“No Man Shall Protect Us”: Crowdfunding a Suffrajitsu Documentary

I am here tonight in spite of armies of police.  I am here tonight and not a man is going to protect me, because this is a woman’s fight, and we are going to protect ourselves!  I challenge the government to re-arrest me!

  • Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst

Crowdfunding now via Kickstarter, the documentary No Man Shall Protect Us tells the true story of the secret Bodyguard Society of martial arts-trained women who protected the radical suffragettes circa 1913/14.

The production will make use of rare archival media, narration and theatrical re-enactments, featuring actors playing Emmeline Pankhurst, Canadian Bodyguard leader Gert Harding and jiujitsu trainer Edith Garrud among other notables.

No Man Shall Protect Us will be co-produced by Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf, the author of Edith Garrud: The Suffragette Who Knew Jujutsu (2008) and the graphic novel trilogy Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons (2015).  Pending a successful funding campaign, production will begin in January of 2018; the completed documentary will later be made freely available online.

Watch this space for updates on No Man Shall Protect Us!

A “Suffragette Bartitsu Brawl” video from Fight Rep

Fighting for the vote, the Suffragettes have planted an explosive device. As they attempt to make their escape, a husband sells out his wife’s cause to the special constables …

Hats off to the team at London’s Fight Rep for this Suffrajitsu-inspired tribute to Edwardian ass-kickery, which was rehearsed and shot in a mere eight hours. Bartitsu aficionados will appreciate the use of signature techniques from E.W. Barton-Wright’s Pearson’s Magazine articles and Marguerite Vigny’s (“Miss Sanderson’s”) demonstrations of parasol and umbrella self-defence.

Bartitsu gift ideas

The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume 1: History and the Canonical Syllabus (2005) and The Bartitsu Compendium Volume II: Antagonistics (2008)

Compiled by members of the Bartitsu Society, volumes 1 and 2 of the Bartitsu Compendium are available in print from Lulu.com.

Volume I collates most of the canonical Bartitsu material and features over two hundred and seventy pages of original essays, rare vintage reprints and never-before-seen translations, illustrated with hundreds of fascinating photographs and sketches.

Volume II provides resources towards continuing Barton-Wright’s martial arts experiments. It combines extensive excerpts from fifteen classic Edwardian-era self defence manuals, including well over four hundred illustrations, plus a collection of long-forgotten newspaper and magazine articles on Bartitsu exhibitions and contests; new, original articles on Bartitsu history and training; a complete course of Edwardian-era “physical culture” exercises; personality profiles, essays and more besides.

Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes documentary (2011)

At the end of the Victorian era, E. W. Barton-Wright combined jiujitsu, kickboxing, and stick fighting into the “Gentlemanly Art of Self Defence” known as Bartitsu. After Barton-Wright’s School of Arms mysteriously closed in 1902, Bartitsu was almost forgotten save for a famous, cryptic reference in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Empty House.

In this fascinating 54-minute documentary shot in Switzerland, Italy, the UK and the USA, host Tony Wolf reveals the history, rediscovery and revival of Barton-Wright’s pioneering mixed martial art.

Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes is available from the Freelance Academy Press.

Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons graphic novel trilogy (2015)

London, 1914: The leaders of the radical women’s rights movement are fugitives from the law. Their last line of defense is the secret society of “Amazons”: women trained in the martial art of bartitsu and sworn to defend their leaders from arrest and assault.

After a series of daring escapes and battles with the police, the stakes rise dramatically when the Amazons are forced into a deadly game of cat and mouse against an aristocratic, utopian cult…

The Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy is available as e-books from Amazon and comiXology – we strongly recommend comiXology’s Guided View system for a fluid, intuitive online reading experience – as well as in print form as part of the Blood and Honor anthology.

A series of four prose short stories and novellas set in the world of Suffrajitsu are also available, via Amazons’ Kindle Worlds system.

The Bootfighters Catalogue (canne Vigny and defence dans la rue instructional videos)

Australian instructor Craig Gemeiner’s set of canne Vigny and defence dans la rue DVDs are recommended by many members of the Bartitsu Society.

Bartitsu sparring cane from Purpleheart Armory

Widely used by members of the Bartitsu Society, these rattan training canes are recommended for both drills and sparring applications.

The BlackSwift Raven self-defence walking stick

Combining a stylish, low-profile appearance with superb dexterity and great strength, the BlackSwift Raven is especially recommended as a “carry” cane for self-defence purposes.

