Bartitsu Quiz #1

Test your general Bartitsu knowledge with these ten questions (answers given below):

1: In his lecture for the Japan Society of London, E.W. Barton-Wright defined Bartitsu as

A) “the new art of self defence”

B) “self defence in every form”

C) “the manly art of self defence”

D) “self defence for ladies and gentlemen”

2 – What name did Sadakazu Uyenishi assume when competing in music hall wrestling challenges (clue – it’s the same name he used when writing The Text-Book of Jujitsu)

A) Kazu

B) Ishi

C) Raku

D) Sada

3 – Pierre Vigny’s wife was known professionally as “Miss Sanderson”.  What was her real first name?

A) Marie

B) Mirabelle

C) Madaleine

D) Marguerite

4 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes describe “baritsu” as

A) “the Japanese system of wrestling”

B) “a secret style of Japanese wrestling”

C) “the art of Japanese wrestling”

D) “the Japanese art of wrestling”

5 – To invite an opponent’s attack to an apparently unguarded target, then avoid that attack while simultaneously counter-attacking, is described by Barton-Wright as a

A) “Guard by Resistance”

B) “Guard by Distance”

C) “Guard by Evasion”

D) “Guard by Deception”

6) Against which of the following tools-as-weapons did Barton-Wright not claim to have had to defend himself during his travels overseas:

A) Crowbars

B) Sledgehammers

C) Scythes

D) Spades

7 – Which style of jiujitsu did E.W. Barton-Wright study while living in Kobe, Japan?

A) Asayama Ichiden-ryū

B) Kashima Shin-ryū

C) Shindō Yōshin-ryū

D) Shinden Fudo-ryū

8 – In which year did Barton-Wright return to England from Japan?

A) 1897

B) 1898

C) 1899

D) 1900

9 – During Yukio Tani’s career as a music hall challenge wrestler, he was nicknamed:

A) The Pocket Hercules

B) The Little Samson

C) The Small Apollo

D) The Compact Ajax

10 – Which one of the following nicknames was not given to Emmeline Pankhurst’s jiujitsu-trained security staff?

A) The Jiujitsuffragettes

B) The Amazons

C) The Suffrajitsus

D) The Bodyguard



1 – B

2 – C

3 – D

4 – A

5 – B

6 – B

7 – D

8 – B

9 – A

10 – C

“An English Style of Jujitsu” (1905)

This anonymous letter to the editor of the St. James’s Gazette was originally published on March 9th, 1905.  The author’s objection to submission wrestling on moral and nationalistic grounds was fairly common during this period, and indeed had originally been levelled against E.W. Barton-Wright, circa 1900.  Barton-Wright’s displays of Japanese unarmed combat had been decried by some critics as being “un-English” and “comprised of absolute fouls“. 

Via his lectures and comments offered in Bartitsu displays, Barton-Wright replied that the object of testing the Japanese style via sport was to train for actual self-defence, wherein the traditional conventions of English sportsmanship were moot.

Much the same objection had been made against English-style boxing in Japan, where traditional sentiment was set against the idea of striking another person in the face – and, particularly, of drawing blood from their nose – for the purpose of sport.

The letter begins:

Sir, —Jujitsu seems to be the fashionable graven image of the moment before which the whole athletic world is bowing down. English wrestling is abasing itself before this foreign god nightly at the Lyceum Theatre, where the best of our English wrestlers are being used for dusting scenery and wiping the floor.

Is it, or is it not, a fact, that all the holds and tricks which the Ju-jitsu experts beat our wrestlers, and compel them to hammer the floor in agonised token of defeat, should properly be called “fouls”? English wrestling knows nothing of these tricks; but it is not hard to imagine that English wrestlers could invent a few that would have the same effect on Japanese wrestlers as Ju-jitsu has on English experts. The Jap gets a twist on the Englishman’s arm of a sort that gives intense pain, and would result in a fracture if the victim did not at once give in.

Why not invent an English art of Ju-jitsu which might include such holds as, say, seizing the opponent’s car in the teeth, or thrusting the fist in his mouth and retaining it there; sitting firmly in the face; pressing tightly on the wind-pipe with the knee? A little imagination will supply no end of victory-compelling holds.  I don’t know, but a sort of patriotic pride makes me wonder how the Ju-jitsu experts would shine in a wrestling contest according to English rules—all fouls, English or foreign, barred.

The anonymous writer would not have to wait long for his answer to that question, as some Japanese fighters, notably including Yukio Tani and Taro Miyake did, in fact, compete successfully in English-style matches, most especially in the catch-as-catch-can style.

“A Fight with a Capoeira” (1904)

This article, which first appeared in the Wide World Magazine of October, 1904, represents a curious sub-genre of 19th and early 20th century literature that might be described as the “exotic fighting styles travelogue”.  Writers in this tradition describe their adventures learning from, or occasionally fending off, local masters of esoteric martial arts in some far-flung locale, frequently while in the company of comely young ladies.  Minus the young ladies (as far as we know), Bartitsu founder Edward Barton-Wright had his own share of similar tales, including some rather hair-raising descriptions of the various weapons he’d had to contend against during his long travels abroad.

In this case, the Englishman Bernard St. Lawrence – whose other articles for Wide World included a piece on “The Serpent Garden of Butantan” – apparently chanced to cross paths with an exponent of Brazilian capoeira.  Strictly truthful or otherwise, St. Lawrence’s story is notable in that capoeira was almost entirely unknown outside of Brazil during the early 20th century, aside from occasional references in French media and an allusion by the English self-defence writer Percy Longhurst.

Noting for the sake of clarity that while the art of capoeira is now world-famous as an acrobatic dance/ritual/fight, the word was traditionally also used to describe the class of “ruffians” who were skilled in that art, as is noted here by the editor of this unusual and interesting story:

Wide World Magazine editor’s note:

“Capoeiras” are the Brazilian equivalent of the class of ruffians known in London as “hooligans,” in America as “bad men” or “hoodlums,” in Australia as “larrikins,” and in Paris as “Apaches,” save that they are probably even more formidable. Trained in a most peculiar method of fighting, having small razors fixed in their hair, and often carrying others, they can inflict terrible wounds by charging an adversary with head down. They are so agile that it is almost impossible to aim a revolver at them. In this story the author narrates his thrilling experience with one of these miscreants whose jealousy he had unwittingly aroused.

AS we rode up the Itatiaia Mountains I began to realize what a large country Brazil is, with its vast solitudes still so little frequented by man. A sense of loneliness came upon me as I looked back upon the last village we had left, the little white houses of which stood out like big mushrooms against the red earth. There was something desolate and yet fascinating in the expanse of mountains as I climbed higher: they looked like a world as yet unfashioned.

