“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 …

The Bartitsu Forum

Established in August of 2002 by mystery author Will Thomas, the Bartitsu Forum is an active and positive venue for online discussion of all things Bartitsuvian.

Typical discussion topics include:

* the early history of European jiujitsu

* the eclectic Japanese/European self defence methods developed between 1899 and the early 1920s, and the lives of their founders and practitioners

* street gangsterism, the suffragette movement, “physical culture” exercise programmes and other Victorian and Edwardian-era social phenomena, as related to the martial arts

* the practical revival of Bartitsu as a martial art and combat sport.

Hope to see you there!

A “new” Bartitsu article: “Ju-Jitsu and Ju-do”

This article was originally published in the New Zealand “Auckland Star” newspaper on April 11, 1901.

The article was written shortly after E.W. Barton-Wright’s successful lecture and demonstration for the Japan Society.



“Ju-Jitsu and Ju-do – the Japanese Art of Self-Defence from a British Athletic Point of View” is the title of a lecture by Mr Barton-Wright, in London, recently.

Mr Barton-Wright, as readers of “Pearson’s Magazine” are aware, is the inventor of Bartitsu, a system of self-defence combining walking-stick play, boxing, wrestling, kicking — in short, all possible forms of defence. The master of Bartitsu, it is said, can hold his own in any combat, from a street “scrap” with a New Cut Hooligan to a stabbing match with an Italian desperado. Indeed, Mr Barton-Wright claims that, at close range, he could disable a man with a revolver before the latter could “draw.”

The lecture was illustrated by practical demonstrations by the author and by his two Japanese wrestlers, the strong men Yamamoto and Tani.

“Yamamoto is returning to Japan,” said Mr Barton-Wright to an “Express” representative, “and I have a thirteen-stone man coming over, whose order is not so particular. The public will have an opportunity of seeing him and Tani wrestle. Tani only weighs eight stone, but I will back him to throw any wrestler living up to thirteen stone — five stone more than himself. My thirteen-stone man – I will back against all-comers. If you like, Tani will show you a little Japanese wrestling.”


Tani and Yamamoto sat lovingly by the stove, but, on a word from Mr Barton-Wright, Tani shed his European clothes and stepped to the wrestling mattress, a. Japanese wrestler in his buff. Two brown legs, a little body in a loose white tunic, and two quick, black eyes, bright in a swarthy face — that was Tani, champion boy wrestler of Japan.

The visitor took off his coat and boots, but forebore from baring his legs. “Divert Mr Tani’s mind of any idea, that I am a wrestling champion in disguise,” he said. “Tell him this is a purely academic wrestle. If he’s going to illustrate anything in the spine-breaking or leg-fracturing way, let him illustrate on Mr Yamamoto.”

“Tani, play light,” said Mr Barton-Wright in Japanese and the Homeric struggle began. The visitor crouched; Tani crouched. The visitor patted Tani on the arm, after the manner of the music-hall wrestler; Tani did nothing. Then, without warning, the visitor hurtled through the air, clean over Tani’s head. A swan might have envied the grace of that flight. He fell on his back, beautifully spread-eageled. First fail to Japan. A lightning cross-buttock and an inexplicable back-heel concluded the illustrations so far as the visitor was concerned.

Then Tani and Yamamoto strove together, and all that could be seen was a mad confusion of brown legs and white bodies.

“Nothing human on legs would stand a chance with these men,” said Mr Barton-Wright, proudly.

M. Pierre Vigny. the Swiss professor of stick play, had just finished a walking-stick bout with a pupil.

“I will back M. Vigny,” said Mr Barton-Wright, “against any man in a contest of all-round defence and offence, each using only his natural weapons. M. Vigny shall take on the best boxer in England, and the boxer can hit below the belt, wrestle — do anything he likes— and M. Vigny shall beat him.”

“Textbook of Ju-jutsu” (1905) re-animated


Click on the image above to watch a video animation of all of the “cinematographic” photograph sequences from Sadakazu Uyenishi’s “Textbook of Ju-jutsu”, published in 1905. The techniques include both basic ukemi waza (falling) and nage waza (throwing) skills, as demonstrated by a Bartitsu Club instructor.

Sadakazu Uyenishi in action


This animated GIF was created by John Lindsey of the e-budo forum. It is an animation of movie frames originally used as photographic illustrations in Sadakazu Uyenishi’s 1905 “Textbook of Ju-jutsu”. Uyenishi and his colleague Yukio Tani were jujitsu instructors at E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu Club between 1900-1902.

Although originally published as a series of photographic images, these 24 frames were shot as film footage and probably represent some of the earliest motion picture footage of jujitsu.

Self-Defence With An Umbrella (Daily Mirror, Jan. 9 1902)

The dangers unprotected ladies incur when they travel alone was not long ago strikingly illustrated by a terrible assault perpetrated in a railway train.

It is all very well to tender advice, which in everyday life is almost impossible to act upon, recommending ladies never to travel alone, nor walk down lonely lanes or rough neighbourhoods unattended by a male escort. Modern conditions make advice of this nature impracticable, even if the independence of the modern maid did not rebel against the restrictions which were de rigueur in the days of her grandmother, and the lesson for the lady of to-day to learn is self reliance, in self-defence, even as in other things.

Unknown to herself almost every woman carries with her a perfect means of protection from either lunatic or hooligan when she walks abroad or travels, in the shape of that inseparable companion of womanhood—an umbrella or parasol!

Match for any Ruffian

All that is necessary is a little practice in the use of the umbrella, and the self-confidence which knowledge of its potency as a weapon of self-defence will give, for the most delicately-nurtured lady to feel herself more than a match for any cowardly ruffian of the streets.

