Participants in the upcoming Bartitsucon 2018 event will experience the full range of Bartitsu training, along with some related skills, as taught by no fewer than six instructors. In addition to the panoply of seminars, the two-day event will also feature interclub sparring in four styles: pugilism, savate assaut, grappling and cane fighting.
Prize Ring Rules: Pugilism and the Science of Self Defence
Tommy Moore, The Bartitsu Lab
Pugilism techniques 101
Pugilism vs modern boxing approaches
11.40 – 13.10
Close Range Cane
James Stewart, Dewskitch School of Impact Arts
Basic grips (and the strikes that best suit)
Close range cane striking
Defence against grabs and holds
Lunch: 13.10 – 13.40
Food to be provided. Buffet lunch and drinks.
Session 3: 13.40 – 15.10
Practical ways to use science, subterfuge, ju jitsu and antagonistics to defeat the most seasoned policemen the Met can throw at you. Drawing on the inspirational strategies, studies and techniques of “the Bodyguard”.
Session 4: 15.10 – 16.30
Duncan Mcnulty, Bartitsu and Antagonistics Forum
Coat, cosh, weighted handkerchief
Session 5: 16.40 – 18.00
Smashing people up
Ripping things off people
Twisting off heads
Depart / Open mat for sparring and free work 18.00 – 18.45
Open and welcome:
9.30 am – 11 am:
Chausson: early Savate
Tommy Moore, The Bartitsu Lab
Savate kicking techniques 101
Open hand strikes
11.10 – 12.40
Bartitsu-era Ju Jitsu
Peter Smallridge, Basingstoke Bartitsu Irregulars
Joint breaks, locks and Bartitsu grappling, otherwise known as:
“Subjecting the joints of any part of his body, whether neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, back, knee, ankle, etc. to strain which they are anatomically and mechanically unable to resist.”
Lunch: 12.40 – 13.10
Food to be provided. Buffet lunch and drinks.
13.10 – 16.30: Interclub sparring
Some competitions will be simultaneous in ring / on mats. Participants to email their weight, experience levels.
Competition 1: Pugilism
Medium / controlled contact, x 1 5-minute round, grilled head guard, MMA gloves. Throws and trips allowed. Scoring based on clean shots, control of ring, and technical competence.
Competition 2: Savate
X 3 90 second rounds of Savate Assaut, light continuous contact. Scores based on clean shots, ring craft, ring control and technical competence.
Competition 3: Grappling
X 1 5-minute round.
Gi / No Gi at discretion of participants. Slams / high velocity throws to be avoided wherever possible. Three options of play:
1. Ground grappling to a pin / submit (as agreed by participants)
2. From standing to a successful throw / takedown
3. Full grappling (from standing to submit or pin)
Competition 4: Cane
X 2 2-minute rounds. Gloves, mask and padded stick / or light rattan. Contact levels agreed between participants. Additional padding optional. Striking with limbs allowed. Disarm wins the round. Otherwise scored on clean striking, mat control and technique.
Meanwhile, in both France and England, fighters representing traditional European styles were forced to contend with the novelty of submission grappling. As Breyer points out, unless a striker is able to deal an unusually conclusive knock-out blow early in the fight, the odds favoured the grappler; and as wrestlers discovered, simply lifting, thowing or even pinning their opponent was no guarantee of success under jiujitsu rules. With tongue somewhat in cheek, Breyer also hints at some of the extreme tactics that an “orthodox” combatant might have to resort to in order to win under these unusual circumstances.
The translation of M. Breyer’s article begins:
(…) It is very difficult to draw rigorous conclusions from the avalanche of bizarre and more or less sporting encounters (in general rather less than more) provided by the recent the introduction of jiu-jitsu. There is no doubt that the measure has been surpassed, in that the truly sporting side has been neglected for the benefit of show business, and that the music hall has played too large of a role in the organization of these encounters, many of which really smelt of the “collusion” dear to our “fairground athletes”.
Also, the importers of the Japanese method desired to prove too much, instead of presenting reasonable demonstrations of their evidence to the press.
All this, I repeat, is unfortunate, but does not detract from the high value of jiu-jitsu as a method of combat. I remain convinced (and am certain that the future will demonstrate it to us) that this method is of the first order.
It involves putting into practice some techniques based on a much more perfect knowledge of human anatomy than our athletes had hitherto worried about. Also, there is no doubt that a small and light fighter, knowing jiu-jitsu, will be able to defend himself against an opponent of greater height, weight and muscular strength. Simply using our boxing and French wrestling, he would not last for a moment.
This is especially the case since the Japanese method, when applied to a real fight, does not prohibit any strike or grip. It is perfectly permissible for the jiu-jitsuan to punch with his fist, if the opportunity arises. That is why it is, in my opinion, utterly absurd to insist that a man, using all the weapons that nature has put at his disposal, will be defeated by a man who has foresworn in advance the use of three quarters of these weapons.
