Captain Laing’s “1st Practice” of Bartitsu Stick Fighting (#2)

The second basic drill from Captain F.C. Laing’s 1902 article The “Bartitsu” Method of Self-Defence, illustrated with photographs adapted from E.W. Barton-Wright’s Self-Defence with a Walking Stick (1901). Click here for the first drill of Laing’s “1st Practice” series.

“On guard”: Vigny (right) assumes a front guard versus Barton-Wright’s lowered front guard.
“Hit face”: Vigny strikes to the left side of Barton-Wright’s face, drawing Barton-Wright’s guard.
“Guard face”: Barton-Wright ripostes with a strike to the left side of Vigny’s face, drawing Vigny’s guard.
“Riposte head”: Vigny counters with a strike to the top of Barton-Wright’s head.

Captain Laing’s “1st Practice” of Bartitsu Stick Fighting (#1)

In 1902, Bartitsu Club member Captain F.C. Laing wrote an article titled The ‘Bartitsu’ Method of Self-Defence for the Journal of the United Service Institution.  Captain Laing’s sequence of set-plays such as “Attacked by a man with a stick in his hand” and “A man without a stick rushes at you with his fist” offers a unique canonical supplement to E.W. Barton-Wright’s Self-Defence with a Walking Stick (1901) and also includes some basic technical drills which B-W did not record.  Laing’s article is reproduced in full in the second volume of the Bartitsu Compendium (2008).

Although Captain Laing produced some simple sketch illustrations of basic techniques, most of his sets were only described in a few lines of text.  The following is the first of a series of interpretations of Laing’s “Practices”, illustrated using modified photographs from Barton-Wright’s articles, which will appear on this website over the coming weeks.

“1st Practice” #1 is a foundational drill teaching a high strike, guard and riposte.

“Come on guard”: Pierre Vigny (right) assumes a low variation of the front guard vs. Edward Barton-Wright’s low front guard.
“Strike head”: Vigny strikes high, drawing Barton-Wright’s high guard.
“Guard head”: Barton-Wright ripostes with a high strike, which Vigny guards.
“Strike head”: As Barton-Wright’s stick sheds past Vigny’s guard, Vigny instantly ripostes with a strike to Barton-Wright’s head.

How “Re-Nie’s” Jiujitsu Won Against Dubois’ Savate (1905)

In the wake of his stunning six-second victory against savateur Georges Dubois in their 1905 style-vs-style challenge fight, jiujitsuka Ernest Regnier (a.k.a. “Re-Nie”) posed for the following series of technical photographs. The pictures are from the November 3, 1905 edition of La Vie au grand air: revue illustrée de tous les sports and the descriptive text is translated from L’Illustration of November 4th, 1905.

Dubois feinted a low kick with his right leg, which Re-Nie dodged. Dubois then executed a side kick with the same leg, but at the same time, with extraordinary agility, Re-Nie performed a cat-like leap towards Dubois and grabbed him round the waist.

Dubois tried a hip check: Re-Nie, moving to the right of his opponent, placed his right hand on the abdomen of the latter, simultaneously compressing the lumbar muscles with the left hand and swinging a knee to Dubois’ right thigh.

Dubois reeled and fell back onto his shoulders; nevertheless Re-Nie stayed in contact, taking a grip that allowed him to seize Dubois’ right wrist.

Re-Nie immediately dropped onto his back, to the left of Dubois, passing his left leg across Dubois’ throat; Re-Nie was now gripping Dubois’ forearm with both hands, Dubois’ arm passing between his two legs.

  • Note the discrepancy here; if Re-Nie was gripping Dubois’ right wrist, then he must in fact have dropped to Dubois’ right, as illustrated in the photograph, rather than to his left.

A strong pressure exerted upon the wrist of Dubois threatened to dislocate his arm at the elbow, which was now cantilevered. Dubois resisted for a second, then cried for mercy.

  • Interestingly, some observers – completely unfamiliar with jiujitsu techniques – believed that Re-Nie had won by choking Dubois with a leg scissor lock around his neck, rather than via the extended arm-lock.  The arm-lock was also a favourite submission technique of Re-Nie’s jiujitsu instructor, former Bartitsu Club trainer Yukio Tani.

“Urban Heroes vs. Folk Devils”

Above: French self-defence specialist Jean Joseph Renaud (left) embodies the role of the urban hero vs. three “apache” gangsters .

Emelyne Godfrey‘s 2010 essay on civilian self-defence circa 1880-1914 is available via this link.

Here are some excerpts:

Pearson’s Magazine boasted articles on adventure, features on sport and remarkable fiction; it had just recently serialised H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1897). Here, Barton-Wright offered the readers of PM the opportunity to imagine their own responses in swashbuckling fantasy scenarios which, although statistically unlikely, could nevertheless occur in everyday life.

Bartitsu constituted an exotic mélange of fighting styles, fortified with ‘traditional’ British virtues. Barton-Wright’s creation could be adapted to fit in with the mere act of strolling, with the anticipation of or encounter with crime. Martial arts were not only designed for use against physical threat, they prompted an imaginative response to the quotidian, an emotional and personalised engagement with the landscape of the city.

The Story of the Jujitsuffragettes, Courtesy of “Drunk History UK”

In these excerpts from a recent episode of “Drunk History UK”, inebriated comedienne Luisa Omielan attempts to relate the history of the jujitsu-trained suffragette Bodyguard team:

Bonus points for the casting of actress and real-life suffragette history enthusiast Jessica Hynes as WSPU leader Emmeline Pankhurst.

Ms. Omielan also struggled valiantly to recall the name of suffragette jujitsu trainer Edith Garrud, finally settling on “Gertrude” before being gently corrected by an off-screen colleague. She was probably confused by the similarity of names between Garrud and Gertrude Harding, who was, in fact, the main organiser of Mrs. Pankhurst’s security vanguard.

The episode also included a semi-accurate re-enactment of a confrontation between the Bodyguard and the police during one of Mrs. Pankhurst’s public rallies in Camden Square:

“Victor Ros” Fights Crime on the Mean Streets of 1890s Madrid

Set in Madrid during the years 1895-6, the Spanish action/drama telenovela Victor Ros is notable for its Bartitsuesque fight scenes, as shown below. Note that the video may take a few seconds to start playing after you’ve clicked on the “play” button.