“Sherlock” Actor Benedict Cumberbatch Fends Off Real-Life Muggers Near London’s Baker Street

LONDON (Reuters) – British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, known for his portrayal of fictional crime-fighter Sherlock Holmes and comic book superhero Doctor Strange in the Marvel movies, has been hailed a hero for chasing away four assailants as they mugged a cyclist in London.

Cumberbatch, 41, jumped out of his taxi and ran to the aid of the man working for food delivery company Deliveroo as he was set upon by the muggers, the Sun newspaper reported.

“The cyclist was lucky, Benedict’s a superhero,” Cumberbatch’s Uber driver Manuel Dias told the Sun. “Then it all got a bit surreal. Here was Sherlock Holmes fighting off four attackers just round the corner from Baker Street,” said Dias.

“I had hold of one lad and Benedict another. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He was very brave. He did most of it, to be honest.

They tried to hit him but he defended himself and pushed them away. He wasn’t injured. Then I think they also recognized it was Benedict and ran away.

Benedict was courageous, brave and selfless. If he hadn’t stepped in, the cyclist could have been seriously injured.”

He said the actor embraced the cyclist after the scuffle.

The attempted robbery took place on Marylebone High Street, just around the corner from Holmes’ fictional home on Baker Street.

“One of the males attempted to grab the victim’s cycle … He was then punched in the face, struck on the head and hit with his helmet,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement, adding that the incident took place in November last year.

“Nothing was reported stolen. The victim did not require hospital treatment. No arrests have been made,” the statement added.

Cumberbatch, who has played the fictional detective in TV series Sherlock since 2010, has also starred in films such as The Hobbit, Avengers: Infinity War and The Imitation Game, where he portrayed British World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing.

Cumberbatch told the Sun he was not a hero.

“I did it out of, well, I had to, you know ,” he was quoted as saying.

Cane Vs. Sword (Sherlock Holmes, 2009)

The climactic fight between Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr. and Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), in which Holmes appropriately wields a cane against Blackwood’s devilish blade:

For details on this scene and other aspects of “movie baritsu”, check out our interview with Sherlock Holmes fight choreographer Richard Ryan.

Bartitsu vs. Kendo Via Lightsaber Fencing (?)

Curiously, in that Bartitsu stick fighting is a predominantly single-handed method, some of the participants in this CBS Minnesota news item on competitive lightsaber fencing claim a Bartitsu background.

While the rules of competitive lightsaber seem closely comparable to those of kendo combined with HEMA longsword, the French combat sport of canne de combat might, perhaps, make a better model.  Because the French method was specifically devised as an “artistic fighting style”, the rules require moulinets and extensions on every attack and award higher points for executing spectacular techniques such as leaps and pirouettes.  In that sense, it’s rather closer to the flashy, cinematic style featured in the Star Wars movies.

An adaptation of canne de combat rules to the predominantly two-handed lightsaber would yield a visually unique and competitively challenging new combat sport.

“Suffrajitsu” Back in the News as UK Celebrates 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

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.

Suffrajitsu by Horse + Bamboo Theatre

England’s Horse + Bamboo Theatre Company is currently developing Suffrajitsu, an original play celebrating the suffragette Bodyguard through puppetry, music and film.  Aimed at young audiences, the play will begin touring the UK in Autumn 2018; you can learn more about, and support the project via this Crowdfunder site.

“The Awesome Art of Suffrajitsu”

The UK fashion and lifestyle magazine Stylist has featured suffrajitsu, including some great original illustrations, in its suffragette centennial issue.

No Man Shall Protect Us

Currently in production, the documentary No Man Shall Protect Us: The Hidden History of the Suffragette Bodyguards will make use of narration, rare archival media and dramatic re-enactments.  Successfully crowdfunded in late 2017 and co-produced by Tony Wolf, author of the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy, the completed documentary will be made freely available online later this year.

Suffrajitsu at the Royal Armouries

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

Author Emelyne Godfrey’s book on Kitty Marshall and the Bodyguard will be released later in 2018.

Suffragette City

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.