No incident particularly worthy of mention happened on the journey, and I reached the hacienda for which I was bound in safety. It was a large, tumbledown old house, seldom used, and far from the plantations, so that we took up our abode in a “barraca” — a house built of wood, of the kind used by the work-people on the estate, whose habitations formed a small colony around us.

Though life is dull upon a farm in the interior of Brazil, there is much of interest to a stranger, and I tried to learn all I could. I must confess, however, that I did not receive much help from anyone, save from a girl who happened to know a few words of English, which she loved to air on every possible occasion. Being an Englishman, I seemed to possess a great attraction for her, and we came much into each other’s company. I was very fortunate in this, for she was one of the most intelligent persons in the district, and had become quite a person of authority on account of the many good deeds she had done there. She worked hard to keep her mother and sisters, who were good-for-nothing and lazy. Her name was Chica — short for Francesca.

It was to this girl that I was always referred when in any difficulty, because of her knowledge of English, which the people thought to be much greater than it really was; and thus I saw more of her than would otherwise have been the case, going on several occasions to her “barraca,” where her mother sat near the door eternally spinning cotton or drying tobacco on little sticks.

I think these occasional visits pleased the girl’s vanity, for she took me quite under her protection, pointed out all the interesting sights, and gave me much information.

Soon the day drew near for my return to more civilized parts. It had been a quiet, uneventful sojourn; in fact, on the last day but one before my departure I was thinking how humdrum my trip into the interior had been, when there occurred the exciting incidents which it is my intention to relate and which quite changed my opinion of the trip.

On the day in question a great “batugue” was given. This dance — of Indian origin — is not such as would be popular in very refined circles. Nevertheless, from its peculiarity it merits some description.

You must not look for graceful movements in a “batugue.” An insinuating but rather monotonous tune is played upon a guitar, and the men, beating time with their naked feet, make up a couplet — comic, sentimental, or satirical, as the fancy takes them — which they sing to the women, who thereupon make suitable reply.  All then clap their hands in time to the music, and each man in turn capers more or less wildly before his partner, after which they dance together for awhile. This is repeated by each couple one after the other, while those not dancing sing and clap their hands. The dance is common all over Brazil, and particularly so up-country, though it is only affected by the lower classes.

I had often seen the people dancing it, but had never been to a regular big “batugue,” so I looked forward to the function with no small interest. There was to be a beautiful Spanish girl there too, who lived near the plantation, and who interested me much, for I had often seen her and wondered why she stayed in such an out-of-the-way and lonely place. It was said she would perform some of the dances of her own country that night, for she would not take part in the “batugue” and was looked upon as insufferably high-minded for that reason.

When the night came round I went early to the place where the “batugue” was to be held, and had not long taken up a position whence I could see what was going forward, when a voice close to my ear said, in surprised tones: “Is the son of bif come batatas (beef and potatoes) come here to dance?”

I turned and saw my little friend Chica. It was now my turn to be surprised, for Chica never attended these dances, which, as I have said, are not of a very elevating character. My answer to her question, therefore, took the form of stolid silence, while I looked askance at her. This had the desired effect, for Chica immediately began to explain her presence. It was to see the Spanish girl Nita, she said, and last, though not least, because her betrothed had come to see her, and she wanted to prevent him from joining in the dance, of which she much disapproved.

Brazilians, whether good or bad, are very jealous, and Chica, though a good girl, was fond of admiration, so I guessed that she looked upon the beautiful Nita with no favourable eye, fearing that she might attract the roving eye of Domingo, her betrothed. It was for these reasons, Chica explained at length, that she was present at the “batugue” that evening.

We looked on at the scene for awhile in silence, waiting to see if Nita would begin her performance; but though she was there she did nothing, but talked rather listlessly to a little man I had never seen before. Presently Chica said, “Let us go, senhor: she’ll never begin, and I can make as pretty music as this for you under the palm-trees yonder.”

She pointed to a clump of trees with one hand, and with the other showed me a little guitar she had with her. There was a shadow of displeasure on her face as she spoke, but I took little notice of it, and we moved away.

The “batugue ” was held in the open air, the weather being warm. The people were strolling about or sitting here or there chatting, smoking, singing, or playing, as the fancy took them.   Chica and I sat down beneath a tree, and she began to talk of her country — a favourite theme with her — telling me of the days when the culture of sugar-cane was a flourishing industry, and exulting in the fact that cotton was daily increasing in importance.

Presently, detaching a string from her waist, Chica fastened it on her wrist. At the end of this string dangled a paper manikin, so that as Chica sat to play his feet just touched the ground, and he stood, as it were, upon it, following the action of her hand and thus producing faithfully the movements of a dance she played. This performance soon restored Chica’s gaiety, and was, indeed, so grotesque as to cause the onlookers great merriment.

It was during a hearty burst of laughter caused by the antics of the doll that a thin little man whom I had previously observed, and who looked as if he had the agility of twenty monkeys in him, came along and spoke to Chica. She did not seem pleased at the interruption, and he was evidently annoyed with her. The interview, however, was short, for she sent him away with a curt remark. As he went the girl began to make her manikin jump furiously, exclaiming loudly, “It’s so like him !”

The man heard her, for he turned his head, though he said nothing. When he had gone Chica told me his name was Domingo, and that she was destined to be his wife. “He is a Capoeira,” she added, in a lower tone.

“What is that ?” I asked.

“Didn’t you see any in Rio?” said the girl.  “They are men trained to move so quickly that when fighting they are impossible to catch.  They are not generally strong, but light, and so active. They do evil things. In their woolly hair they fix a little razor, and, ducking their heads, they run with all their might at a man, killing him if they choose; and all the time they move so quickly that it is most difficult even to take aim at them with a pistol.”

I had heard of something of the kind, and asked Chica many questions concerning these men.

She told me their method of attack was to circle round and round a man, suddenly making furious thrusts at him with the head. If there is a razor in the head — or in the hand, as happens rather often — it is a serious matter. Even without these weapons they can do much damage, and have been known to kill a man with a well-placed kick.

I had heard vague stories before about these ruffians, and listened to Chica’s recital with interest, idly wishing I might see a real Capoeira in action. I was about to utter the wish aloud, when I heard, in many different tones, the long-drawn “Oh! oh!” with which Brazilians call attention to anything worth seeing.

Rising to look, I saw that Nita, the Spanish girl, was dancing; so bidding, I fear, a rather hasty good-bye to Chica, I went in among the people to watch what was going on.

There was always something inexplicably fascinating to me in the sound of the castanets, and when Nita held them and danced it was a veritable poem of motion. Her tiny feet hardly seemed to touch the ground, so lightly and gracefully they moved. Presently she ran forward with bewitching grace, inviting one amongst us to stand before her and be her partner. All the men struggled for the honour, and I found myself side by side with the ill-favoured Domingo.

