Bartitsu seminars in Italy: Aug./Sept. 2009

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The inaugural event of the new Bartitsu Italia association will be a series of Bartitsu seminars taught by Tony Wolf and organised by Ran A. Braun and Paolo Papparella.

Seminar 1: August 28-30 in Rome
Seminar 2: September 2-4 in Cosenza (Calabria)

Both seminars will include intensive introductions to canonical and neo-Bartitsu training drills as well as discussions of Bartitsu history and related subjects.

For further details and booking information please contact info@bartitsu.it and/or see http://www.bartitsu.it/eventi.html.

Bartitsu in “Absinthe and Flamethrowers”

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Plugging Bill Gurstelle’s new book, Absinthe and Flamethrowers: the Art of Living Dangerously, which includes a six-page article on the history and practice of Bartitsu.

According to the publishers:

Want to add more excitement to your life?

This daring combination of science, history, and DIY projects will show you how. Written for smart risk takers, it explores why danger is good for you and details the art of living dangerously.

Risk takers are more successful, more interesting individuals who lead more fulfilling lives. Unlike watching an action movie or playing a video game, real-life experience changes a person, and Gurstelle will help you discover the true thrill of making black powder along with dozens of other edgy activities.

All of the projects—from throwing knives, drinking absinthe, and eating fugu to cracking a bull whip, learning bartitsu, and building a flamethrower—have short learning curves, are hands-on and affordable, and demonstrate true but reasonable risk.

With a strong emphasis on safety, each potentially life-altering project includes step-by-step directions, photographs, and illustrations along with troubleshooting tips from experts in the field.

Bartitsu intensive at ISMAC 2009

A quick report on the Bartitsu intensive at the tenth International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention, held at the Detroit Westin hotel between May 21-25, 2009.

The Bartitsu course was divided into two three-hour classes held on days 2 and 3 of the conference, and was well attended on both days (14 participants.)

We started with a precis discussion of E.W. Barton-Wright, the Bartitsu Club era and the Sherlock Holmes connection.  The participants then proceeded into a fairly quick study of the three themes of alignment control, initiative control and adaptability, using as examples the left-lead off and counters from scientific boxing, the coup de pied bas and chasse bas kicks of savate and two canonical jiujitsu defence sequences. The rest of this session covered a representative sample of canonical Bartitsu walking cane defence sequences, focusing on the straight or ball-handled cane.

Day 2 began with a discussion of Edith Garrud and the “Jiujitsuffragettes”,
progressed into a selection of crook-handled cane defences and then into the “twist” and “segue” exercises, as detailed in Volume II of the Bartitsu Compendium, applied to many of the canonical sequences that  had ben practiced up til then.  The “defenders” were challenged to spontaneously adapt their set-play defences in response to their first intention being defeated by the “attacker”, leading towards controlled, self defence oriented sparring scenarios.

During this class I was honoured to be joined by Mark Donnelly who has been teaching Bartitsu in England for a number of years. Mark and I had never worked together before, and I am very happy to report that he is a great asset to the international Bartitsu community; an excellent instructor, historian and martial artist. He has recently moved to the US and I’m looking forward to more collaborations with him in the future.

Bartitsu instructors Mark Donnelly (left) and Tony Wolf (right)
Bartitsu instructors Mark Donnelly (left) and Tony Wolf (right)

Bartitsu Club Italia

Bartitsu Club Italia is a new initiative by martial arts history enthusiast and artistic director Ran A. Braun.  The object of this new society will be to promote and advance the teaching of Bartitsu throughout Italy.  Also spearheading the B.I. is journalist and martial arts enthusiast Paolo Paparella.

The inaugural event on the Bartitsu Italia calendar will be a series of Bartitsu workshops and press events held in Rome, Cosenza and Savona between August 28-September 6, 2009.

Not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes …

Sherlock Holmes movie trailer

The first official trailer for the upcoming Holmes movie, evidently calculated to outrage purists and attract the attention of a younger audience.

Holmes’ “baritsu” is not identical to E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu, but still, the trailer shows us bare-knuckle boxing, stick fighting, a jiujitsu-like throw and a savate-like kick.  By establishing the equation of “Victorian London” and “martial arts”, the new movie risks making Bartitsu cool ..

Bartitsu Compendia on Amazon.com

Both volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium are now available via Amazon.com:

The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume I: History and Canonical Syllabus

The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume II: Antagonistics

All proceeds from sales of these books have been dedicated towards funding a memorial for E.W. Barton-Wright and to furthering the study of Bartitsu.