Re: Public Screenings of “Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes”

Just a reminder that the 2011 documentary Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes cannot legally be screened at venues such as public libraries, nor at events such as steampunk conferences, martial arts seminars, etc.  without the express permission of the producers.

Here’s the Motion Picture Association of America’s advice:

The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17 of the US Code) governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be used. Neither the rental nor the purchase of a copy of a copyrighted work carries with it the right to publicly exhibit the work. No additional license is required to privately view a movie or other copyrighted work with a few friends and family or in certain narrowly defined face-to-face teaching activities. However, bars, restaurants, private clubs, prisons, lodges, factories, summer camps, public libraries, daycare facilities, parks and recreation departments, churches, and non-classroom use at schools and universities are all examples of situations where a public performance license must be obtained. This legal requirement applies regardless of whether an admission fee is charged, whether the institution or organization is commercial or nonprofit, or whether a federal or state agency is involved.

Willful infringement of these rules is a federal crime carrying a maximum sentence of up to five years in jail and/or a $250,000 fine. Even inadvertent infringement is subject to substantial civil damages.

If you wish to arrange a public screening of Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes, please contact Tony Wolf via info(at)tonywolfsystem.com for further details.

“The Eight Olympians”

Above: seven of the Eight Olympians.

By 1907 the art of jiujitsu was becoming thoroughly integrated into English popular culture. It had been written into plays and novels and was the subject of greeting cards, jokes and cartoons. It also remained a successful “draw” in the music halls, both in terms of the challenge contests offered by Japanese professionals such as Yukio Tani and Taro Miyake and as a form of performing art in its own right.

The Olympians were an itinerant troupe of music hall athletes who toured their jiujitsu self-defence act between 1907-9. The team of four male and four female performers was led by a Mr. George Mortimer and billed as having appeared “before Royalty”.  Notably, their act included explanations of the principles of jiujitsu as well as exhibitions of its practice, recalling E.W. Barton-Wright’s early demonstrations of the art for groups such as the Japan Society.

“John Steed’s Sword-Stick”: an Umbrella Fighting Tutorial from The Avengers Annual of 1967

Having already addressed the umbrella combat of debonair super-spy John Steed in general terms, our attention now turns to some of the specifics, as delineated in The Avengers Annual of 1967.  The following graphic tutorial probably  accounted for a number of damaged umbrellas and wounded feelings between siblings and young friends.

John Steed’s Sword-Stick

The sword stick is essentially a light but surprisingly strong weapon which is used as an extension of the arm, a lever, or a locking stick. It enables the user to actually start his offensive before his opponent is within reach of him. It is silent, accurate and has great psychological advantages. While it can be lethal, it is mostly used to overpower without injury or to incapacitate an opponent.

An important technique used with the stick is “tension”.  When it is released at one end, the built-up energy causes it to go immediately into a movement almost too rapid for the eye to follow!
It is also a fact that when the sheath is cast aside or thrown at the opponent, his eyes almost invariably follow it and provide a distraction of great advantage.
Steed grasps shoulder and pulls it towards him while thrusting his umbrella between arm and body. The action is confined to pulling shoulder towards him and thrusting umbrella away – note that the curved handle is held to trap the arm so that from a forward movement, it will hook over the wrist. Steed can now move swiftly behind his opponent and, if he wishes, force him face downwards to the ground.
In this the main action is a left hand movement in order to keep the right hand free for a strong grasp on the gun hand. The right hand holds the stick in tension against the left so that when it is drawn it whips around to a violent blow on the gun hand. Steed uses his right hand to twist the gun away and takes an offensive threatening posture with the sword.
From the ground Steed slides his stick between his adversary’s legs at knee level. It is held firmly with both hands and all the following twisting and rising action must be smooth and continuous. The first movement is to twist umbrella between the legs and rise to a sitting position, proceeding to twist and rise onto one knee. At this stage adversary begins to fall and Steed rises fully to the offensive position as opponent falls backwards.
As the assailant kicks out, Steed steps back and traps the heel with his stick. As the leg extends forward it is forced upwards. Steed rises as high as possible to throw his assailant backwards to the ground. He is then able to take up a threatening pose over floored opponent.