Half to please myself, and half because I thought little Chica would be glad if I danced with this siren instead of her betrothed, I pushed Domingo aside rather unceremoniously, but in one bound he stood before me, trying to assume the haughty grace of a Spanish cavalier. With a laugh at my momentary folly I was turning away, when I saw Nita shake her forefinger in the air at Domingo, which amongst Spaniards and Brazilians means “No,” and at the same time — no doubt through some caprice — she beckoned me to take his place. I lost no time in going forward, and we danced awhile together, Domingo throwing an angry glance my way ere he disappeared in the crowd.

Soon after this Nita left the scene of her triumph, and I wandered about looking idly at the various groups, exchanging a word here and there with those I knew amongst them.

I was just about to leave the place when I heard Chica asking Domingo, in angry terms, why he had stayed so long at the dance.

“Why did you leave us to play and sing to the Englishman?” he replied, viciously.

“You didn’t come near me,” cried Chica, rapidly. “Why did you stay with Nita? What do you see in her?”

Domingo spoke slowly and insultingly, saying that Nita was beautiful, graceful, and amiable, and all the rest of it. So the dispute went on, till at last Chica left him with angry words, and flung up against me as I stood there astonished that I had, though quite unwittingly, anything to do with this lovers’ quarrel.

She begged my pardon in some confusion, and then asked me to guide her through the throng of people until she should be safe. I guessed this was meant to annoy Domingo, for Chica wore that night a longish knife with a curious handle, so that she could have gone alone, if necessary, and, besides, she was so much respected that it was not likely she would suffer at the hands of anyone. Therefore I asked why Domingo did not perform this duty, but Chica, still smarting from the quarrel, declared that she would not allow it. Thinking it wiser to put an end to the matter, therefore, I complied with her request.

Once clear of the crowd I left her, and went musing to bed. There my thoughts went back over the events of the evening, and I saw that I had unwittingly made an enemy of Domingo the Capoeira. It was clear from his point of view that there was much to complain of in my conduct, for Chica had spoken to me at the beginning of the evening and had sung to me, sending Domingo away from her, and, though I had nothing to reproach myself with, I knew it would be futile to try and explain things to the angry lover, for Brazilians are intensely jealous.

Finally I dismissed the matter from my mind, listened awhile to the faint sounds of music and singing that floated in, and then fell asleep.

It must have been very late when I was awakened by a slight noise from the outside of the house, and through the crevices which occurred here and there in the frail woodwork that framed its sides I saw what seemed to be a figure peering. I judged it wise to have a look round, though there were many people abroad that night in the “barraca” who were not generally there, and this might well be one among them or only a belated reveller desirous of laying his weary limbs to rest somewhere or other.

Rising, therefore, and feeling for the revolver I had been warned always to carry about with me, I picked my way over the prostrate forms that lay across my path, opened the door, and went out.

Not a sound disturbed the stillness of the night, and, finding no one near the spot whence the sounds had proceeded, I moved some yards away from the shelter of the house, the better to admire the glorious moon and stars blazing above my head.

Then I heard distinctly the soft tread of naked feet, and an odd sensation as of some evil thing approaching came over me. There was something awe-inspiring in that quiet, stealthy sound breaking in on the calm beauty of the night. Turning quickly I beheld a weird object — a small, thin man, who began to wheel round me in rapid circles. Too amazed at first to reason, I thought he must be drunk or mad, until I saw something upon his head that gleamed blue in the moonlight, and which helped me to realize my peril. It was Domingo the Capoeira, and I was to be the object of one of the terrible onslaughts of which Chica had told me.

Guessing that he meant to give me a “cabecada” (thrust with the head) I at once pulled out my revolver and tried to take a steady aim at him. This was no easy task, however, for he shifted his position continually with quick, lightning-like movements. Just as I was about to fire, unable to bear the tension any longer, Chica appeared from somewhere and ran up against him. I never knew how it happened, but she was knocked over, with the blood pouring from a slight wound in her arm.

Hearing her cry as she fell heavily to the ground, I rushed headlong at Domingo, hoping to secure him while he was not moving, but went with too much impetus, and we both rolled over in a heap, my revolver going off in the struggle.

The report disturbed the heavy sleepers in the houses, and in the twinkling of an eye there was a curious group of men and women on the spot. Picturesque, too, they looked in the soft light, many with their various coloured night coverings still hanging about them. All talked and asked questions excitedly.

Domingo said something in a low tone, the purport of which I did not understand, but there began to be ominous murmurs against the “Inglez.” I do not know what might have happened had not the owner of the plantation opportunely appeared upon the scene, and between commands and threats he restored some order. To my astonishment he told me that it would be advisable for me to leave the place next day, as my presence there might cause serious disturbances.

After consideration I made no objection, and set out for the coast the following morning.

I never set eyes upon poor little Chica again, for during the conference with mine host she disappeared, and to all my inquiries as to where she was and how she fared a stolid “nao soi” (don’t know) was returned.

I sincerely hope that she suffered no further harm at the hands of her ruffianly suitor.

I made good progress on my journey, and as I approached Rio Janeiro I felt heartily glad to think that I should soon be in regions where dangerous and unpleasant adventures do not happen so frequently as on a Brazilian plantation in the interior, and where I should be tolerably safe from the jealous hatred of Domingo the Capoeira.


Concerning the Bartitsu Compendium, Volumes 1 and 2

By Tony Wolf

This article offers a brief “history” of the Bartitsu revival movement, especially via the production of the two volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium in 2005 and 2008.

The advent of the Internet during the late 1990s facilitated contact and communication in innumerable special interest fields, very often among individuals and small groups that had been working in relative isolation for years. The newfound ability to “meet” fellow enthusiasts from all around the world online dramatically expanded and accelerated many of these fields; it was, to put it mildly, a heady time.

In the martial arts sphere, the esoteric practice of reviving previously extinct fighting styles received an especially strong boost during this period. The Bartitsu revival began as part of this new movement, originally via the Bartitsu Forum Yahoo Group email list, which was founded by author and martial artist Will Thomas in 2002; almost exactly one century after the original London Bartitsu Club had closed down.

Within about three years, members of the Forum – which had quickly and informally morphed into the Bartitsu Society – had tracked down a vast quantity of archival information related to E.W. Barton-Wright’s martial art. Most notable were Barton-Wright’s article series for Pearson’s Magazine, which had been discovered by the late British martial arts historian Richard Bowen and which were first broadcast online via the Electronic Journal of Martial Arts and Sciences website.  Many of the characteristics of Bartitsu revivalism, including the concepts of “canonical” and “neo” Bartitsu and the essentially open-source nature of the revival itself, were likewise defined during this period.

By early 2004, we had so much information that it seemed fitting to try to get it into a publishable format, if only for the convenience of the (still) relatively few people who had taken a strong interest in the subject.  Also, though, there was a growing sense that E.W. Barton-Wright had not yet received due recognition.  The more we were learning about his life and fighting style, the more it seemed that he should be acknowledged as a martial arts pioneer and innovator.  Therefore, the decision was made to dedicate any profits from the book to memorialising Barton-Wright’s legacy.

