Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani in action?

This newsreel clip was shot at a gala day at London’s Kensington Palace Field in the year 1928. The first half features a boxing exhibition by Alf Mancini, who was scheduled to fight Jack Hood at Birmingham for the British Welterweight Championship.

Of particular interest to Bartitsu and British jujitsu/judo history buffs, though, is the second half of the clip, which features an exhibition of judo (described as “advanced ju-jitsu”) as demonstrated by members of the “Bodokwai” (sic – should read Budokwai).

Although it’s impossible to be certain, the tori (executor of the techniques) in the judo demonstration bears a very strong resemblance to former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani, who was the first professional instructor employed by the Budokwai.

Tani aged about 40 (left), about 20 (centre) and executing a restraint technique against Budokwai founder Gunji Koizumi (right). Note the distinctive bald spot on Tani’s head in the latter picture, and compare with that of the tori in the newsreel; the photograph was taken circa 1932.

Eight years before this newsreel was shot, Tani had been formally awarded the second dan black belt rank in Kodokan judo by Professor Jigoro Kano. That recognition built upon Tani’s already vast experience as a jujitsu instructor and challenge wrestler, which dated back to his arrival in London during 1900 at the invitation of Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright. Tani would have been about 45 years old when the newsreel was shot.

If this is film footage of Yukio Tani, it represents one of only two such films known to exist, the other being a two-second shot of the then-56 year old Tani that appears at 00.25 in this 1937 newsreel:

Yukio Tani suffered a severe stroke in 1937, but he continued to teach from the sidelines of the Budokwai mats until his death on January 24th, 1950.

The only other film known to depict a former Bartitsu Club instructor in action is this re-animation of cinematographic film frames that were used to illustrate Sadakazu Uyenishi‘s “Textbook of Ju-Jitsu”:

Bartitsu at the Winter Wonderland stage combat workshops

Tony Wolf will be teaching a theatrical Bartitsu seminar at the upcoming Winter Wonderland Workshop, to be held at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL (Jan. 4-6, 2013). The seminar will focus on Bartitsu as a style of fight choreography, drawing from E.W. Barton-Wright’s original system as well as neo-Bartitsu interpolations.

“Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Jujitsu Suffragette”

The Weaver Hall Museum in Cheshire, U.K. will be hosting this event between 2.00 – 5.00 on Saturday, Jan. 26th.  According to the organisers:

In 1899 a young woman and her husband go to see a demonstration by one Edward Barton-Wright, the first jujutsu instructor in Europe.

But how does she then become implicated in brawling between campaigners for the Women’s Vote and the police?

And what is the connection to the great fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes and his escape from the Reichenbach Falls?

We’ll be unfolding the legend of Edith Garrud, and taking a very physical look at how the Victorians combined English boxing, Japanese grappling and walking stick fencing, with the use of whatever came to hand, from umbrellas to bicycles, to create an early mixed martial art for street defence.

More on the event via their Facebook page.

2012: the Bartitsu year in review

As is traditional as the year draws to an end, here is our annual round-up of all things Bartitsuvian.  2012 saw a continuation of the boom in new Bartitsu clubs and study groups that began last year, due in a large part to the huge success of the Sherlock Holmes movies and the new Sherlock TV series from the BBC. This year also saw a number of formal commemorations of people associated with the original Bartitsu Cub in London.

Please note that, in general, the events recorded here are those for which we received detailed reports after the fact, as opposed to those for which we only received announcements.


January: A lecture on Bartitsu is presented at the Catalyst Club in Brighton, UK.  Dashiell Hammett’s 1924 short story Nightmare Town, featuring cane-fighting hero Steve Threefell, is showcased.  Formation of the Bartitsu Club of Chicago at Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts, a new, full-time Western martial arts studio in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.

February: A combined Bartitsu and Kapap (Israeli military close-combat) seminar to benefit the Christopher’s Smile charity is held in the UK.  Allen Reed teaches a Bartitsu intensive in Leaf River, IL.  The Broughton Pugilism Gloves go into production.  Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts holds an Open Day featuring demonstrations of Bartitsu, historical fencing and stunt fighting.  Publication of the book Ancient Swordplay: The Revival of Elizabethan Fencing in Victorian London, including a chapter on historical fencing at the original Bartitsu Club.

March: The Bartitsu Club of New York City is featured in a radio interview on WFUV.  Bartitsu seminars are given at the AnomalyCon steampunk gathering in Colorado, the Alte Kampfkunst historical martial arts academy in Wuppertal, Germany and in Veldhoven, Holland.  Bartitsu is showcased in an item on the BBC’s popular One Show TV magazine series.  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago is featured in magazine and newspaper articles and hosts the first Antagonisticathlon.

April: Prominent Bartitsu Club members Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and William Henry Grenfell, the 1st Baron Desborough are commemorated.  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago is featured in the Chicago Tribune and the 190 North TV show and the Bartitsu Club of New York City offers a seminar at a 19th Century Extravaganza.

