The “Old Timey Boxing Stance” Explained

The popular TodayIFoundOut.com site offers this in-depth, entertaining  and mostly-accurate explanation of the generic late-19th century pugilism fighting stance.

The sweeping claim that Victorian boxers held their guards “low” (relative to the modern style) because they preferred to target the body over the face is mildly controversial.  Manuals of boxing and written reports on boxing matches during the bare knuckle era consistently demonstrate punches to all legal targets.  It’s worth noting that the way pugilists posed for portrait paintings and photographs did not necessarily reflect their actual fighting stances, which in turn depended very much on individual styles, measure and the stances and tactics adopted by their opponents.  Also, for the record, “pugilism” should be pronounced with a soft “g”, as in “pew-jill-ism”.

“Drunk History (US)” Drunkenly Explains Suffrajitsu

The popular TV comedy series Drunk History offers its inebriated (and somewhat NSFW) take on the suffrajitsu saga, starring Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as Emmeline Pankhurst, Maria Blasucci (Ghost Girls) as Edith Garrud and Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls) as Gert Harding.

We detailed some of the show’s more radical departures from what actually happened in history when this episode originally screened in February 2018.  Historical pedantry aside, it’s an entertaining 5.5 minutes and it’s nice that the full episode has now been made freely available.

“Chucker-Out of the Unwanted: Muscular Maude” (1917)

Actress Doris Lytton puts up her dukes as Maude Bray, a supporting character in the 1917 theatrical farce Wanted: a Husband.  Hilarity ensues when one of Maude’s friends advertises for a husband to spark some ideas for her new novel.

Maude – a “strenuous woman” who is well-trained in boxing and jiujitsu – volunteers her services as a “chucker-out” (Edwardian-vintage slang for a bouncer).  At one point in the play she deals handily with a “colonial” would-be suitor who is making a pest of himself:

This was not the first time that the Japanese art of unarmed combat had been associated with “chuckers-out”.  Some reviewers of E.W. Barton-Wright’s early jiujitsu displays commented that they could conceive of no other lawful use of the art, much to Barton-Wright’s indignation.

 

Terence Hill Wields a Mean Cane

Bud Spencer Bartitsu Tribute

A Tribute to a Friend from Nova Scrimia UK – Bartitsu Bristol… a great Italian Actor and Sportsman.. enjoy some Bartitsu Style fighting from the Duo! Farewell #BudSpencer

Geplaatst door Nova Scrimia UK – Bartitsu Bristol op donderdag 30 juni 2016

Readers of a certain vintage may fondly recall the Terence Hill/Bud Spencer buddy comedies of the 1970s, which were best known for their paper-thin plots and gleefully inventive fight scenes.  In this scene, the hulking brawler Spencer does what he does best, while the agile, fast-talking Hill discovers a new slapstick weapon in the form of the gentlemanly cane.

“Self-Protection on a Cycle” Re-Animated

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.

“Drunk History” (US) Tells the Story of the Suffragette Bodyguards

The Comedy Channel’s hit series Drunk History, in which interesting past events are related by inebriated comedians, has followed in the footsteps of the UK version of the show by featuring the jujitsuffragettes of the Edwardian English women’s rights movement.  “Civil Rights” was the title and theme of Drunk History’s episode 5, season 5 show, which screened in the US on Feb. 20, 2018.

The suffrajitsu segment is narrated by Kirby Howell-Baptiste and stars Tatiana Maslany as Emmeline Pankhurst, who is introduced leading the ill-fated “raid on Parliament” on November 10, 1910. This raid was the fourteenth attempt by the Women’s Social and Political Union to present a petition to Parliament and developed into a near riot in which many protestors complained of police brutality; the event later became known as “Black Friday”.

The Drunk History episode exerts some dramatic licence in stating that Mrs. Pankhurst’s sister was killed during the protest.  In reality, she died about a month later (possibly as the result of an accident while she was being force-fed in prison).

Actress Maria Blasucci plays martial arts instructor Edith Garrud and several scenes are set in her opulent dojo, where she is shown training the new suffragette Bodyguard team in the womanly art of jiujitsu. Gert Harding, played by Kat Dennings, is portrayed as Mrs. Garrud’s star pupil; in reality, Harding did study martial arts with Garrud and also led the Bodyguard team.

The show also offers fairly accurate representations of two key WSPU rallies in which the Bodyguard clashed with the police. The Campden Hill (Camden) rally, which was also portrayed in the Drunk History UK episode on the same theme as well as the 2015 feature film Suffragette, shows how the Bodyguard tricked the police into arresting a body double while the real Mrs. Pankhurst made her escape.

The second re-enactment is of the famous “Battle of Glasgow”, when the Bodyguard openly confronted and fought with the police on the stage of St. Andrew’s Hall, in front of some 4500 shocked witnesses. Although the show implies that this event turned the tide of the radical suffrage movement and led directly to the enfranchisement of women, the real history is (of course) vastly more complicated.

In reality, the First World War broke out shortly after the Glasgow brawl, at which point Mrs. Pankhurst suspended all militant suffrage activities and supported the government throughout the crisis, especially by organising and encouraging women to “do men’s work” while their husbands, sons and brothers were fighting overseas. It’s generally conceded that the suspension of WSPU militancy, in combination with the work done by women during wartime, tipped the balance in favour of “votes for women” as the conflict drew to a close.

The “Civil Rights” episode of Drunk History also includes interesting segments on the Birmingham Children’s March and the disability rights activists who organized America’s longest sit-in of a federal building. It is currently available to view for free via the Comedy Channel website (some conditions apply) or to purchase via Youtube or via Amazon.  Note that the dialogue does include some swearing and mildly raunchy slang and so may not be safe for work.

If you enjoy Drunk History’s take on the suffragette Bodyguard story, keep an eye out for the upcoming full-length documentary No Man Shall Protect Us, which will cover the same subject in much greater depth, albeit with much less drunken hilarity.