The international historical European martial arts and stage combat communities mourn the recent passing of John Waller, who was a modern pioneer in both fields.
Possessed of a life-long fascination with arms and armour, Mr. Waller founded the Medieval Society in 1963 and, a few years later, he also became a founding member of the Society of British Fight Directors. His long association with the Royal Armouries Museum likewise began during the late 1960s, when he owned an antiques and archery shop adjacent to the Museum, which was then housed in the Tower of London.
As a stage combat instructor, John Waller was responsible for training generations of young actors via the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Arts Educational School and the Drama Studio.
During the 1970s and ’80s he was involved in the production of a number of educational videos by and for the Royal Armouries, notably including Masters of Defence which was among the first videos to present historical European fighting styles as martial arts in their own right. He also served as the fight director for numerous plays, films, TV series and commercials.
When the Royal Armouries moved from the Tower of London to its new, purpose built facility in Leeds during the early 1990s, Mr. Waller also relocated and went on to become the Museum’s Director of Interpretation, training the fight demonstration team in the performance of numerous historical combat styles. In 2002 the R.A. Museum became the site of the first public Bartitsu demonstrations in a century, based on the then-recently republished “Self-Defence With a Walking Stick” articles by E.W. Barton-Wright.
Mr. Waller was proud to have met the Queen when she visited the Royal Armouries on three occasions. He retired in 2006 but continued to serve as a consultant for the Museum and, in 2009, was featured in the documentary Reclaiming the Blade.
Here’s an edited recap of the main lessons from Marcus Tindal’s article “Self-Protection on a Cycle”, as brought to life at the 2017 Dreynevent Western martial arts conference. The full presentation is available here.
Tindal’s article was published by Pearson’s Magazine at about the same time as E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu articles, leading to the common mistaken assumption that bicycle self-defence was part of Bartitsu per se. It does, however, come under the heading of fun adjunct studies and is occasionally revived, as previously seen at the ISMAC event in Michigan.
Mark P. Donnelly (Professor of Arms), an internationally-recognized expert on historical combat, will teach this five-hour “gentlemanly antagonistics” workshop.
– Explore the tactical principles of Bartitsu, and how they are still relevant today.
– Learn to use a walking stick, parasol, and other Victorian accessories to maintain “preservation of person and property when beset upon by ne’er-do-wells of nefarious intent.”
– For the first time ever, we’ll be exploring the history and use of the swordstick or sword-cane as commonly carried in Victorian and Edwardian Europe.
This workshop is a rare opportunity to study martial arts, combative theory, and obscure history in a safe, controlled, welcoming and civilized atmosphere with some of the top practitioners in the world. Open to gentlemen and ladies over 18. All experience levels welcome and all equipment provided.
Bartitsu instructor Alex Kiermayer and pugilist Christoph Reinberger are teaming up for a seminar in Victorian and Edwardian antagonistics. The two-day event will cover fisticuff, jiujitsu, Bartitsu stick fighting and more and will take place between June 30 – July 1 2018 in the Bavarian municipality of Garching an der Alz. For all details (in the German language) please visit this site.
February 6, 2108 marks the centennial anniversary of (limited) women’s suffrage in the UK. As numerous cultural and media organisations mark the anniversary, here are some current and upcoming projects that focus particularly on “suffrajitsu” – the use of jiujitsu by radical suffagette Bodyguards, circa 1913-14.
The Good Fight
Chicago’s Babes With Blades Theatre Company is currently staging Anne Bertram’s play The Good Fight, which details the history and missions of the suffragette Bodyguard team. Women’s jiujitsu pioneer and Bodyguard trainer Edith Garrud appears as a character in the play.
The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England will be showcasing Edith Garrud’s suffrajitsu as part of the Warrior Women exhibition during mid-late February.
Kitty Marshall: Suffragette Bodyguard at the Museum of London
The Museum of London’s year-long Votes for Women exhibition includes a showcase for Katherine “Kitty” Marshall, who was an active member of Emmeline Pankhurst’s Bodyguard team. Marshall also wrote the memoir Suffragette Escapes and Adventures, which currently exists in manuscript form as part of the Museum’s suffragette collection.
Kitty and the Cats: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Suffragette Bodyguard and the London Police
Suffrajitsu martial arts lessons will be part of the UK National Trust’s Suffragette City, an immersive, interactive experience that will recreate the headquarters of the Women’s Social and Political Union circa 1913.
Instructor Peter Smallridge (executing a flawless defence/trap/takedown/belabourage in the above sparring clip) will be teaching a Bartitsu cane seminar at the May Melee HEMA event. The event will run between Friday 25th and Sunday 27th May in Newnham, Gloucestershire, UK.
Suffragette Bodyguard leader Gert Harding (played by actress Scottie Caldwell) executes a jiujitsu arm-bar against a hapless police constable (Richard Traub) in an action scene from Anne Bertram’s play The Good Fight.
Chicago’s Babes With Blades Theatre Company announce their production of Anne Bertram’s play The Good Fight, telling the story of the jiujitsu-trained Bodyguard team who protected the leaders of the radical suffragette movement in England just before the First World War. Suffragette jiujitsu instructress Edith Garrud is featured as a character in the play, alongside other historical figures such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Bodyguard leader Gert Harding.
Footage from the stage production will also be featured during re-enactment scenes in the forthcoming documentary No Man Shall Protect Us.