May: The Broughton Pugilism gloves are reviewed. We offer a profile of Ryan Drago, Bartitsu rassler.  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago’s new website goes online.

June:  The new Battersea Bartitsu training group is founded.  Bartitsu is featured on Russian television.   The life of E.W. Barton-Wright is commemorated with an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  The Bartitsu Society donates a wall display commemorating Bartitsu and Barton-Wright to the Sherlock Holmes Collection at Marylebone Library in London.

July: A plaque commemorating jujitsuffragette trainer Edith Garrud is unveiled in Islington, London.  Bartitsu classes and a screening of the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes documentary are featured at the 2012 CombatCon event in Las Vegas.  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago hosts the second Antagonisticathlon martial arts obstacle course.

August: New Bartitsu clubs are started at the Royal Arts Fencing Academy in Columbus, Ohio and on the Isle of Wight (UK)Mark Donnelly teaches a seminar for the Bartitsu Club of New York City.  An interview with Tony Wolf is featured on the BBC World Services radio show.

September:  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago hosts the second annual Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture conference and training seminar.  Sherlock Holmes fans travel to the Reichenbach Falls in Meiringen, Switzerland to re-enact Holmes’ fatal battle with Professor Moriarty.  Fundraising begins towards creating the Forteza Clubhouse, a 19th century-style club room at Chicago’s Forteza martial arts studio.

October:  The grave of Bartitsu Club instructor Alfred Hutton is rediscovered.  The Forteza Clubhouse fundraising project ends successfully, having raised $6790 towards the construction project.

November:  An article on the jujitsuffragettes is featured in the BBC History Magazine.  Publication of Emeline Godfrey’s new book, Femininity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature and Society.  The popular site features a short video on Bartitsu history.

December: Publication of The Friday Society, a new steampunk/adventure story for teenage readers featuring a character loosely based on E.W. Barton-Wright.

The action-packed “Friday Society” book trailer

According to Friday Society author Adrienne Kress:

Gotta love Bartitsu, invented at the turn of the 20th century by Edward Barton-Wright. He travelled the world, spending much time in the Far East, returning to England to create a mixed martial art and method of self-defence for ladies and gentlemen using, amongst other props, canes and parasols.

I have Bartitsu in The Friday Society — though I never actually call it by name.

“Japanese Wrestling” (27 October, 1898)

A report from the Morning Post newspaper on one of E.W. Barton-Wright’s early jiujitsu demonstrations in London.

Mr. Barton-Wright’s demonstration of Japanese wrestling at the St. James’s Hall last evening was a source of much entertainment and scarcely less surprise. This method of self-defence depends entirely on science and very little on strength, and it was Mr. Barton- Wright’s object to show that it enables a man not naturally strong easily to overcome a powerful adversary. He was opposed by Mr. Chipchase, the middle-weight Cumberland and Westmoreland Amateur Champion, whom he threw several times, apparently without much effort.

It was explained that the Japanese method is based on the principle of yielding to the adversary until his muscles are at an unnatural strain, when he is at once at the mercy of an accomplished wrestler. It is evident, however, that if great strength is not necessary, extreme quickness is absolutely essential for the successful practice of the Japanese system, some of Mr. Barton-Wright’s throws having been executed with such rapidity that it was impossible for the eye to follow the movements that brought them about.

Among the most remarkable of his demonstration, was his counter to the Cumberland and Westmoreland overhead throw. Allowing Mr. Chipchase to throw him in this fashion, he caught him by the head while in the air and threw him as he fell.

The counter to the cross-buttock throw was another remarkable achievement, and Mr. Barton-Wright, while lying on the ground, also threw his opponent with his feet. In submitting to the neck throw, though falling first, he pulled his adversary down after him into a position of complete helplessness.

It is noteworthy that in all the throws Mr. Barton-Wright accomplished he placed his opponent in such a position that he was completely at his mercy, and Mr. Chipchase had several times to call out to be released from a painful situation. In these positions Mr. Barton-Wright showed that he could easily strangle his opponent, or break one of his limbs, while he was incapable of resistance.

He demonstrated several ways of meeting an attack and overthrowing the aggressor, and he also exemplified the art of falling without injury and in such a way as to face his antagonist.

That the science of anatomy plays a considerable part in this kind of wrestling was proved by Mr. Barton-Wright, when apparently at his opponent’s mercy, overcoming him by touching a nerve in his arm. Examples of various other styles of wrestling were given, and the entertainment altogether afforded much satisfaction to the audience.

Bartitsu demonstrated at “The Friday Society” book launch

Members of the Riot A.C.T. stunt team demonstrated Bartitsu self defence techniques as part of the gala launch of author Adrienne Kress’ new book, The Friday Society.  The gala was held at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto and the book, a steampunk adventure story, is now available via Amazon.