Because the potential readership seemed so small and specialised, we realised that the Bartitsu Compendium was unlikely to appeal to traditional publishers.  Therefore, we  decided to take advantage of the then-relatively new POD (Print On Demand) technology, which would allow individual copies of the book to be automatically printed and shipped as they were ordered.

Volume 1 of the Bartitsu Compendium – which was eventually subtitled “History and the Canonical Syllabus” – was compiled as a group labour of love.  I volunteered to edit and generally steer the project and numerous others produced original articles, tracked down ever more obscure sources in European library archives and second-hand bookstores, manually transcribed print into electronic text (OCR technology was not then what it is now) and lent their talents to translations from various foreign languages.

The compilation and editing process took about a year, and then the book was officially launched at a function held in an Edwardian-era meeting room in the St. Anne’s Church complex in Soho, London, literally a stone’s throw from the site of the original Bartitsu Club in Shaftesbury Avenue.  A simple table display included a bouquet of flowers, a straw boater hat and a Vigny-style walking stick, along with print-outs of the various chapters.  Ragtime music played quietly in the background.

I offered a short lecture on the history of Bartitsu and a demonstration of some of the canonical techniques, followed by a champagne toast to the memory of E.W. Barton-Wright.  Guests were then invited to mingle and peruse the print-out chapters (and, if they wished, take them as souvenirs).

To our surprise, the first volume of the Compendium sold well and, in fact, it was Lulu Publications’ best-selling martial arts book for a number of years. Funds from those sales supported the first three Bartitsu School of Arms conferences (in London, Chicago and Newcastle, respectively) and paid for a Bartitsu/Barton-Wright memorial that became part of the Marylebone Library collection, among other projects.

The Bartitsu revival proceeded and grew, with increasing numbers of seminars and ongoing courses being established. By 2007 it was clear that we needed a second volume, presenting resources that went beyond the canonical material and into the corpus of material produced by Bartitsu Club instructors and their first generation of students.

Volume 2 was a more complicated undertaking because it involved cross-referencing over a dozen early 20th century self-defence manuals, almost all from within the direct Bartitsu Club lineage, with the aim of synthesising a complete neo-Bartitsu syllabus. Individual techniques were carefully gathered from multiple sources and assessed, omitting redundancies and duplications while retaining useful variations. We also wanted to avoid developing a fully standardised, prescriptive curriculum, in favour of allowing individuals and clubs to choose their own “paths” through the various techniques and styles that went into the Bartitsu cross-training mix.  Further, the lessons of volume 2 were joined together by a set of technical and tactical principles or “themes” redacted from the writings of E.W. Barton-Wright.

Again, the production of the book was very much a team effort, requiring the locating, scanning, transcribing etc. of a wide range of antique self-defence books and articles.

The second volume of the Bartitsu Compendium (subtitled “Antagonistics”) was launched in 2008, and proved to be very nearly as popular as Volume 1. The Compendia have formed the backbone of the Bartitsu revival since then, especially during the “boom time” of roughly 2009-13, which was engendered by the massive popular success of the action-packed Sherlock Holmes movies and consequently by substantial media, pop-culture and academic interest in Bartitsu.

There are currently about 50 Bartitsu clubs and study groups spread throughout the world and many of the old Bartitsu mysteries have either been solved outright or satisfactorily mitigated through educated guesswork.  Although it will never be the “next big thing” in the martial arts world, all signs point to Bartitsu continuing as a niche-interest study for those who spend about equal time in the library and in the dojo.

“The Preliminaries of Jiu-Jitsu”: Armand Cherpillod on Atemi-Waza

Armand Cherpillod poses as “the attacker” with a student demonstrating atemi-waza as self-defence.

Hailing from the Alpine village of St. Crois, wrestler Armand Cherpillod was the last full-time instructor to join the staff of the London Bartitsu Club.  According to Cherpillod’s memoirs, E.W. Barton-Wright sent Pierre Vigny to Switzerland with the express intention of bringing a wrestling champion back to London.

It’s likely that Cherpillod was approached because the then-current war of words between Bartitsu founder Edward Barton-Wright and the English wrestling establishment had reached a stalemate.  The wrestlers refused to accept Barton-Wright’s challenge for them to compete with his club’s champions under jiujitsu rules, and Barton-Wright refused to allow Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi to compete under other rules.   

Bringing Cherpillod in as a “ringer”, having him train with Tani and Uyenishi and then fight under catch-as-catch-can rules was a clever tactic on behalf of Barton-Wright.  Representing the Bartitsu Club, Cherpillod won his match against the famous wrestler Joe Carroll during a highly-publicised Bartitsu tournament, and then continued into a successful career as a challenge wrestler both in England and on the European Continent.

The following article, translated from the Revue Olympique of January, 1905, highlights Cherpillod’s take on jiujitsu atemi-waza (striking and nerve pressure techniques).  It’s both interesting and unusual in that, although Barton-Wright’s own original articles for Pearson’s Magazine had included a variety of atemi-waza, that class of techniques was not emphasised in the books later produced by Tani and Uyenishi.

Atemi methods were, however, also detailed in some of the books written by second-generation instructors, such as W. Bruce Sutherland.  The British Jujitsu Society – which largely consisted of instructors who had been trained by Tani and Uynenishi – later produced a pamphlet detailing the same branch of skill, titled “The Art of Ju-Jitsu: Nerve Pinches and Fatal Blows”, which is reproduced in The Bartitsu Compendium.

The translated Revue Olympique article follows:

Among the first European followers of jiu-jitsu is the world champion of freestyle wrestling, A. Cherpillod, who arrived in London during the year 1901 as a teacher at the Bartitsu Club, where he met with the Japanese masters Uyenishi and Tani. An exchange of teaching took place between these athletes, as they began to introduce each other to the beauties of their arts.

Returning to Switzerland, Cherpillod taught some colleagues about the principles of jiu-jitsu and, when in charge of a wrestling course at the Royal Naval Officers at Portsmouth, he joined them in performing demonstrations of the Japanese method. He perfected his own skill and acquired some good pupils. Finally last year, Cherpillod, assisted by his friend, the distinguished Professor E. Richème, of Neuchatel, prepared his little practical manual of jiu-jitsu, which enjoyed considerable success.

Mr. Cherpillod considers that jiu-jitsu and European freestyle wrestling have a common origin and that the former is only a particular style of freestyle wrestling, starting from the initial common principle of seeking defeat of the adversary without any regard for convention, every technique being good provided it tends to the desired result. In ancient Greece, writes the author, “freestyle wrestling became the object of public competitions.  The progress of civilisation and certain sporting considerations gradually softened the brutality of these matches. Thus, over the course of centuries, conventions emerged, mainly leading to the recognition of the touch of the shoulders to the ground, or a similar position, as the end of the fight.