But this is what they would make us believe, those who defy jiu-jitsu champions with boxing.
The best boxer in the world will not put a man out of action with one punch.
I can assure you that I have, for the “noble art” of the Marquis of Queensberry, the most ardent admiration. It’s a superb fighting sport, but it is ridiculous to consider an athlete invincible simply because he has a background as a boxer. I have already, by the way, had the opportunity to test this theory that in a fight between a jiu-jitsuan which every trick would be allowed and a boxer knowing English boxing, and nothing more, the “Japanese” victory is assured. And I intend to prove it very clearly.
But first, you have to admit that, except for excessively rare cases, a trained athlete will never be put out of action by one punch, even if delivered by Jeffries. If you are doubtful, I will remind you that the world champion, even when contending with “second-raters”, never vanquished an opponent with less than fifty puches, let alone one single punch. And if you object to me that these matches involve the use of gloves, I will remind you of that time long-past when we fought with bare fists. Those fights lasted even longer, the bare hand being less potent than the leather of the boxing glove.
Now, going back to Jeffries, you’ll admit that during the six months in question, his opponents were often able to clinch – especially if their only tactic was to close in – as will the
jiu-jitsuan, of course. Well, that is the moment when the boxer will be caught; it being specified, I repeat again, that boxing per se is his only resource. Here he is absolutely at the mercy of one of these terrible tricks of Japanese wrestling – or free-style wrestling, if you prefer – which will fell in a few seconds a man ignorant of this method.
After dodging, parrying or even receiving a punch, the jiu-jitsuan will surely reply to the boxer.
Note, moreover, that the “Japanese” fighter, especially if he has studied a little bit of boxing, is not even sure to receive a stopping blow.
Three options are available to him; dodging, parrying and “smothering”, to use a term of the most expressively sporty slang.
And what of the boxer? The first two options – and especially on the first, which brings the two adversaries “belt to belt”, will be accompanied by a quick trip that will imbalance you before you can say “Phew!” He is almost safe, if not on the first try, at least in the second or the third. As for the third solution – to absorb the blow – I have just shown that it will hardly protect the boxer from the famous counters of jiu-jitsu.
It is the same when the jiu-jitsuan is opposed by a fighter who it is forbidden to use his feet and his fists, and who cannot call to service those strikes which might prevent his opponent from closing.
This is what happened when Chemialkine met recently with Yukio Tani at the Hippodrome. The giant Russian wrestler twirled the little Japanese man around his head in vain, as if Goliath had transformed David into the sling. The Jiu-jitsuan was content to “play dead”, knowing although he was going to secure one of his favourite holds as soon as he was returned to the mat.
But if Chemialkine had been able to punch the man already stupefied by this unusual exercise, the outcome of their fight would have been quite different.
It would also have been quite different if, instead of trying to squeeze Tani’s throat as if trying to strangle him, the Russian could have done to his adversary what our good Apaches call the “trick of the postage stamp”, an energetic expression implying to stomp on the opponent’s head once he has fallen to the ground. This is the trick that Charlemont would prefer in such an encounter, he told us recently.
Unless, of course, all of this has been done in advance, which would certainly secure the outcome!
Organised by the indefaticable Tommy Joe Moore of the Bartitsu Lab, Bartitsucon 2018 will be an interclub seminar and sparring event taking place near Birmingham, UK between November 10-11.
Seminars in pugilism, savate, ju jitsu and stick fighting (in isolation and in combination) will be largely concentrated during the first day of the event, with more sparring based content and competitions on the Sunday.
Members of the Club L’Extreme Est of Warsaw, Poland exhibited Bartitsu at the Polish War Museum on Saturday, September 23. The demonstration was based on the martial arts journey of Edward Barton-Wright in combining techniques from Japanese jiujitsu with English boxing, French kickboxing and the Vigny style of stick fighting.
Images from a recent neo-Bartitsu seminar in San Francisco, which included introductions to Vigny cane fighting, pugilism and Indian club swinging as well as low kicking and jiujitsu. The seminar was co-instructed by Tom Badillo and Fred Kaye at the En Garde Fencing school in Santa Rosa, California.
This article offers a brief “history” of the Bartitsu revival movement, especially via the production of the two volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium in 2005 and 2008.
The advent of the Internet during the late 1990s facilitated contact and communication in innumerable special interest fields, very often among individuals and small groups that had been working in relative isolation for years. The newfound ability to “meet” fellow enthusiasts from all around the world online dramatically expanded and accelerated many of these fields; it was, to put it mildly, a heady time.
