Bartitsu seminars in Italy: Aug./Sept. 2009

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The inaugural event of the new Bartitsu Italia association will be a series of Bartitsu seminars taught by Tony Wolf and organised by Ran A. Braun and Paolo Papparella.

Seminar 1: August 28-30 in Rome
Seminar 2: September 2-4 in Cosenza (Calabria)

Both seminars will include intensive introductions to canonical and neo-Bartitsu training drills as well as discussions of Bartitsu history and related subjects.

For further details and booking information please contact info@bartitsu.it and/or see http://www.bartitsu.it/eventi.html.

Bartitsu Club Italia

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.

“Introductory Bartitsu” DVD review

Introductory Bartitsu

“Introductory Bartitsu” is a new instructional DVD by Allen Reed of the Gallowglass Academy.

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.

You can purchase the DVD from Allen’s site.

Houston Meet-Up

Scott Brown, a swordsmanship instructor in Houston recently met up with the Bartitsu Society’s Chris Amendola, and provided this report

Through recommendations from James Marwood and Alex Kiermeyer I recently made contact with a local Gentleman here in the Houston area named Chris Amendola, a Bartitsu specialist with a mentionable Eastern martial arts background.

Chris was kind enough to come by the training hall yesterday and offer an introductory workshop and lecture on E.W. Barton Wrights ‘mixed martial arts’ self defence system. I am extremely happy to report that he did a very fine job of not only giving a fairly thorough, if concise, overview of the system but also accommodating to the significantly wide variety of skill levels of the attending participants. While he did discuss some of the jujitsu elements of Bartitsu he was kind enough to focus the workshop on the Vigny cane aspects, covering a classification of techniques he termed “Guard by Distance”, making special emphasis on the very interesting Bartitsu ‘hanging guard’ (my term). Chris did a great job of keeping the class interesting and moving along as he demonstrated what I would consider to be a graspable number of defensive and offensive techniques, variations, and a number of counters to these. Personally, I was exceptionally pleased that he was able to take a number of our more experienced fencers out of their comfort zone by emphasizing Bartitsu’s rather unique ‘inverted overhand strike’ (my term) which is executed with some very interesting voiding footwork (nearly a demi-volta of sorts).

I am also happy to report that not only does Chris have a good ability to identify context and circumstance but also how they very importantly relate to fencing/fighting. He very capably demonstrated a number of tactical based decision making scenarios and almost nonchalantly discussed how they interplay with his interpretations of the plays in the Bartitsu system. I confess this was a pleasant surprise and excited me to know that such an informed and talented fellow is very nearly here in my own back yard. Additionally, he did a great job of being honest when he wasn’t sure about something when subjected to the customary grueling questions put forth by some of our gang and very admirably put serious thought into his responses, producing viable and coherent arguments only moments later. Very respectable in my book.

On the practical side, Chris was not only willing to fence but eager as anyone I’ve met and he further impressed me by not only wishing to fence using his Vigny, Cunningham and, I think, Lang cane understandings but also asked to fence against both the longsword and sword and buckler. Obviously, these are fencing systems that were never meant or designed to face each other and that only speaks to Chris’ good HEMA attitude. We also indulged him by playing at baton vs. baton with he and I going extra rounds we were having so much fun! The best part is Chris clearly is a man of mentionable skill, tactical understanding, and the ability to adapt. His unfamiliar, to us, methods definitely presented our gang with some new challenges and I suspect that he in turn found a few (but hopefully exciting) hurdles from our crowd. Bruises were shared all round, as it should be! Chris has a unique over/under/over strike combination that is faster than anyone I’ve yet to meet in a one handed weapon and he has a very dynamic and mobile style of fencing. He also put his money where his mouth is by capably demonstrating the unique ‘inverted overhand’ strike when fencing which was particularly fun to observe in addition to presenting some interesting challenges.

In short, it is my opinion that Chris Amendola is an excellent representative for Bartitsu as a functioning martial art. I think he poses great potential for growing this art, has a great attitude towards sharing, exchanging, training, and HEMA in general. And on top of it all, he’s a heck of a nice guy. If you get the chance, don’t miss an opportunity to train with Chris! I’m certainly looking forward to working with him in the future.

“Is Bartitsu practiced today?”

This is probably the #1 question asked of the Bartitsu Society.  Fortunately, the short answer is “yes”, but this may require some explanation.

Between 2002-2005 the Bartitsu Society was largely devoted to learning as much as possible about Bartitsu from the historical point of view.  We tracked down long-forgotten books and magazine articles in obscure library archives and most of our efforts were towards collating, preserving and sharing this information.

After the publication of Volume 1 of the Bartitsu Compendium in 2005, members of the Society began offering seminar classes in various aspects of Bartitsu.  These classes were held at martial arts and stage combat conferences in Canada, the USA, Italy, Germany and the UK.

Today, your options for learning Bartitsu include attending seminars or joining any of several informal study groups or  regular Bartitsu classes.  These include:

The Academie Duello historical fencing and stage combat school in Vancouver, Canada offers occasional Bartitsu seminars with instructor David McCormick.

The Alabama Bartitsu Society, which is planned as a Bartitsu study group.

The  International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention (Detroit, Michigan) regularly features Bartitsu intensives taught by Tony Wolf.

The Gallowglass Academy (Rockford, Illinois) offers occasional Bartitsu seminars.

The Cumann Bhata Dayton (Ohio) Western martial arts club offers Bartitsu classes on the first Monday of each month.

The 2009 Western Martial Arts Weekend conference (Racine, WI) will feature a Bartitsu seminar intensive taught by Tony Wolf.

The Gemeiner Academy of European Combat Arts (Gold Coast, Australia) offers regular training in Vigny/Lang stick fighting and associated skills.

The Houston School of Defense offers regular classes in walking stick defense and plans to extend into training in other aspects of the Bartitsu and Neo-Bartitsu curricula.

The Zwaardkring historical fencing club offers one two-hour Bartitsu practice session per month and the Judoclub Shizen Hontai plans to offer a weekly Bartitsu study group.  Both clubs are in Veldhoven, Netherlands.