It follows from this that freestyle European wrestling would have lost, by becoming civilized or sporting, all that the Japanese style has gained in science and in virtuosity by its independence and freedom. It is this virtuosity which gives jiu-jitsu the appearance of a mysterious art, thanks to the success that those who practice it invariably win over all the athletes constrained by modern (i.e. Western) conventions and incapable of realizing the scope of an art which systematically ignores the outdated rules of which they are imbued.

This judgement is interesting; it seems a little sketchy, perhaps, in disregarding some of the fundamental originality of the Japanese method. The latter recommends itself in two points which do not appear to him to be common with any other kind of free wrestling; the role played by the fingers and the whole hand – and also through the intervention of scientific anatomy.

But, of course, Mr. Cherpillod did not fail to appreciate the importance of these two points when he himself became a jiu-jitsu expert and that is why it is astonishing that he has not emphasized them by giving in his textbook a general overview of the Japanese style; on the other hand, when it comes to what might be called the preliminary preparation in jiu-jitsu, the famous Swiss athlete ascribed to the first rank the exercises of the hand and anatomical study.

The general gymnastic method he indicates does not call for any comment. Certain movements are hardly different from those which are customarily taught to obtain relaxation of the whole body. The author has no preference; he says so overtly. We even take note of this clear theory, so contrary to the excitement of the day, and for which we express our warm sympathy; “All systems are good, provided they are applied consistently.” There is no master of gymnastics who can not apply a rational training program capable of developing the strength of the limbs, the flexibility and resistance of each part of the body. To arrive at a determined result, it is enough to create a system and to practice it every day with perseverance.

That being said, Mr. Cherpillod comes to the preparation of the hands and the indication of the vulnerable points of the human body; these are essential elements of jiu-jitsu. A trained Japanese fighter can, with a single stroke of the edge of the hand against the neck, dislocate cervical vertebrae and bring death. There are not many ways to train in this regard. It is necessary, with the hand well open, the fingers held tightly, to strike or slice at a very hard object as violently as possible, with a percussive blow; you must not only repeat this exercise a very large number of times, but vary it by striking from top to bottom, from bottom to top, from right to left and from left to right.

Vulnerable points in the human body are not all affected by the same techniques, nor in the same way. Some are sensitive to torsion, others to pressure; others again must be assailed by a sharp blow of  the hand. Here is the enumeration furnished by M. Cherpillod:

1. Points sensitive to torsion or reversal ending at the same time by the disarticulation of the grasped member:

  • the fingers – the wrist – the arm at the elbow – the junction between the arm and the shoulder. The foot and knee could still be mentioned, although the blows there are both less effective and more difficult to perform.

2 – Sensitive pressure points:

  • the eyes – the depression of the nose at the base of the forehead – the nose (pushed upwards or the nostrils inside) – the hollow below the ears – the carotid – the inner muscle of the arm immediately above the elbow or pinched ten or fifteen centimeters from the armpit – the wrist at the pulse point – the back of the hand in the interval between the three middle fingers – the first joint of the little finger – the skin of the belly directly below the hollow of the stomach – the ankle.

3 – Points sensitive to strikes with the hand:

  • the temple – the nose from bottom to top – the Adam’s apple – the side of the neck under the jawbone and above the clavicle – the nape of the neck – the clavicle – the back above the shoulder blades – the bottom of the vertebral column at the hollow lumbar – the hollow of the stomach – the flank below the false ribs – the groin – the point between the biceps and triceps muscles as well as the middle of the forearm and the wrist joint – the middle of both sides or the femur – the middle of the front of the tibia in front – the toes.

It will be noticed that, practically, there is a ranking to operate between all these points; many of them, while they might be excellent attack points upon the naked body, are usually protected by clothing.

It will also be noted that they are not all easy to determine, other than in theory. First, there are the individual physiques to be taken into account, the real anatomy of men differing considerably from one to the other; but, even on a normal man, a strike may not invariably land upon its target, especially if it is a quick and sudden movement.

Now, in Jiu-Jitsu, as in every other form of fighting, accuracy in partnership with speed leads most surely to success.  Hence the precision exercises to which the Japanese attribute real importance, but which the Swiss champion seems to leave a little aside. It is said that, in Japan, one sometimes uses the following process: a man draws upon a table a series of small circles in pencil, then he steps away from the table first one pace, then two, then three, and he suddenly lunges and places his finger in one of the circles. We can do the same thing with a piano keyboard, aiming to depress this or that key.

There is, of course, no equivalent exercise that can be performed upon the body of an adversary, and, to tell the truth, we do not believe that, without an adversary, one can acquire even a summary knowledge of jiu-jitsu.

On the other hand, it is always good to study etudes (formal exercises) and any work in physical culture should more or less start with those. The jiu-jitsu etudes are exercises aimed at hardening the slice of the hand, the strength and agility of the fingers, as well as the knowledge of the points of attack and in the way to use this knowledge both quickly and precisely.

Bayonet Thrust

Members of the Aisle O’Var Backswording Club experiment with the “bayonette thrust” of Bartitsu cane fighting during a recent seminar.

As described by E.W. Barton-Wright in Self-Defence with a Walking Stick (1901):

It will be understood that it is quite impossible to swing a stick in a crowd, owing to want of elbow room; and so, in order to get elbow room and free scope to hit, you proceed as follows: —

Hold your stick, more or less in a line with your hips, and proceed, as in the second photograph, to lunge to your left, holding the end of the stick in your right hand, and letting it slide through your left, in order to be able to guide it with certainty.

Lunging at the body of the nearest man on your left, you disable him, and cause him to retreat precipitously. In doing so, he involuntarily forces back those in his immediate neighborhood. You then turn on your heels, and bayonette the nearest man on your right, this time holding the end of your stick in your left hand, and guiding it through your right. Directly you have bayonetted him, and caused him to force back others in his attempt to escape, you make a quarter turn on your heels, and bayonette the man behind you.

After this, seeing another man close to him with his legs slightly apart, you make a dive with your stick between his legs, and upset him. Take one step backwards, and you should now have sufficient room to swing your stick to right and left across people’s faces and heads until they disperse.

“The Repair Shop” Restores a Portrait of Yukio Tani

A unique oil painting of former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani has been restored in commemoration of the London Budokwai’s centenary anniversary.

Tani was among the original group of three jiujitsuka who travelled from Japan to London in 1900, at the behest of Bartitsu Club founder Edward Barton-Wright. Although Kaneo Tani and Seizo Yamamoto only remained in England for a few months, Yukio – then aged nineteen – decided to remain in the English capital. There he was joined by Sadakazu Uyenishi, and the two young men served as unarmed combat instructors and challenge wrestlers on behalf of the Bartitsu Club until the Club dissolved in 1902. Thereafter, Tani joined forces with Taro Miyake in operating the Japanese School of Ju-jitsu and continued his successful challenge wrestling career.

