Mark Donnelly to teach Bartitsu at the Steampunk World’s Fair

Instructor Mark Donnelly (left, above) will be teaching Bartitsu classes at the Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey, USA (May 20th-22nd, 2011). Mark’s classes will include a 90 minute introductory session, an advanced class for those with considerable martial arts experience and also a class in Bartitsu for Ladies (and men in frocks!).

An interview with Kirk Lawson

A revised and updated edition of Kirk Lawson‘s book Banned from Boxing: The Forgotten Grappling Techniques of Classic Pugilism is now available from this site.

What was your original motivation to write “Banned from Boxing”?

More than a decade ago I started working with Ken Pfrenger, a noted martial researcher in his own right, and he introduced me to old school boxing. He called it “Classic Pugilism” to differentiate it from modern boxing. Ken introduced me to strikes that aren’t used any longer in modern boxing and other elements including, surprisingly enough to me, grappling. Oh, I was familiar with blending boxing and grappling; MMA was in full swing by then, but the idea that grappling had been included, then was removed, and now was making its way back in captivated me. What’s more, so few people knew that grappling had been such an important part of boxing. Sure, there were a few people who had read some of the antique manuals, but the vast majority of both boxers and more traditional martial artists (read: “Asian stylists”) had no idea and, indeed, would sometimes scoff at the suggestion.

I recall similar reactions when awareness of historical fencing first started to penetrate into other martial spheres.

As I became more familiar with the work of bygone pugilists I became more and more convinced that their style of boxing needed to be remembered in the modern era. In particular the grappling, because, well, to be honest, that is what held my attention. Though I suppose I justified it by telling myself that the grappling was the largest, perhaps the most important, chunk of what had been forgotten. While true, I just simply had developed a minor obsession with the material.

Additionally, I hoped to address the lack of a solid naming convention for these old techniques. One of the advantages of doing modern Judo, for instance, is that a given technique has the same name in Ohio, California, Germany, and Japan and has for the last century. Not so with the old pugilistic grappling. Often I would find 2 or 3 old authors agree on a name, but then there would be 1 or 2 others who would show the same technique in the illustrations but call it something else. So I hoped to be able to apply common, consistent names.

How have your readers responded to the first edition?

The response has been far greater and more positive than I ever could have guessed. I always knew that antique boxing techniques would be somewhat niche but the interest seems to have broken stylistic boundaries.

That’s usually a good thing.

Many readers look on the material as a historic curiosity but, because they love historic curiosities, they read the material anyway, even though they don’t believe the “antiquated” material to have much modern application. On the other hand there are a whole series of different modern martial artists who have interest and express that they feel the material is applicable, either directly or indirectly, to their studies. These range from modern boxers interested in expanding their repertoire, MMA fans looking for something a bit different from the other guys, Asian stylist interested in martial arts in general, and the growing Western Martial Arts community looking for historic accuracy.

Have you seen interest from any unexpected quarters?

Quite surprising to me is interest coming from the direction of Steampunk enthusiasts who are also looking for historically accurate material to give their hobby an additional dimension and new flavor.

What is new in the second edition?

While the second edition is an evolution of the first, it’s not just a series of spelling corrections and slightly updated photographs. Since I published the first edition, I have continued to read and republish other antique boxing manuals and kept coming across great new material and illustrations which I was dying to add to the book. After collecting and organizing the new material, I ended up with 60 or 70 individual notes ranging from “re-write this paragraph” to specific authors’ advice on specific techniques like Owen Swift’s advice on the Cross-Buttock or Shaw’s break for Front Chancery. In the end I had updated 11 of the chapters, added 19 completely new historic illustrations, and a half dozen or so new sources.

Freshest in my mind, and perhaps most intriguing to some, is new material in the chapter “Pull the Hair, Poke the Eye, Oh My!” Here I added material which is best termed “Pressure Point Attacks” in historic boxing. It kind of surprised me the first time I saw these sort of attacks in the antique manuals, but there they were. It’s not a large section but I expect it to be the most attention grabbing.

Finally, as a Bartitsu instructor yourself, how would you say the material in “Banned from Boxing” can be relevant to Bartitsu, or neo-Bartitsu?

Well, it’s obviously all speculation and informed guesswork. However, this material blends historic boxing and grappling in a way similar to what we think Barton-Wright was teaching. With that in mind, the material in “Banned from Boxing” can easily act as a bridge between the historic “striking” material and grappling. The old boxers had a specific skill set and a long tradition of mixing the two within the confines of their sport so I think there’s a lot that we can glean from what they were doing and move it forward into the speculative neo-Bartitsu context.

More Bartitsu SteamPunkery

Allen Reed will be teaching classes at the Oklahoma Steampunk Exhibition in April.

Vigny’s Walking Stick Defense

Do you know a rogue and a scoundrel who deserves to be thrashed on the steps of his club? Then this is the class for you. The class will provide a short introduction to the use of the walking stick or cane for self defense. Prof. Reed will have a few loaner canes/sticks for use during the class but recommends bringing your own.

