Instructor Chris Dyer will be teaching a Bartitsu seminar at the Autumnfecht HEMA event in Columbia, Maryland on November 4, 2017.
Explore the gentleman’s art of self-defense! Bartitsu is a practical style of self-defense with an emphasis on scientific principles to overcome an attacker. The growing threat of street gangs in Victorian and Edwardian London was the catalyst behind the creation of Bartitsu. Named after its creator, Edward William Barton-Wright, Bartitsu incorporates bare-knuckled boxing, French kicking, Japanese jujitsu, and stick fighting to suppress attacks from single ruffians and gangs alike. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle named Bartitsu as Sherlock Holmes’ means of defeating his nemesis, Professor Moriarty. Students will learn a number of choreographed techniques showcasing a variety of Bartitsu methods.
No experience or equipment required. Period dress is not required, but encouraged.
Of all of the exercises described in Captain F.C. Laing’s 1902 essay The Bartitsu Method of Self-Defence, the “4th Practice” is the most difficult to follow. It is presented as a training drill but it has most of the characteristics of a self-defence set-play. Laing’s instructions are also uncharacteristically ambiguous, so what follows is simply one of several plausible interpretations of this exercise.
4TH PRACTICE (CHANGING HANDS).
To “rear guard.”–With a circular motion of right arm from front to rear hit upwards, point of stick just clearing the ground so as to hit opponent’s ankle; as the stick rises to level of shoulder change it into left hand at the place where it was held in the right hand; hit opponent’s face, then point at his body and return to “on guard,” changing stick back to right hand.
For convenience, here follows a compilation of all of the drills and self-defence set-plays recorded in Captain F.C. Laing’s 1902 article, “The Bartitsu Method of Self Defence”. As Laing did not illustrate these sequences – rather, simply describing them in more-or-less detail via prose – the following illustrated sets are presented as interpretations, employing photographs modified from E.W. Barton-Wright’s own “Self-Defence with a Walking Stick” articles for Pearson’s Magazine.
That said, as Laing was a keen student at the Bartitsu Club who learned directly from Barton-Wright and Pierre Vigny, his drills and set-plays constitute part of the Bartitsu canon and serve as a very useful supplement to Barton-Wright’s own writing on this subject. In particular, Laing offers a simple progression of basic drills that were not illustrated in Barton-Wright’s essays.
Here follows an interpretation of Captain Laing’s “3rd Practice” as described in his 1902 article on The Bartitsu Method of Self-Defence.
From “rear guard.”–Guard face sideways, then head as already described, retire one pace, right foot leading, draw left foot back to right, making a half-left turn of the body, riposte on opponent’s head and return to “rear guard.”
Here is the third basic drill from Captain F.C. Laing’s 1902 article The “Bartitsu” Method of Self-Defence, illustrated with photographs adapted from E.W. Barton-Wright’s Self-Defence with a Walking Stick (1901). Follow these links to see the first and second drills of Laing’s “1st Practice” series.
Additional Notes on the “1st Practice”
Captain Laing remarked that one should continue the “1st Practice” drill “on through all the hits as described already”. In the context of his article, those additional sequences would include:
* Strike to the left side of the body, parry partner’s return strike to the same area, riposte with strike to the top of the head.
* Strike to the “flank” (right side of the body), parry partner’s return strike to the same area, riposte with strike to the top of the head.
* Strike to outside (left side) of lead leg, evade partner’s return strike to the same area by either 1) drawing the lead foot back to the rear foot, 2) passing the lead foot back about 12 inches behind the rear foot (i.e., switching from the front guard to the rear guard) or 3) simply retreating both feet about 12 inches, then riposting with strike to the top of the head.
* Strike to inside (right side) of lead leg, evade partner’s return strike to the same area by either 1) drawing the lead foot back to the rear foot, 2) passing the lead foot back about 12 inches behind the rear foot (i.e., switching from the front guard to the rear guard) or 3) simply retreating both feet about 12 inches, then riposting with strike to the top of the head.
Note on the “2nd Practice”
Laing’s “2nd Practice” drill is identical to the “1st Practice” series except that it requires the practitioners to maintain a greater measure (fighting distance), so that every attack is made on a lunge and every defence is made on a recovery.
The second basic drill from Captain F.C. Laing’s 1902 article The “Bartitsu” Method of Self-Defence, illustrated with photographs adapted from E.W. Barton-Wright’s Self-Defence with a Walking Stick (1901). Click here for the first drill of Laing’s “1st Practice” series.
In 1902, Bartitsu Club member Captain F.C. Laing wrote an article titled The ‘Bartitsu’ Method of Self-Defence for the Journal of the United Service Institution.Captain Laing’s sequence of set-plays such as “Attacked by a man with a stick in his hand” and “A man without a stick rushes at you with his fist” offers a unique canonical supplement to E.W. Barton-Wright’s Self-Defence with a Walking Stick (1901) and also includes some basic technical drills which B-W did not record. Laing’s article is reproduced in full in the second volume of the Bartitsu Compendium (2008).
Although Captain Laing produced some simple sketch illustrations of basic techniques, most of his sets were only described in a few lines of text. The following is the first of a series of interpretations of Laing’s “Practices”, illustrated using modified photographs from Barton-Wright’s articles, which will appear on this website over the coming weeks.
“1st Practice” #1 is a foundational drill teaching a high strike, guard and riposte.
A selection of cane and umbrella self-defence techniques originally published in La Vie au grand air : revue illustrée de tous les sports of February 9, 1906. The demonstrator is Professor Chabrier of Paris.