Madame Vigny, the wife of the well-known maitre d’armes, has elaborated a perfect system of self-defence with an umbrella or parasol by combining some of the “wards and thrusts” used in fencing with passes suitable to the make of the umbrella, along with certain throws, similar to those used in Ju-Jit-Su or Japanese wrestling, recently described and illustrated in the Daily Mirror.

The Purse Snatcher
Umbrella 5
Umbrella 6

Suppose, for instance, a lady is walking along a lonely street carrying a purse in her hand, with her umbrella swinging on her arm. A lurking ruffian suddenly approaches her and snatches her purse from her hand. The correct thing for her to do is to relinquish her hold of the purse, grasp her umbrella about two-thirds of its length from the point, and swing it rapidly towards the fellow’s head. Instinctively he will throw up his arm to ward off the blow, and if he understands boxing will probably strike out with his fist. The lady draws back on her left foot and suddenly, with a dexterous twist of the wrist, lunges forth, as with a rapier, and strikes her assailant with the point of her weapon behind the ear.
Umbrella 1
Brought to the Ground

Should he be as strong as Sandow, the concussion will bring him to the ground, and the lady can then pick up her purse and call for the police, meanwhile mounting guard over her prostrate foe, with her umbrella firmly grasped ready to strike again should the occasion require it.

Suppose, on the other hand, that the purse is so rapidly snatched that the fellow is making off with his booty before the lady has time to perform the evolutions described above. Nothing is simpler than to “hook” him by the ankle as he is running off, and bring him to the ground in confusion.
Umbrella 4
Umbrella 3
Should he prove to be a really desperate fellow, he will probably have recourse to that dangerous weapon of the hooligan, a studded belt. Even if he does this there is no reason for the mistress of umbrella self-defence to feel alarmed. Let her regard him steadily, and place her left arm at an angle, and advance it to meet the descending belt. If she thus meets the blow the belt will coil round her arm without hurting her in the slightest, and then, while she clutches the wrist of her assailant, she thrusts the umbrella with all her force into his neck. The rough is not living who can survive a second experience of this nature, and with experience a lady can hold at bay not one but two or three assailants.

Imparts Grace and Suppleness

This exercise imparts to its votaries great suppleness and gives to the figure that erectness and grace which only fencers can hope to obtain. It was mainly for the gracefulness of contour which fencing gives that popularised the foils amongst ladies and caused such noted exponents of the art as Miss Annie Lowther and Miss Esme Beringer to be the envied of all observers.

Beyond this, fencing has no practical use, but, when the principles of swordsmanship are applied to the umbrella, the woman who has become mistress of the art will feel a sense of security when travelling or alone that hitherto even the bravest of the fair sex have been strangers to.

Bartitsu seminars in Italy: Aug./Sept. 2009


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 in “Absinthe and Flamethrowers”


Plugging Bill Gurstelle’s new book, Absinthe and Flamethrowers: the Art of Living Dangerously, which includes a six-page article on the history and practice of Bartitsu.

According to the publishers:

Want to add more excitement to your life?

This daring combination of science, history, and DIY projects will show you how. Written for smart risk takers, it explores why danger is good for you and details the art of living dangerously.

Risk takers are more successful, more interesting individuals who lead more fulfilling lives. Unlike watching an action movie or playing a video game, real-life experience changes a person, and Gurstelle will help you discover the true thrill of making black powder along with dozens of other edgy activities.

All of the projects—from throwing knives, drinking absinthe, and eating fugu to cracking a bull whip, learning bartitsu, and building a flamethrower—have short learning curves, are hands-on and affordable, and demonstrate true but reasonable risk.

With a strong emphasis on safety, each potentially life-altering project includes step-by-step directions, photographs, and illustrations along with troubleshooting tips from experts in the field.

Bartitsu intensive at ISMAC 2009

A quick report on the Bartitsu intensive at the tenth International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention, held at the Detroit Westin hotel between May 21-25, 2009.

The Bartitsu course was divided into two three-hour classes held on days 2 and 3 of the conference, and was well attended on both days (14 participants.)

We started with a precis discussion of E.W. Barton-Wright, the Bartitsu Club era and the Sherlock Holmes connection.  The participants then proceeded into a fairly quick study of the three themes of alignment control, initiative control and adaptability, using as examples the left-lead off and counters from scientific boxing, the coup de pied bas and chasse bas kicks of savate and two canonical jiujitsu defence sequences. The rest of this session covered a representative sample of canonical Bartitsu walking cane defence sequences, focusing on the straight or ball-handled cane.

Day 2 began with a discussion of Edith Garrud and the “Jiujitsuffragettes”,
progressed into a selection of crook-handled cane defences and then into the “twist” and “segue” exercises, as detailed in Volume II of the Bartitsu Compendium, applied to many of the canonical sequences that  had ben practiced up til then.  The “defenders” were challenged to spontaneously adapt their set-play defences in response to their first intention being defeated by the “attacker”, leading towards controlled, self defence oriented sparring scenarios.

During this class I was honoured to be joined by Mark Donnelly who has been teaching Bartitsu in England for a number of years. Mark and I had never worked together before, and I am very happy to report that he is a great asset to the international Bartitsu community; an excellent instructor, historian and martial artist. He has recently moved to the US and I’m looking forward to more collaborations with him in the future.

Bartitsu instructors Mark Donnelly (left) and Tony Wolf (right)
Bartitsu instructors Mark Donnelly (left) and Tony Wolf (right)