Robert Downey, Jr., who is to star in an upcoming Sherlock Holmes feature film being directed by Guy Ritchie, was quoted in Premiere Magazine as saying:
“We’re both martial arts enthusiasts and historically, in the real origin stories of Sherlock Holmes, he’s kind of a bad-ass and a bare-knuckle boxer and studies the rare art of baritsu [fictional martial art created by Doyle for the final Holmes story, 1901’s The Adventure Of The Empty House]. If you look baritsu up, they can’t even really tell you what it is, so it gives us a lot of leeway.”
“Baritsu”, of course, was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s misspelling of Bartitsu. Since Mr. Downey is a Wing Chun kung fu enthusiast and director Ritchie is a brown belt in Brazilian jiujitsu, their cinematic version of Holmes’ martial art may well pack quite a punch …
E.W. Barton-Wright, the founder of Bartitsu, died in 1951 at the age of ninety and was buried in what the late martial arts historian Richard Bowen described as a “pauper’s grave”, an unmarked, communal plot.
In 2007 Bartitsu Society member Phil Giles located Barton-Wright’s final resting place. The site of the grave is in Kingston Cemetery in Surrey, about ten miles from central London.
Proceeds from sales of Bartitsu Society books and other media have been dedicated to erecting a permanent grave marker at the site. A temporary marker is currently in place, as seen here:
The Royal Borough of Kingston has been informed of Barton-Wright’s unique position as a martial arts pioneer and plan to include his gravesite as part of a historical heritage trail which is due to be established in Kingston within the next two years.