Dr. Emelyne Godfrey lectures on the early history of jujitsu in England and the Jujitsuffragettes

The Bagri Foundation in London hosted this recent lecture by Dr. Emelyne Godfrey, author of Masculinity, Crime and Self Defence in Victorian Literature and its companion volume Femininity, Crime and Self Defence in Victorian Literature and Society.

The capacity audience enjoyed Dr. Godfrey’s presentation, which discussed English approaches to self defence during the “long 19th century”.

The lecture began with the mid-Victorian “garroting panics”, which appeared to portend the rise of Thugee-style street gangs in England and engendered the invention of new self-defence weapons such as the “belt buckle pistol”.

Belt buckle pistol

The later Victorian era saw the rise of organised gangs such as the Peaky Blinders of Birmingham and Manchester’s Scuttlers, who mostly fought among themselves but whose “outrages” sometimes impacted the concerned citizens of several major cities.

Stabbing by Scuttlers

The topic then moved to E.W. Barton-Wright’s introduction of Japanese martial arts to England in 1898, and the subsequent rise and fall of his own eclectic art of Bartitsu, including its famous association with Sherlock Holmes.

Reichenbach

The brief but significant Bartitsu craze paved the way for jiujitsu instructors such as Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi and then, during the Edwardian period, the foundation of the Suffrajitsu bodyguard team.

Godfrey lecture

Attendees included Mike Callan from the International Association of Judo Researchers and Amanda Thyme, who is researching the life of pioneering English judo practitioner Sarah Mayer.

Mike - Emelyne - Amanda crop

Suffrajitsu goes (semi-)viral

Money shot

 

Thanks to the recent BBC News article about the radical suffragettes’ use of the martial arts, which featured Tony Wolf’s Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy, popular awareness of the suffragette Amazons has reached an all-time high.  The article and subsequent BBC World Service radio interview with Tony have generated over 14,000 tweets and Facebook posts over the past two days.  Emelyne Godfrey, the author of two books on self-defence during the “long Victorian era”, has also recently been interviewed on this subject for BBC Wales radio.

Suffrajitsu – now in print!

Blood and Honor print copies

The Suffrajitsu trilogy is now available in Blood and Honor, a printed collector’s edition from Jet City Comics. This new print anthology also features two other Foreworld Saga trilogies; The Dead God and Symposium.

Inspired by the adventures of the real-life suffragette Bodyguard unit circa 1914, Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons was written by Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf. The story features a strong Bartitsu theme, including scenes set in E.W. Barton-Wright’s martial arts academy, which serves as the Amazons’ gymnasium and secret headquarters.

Bartitsu Club

The trilogy is also available in e-book format via both Amazon.com and comiXology.

Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons #3 available now!

Suffrajitsu 3 cover

The climactic chapter of the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy is now available from Amazon.com and comiXology!

In Issue #3, Persephone Wright and her team of Bartitsu-trained Amazons must race to prevent a terrorist attack that may have dire consequences for the entire world …

(… and yes, that it Persephone’s uncle – Bartitsu founder Edward Barton-Wright – to the right on the cover).

“The Second-Story Girl”: a Suffrajitsu-inspired novella by Mark Lingane

Second-Story Girl cover smaller

Inspired by the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy, Australian author Mark Lingane’s novella The Second-Story Girl is now available from Kindle Worlds.  A significant proportion of the story is set at E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu Club, which, in the “world” of the Suffrajitsu stories, secretly serves as the gymnasium and headquarters of a group of suffragette activists and bodyguards known as Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons.

Here’s the synopsis:

London, 1910. Spoilt and wild, Genevieve Cranston is a party girl with little to live for when her reckless lifestyle flings into the gutters after the suspicious death of her father and the mysterious disappearance of her younger brother Lindsey.

Rescued, redeemed and trained for action by the radical suffragette Amazons, Genevieve will stop at nothing to find her missing brother. She is soon caught up in a dense web of deceit and double-dealing, as both sides of the political landscape manoeuvre to shape the future of the free world.

Time is running out, war is on the horizon and Genevieve needs to grow up fast. Lindsey is an important player in the game of cat and mouse, and with the aid of some gifted friends, Genevieve is hell-bent on saving him, and upon revenge.

.. and here’s an interview with the author.

“The Isle of Dogs”: a Suffrajitsu-inspired novella by Michael Lussier

Isle of Dogs cover

We’re very pleased to be able to bring you this interview with Michael Lussier, whose new  novella The Isle of Dogs is now available via Kindle Worlds.

