November 8th marks the 149th anniversary of the birth of E.W. Barton-Wright, the founder of Bartitsu. He was born in Bangalore, India in the year 1860, the son of William Barton Wright, locomotive Superintendant of Madras Railways, and Janet Wright.
“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!)
This is a very rare photograph of former Bartitsu Club instructor Pierre Vigny, at the age of 60, posing between his friends and fellow physical culture enthusiasts Edouard Jaccard (aged 69, left) and 67 year old Georges Lambert (right).
After his tenure as chief instructor at the Bartitsu Cub in London, Vigny went on to establish his own fencing and self defence academy in the English capital, returning to Geneva a year or two prior to the outbreak of the First World War. Little is known about his later life, but this photograph from an article in “La Tribune de Genève” demonstrates that he was still in good health in 1929.
The article notes that the three senior athletes enjoyed running together in the countryside around Geneva, and that they all had hearty appetites. It goes on to mention that Vigny and Lambert had fought a “Homeric” boxing bout in 1888, Vigny suffering a twisted knee when he slipped during the match. In December of 1919, the article continues, Vigny had survived a potentially fatal tram accident due to the reflexes and constitution developed over a lifetime as a physical culture and self defence enthusiast.
The latter section includes a quick summary of Bartitsu lore, correctly identifying Holmes’ “baritsu” primarily with Japanese unarmed combat, although not clarifying that Bartitsu actually included boxing, savate, wrestling and stick fighting as well. However, further items in the self defence section refer to Holmes’ abilities as a boxer, fencer and singlestick fighter, and offer very basic instruction in each of these areas.
A great Christmas gift for Holmes/Bartitsu aficionados, and a great companion piece to “the Art of Manliness” (see previous post).
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Further filming for the upcoming Bartitsu documentary took place recently in Switzerland, London and Northumberland. The Swiss shoot was managed by Ran A. Braun and Tony Wolf, while in London Wolf was ably assisted by Lawrence Carmichael.
Interviews were held in London with Dr. Emelyne Godfrey, and in Northumberland with martial arts historians Harry Cook and Graham Noble.
Additional footage was shot in Shaftesbury Avenue, the location of the original Bartitsu Club; Kingston-on-Thames cemetery, the site of E.W. Barton-Wright’s grave; Leicester Square, outside the Empire Theatre where Barton-Wright held some of his early Bartitsu exhibitions, and other locations.
Further filming is scheduled to take place in Italy, the USA and the UK over the next month. Stay tuned for details!