Houston Meet-Up

Scott Brown, a swordsmanship instructor in Houston recently met up with the Bartitsu Society’s Chris Amendola, and provided this report

Through recommendations from James Marwood and Alex Kiermeyer I recently made contact with a local Gentleman here in the Houston area named Chris Amendola, a Bartitsu specialist with a mentionable Eastern martial arts background.

Chris was kind enough to come by the training hall yesterday and offer an introductory workshop and lecture on E.W. Barton Wrights ‘mixed martial arts’ self defence system. I am extremely happy to report that he did a very fine job of not only giving a fairly thorough, if concise, overview of the system but also accommodating to the significantly wide variety of skill levels of the attending participants. While he did discuss some of the jujitsu elements of Bartitsu he was kind enough to focus the workshop on the Vigny cane aspects, covering a classification of techniques he termed “Guard by Distance”, making special emphasis on the very interesting Bartitsu ‘hanging guard’ (my term). Chris did a great job of keeping the class interesting and moving along as he demonstrated what I would consider to be a graspable number of defensive and offensive techniques, variations, and a number of counters to these. Personally, I was exceptionally pleased that he was able to take a number of our more experienced fencers out of their comfort zone by emphasizing Bartitsu’s rather unique ‘inverted overhand strike’ (my term) which is executed with some very interesting voiding footwork (nearly a demi-volta of sorts).

I am also happy to report that not only does Chris have a good ability to identify context and circumstance but also how they very importantly relate to fencing/fighting. He very capably demonstrated a number of tactical based decision making scenarios and almost nonchalantly discussed how they interplay with his interpretations of the plays in the Bartitsu system. I confess this was a pleasant surprise and excited me to know that such an informed and talented fellow is very nearly here in my own back yard. Additionally, he did a great job of being honest when he wasn’t sure about something when subjected to the customary grueling questions put forth by some of our gang and very admirably put serious thought into his responses, producing viable and coherent arguments only moments later. Very respectable in my book.

On the practical side, Chris was not only willing to fence but eager as anyone I’ve met and he further impressed me by not only wishing to fence using his Vigny, Cunningham and, I think, Lang cane understandings but also asked to fence against both the longsword and sword and buckler. Obviously, these are fencing systems that were never meant or designed to face each other and that only speaks to Chris’ good HEMA attitude. We also indulged him by playing at baton vs. baton with he and I going extra rounds we were having so much fun! The best part is Chris clearly is a man of mentionable skill, tactical understanding, and the ability to adapt. His unfamiliar, to us, methods definitely presented our gang with some new challenges and I suspect that he in turn found a few (but hopefully exciting) hurdles from our crowd. Bruises were shared all round, as it should be! Chris has a unique over/under/over strike combination that is faster than anyone I’ve yet to meet in a one handed weapon and he has a very dynamic and mobile style of fencing. He also put his money where his mouth is by capably demonstrating the unique ‘inverted overhand’ strike when fencing which was particularly fun to observe in addition to presenting some interesting challenges.

In short, it is my opinion that Chris Amendola is an excellent representative for Bartitsu as a functioning martial art. I think he poses great potential for growing this art, has a great attitude towards sharing, exchanging, training, and HEMA in general. And on top of it all, he’s a heck of a nice guy. If you get the chance, don’t miss an opportunity to train with Chris! I’m certainly looking forward to working with him in the future.

Bartitsu demo. at the Frazier Museum

A Bartitsu demonstration was presented recently at the Frazier International History Museum (829 West Main Street, Louisville, Kentucky, USA).  Based on a format developed for a similar demonstration by members of the British Royal Armouries interpretation team in 2001, the Frazier demo. was performed by actors playing the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. James Watson.

Swordfish

Next weekend I am teaching a short Bartitsu class at the Swordfish event in Gothenburg. There’s a fair bit of interest, including this article in a Swedish MMA magazine.

Here it is in English, courtesy of Tony Wolf

Bartitsu is particularly exciting, because had it not been for the
books about Sherlock Holmes, we would most likely not know anything about
the first time western martial arts where mixed with Japanese
jiu-jiutsu,” explains, Annika Corneliusson, head of GHFS.

Sherlock Holmes and the suffragettes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mentions “Baritsu” in one of his books, when the
famous detective tells of his knowledge in self defense. Bartitsu, which
is the real name, was created as a hybrid between jiu-jiutsu, western
wrestling, boxing, savate (French kickboxing) and cane fighting by the
english engineer Edward William Barton-Wright, who had spent a few years
working with railways in Japan. Now these techniques are taught for the
first time in Sweden by self defence instructor James Marwood from
London, UK.

“This is actually a very important part of the European history, not
just because of Sherlock Holmes, but also because the suffragette
movement trained Bartitsu to be able to defend themselves against
attacks by the police,” says Annika Corneliusson.