August 14th marked the 10th anniversary of the Bartitsu Forum, established by author Will Thomas in August of 2002. Back then, the Internet was largely a Bartitsu-free zone, and the subject was obscure and esoteric. As of today, Google searches pull up over 198,000 Bartitsu references and the revival is well and truly underway, to a degree that was almost unimaginable even a few years ago. The Forum membership currently stands at over six hundred and fifty.
The Forum is the main conduit for Bartitsu research and communication between the informal coalition of enthusiasts known as the Bartitsu Society. As such, it has been the driving force behind much of the modern revival of E.W. Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence”. Via over 14,000 posts to date, Forum members have discussed a panoply of topics relating to Bartitsu and the milieu of self defence at the turn of the 20th century. At any given time, typical conversation subjects might include the jujitsu-trained Bodyguard society of the Suffragette movement, training methods being developed for the modern practice of Bartitsu, martial arts content in upcoming media projects such as the Sherlock BBC TV series and Sherlock Holmes: A Games of Shadows, the selection of training canes and plans for upcoming seminars.
Volunteers from the Forum collaborated on the production of both volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium. The first volume (published in 2005) is consistently the best-selling martial arts title available from Lulu.com, and volume two (2008) is currently the seventh bestseller in that category.
The Bartitsu Forum is a notably active and positive venue. Inspired by the genteel ideals of our period of interest, we have never even experienced a “flame war” – surely some sort of record for a martial arts forum!
Here’s to the next ten years –
(Image by Free-StockPhotos.com)