English Bare Knuckle Boxing

Every gentleman and woman should learn to defend themselves with their bare hands against the hooligans and thugs who prowl the streets of our big cities. This class will introduce the student to the basic stance, blows and defenses of English pugilism.

19th century/Steampunk martial arts at CombatCon

A partial class list is now on-line for Combat Con Las Vegas.

There are four ways to look at the classes based on how you study Western Martial Arts. You can view the classes along with their short descriptions or you can look at the list via System/Style or via Weapon. Lastly, each instructor’s bio page lists their classes at the bottom.

The 19th century/Steampunk classes listed so far include Manly Arts of Self Defence (singlestick, pugilism and wrestling), Bartitsu: The Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes, Radellian Sabre, Victorian Cane, Singlestick and Repelling boarders against Sky Pirates.

From the organisers:

Nearly half of the classes are online right now and the organisers will be adding more soon, so be sure to check back often. Attendees will be able to choose between more intensive 2 hr classes or a variety of one hour classes. There’s a lot to do at Combat Con so choosing between the classes and the exciting Panels, Activities and Demonstrations will be difficult! Please go to the CombatCon website to register and to see a draft schedule layout under the WMA tab.

There are still many more classes coming, along with the list of Demonstrations, Panels and Activities. More details will appear on the CombatCon website soon.

Of course, there is also much to do in the evenings. After dinner there will be tournaments, free fencing, movies, games and that’s all without leaving the hotel After all, you’re in Las Vegas!

To celebrate the class list online there is a 10% discount until April 5th, so use WMA2011 in the Promo Box and get your registration in now!

Bartitsu seminar in Vancouver, Canada

Intro to Bartitsu

Saturday, February 19 – 1:00pm to 5:00pm

Learn the mixed martial art of the Victorian English Gentleman. In this four-hour workshop taught by David McCormick, you’ll acquire the essential Bartitsu skills of Boxing, Jujitsu, Savate and Cane fighting:

* the basic punches of scientific boxing and the first defensive moves of pugilism,
* the first throw from jujitsu and how to land without hurting yourself when thrown
* the foundations of walking stick self-defence, and the essential kicks of savate.

This Introduction to Bartitsu is a pre-requisite for the ongoing Bartitsu class at the Academie Duello. We want all newcomers to the weekly class to have some familiarity with the core techniques, and to get some practice in an easy environment where all of the students are learning the skills together.

So, whether you’re interested in studying Bartitsu on an ongoing basis, or if you just want to learn the essential elements, the Introduction to Bartitsu covers the fundamentals. Fun and self-defense without getting your spats dirty!

$60 (15% off for members) – see this page to sign up online.

Theatrical/cinematic Bartitsu in Italy

Ran Braun will be teaching a one-day clinic in theatrical/cinematic Bartitsu via the Red Crow Stunt organisation on Sunday, May 15th in the town of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy.

The Bartitsu clinic will run between 11.00-1.30 and 2.30-5.00 and will be proceeded by a seminar in stunt equestrianism on Saturday, May 14th. All details are available from info@redcrowstunt.com.

Bartitsu and 19th century “antagonistics” at CombatCon

Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf has been confirmed as a featured guest at CombatCon (June 24-26, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada). The CombatCon is planned as a unique celebration of mostly Western martial arts in combination with pop-culture genres including Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror and SteamPunk. Events and activities will include martial arts classes and demonstrations, a film festival, costume contest, panel discussions, a fight choreography tournament, martial arts competitions and more.

Updates relating to the Bartitsu content will be given here over the coming months and you can learn all about the event, and register to be there, by visiting the official CombatCon website. If you register within the next week, use the code “IAMFIRST” to get 10% off both levels of registration.

Introduction to Bartitsu seminar in Vancouver

The Academie Duello is offering an introductory Bartitsu class on Saturday, January 8th:

“If one gets into a row and plays the game in the recognised style of English fair play – with fists – the opponent will very likely rush in and close, in order to avoid a blow. Then comes the moment for wrestling in the secret Japanese way. Instantly the unwary one is caught and thrown so violently that he is placed hors de combat, without even sufficient strength left to retire unassisted from the field.”
– E.W. Barton-Wright, “Black and White Budget” magazine, December 1900

Learn the mixed martial art of the Victorian English Gentleman. In this four-hour workshop, you’ll acquire the essential Bartitsu skills of Boxing, Jujitsu, Savate and Cane fighting:

-the basic punches of scientific boxing and the first defensive moves of pugilism,

-the first throw from jujitsu and how to land without hurting yourself when thrown,

-the foundations of walking stick self-defence, and the essential kicks of savate.

This Introduction to Bartitsu is a pre-requisite for the ongoing Bartitsu class. We want all newcomers to the weekly class to have some familiarity with the core techniques, and to get some practice in an easy environment where all of the students are learning the skills together.

Saturday, January 8, 2011 1pm-5pm

So, whether you’re interested in studying Bartitsu on an ongoing basis, or if you just want to learn the essential elements, the Introduction to Bartitsu covers the fundamentals. Fun and self-defense without getting your spats dirty!

$60 (15%off for members

* Location: Academie Duello, 412 W. Hastings St., Vancouver

You can sign up online via this link.