In 1918, Tani became the first professional instructor at the newly-established London Budokwai. Founded by Gunji Koizumi, this was the first dojo in Europe to promote Kodokan judo, and Tani was accredited a nidan (second degree) black belt in that style by judo founder Jigoro Kano.

Sometime in the 1930s, Yukio Tani’s portrait was painted in oils by artist and judoka George Lambourne.  Tani would have been about fifty years old at the time.

Although the portrait has hung in a position of honour on the walls of the Budokwai for many decades, time has inevitably taken its toll. It was, therefore, recently taken to be restored via The Repair Shop – a workshop established by the BBC at the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton, West Sussex, which is used as a location for the television show of the same name.

Budokwai chief instructor Peter Blewett and painting conservationist Lucia Scalisi unwrap the Tani portrait.
A full view of the portrait.
Lucia Scalisi examines Lambourne’s work for the first time.
A detail showing some of the dirt and paint damage accrued over the passage of many decades.
Tani’s black belt.
Peter Blewett leaves Scalisi to her work.
The painstaking task of conservation begins.
Experimental repairs to the flaking oil paint, believed to have been caused by a botched previous attempt at restoration.
A solvent cleaner was required to remove decades worth of grime from the portrait.
A layer of varnish is applied to the newly-cleaned surface.
Upon very close examination, Lucia Scalisi believes that an earlier draft of the portrait had shown Tani wearing round spectacles.
Areas where the original paint was missing are carefully filled in …
… and then retouched using acrylic paint, to ensure an effective colour-match with the original oils.
Finally, after many hours of skilled conservation, the fully restored portrait is returned to its place of honour in the London Budokwai.

The Tani portrait conservation is documented in The Repair Shop (season 3, episode 5), which is currently available here for viewers with access to the BBC iPlayer.

A Letter by Pierre Vigny Sheds New Light on an Old Feud

Charles Charlemont (left) and Pierre Vigny strike pugilistic poses.

A newly-discovered letter written by Pierre Vigny illuminates both the style of savate he taught at the Bartitsu Club and his feud with Parisian savateur Charles Charlemont.  Although Vigny was a prominent professor of antagonistics and was quite widely quoted via articles and interviews, this letter represents one of the very few known instances of his direct commentary.

In early October of 1901, Charlemont wrote a letter objecting to Vigny being promoted as the “champion in French boxing and single-stick” in connection with Bartitsu events.  In this letter, which was published in several English newspapers, Charlemont asserted that Vigny had lost to Charlemont himself, M. Mainguet (then an assistant at Charlemont’s school) and “other boxers in Paris.” Charlemont closed by suggesting that Vigny was a “bluffer” who was trying to make a name for himself as a self defence teacher in London.

E.W. Barton-Wright, who was Pierre Vigny’s employer at the time, replied that Vigny saw Charlemont as being a “fantastic dancer only, without the slightest right to the title he has assumed” and noted that Vigny’s championship claim vis-a-vis stick fighting was specific to his own style.  Barton-Wright then offered to financially back Vigny in two “World Championship” contests with Charlemont, the first being straight French kickboxing and the second in which Charlemont could kick and punch, but Vigny would restrict himself to boxing.

Barton-Wright further noted that if Charlemont did not accept the challenge, he (B-W) would “allow Vigny to go to Paris and publicly horse-whip him”, before closing with a few choice remarks about the infamous Charlemont/Jack Driscoll savate vs. boxing contest (which ended in a very controversial win to Charlemont).

Despite an exceptionally heated exchange of letters to the editor, the various parties couldn’t agree on terms and so the proposed Vigny/Charlemont challenge fight never happened.  Their dispute was, however, illustrative of a wider controversy within the world of French kickboxing.

As we have frequently noted in the past, the academic, touch-contact style promoted by the Charlemonts was coming under increasing criticism at the turn of the 20th century.  On October 13th, 1900, Pierre Vigny’s comments in the following letter to Frank Reichel, then Secretary of the French National Sports Committee, were published in the journal La Constitutionelle.  They confirm our theory that Vigny was a member of the minority camp, arguing for a radical reform of French kickboxing:

(…) As for the way of organizing this World Championship, why do we not agree upon the rules in force in England, namely: a number of completed rounds, for example six bouts of three minutes each, one of which is a minute of rest, during which the jury, taken naturally from among the most competent, would make notes upon the hits and the work by each opponent in each resumption.

If one of the two opponents is not out of the fight before the end of the sixth resumption, the jury will declare the one who has the most points to his credit to be the winner, or if the two champions are found to be “ex-œquo” (“in an equal state”), they will decide a new meeting.

A good reform would be to remove, in this championship, the announcement of touches; if it is necessary to announce that one has been touched on the shin (which is one of the most frequent strikes), we lose, by the slight pauses resulting from those announcements, whole combinations; it prevents those interesting and scientific passes that may follow.

These rules are those of my boxing and savate school which I introduced in London and which is a branch of what Mr. Barton-Wright, the well-known initiator of the new method of personal defense , calls ‘Bartitsu’.

The editor of La Constitutionelle agreed with Vigny, adding that:

We never say anything else: French boxing is full of inertia and nonsense. It is derisory for one to stop on receiving a light stroke, crying “touché!”, when, in reality, one would “reply” thoroughly. By not going beyond these conventions, we have made French boxing a superb exercise in flexibility, but that is all. From the truly combative point of view, it is especially practical on an ignorant opponent, or perhaps a passing drunkard.

A fighter who “replies” bravely removes the effect of the cross-over and turning kicks; cancels all this virtuosity, all this affected elegance.

French boxing lacks strong punches. The punch of the Joinville style does not land heavily upon the body.

The victory over Driscool (sic – Driscoll) is not an affirmation of the French method; it is a proof of the high personal worth of Charlemont, of his fine courage, his temperament and his dash.

What is needed is a rational method, less elegant and more useful.

Some further context may be useful.  In a follow-up letter to the editor in December, Barton-Wright reported that Charlemont had by then refused the challenge because “he says he is not a pugilist, but a Professor of Savate”. Barton-Wright also claimed that it had actually been Pierre Vigny’s brother who had lost the bouts referred to in Charlemont’s original letter, and closed with some very disparaging remarks about Charlemont’s character.

This issue is confused by the facts that Pierre Vigny evidently had at least one brother, named Eugene, and possibly another, named Paul, and that when the newspapers referred to “Professor Vigny of Geneva” they did not always specify which Vigny brother had actually fought.  It is certain that, on March 11, 1897, one of the Vigny brothers lost conclusively in a boxing match against an English boxer named Attfield, and was then defeated in a savate match against Charles Charlemont.  It may also be notable that Pierre Vigny initially travelled to England to improve his boxing, before joining forces with Barton-Wright.

