Edwardian Antagonistics at SWASH 2010

Advance notice of SWASH 2010, the flagship conference event of the British Federation for Historical Swordplay. The 2010 conference will take place on February 20 and 21 and will be held at the magnificent Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, UK. The programme includes a significant emphasis upon the “antagonistics” (martial arts and combat sports) of the Edwardian period, as well as classes in the swordsmanship of the Medieval, Renaissance and Regency eras.

The Saturday schedule includes a lecture by Bethan Jenkins entitled Apaches, garrotters and roughs, oh my! – Ruffianism panics and their relation to historical defensive arts.

This will be followed by A caution to the gentleman about town – a demonstration of various dastardly night attacks, in which Dr. Milo Thurston, Ian MacIntyre and James Marwood will present various techniques of robbery attributed to the Apaches (Parisian gangsters), based upon the writing of French self defence author Emile Andre.

Muggers in London colour

This presentation will followed by A brief introduction to Edwardian antagonistics – cane, savate, pugilism and ju-jitsu presented by Dr. Milo Thurston, Ian MacIntyre and James Marwood.

On Sunday Mark Donnelly will present a lecture entitled Kernoozers and Antiquarian Antagonistics being an informative discourse regarding Hutton, Castle, Burton, Allanson-Winn, Barton-Wright and the Victorian foundations of contemporary researches.

Surely a conclave not to be missed!

Bartitsu Club Russia

Bartitsu Club Russia

“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.

Russian article 1
Russian article 2
Russian article 3

Click on the images to see larger versions (in Russian, of course!)

Bartitsu at WMAW 2009

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.

Bartitsu Italia tour summary

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.

The Greco Academy, Rome
The Greco Academy, Rome

While in Rome I was also privileged to be able to visit the fencing school of Maestro Renzo Musumeci Greco, which has been run continually as a sala d’armi by members of the Maestro’s family since the 1870s.

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.

Interview for Calabrian television
Interview for Calabrian television
Priamar Fortress
Priamar Fortress

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.

“Manly Arts Day” at Hampton Historic Site

Manly Arts

Bartitsu lessons will feature at the Hampton National Historic Site’s “Manly Arts” day (Maryland, USA). This event will showcase the range of martial arts and combat sports available to gentlemen of the 18th and 19th centuries.

With instructors including Steve Huff and Mark Donnelly, attendees will be in for a fun, educational day of “antagonistics”.

Bartitsu in Italy

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

Cane pose (2)

For more information, please visit the Bartitsu Italia website.

“Self Protection on a Cycle” at ISMAC

bicycle 2

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.

Nevertheless, participants at May’s International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Conference in Detroit, Michigan, were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put some of Mr. Tindal’s lessons into practice in a special seminar taught by Tony Wolf.

Bicycle 1

With special thanks to Bartitsu Society member Tom Badillo, who volunteered the use of his FIST impact suit for this class, and to the Art of Combat volunteer who wore it …