BBC “Timeshift” documentary on the history of the martial arts in Great Britain

The first twelve minutes of this 2013 BBC documentary focus on Bartitsu and the use of jiujitsu by the radical suffragettes, featuring demonstrations by James Marwood and George Stokoe and interviews with Tony Wolf and Emelyne Godfrey.

“Queensberry Justice”

Over the past ten years or so, the martial arts of Bartitsu and (especially) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “baritsu” have been incorporated into numerous Sherlock Holmes pastiche stories. Frequently, Holmes’ antagonistic skills are given but a passing mention, but some storytellers have produced tales in which the Great Detective’s fighting prowess is brought front and centre. Most notable among these is the Fight Card series of boxing-themed Holmes stories, now gathered into an omnibus edition for the first time.

Queensberry Justice collects all three extant Fight Card novelettes – “Work Capitol”, “Blood to the Bone” and “A Congression of Pallbearers” – and also includes no less than three new short stories, detailed introductory essays, cover galleries and more besides. Although the gloved and bare-knuckle styles of boxing take precedence, the stories also feature baritsu, cane fighting and even historical fencing via the mysterious Kernoozers Club!

The Queensberry Justice omnibus is recommended to all fans of the genre and is available here in both print and ebook editions.

“Sherlock’s Baritsu Den” – a baritsu-themed gym in a Hanover hotel

The game is afoot at the Gästeresidenz PelikanViertel boarding house in Hanover, Germany, which boasts what is almost certainly the world’s only baritsu-themed boutique gymnasium.

The basement gym was opened in 2015 and features modern exercise equipment including a treadmill, cross-trainer, rowing machine, bicycle ergometer and a multifunctional gym system. The baritsu theme is maintained, however, thanks to an elaborate wall mural by graffiti artist BeNeR1, punching bag, natural wooden floor and exposed brick features, benches modified from vintage gymnastics pommel horses and stylish Victorian towel hooks.

More images of the Baritsu Den are available here.

May the Fourth be with you, Sherlock!

Above: a memorial plaque commemorating the Holmes/Moriarty encounter,  adjacent to the Reichenbach Falls in Meiringen, Switzerland.

May 4th of 1891 is recognised as the date of consulting detective Sherlock Holmes’ fateful hand-to-hand battle with the Napoleon of Crime, Professor James Moriarty. Their fight took place at the suitably forboding and dramatic brink of the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, described here by Dr. John Watson:

 

 

 

 

 

It is, indeed, a fearful place. The torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. The shaft into which the river hurls itself is an immense chasm, lined by glistening, coalblack rock, and narrowing into a creaming, boiling pit of incalculable depth, which brims over and shoots the stream onward over its jagged lip. The long sweep of green water roaring for ever down, and the thick flickering curtain of spray hissing for ever upwards, turn a man giddy with their constant whirl and clamour.

Although neither Holmes nor Moriarty appeared to have survived their final encounter, we now know that Holmes had, in fact, defeated his nemesis through his knowledge of what Dr. Watson recorded as “baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling“, then took the opportunity to fake his own demise to throw his other enemies off his trail.

The baritsu moment as envisioned by artist Sidney Paget.

In more recent years, the encounter between Holmes and Moriarty has frequently been dramatised in media including the 1979 Russian TV series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (click here for a detailed memoir by fight choreographer Nikolay Vaschilin) :

… and the classic 1980s Granada Sherlock Holmes series:

… in comic books – most notably Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:

– and in movies such as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows:

The opening sequence of the 2011 feature documentary Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes was shot at the brink of the Reichenbach Falls and in the adjacent Swiss town of Meiringen, which still celebrates its association with the famous fight scene:

Bartitsu returns to the Royal Armouries (Leeds)

Sherlock, Stock and Barrel is a Sherlock Holmes-themed event taking place at the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds, England between April 29-May 1.

Notably, the event marks the return of Bartitsu demonstrations to the Armouries, which had, in the year 2001, hosted the first known Bartitsu demos to have taken place since 1902.

Inspired by E.W. Barton-Wright’s Self Defence With a Walking Stick articles, which had then only recently been republished by the Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences, the 2001 Bartitsu  demos were performed by Fight Interpreters Keith Ducklin and Rob Temple as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.

Above – Keith Ducklin (left) and Rob Temple demonstrate canonical Bartitsu techniques at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds (2001).

Bartitsu workshop at Sherlocon 2017 (Rome, Italy)

Moments from the Bartitsu seminar at the recent Sherlocon 2017 Sherlock Holmes fandom event, which took place at the Nuovo Teatro Orione in Rome, Italy.  Aimed at interested novices, the workshop included examples of Vigny walking stick fighting, self-defence with an overcoat and several canonical jiujitsu set-plays.