In the martial arts sphere, the esoteric practice of reviving previously extinct fighting styles received an especially strong boost during this period. The Bartitsu revival began as part of this new movement, originally via the Bartitsu Forum Yahoo Group email list, which was founded by author and martial artist Will Thomas in 2002; almost exactly one century after the original London Bartitsu Club had closed down.
Within about three years, members of the Forum – which had quickly and informally morphed into the Bartitsu Society – had tracked down a vast quantity of archival information related to E.W. Barton-Wright’s martial art. Most notable were Barton-Wright’s article series for Pearson’s Magazine, which had been discovered by the late British martial arts historian Richard Bowen and which were first broadcast online via the Electronic Journal of Martial Arts and Sciences website. Many of the characteristics of Bartitsu revivalism, including the concepts of “canonical” and “neo” Bartitsu and the essentially open-source nature of the revival itself, were likewise defined during this period.
By early 2004, we had so much information that it seemed fitting to try to get it into a publishable format, if only for the convenience of the (still) relatively few people who had taken a strong interest in the subject. Also, though, there was a growing sense that E.W. Barton-Wright had not yet received due recognition. The more we were learning about his life and fighting style, the more it seemed that he should be acknowledged as a martial arts pioneer and innovator. Therefore, the decision was made to dedicate any profits from the book to memorialising Barton-Wright’s legacy.
Because the potential readership seemed so small and specialised, we realised that the Bartitsu Compendium was unlikely to appeal to traditional publishers. Therefore, we decided to take advantage of the then-relatively new POD (Print On Demand) technology, which would allow individual copies of the book to be automatically printed and shipped as they were ordered.
Volume 1 of the Bartitsu Compendium – which was eventually subtitled “History and the Canonical Syllabus” – was compiled as a group labour of love. I volunteered to edit and generally steer the project and numerous others produced original articles, tracked down ever more obscure sources in European library archives and second-hand bookstores, manually transcribed print into electronic text (OCR technology was not then what it is now) and lent their talents to translations from various foreign languages.
The compilation and editing process took about a year, and then the book was officially launched at a function held in an Edwardian-era meeting room in the St. Anne’s Church complex in Soho, London, literally a stone’s throw from the site of the original Bartitsu Club in Shaftesbury Avenue. A simple table display included a bouquet of flowers, a straw boater hat and a Vigny-style walking stick, along with print-outs of the various chapters. Ragtime music played quietly in the background.
I offered a short lecture on the history of Bartitsu and a demonstration of some of the canonical techniques, followed by a champagne toast to the memory of E.W. Barton-Wright. Guests were then invited to mingle and peruse the print-out chapters (and, if they wished, take them as souvenirs).
To our surprise, the first volume of the Compendium sold well and, in fact, it was Lulu Publications’ best-selling martial arts book for a number of years. Funds from those sales supported the first three Bartitsu School of Arms conferences (in London, Chicago and Newcastle, respectively) and paid for a Bartitsu/Barton-Wright memorial that became part of the Marylebone Library collection, among other projects.
The Bartitsu revival proceeded and grew, with increasing numbers of seminars and ongoing courses being established. By 2007 it was clear that we needed a second volume, presenting resources that went beyond the canonical material and into the corpus of material produced by Bartitsu Club instructors and their first generation of students.
Volume 2 was a more complicated undertaking because it involved cross-referencing over a dozen early 20th century self-defence manuals, almost all from within the direct Bartitsu Club lineage, with the aim of synthesising a complete neo-Bartitsu syllabus. Individual techniques were carefully gathered from multiple sources and assessed, omitting redundancies and duplications while retaining useful variations. We also wanted to avoid developing a fully standardised, prescriptive curriculum, in favour of allowing individuals and clubs to choose their own “paths” through the various techniques and styles that went into the Bartitsu cross-training mix. Further, the lessons of volume 2 were joined together by a set of technical and tactical principles or “themes” redacted from the writings of E.W. Barton-Wright.
Again, the production of the book was very much a team effort, requiring the locating, scanning, transcribing etc. of a wide range of antique self-defence books and articles.
The second volume of the Bartitsu Compendium (subtitled “Antagonistics”) was launched in 2008, and proved to be very nearly as popular as Volume 1. The Compendia have formed the backbone of the Bartitsu revival since then, especially during the “boom time” of roughly 2009-13, which was engendered by the massive popular success of the action-packed Sherlock Holmes movies and consequently by substantial media, pop-culture and academic interest in Bartitsu.
There are currently about 50 Bartitsu clubs and study groups spread throughout the world and many of the old Bartitsu mysteries have either been solved outright or satisfactorily mitigated through educated guesswork. Although it will never be the “next big thing” in the martial arts world, all signs point to Bartitsu continuing as a niche-interest study for those who spend about equal time in the library and in the dojo.