Addressing Vigny’s point re. shin kicks; the reliable efficacy of those techniques had been in serious question since the aforementioned Charlemont/Driscoll debacle a few years earlier.  Many French observers were startled when Charlemont’s low-line kicks didn’t have the presumed devastating effect upon Driscoll, who was able to evade or simply ignore most of them, while dealing considerable damage with his gloved fists.

The rules of that bout, which were very close to those Vigny himself later instituted via the Bartitsu Club, represented a radical departure from the Charlemonts’ favoured style of French kickboxing.  Vigny’s larger point, though, does not advocate a reformation of technique so much as of protocols.

Following the convention of academic fencing, the Charlemonts’ style required the formal courtesy of calling “touché!” at even the lightest touch of the opponent’s fist or foot.  This had the effect of rewarding speed and dexterity, but at the cost of complexity and realism, given that it essentially paused the bout, artificially requiring both fighters to re-set and start again.

One experienced witness to the Charlemont/Driscoll fight noted that Charlemont was handicapped by his long experience of kicking lightly in academic bouts, to the extent that those low kicks that did land lacked stopping power.  Parsing the entire range of eyewitness reports on that fight, from both French and foreign observers, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusions that Charlemont would have lost if not for an accidental but strictly illegal kick to Driscoll’s groin, and that he certainly shouldn’t have been awarded the victory because of it.

The argument over academic touch-contact vs. professional full-contact continued in French kickboxing circles until the outbreak of the First World War, which had a devastating effect on the sport.  Many young fighters naturally served as soldiers during that awful conflict, and many were badly wounded or killed.  Hubert Desruelles, who appears to have at least occasionally taught at the Bartitsu Club as well as at his own schools in France, was severely injured in both arms during the war, putting an end to his athletic career.

During the post-War decades, French kickboxing slowly rebuilt itself to include both the traditional “touch” (assaut) style and a full-contact style influenced by the no-nonsense ethos of British and American boxing.  If only a similar compromise could have been reached circa 1900 …

First Edition Copy of “The Walking Stick Method of Self Defence” for Sale

A rare first-edition copy of H.G. Lang’s classic self-defence manual is currently available for sale via eBay.  The asking price is £300 (US$326).

Quoting the seller’s description:


[LANG (Herbert Gordon, 1887-1864)]

The “Walking Stick” Method of Self-Defence. By an Officer of the Indian Police. 

(London): Athletic Publications Ltd., n.d. [1926]. First edition. xvii, 66 p. Publisher’s burgundy cloth with black lettering to upper cover and spine. Printed dustjacket with black lettering and illustration of Indian police officer using his stick. 8vo (19cm x 12.5cm).

Very Good internal condition, in a Good to Fair only jacket and binding. Tape previously used to strengthen reverse of dust jacket, resulting in some horizontal brown tracks. Jacket also age-toned and somewhat dirty / marked, with chip to top and bottom edges with some loss to spine ends and corners. Rear board damp marked (front less so). Pages a bit age-toned but plates clean and bright. Very occasional light scattered foxing. Binding solid. An acceptable copy in a worn but intact dust jacket. See gallery images.

Thanks to research carried out by The Bartitsu Society in recent years (see their web site), we now know much more about the origins of this quirky martial arts book, which today is quite rare and has a cult following of sorts in the Bartitsu community. 

Bartitsu is an eclectic martial art and self-defence method originally developed in England during the years 1898–1902, combining elements of boxing, jujitsu, cane fighting, and French kickboxing.

We already knew that author H. G. Lang was a senior officer in the Indian Police, but exactly what inspired his method of walking-stick defence remained sketchy. 

Lang grew up in the West Indies, where it’s possible he studied the local stick-fighting method called ‘bois’, also known as ‘kalinda’ in Trinidad. Later, in 1920-21, he learned the ‘Vigny’ stick-fighting style from Percy Rolt at the latter’s Holland Road gym in East Sussex. Indeed, Lang credits Pierre Vigny in his book as an inspiration for his method, which seemingly melds elements of bois, Vigny and kalinda, and once learnt can make “the daintiest lady carrying a walking cane… a match for the burliest hooligan”. 

“Today, H.G. Lang’s book forms part of the foundation of the Bartitsu and Vigny stick fighting revivals.”(The Bartitsu Society, pub. online Dec 2017.)

As an interesting aside, “During the early years of the Second World War, his book was translated into Hebrew and became the basis for the stick fighting training of the Haganah paramilitary organisation in Palestine”. (The Bartitsu Society).

The book contains 60 photographic illustrations showing his self-defence method’s various moves and postures (59 in the book itself and one on the front cover of the jacket).

“The Most Dangerous Kicks of la Savate” (1908)

Henry Bagge’s article from the February, 1908 issue of Fry’s Magazine strongly echoes the sentiments expressed by E.W. Barton-Wright and other critics of then-contemporary, mainstream French kickboxing

The theme of “improving” savate (partly via an infusion of English boxing) is ironic in that, during the course of several decades before this article was written, several such infusions had already been made. One of the more recent attempts had, in fact, been carried out at the London Bartitsu Club. Nevertheless, the dominant approach to teaching and practicing savate in France circa 1908 was the stylised, courteous and extremely light-contact style favoured by Charles and Joseph Charlemont.

The Charlemonts’ favored approach was opposed by a minority counter-culture within French kickboxing circles, who advocated for a harder-hitting and more pragmatic style geared towards both prize-fighting and practical self-defence.

Bagge’s subject, savateur Paul Mainguet, was clearly a proponent of the latter school.  He recommends employing the evasive and coup d’arret (“stop-hit”) techniques of savate against kicking attacks, plus a small selection of direct, well-proven kicks, relying upon boxing otherwise.  Add an emphasis on guards that damage the opponent’s attacking limbs plus the close-quarters grappling of Japanese jiujitsu and you have Bartitsu unarmed combat in a nutshell.

The “kicker” in the accompanying photographs is Georges Dubois, who had, in 1905, famously lost a savate vs. jiuitsu challenge contest against Ernest Regnier, a.k.a. “Re-Nie”.  Dubois went on to pioneer a number of interesting “antagonistics” projects, including revivals of gladiatorial combat and Renaissance-era martial arts and creating his own, notably pragmatic, system of self-defence


La Savate, or French boxing, may be divided into two classes; the first absolutely incorrect, and thoroughly useless as a means of fighting, but distinctly worthy of consideration as a very pretty imitation of the real thing, requiring, as it does, a wonderful display of dexterity, combined with an astounding suppleness of the limbs.

The second, however, is a far more serious business. There is little of the gallery play about it, and as a means of resisting an attack from footpads it is invaluable, and far more deadly in its effects then any blow with the fists.

