A six-minute item on the gentlemanly mixed martial art of Bartitsu, as featured on a recent episode of BBC2’s Celebrity Antiques Road Trip and including demonstrations by the Manley Academy of Historical Swordsmanship:
For the sake of strict historical accuracy, there’s no evidence that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle actually studied Bartitsu (in fact, the evidence suggests that he wasn’t even especially familiar with it). That said, it’s great to see another precis treatment of the art and its intriguing history in the mainstream media, and media doesn’t get much more mainstream than the Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.
Also worthy of note is that the show benefits the BBC’s charity Children in Need, which funds a wide range of projects helping children and disadvantaged young people throughout the UK.
The popular TV comedy series Drunk History offers its inebriated (and somewhat NSFW) take on the suffrajitsu saga, starring Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as Emmeline Pankhurst, Maria Blasucci (Ghost Girls) as Edith Garrud and Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls) as Gert Harding.
Chilean stickfighter Andres Morales demonstrates a shadow-fighting exercise with a ball-handled cane in this new video. Most of the techniques shown are from the Vigny style, with some reverse-grip influence from Arturo Bonafont.
A spectator at one of Pierre Vigny’s Bartitsu cane demonstrations during March of 1900 wrote:
Everybody has heard of this new defence and offence, but it was a revelation to the audience to see the splendid development, the dexterity and quickness, and even grace, of the exponents of this really wonderful science.
A striking feature of the training is that in all the exercises the pupil must become ambidextrous; in fact, the rapid transference of the walking-stick from one hand to the other was, to the uninitiated at least, one of the most powerful factors in offence and defence, and one likely to prove most puzzling to the opponent.
Playing to the pop-culture notion of the “gentlemanly martial art” via the Sherlock Holmes and Kingsman movies, the segment still manages to communicate some of the essential details such as Edward Barton-Wright’s travels in Japan and the eclectic boxing/kicking/jiujitsu/Vigny cane nature of Bartitsu.
Kudos to the Bartitsu Lab of Warwickshire, UK and to their instructor Tommy Joe Moore.