take this as being overly critical, I actually think think is a really important issue, because videos made now will start to form the backbone for what the general public believes Vigny is. Therefor, critical assessment is the only way to keep on top of how a style is defined.

    From everything I have read, I wouldn’t consider Vigney’s guards to be the defining elements of his system. Lots of systems, from stick to sabre, are based on hanging guard principles. Instead, I view the things that are most unique about Vigney, and therefore those that should be held to the highest level of conservation, are his use of both hands (and both ends of the cane), his extremely high, palm up cutting mechanic, and his use of dropping to one knee for low cuts. I realize that this is just my opinion, and so you are free to think else wise. Honestly, this seems like it is the hardest part of reconstruction, figuring out which parts actually define the system, and which are just “fighting”.

    Also, from a professionalism standpoint, you might want the video to be re-edited to remove the vertical orientation smartphone parts. That type of video just don’t look good in general, they are smaller, and give the appearance of less resolution.

    I actually really like what you guys are doing otherwise.

  2. Hi Brian,

    thanks for your comments.

    The best technical commentary on Vigny’s striking dynamics are from a 1902 article called “The Art of la Canne”. Translated from French, the section reads:

    “The other blows are usually whipped blows – though M. Vigny calls some of them “whipped” and others “folded” to make a distinction, you must always obtain the whistling noise of the whip. The little canne crop (i.e. “switch”, light training weapon) will whistle when swung with but a little effort. The rigid cane will do it only if manipulated with great energy. Where can you get this energy? From the shoulders and the back. You must obtain mobility from the back and an ample movement with the arm, which is powered by the shoulder. Naturally, training is given on both the left and right sides. The left will not be as good as the right but on occasion you must be able to use it with power should the opportunity arise.

    There exist also some bludgeoning blows requiring a particular preparation. There is nothing like this in other types of fencing and at the beginning the muscles are too weak to accomplish it. They contract incorrectly and the force is lost en route, the blow arriving without sufficient strength. There must not be a break between the extension of the arm and the stick. Not being stiff but with an elastic strength, the wrist must become like a knot in the wood – for this reason we must hold the stick with a full hand-grip, the thumb being folded across the other fingers and not along the stick. It is a habit that is difficult and painful to acquire. The palm crumples, blisters form and muscles are subjected to tension and pain, but this is the price of efficiency.”

    In conjunction with Barton-Wright’s comments about strikes that can “sever a man’s jugular vein through the collar of his overcoat”, we interpret the bludgeoning and whipped mechanics as allowing for slashing blows, comparable to those of sabre fencing; Vigny’s implicit (and Barton-Wright’s overt) objection to the sabre style being more specific to the use of sabre guard positions 3 and 4 being applied with a weapon lacking a handguard than to striking/cutting dynamics.

    We agree that the use of the double-handed guard is very much a characteristic of the Vigny style and were pleased to see it used effectively in the winning entries; we would like to see much more of that application in sparring. Otherwise, and aside from the characteristic hanging guards, the high palm-up mechanic and method of dropping to one knee for low strikes, we’d argue that the integration of takedowns and grappling with stick-play is a highly significant stylistic indicator. Future iterations of the sparring video contest may well mandate all of these.

    The competition guidelines offered entrants a great deal of freedom regarding how they shot and edited their videos and the plan is to use highlights from the winning entries to illustrate future technical articles. We probably won’t use the vertically oriented shots, for exactly the reasons you suggest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *