Since our early September update, the Bartitsu Society has been in contact with the upcoming Sherlock Holmes movie production and has donated copies of both volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium to the project. Of course, this does not mean that what appears in the movie fight scenes will be verbatim Bartitsu, but it’s nice to know that the fight team has access to authentic historical sources for use as inspiration.
I like the idea that (Holmes is) as visceral as he is intellectual. It’s true to the origins of the narrative. He was a martial artist. He did something called Bartitsu, which wasn’t necessarily exposed or utilized in other productions. So we’ve made more of a meal out of that. He’s an intellectual action man, which is pretty consistent with his origins.
This footage was recorded at the International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Conference in Michigan, USA, between July 12-15, 2007. It features a series of mostly canonical Bartitsu unarmed combat and cane demonstrations by myself, with Kirk Lawson assisting.
The theme of the seminar was to use a small selection of canonical and some neo-Bartitsu techniques and sequences to explore two major principles:
1) alignment control, or using your own weight and skeletal structure to disrupt the opponent’s balance and 2) initiative control, either by inviting a particular attack or by executing a pre-emptive attack to control the opponent’s options and movement.
Thus, we were primarily using these sequences as academic examples of certain technical and tactical options, rather than as self defence or competition sequences per se.
The defence between 00.56 and 01.00 is a neo-Bartitsu improvisation combining a number of techniques (palm-heels, a trachea grab, low stamping kick etc.) to reinforce the theme of controlling the opponent’s balance and skeletal alignment.
Thanks to Bartitsu Society member Chris Amendola for editing the footage.
There is a tendency for those looking at Bartitsu to pay especial attention to the jiu-jitsu parts of it, and to discount the necessity of both boxing and savate skills. As Tony reminded us in a recent post to the mailing list, Barton-Wright’s lecture to the Japan Society raised this very point:
In order to ensure as far as it was possible immunity against injury in cowardly attacks or quarrels, they must understand boxing in order to thoroughly appreciate the danger and rapidity of a well-directed blow, and the particular parts of the body which were scientifically attacked. The same, of course, applied to the use of the foot or the stick.
Robert Downey, Jr., who is to star in an upcoming Sherlock Holmes feature film being directed by Guy Ritchie, was quoted in Premiere Magazine as saying:
“We’re both martial arts enthusiasts and historically, in the real origin stories of Sherlock Holmes, he’s kind of a bad-ass and a bare-knuckle boxer and studies the rare art of baritsu [fictional martial art created by Doyle for the final Holmes story, 1901’s The Adventure Of The Empty House]. If you look baritsu up, they can’t even really tell you what it is, so it gives us a lot of leeway.”
“Baritsu”, of course, was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s misspelling of Bartitsu. Since Mr. Downey is a Wing Chun kung fu enthusiast and director Ritchie is a brown belt in Brazilian jiujitsu, their cinematic version of Holmes’ martial art may well pack quite a punch …
The Gothenburg Historical Fencing Society is hosting it’s 3rd annual Swordfish event, bringing together instructors in Western Martial Arts from across Europe. For the first time this will include a Bartitsu class taught by me, James Marwood. As far as I know this is also the first time Bartitsu will have been taught in Sweden. The previous events hosted by the GHFS have been very well received and I am looking forward to training with these guys.
E.W. Barton-Wright, the founder of Bartitsu, died in 1951 at the age of ninety and was buried in what the late martial arts historian Richard Bowen described as a “pauper’s grave”, an unmarked, communal plot.
In 2007 Bartitsu Society member Phil Giles located Barton-Wright’s final resting place. The site of the grave is in Kingston Cemetery in Surrey, about ten miles from central London.
Proceeds from sales of Bartitsu Society books and other media have been dedicated to erecting a permanent grave marker at the site. A temporary marker is currently in place, as seen here:
The Royal Borough of Kingston has been informed of Barton-Wright’s unique position as a martial arts pioneer and plan to include his gravesite as part of a historical heritage trail which is due to be established in Kingston within the next two years.
Last summer I taught at an ‘experience day’ held by The Grange, near Birmingham in the UK. They videoed the event and put up a short clip on youtube.
Whilst this was just a taster day for those new to martial arts and bartitsu in particular, as well as being somewhat tongue-in-cheek it does show some basic elements of Bartitsu and it’s contemporary antagonistic arts.
By contrast here is a link to Craig Gemeiner’s excellent Vigny La Canne video, also on youtube.
After a long hiatus I am pleased to welcome you to the revamped webpage for the Bartitsu Society.
If you are new to Bartitsu then please browse the pages on the right or feel free to join in the discussions on the email list.
This new site is basically a blog, and to keep it current and vibrant it needs your input. Initially feel free to email me any queries, although I hope to add to the site team soon. Please do comment on any articles and if you have anything you feel should be up here then please do let me know.
I know the site layout is currently very basic, and I would appreciate any feedback on suitable wordpress themes. Do you know of a good theme that is evocative of the Edwardian era or fin de siecle martial arts? Are you a whiz with css? Do you have a great idea for a site logo? Please do let me know.
Finally, thanks for taking the time to stop by. Come back soon!