The Isle of Dogs is a dark, hard-edged mystery/revenge drama inspired by the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy, in which Bartitsu plays a key role.

The story pits Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons against an insidious new enemy:

“London: July, 1913.

The body of a young socialite is pulled from the Thames, her suicide note hinting at blackmail, conspiracy and corruption in high places.

Meanwhile, a mysterious street gang is moving through the East End with military precision. leaving a trail of murder and mutilation in its wake.

Enter Persephone Wright and her outlaw band of Bartitsu-trained suffragette Amazons, who will stop at nothing to avenge a fallen comrade …”

 

Q: What was it that first attracted you to writing stories set in the Edwardian era?

M.L.: Style and personal taste have a lot to do with it. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and there was something about Victorian and Edwardian literature that enchanted me when I was young. I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Brontës, Bram Stoker, G. K. Chesterton, Baroness Orczy, H. G. Wells, Arthur Machen, Kenneth Grahame, and Oscar Wilde. I even enjoyed – god help me – that occult oddball Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Q: And what was it about the Foreworld Saga?

M.L: I am particularly drawn to the Foreworld because there are still huge areas of Edwardian society that have rarely been explored outside of academia. Suffrajitsu is a breath of fresh air, in that regard. It isn’t so much historical revisionism as it is a shadow history of people who were shoved to the margins because they were poor, foreign, queer or female.

2) Can you describe some of the challenges in writing The Isle of Dogs?

M.L.: The amount of research that needed to be done was staggering.

I never imagined that I would spend more than a couple hours of my life studying Burke’s Peerage or exploring the links between C. & E. Morton’s Bloater Fish Paste and the Millwall Athletic Football Club. Poor naïve bastard: I sacrificed whole days and weekends to these subjects.

3) What were the most interesting discoveries you made during your research?

M.L.: My story concerns the activities of a revived Hellfire Club, so I spent quite a bit of time researching contemporary attitudes toward sexuality.

There is a misconception that the Victorians were essentially prim, high-minded eunuchs. This isn’t even remotely true.

Q: So what were they?

M.L: Several popular music hall songs of that period that are far filthier than anything I’ve ever heard in a bar or machine shop. I’m not talking ‘saucy’ or ‘bawdy’. Eskimo Nell and Kafoozalum are vulgar, profane and ribald on a level that surpasses Lil’ Kim and Too $hort.

I also came across an obscure genre, which I call Erotic Biography. Probably the best known examples are Walter’s My Secret Life and The Romance of Lust. These are explicit memoirs which detail an anonymous gentleman’s sexual development and experiences over the course of many years and several volumes. They portray Victorian upper-class sex as ravenous, male-oriented, compulsive and predatory. Maids and serving girls were obliged to observe the droit du seigneur, prostitution was commonplace, pregnancies were disowned, any female age nine and above was considered fair game. These stories are Dickensian in a really disconcerting way.

4) In what way(s) would you say the themes of the Suffrajitsu series are relevant to us today?

M.L.: Suffrajitsu is the intersection of many fascinating underground streams. Feminism, ‘mixed martial arts’, drug addiction, homosexuality, violence against women, police intimidation and institutional intolerance. These are issues and subjects that are still incredibly pertinent to 21st century readers.

Q: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

M.L.: Read as much as you can, and study the techniques of your favorite authors. Sit down and write every day. Don’t worry about quality at first – no piece of writing is ever very good before the first revision. Find an editor and listen very carefully to his/her advice. Take your reader feedback with a grain of salt.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

M.L.: When I was young, there was a truism in advertising that declared the most coveted market demographic to be men between the ages of 18 and 49. This is no longer true, although for the most part nobody in power wants to admit it just yet.

Women are emerging as a very powerful consumer block. They represent 60% of the world’s population and 78% of gross domestic product. I’ve seen reports that suggest that women will soon control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the United States. They are, for the most part, better educated and more media savvy than their male counterparts.

Additionally, young women are entering into fields that were once considered male-only; music, law, video gaming, martial arts, etc.

As the economic clout of women grows, so too will the visibility of their issues and interests.

Having spent so much time with Emmeline Pankhurst recently, I cannot help but wonder how she would seek to leverage this power in pursuit of equality in a country where the Violence Against Women Act can barely make it through Congress.

Bio

Michael Lussier has been a machinist, an orderly in a psychiatric hospital and (on one occasion only) a celebrity babysitter. He is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Bartitsu, which can be found online here. As a general rule, Michael hates to talk about himself.

twitter: @Decervelage