La Savate, for exhibition purposes, was developed and perfected by Dr. Pengniez, chief surgeon of the Army and hospital, himself a first rate amateur boxer. It was only after a considerable amount of discussion, and repeated consultations with the highest boxing authorities, that the whole thing was reduced to a science, and all the various blows, kicks, and guards consists clearly and concisely tabulated under separate heads.

Undoubtedly the cleverest exponent of la Savate is Professor Mainguet, the world’s middleweight champion of French boxing. In common fairness it should be stated here that M. Bayle, the heavyweight champion, who was to have met Professor Mainguet, and decide once and for all which was the better man, injured his knee so seriously before the match could be pulled off that the question of which of the two is entitled to call himself the world’s all-around champion of la Savate has never yet been decided.

Without wishing in any way to detract from the undoubted skill of M. Bayle, Mainguet’s phenomenal quickness justifies many in the belief that he would have got the decision over his formidable adversary, for it is certain fact that a chassez-bas – a lateral, or “cow” kick on the ankle – will put the strongest man in the world temporarily out of business, and Mainguet can deliver this one kick (among many others, of course) with amazing speed and dexterity.

Mainguet, in addition, is one of the few Frenchmen who are able to differentiate between the English style of boxing and the French, for he has carefully studied the former, and is quite proficient at it. Many French amateur champions have graduated from Mainguet’s school, including Jacques Maingin, heavyweight champion in 1903, and Fry, French lightweight champion of English boxing in the same year. In 1907 he turned out Mazoir, French featherweight champion, both in English and French boxing, carrying off also the 1907 Interschool Challenge Cup for the greatest number of victorious pupils from one school.

It cannot be denied that in real fighting the French method of boxing is absolutely deadly, for no matter how much pluck a man may have, a kick on the ankle, involving, as it does, all the bones and ligaments of the foot, or a stamp on the instep, causes such excruciating pain, and the injured part swells so rapidly, that a man is practically unable to stand on his feet.

It is a curious fact that while the French have so clearly defined what is fair, and unfair, in their fencing schools, and in their duels, they do not seem to have been able to draw a hard and fast line in la Savate; and this is the one great difference between the English and the French styles of boxing.

In the duels with rapiers certain rules are laid down which protect the combatants from all surprises, and the duellist who breaks either of these would be disqualified at once and socially ostracized. But this fairness, which is the basis of the rules which govern dueling, does not appear to regulate the style of fighting used by the lower classes to settle their differences.

Again, in the boxing competitions Frenchmen are absolutely irrational, for, according to the rules which govern la savate, the man who is touched by a slight kick must stop instantly. If, however, the man who is kicked was in the act of rushing, and lands a terrific punch on the jaw after being touched, that punch is declared null and void by the judges.

Eliminating all the spectacular kicks in la savate, there are several which, if carefully studied, would render French boxing so formidable as to be practically invincible, if taken in conjunction with the English style of boxing. It must, however, be clearly understood that the kicks which are described at the end of this article are so dangerous that they are absolutely disallowed in all competitions, and they can only be used very gently when sparring.

Several Frenchmen I have seen box use these kicks only, but they are in the minority, for in France the majority of people go in for English boxing (an imperfect copy of our own), or the classical French boxing, with its puerile conventions.

Some time ago I was discussing with a professor of la Savate the difference between English and French boxing, and I suggested that a judicious blending of the two would make a very formidable mixture, if the man were attacked suddenly in the street. He agreed.

“When I am fighting, “he said, “I strive to forget that I have my feet at all. I only fight with my fists, after the English style as I understand it. I only use the French style to guard the kicks at the instep, and to dodge all the kicks at the lower part of the legs and feet. Then suddenly, while practically in the art of delivering a blow, I land a coup de pied direct (straight jab with the flat of the foot) full in the man’s chest, or un coup de pied de pointe (with the toes of the foot) on the kneecap. If, however, my adversary clinches, I use what is termed a chassez-bas, which smashes one of his ankles, or crushes his toes.

While this may not be very elegant, a man can learn how to do it in one lesson; that is why I teach my pupils English boxing, for I am free to admit that the English method is the only one that is any good. Only a very gifted man can make the great success of the French style of boxing and it is asking a great deal of the ordinary pupil to expect him to have the dexterity of an acrobat.

In my opinion, the best method is the one that the most clumsy man can learn without any trouble, and the beauty of all these easily-learned kicks is that the pupil never forgets them once he has thoroughly mastered them.

The following kicks are considered by the majority of professors of French boxing to be the most dangerous.

Le Chassez-bas

This kick can be delivered with either the left or the right foot, but it is always given as in the chassez-bas with the leg that happens to be foremost at the time. Thus, if a man is boxing in the English fashion; boxing, that is to say, with the left leg and left arm in front, naturally the left leg is the one he uses.

This kick is the only really practical one of the whole lot, and entails no alteration in our usual methods of boxing – of course, always excepting the use of the feet for kicking purposes. The following is the best way of administering this kick –

1. Throw the weight of the body on the right leg.

2. Shorten the left leg, then suddenly shoot it down as if in the act of stamping with the foot crosswise, aiming at the desired spot.

Most vulnerable spots are the following: (1) the toes; (2) the instep; (3) the shinbone; (4) the kneecap.

The man who has been only slightly hurt on any of these spots is very chary of another experience, and wisely keeps at a distance.

The chassez-bas is really very useful, even if only used as a means of defense it makes one’s adversary very uneasy, practically mows down his base, and opens the way to sudden rushes, which, if a man is uneasy, practically take him off his guard.


This kick is delivered in exactly the same way as the preceding one, only the one word croisé (to cross), practically explains the act.

Thus, if a man is out of range of his adversary, naturally, as long as he keeps out of the way, he has nothing to fear. If he wishes to still keep at this distance, and yet to deliver an attack, the only way in which this can be done is with the feet, the leg landing on his opponent’s legs. The first thing is to get a little nearer to your adversary; and to deliver the kick effectively the following method should be employed –

Place the point of the right foot beside the outer anklebone of the left foot, draw up the left leg, and strike as in the chassez-bas. If, instead of placing the point of the right foot on the outside of the left ankle, you place it with a jump very much in advance of it, you get all the closer to your adversary to deliver your kick.

Coup de Pied Direct

Left leg and left arm in advance;

1. Shift the weight of the body forward onto the left leg.

2. Strike a swift jab forward, with the sole of the foot, full in the chest.

The whole weight of the body being behind this kick, the force is tremendous.

Coup de Pied de Pointe

Left leg and arm in front.

1) Carry the weight of the body lightly on the left leg.

2) Kick forward with the point of the right foot either at the knee-cap or in the stomach.

This kick should be given with a quick, sharp stroke, and the foot should at once be replaced behind the left one after delivery.

The best way to use this kick is to aim only at the kneecap, as one, well delivered, will knock out the strongest man with ease and quickness that is amazing.