“Bartitsu Club Russia” is a new initiative to promote the study of both canonical and neo-Bartitsu. Based in St. Petersburg, B.C.R. is a collaboration between:
Mishenev Sergey Victorovich (President of the Sergey Mishenev Art of Fencing School) Chernova Galina Nikolaevna (Vice-President of the Sergey Mishenev Art of Fencing School, fencing teacher) Ran Arthur Braun (Stage Director & Fight Choreographer) Nikolai Prokopiev (School Director and Bartitsu Club Administrator)
The first event on the B.C.R. calendar was a Bartitsu seminar hosted by the Mishenev Fencing School, which is one of the leading HEMA (historical European martial arts) and stage combat academies in Russia. The seminar was led by Ran Braun and attracted an enthusiastic group of 14 participants, who were introduced to Bartitsu unarmed combat and stick fighting techniques.
A feature article on Bartitsu has been published in the Kalashnikov Magazine and plans are underway to arrange further Bartitsu seminars in Russia.
Click on the images to see larger versions (in Russian, of course!)
Between September 9-13, the beautiful 19th century campus of the DeKoven Center (Racine, Wisconsin) was the venue for the 10th annual Western Martial Arts Weekend conference. This was the first year that Bartitsu was included in the WMAW lineup.
The conference was sold out some months in advance, having attracted a record-breaking 160 participants from 6 countries. As we enjoyed perfect weather every day, almost all of the classes took place under the oak trees on the DeKoven Center lawns, with 4 classes of (typically) 40 students each training in a panoply of Western martial arts disciplines. Students were able to choose classes from four “tracks” including Fundamentals, Medieval Martial Arts, Renaissance and Early Modern Martial Arts and Close-Quarters Combat.
The 3-hour Bartitsu seminar took place on the morning of Day 4 and began with a precis of the cultural history of Bartitsu. The three major “themes” of this seminar were initiative control via pre-emptive striking/feinting and invitation, alignment control via efficient biomechanics and the process of martial improvisation.
We began with a series of basic exercises in alignment – using one’s own posture and skeletal structure, represented as a triangle, to control a partner’s triangle to the point of imbalance. These exercises were then formalised into a selection of basic boxing and savate techniques and into some examples of canonical jiujitsu kata.
The neo-Bartitsu process of “twisting” canonical sequences into improvisational exercises was then applied to the kata, and subsequently to a series of Bartitsu stick fighting set-plays. Participants were challenged to spontaneously recover the initiative after “something goes wrong” with the set-play (for example, the opponent defeats a particular technique; how to flow with the disruption and re-establish control of the fight?)
I was very happy with the students’ progress and particularly enjoyed working with some fellow Bartitsu practitioners from clubs in Seattle and San Francisco, who also asked for an informal private lesson.
In all, WMAW 2009 bodes very well for the continued growth of interest and enthusiasm for Bartitsu in the wider Western martial arts community.
I have just returned from a very busy two-week tour of Italy, teaching Bartitsu and stage combat master-classes and preparing for an exciting new project: a Bartitsu documentary!
I would like to begin by thanking my hosts, especially Bartitsu Italia and the Cletarte cultural organisation, for their tireless and expert support. From arranging hotel accommodation and sight-seeing expeditions to dinners and press conferences, they were a delight to work with and I hope to visit them again soon.
The three-day masterclass series in Rome was a great success, with a wonderfully enthusiastic body of students representing the gamut of martial arts and stage combat experience. It was held in a new (in parts, still under construction) sports and exercise facility in the heart of the city.
Day one was devoted to learning about the cultural history and basic principles of Bartitsu: the biomechanical and tactical precepts that underlie Barton-Wright’s fusion of boxing, jiujitsu, savate and stick fighting, and the process of applying neo-Bartitsu drills to many of Barton-Wright’s canonical self defence sequences.
The second day was largely given over to the application of Bartitsu to stage combat and stunt fighting, and day three was devoted to neo-Bartitsu as self defence. The Rome seminars generated nine hours of professionally shot high-def video footage.
After flying to the lovely resort town of Amantea in Calabria (Southern Italy), we spent an intensive three days filming re-enactments and other footage for the Bartitsu documentary, including (by special and unusual permission) some scenes at the Palazzo delle Clarisse.
The final stop was in Savona, where I adjudicated a stage combat and historical fencing tournament at the magnificent Priamar fortress and taught a four-hour Bartitsu seminar for tournament participants. Again, their enthusiasm (and good-natured tolerance for my feeble attempts at spoken Italian) was much appreciated.
Finally, notes of personal thanks to Ran, Aile, Rocco, Jerome, Paolo, Angelica, Filomena, Gaetano, Luca, Daniele, Alessandro, Michele and Giuseppe. Grazie mille.
A reminder that I will be teaching a series of intensive Bartitsu seminars in Rome (August 28-30) and Cosenza (Calabria – September 2-4). These seminars will cover both canonical and neo-forms of Bartitsu, focusing on:
* combat body mechanics and tactics based on E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu precepts
* improvisation and the ability to spontaneously blend boxing, savate, jiujitsu and stick fighting
* the cultural history of Bartitsu as the first “fusion” martial art combining Asian and European fighting styles
No-one is sure whether Marcus Tindal’s 1901 article, “Self-protection on a Cycle”, was ever intended to be taken seriously. It may well have been a direct parody of E.W. Barton-Wright’s articles on “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” for Pearson’s Magazine.
Bartitsu Club Italia is a new initiative by martial arts history enthusiast and artistic director Ran A. Braun. The object of this new society will be to promote and advance the teaching of Bartitsu throughout Italy. Also spearheading the B.I. is journalist and martial arts enthusiast Paolo Paparella.
The inaugural event on the Bartitsu Italia calendar will be a series of Bartitsu workshops and press events held in Rome, Cosenza and Savona between August 28-September 6, 2009.
Allen begins with an accurate precis of Bartitsu history and then takes viewers through American catch-as-catch-can wrestler Farmer Burns’ warmup routine, focusing on isometric and calisthenic exercises.
The next section introduces basic jiujitsu ukemi techniques (side, front and rear breakfalls) and this is followed by an introduction to some of Barton-Wright’s atemi-waza (striking techniques) as detailed in his Pearson’s Magazine articles.
Subsequent sections take us through many of the jiujitsu techniques demonstrated in B-W’s “New Art of Self Defence” articles, with occasional neo-Bartitsu variations based on Allen’s background in Miyama-ryu jiujitsu and Paracombatives; a complementary section on throwing and counter-throwing from classic pugilism; basic boxing, drawing largely from “Boxing” by R.G. Allanson-Winn; two fundamental low kicks drawn from the savate repertoire and a thorough sampling of the Vigny/Bartitsu cane fighting techniques from B-W’s “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” articles.
The presentation is simple and straightforward, as a progression of individual techniques demonstrated from both sides, often several times. Allen explains the techniques as they are being demonstrated by himself and his assistant Chris Vail. The video and sound quality is clear.
In sum, this 1 hour, 33 minute DVD from Gallowglass is a concise, no-frills introduction to largely canonical Bartitsu techniques. It should be of particular use to beginners, especially those working from volume I of the Bartitsu Compendium.