Bartitsu at CombatCon 2012

Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf (left) will be teaching an introductory class among the many attractions of CombatCon 2012 at the Tuscany Suites hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada (July 6-8).

A confluence of Western martial arts with pop-culture entertainment genres (horror, pirates, science fiction, steampunk etc.), CombatCon offers a very wide assortment of hands-on classes, demonstrations, panel discussions and vendor’s booths. 19th century antagonistics were well-represented at last years’ convention, which also included a large “museum” room devoted to steampunk artifacts … who knows what else CombatCon 2012 has in store?

A report on the 2011 Bartitsu School of Arms (London)

The 2011 (and inaugural) Bartitsu School of Arms symposium was held over the weekend of August 27-28 in London, England. The symposium represented a landmark in the revival of E.W. Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence”, founded 110 years ago in the same city. 18 participants attended the event, including Bartitsu enthusiasts from the USA and Germany as well as throughout the U.K.

The theme of the 2011 School of Arms was to continue Barton-Wright’s radical experiments in cross-training between various martial arts and combat sports, which were abandoned as a work-in-progress when the original Bartitsu Club closed down under mysterious circumstances in early 1902.

The event began on Friday evening outside the doors of the Shaftesbury Best Western Hotel, the building that once housed Barton-Wright’s club. At precisely the time the group gathered, sheltering from a torrential downpour, the clouds parted and the sun shone through, which was generally taken as a good omen. The group then made its way to the back bar of the Salisbury inn, a classic late-Victorian London pub.

Training began at 9.00 a.m. on Saturday morning at our venue, the ground floor of a Victorian era warehouse in Bermondsey, which roughly made up in 19th century ambiance what it lacked in amenities. The large, white-walled space was divided into 10′ squares by a grid of iron pillars, with enormous wooden beams in the ceiling and a sturdy old wooden floor. A wall display featured a portrait of E.W. Barton-Wright, rare photographs taken inside the original Bartitsu Club and other inspirational images. Rubber-tipped rattan training canes were propped against the pillars and one section of the floor was covered with thick rubber jigsaw mats.

Mornings began with various warm-up exercises, including American wrestler and physical culturist “Farmer” Burns’ upper-body routine. The remainder of the mornings were spent alternating between circuit training, in which small groups rotated between instructors teaching 5-10 minute mini-lessons/drills in savate kicking, boxing, jujitsu and stick fighting, and team-taught sessions in which pairs of participants experimented with self defence scenarios incorporating elements of each of the lessons they’d just learned. The aim was to practice Bartitsu as a holistic art, smoothly transitioning between techniques, styles and ranges as required by the needs of the moment.

After the lunch break, the afternoon sessions featured longer, whole-group classes in each of the specialist subject areas, taught by James Marwood, Tony Wolf, Allen Reed, Stefan Dieke and George Stokoe. These classes covered practical self defence, neo-Bartitsu drills inspired by the canonical stick fighting and unarmed combat sequences, fencing theory applied to Vigny stick fighting and tactical kicking.

The final session on both days was allocated to “break-out” time, a chance for participants and instructors to explore areas of special interest in a less formal environment. In one corner a group would be debating and demonstrating the “garotting” attack of 19th century muggers, in another a pair of stick fighters would be sparring and a submission grappling match would be taking place on the mats.

Evening events included drinks and socialising at the Sherlock Holmes pub on the banks of the Thames and a meal at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a pub and restaurant dating back to the 1700s that was once the haunt of Charles Dickens and, later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The 2011 Bartitsu School of Arms was a great success and plans are already underway to make it an annual event.

Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture: London 2011

A reminder that the 2011 Bartitsu School of Arms will be taking place in London, U.K. between August 26-28. This event will be the first opportunity in over one hundred years to study with multiple instructors from different countries towards the (re)development of E.W. Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence”.

The 2011 School of Arms teaching team includes James Marwood, Tony Wolf, Allen Reed, George Stokoe and Stefan Dieke.

Each day will begin with a team-taught warm-up session drawing from the Edwardian physical culture tradition. Inspired by the model of the original Bartitsu School of Arms (circa 1900), the teaching team is developing an innovative daily training programme including whole-group classes, small group circuit training/cross-training formats and “breakout” sessions covering areas of special interest. Each participant will leave with an enhanced appreciation for the depth and breadth of Barton-Wright’s “New Art”.

Participants are invited to meet for orientation and socialising on the evening of Friday, August 26th and to relax after training on Saturday over a meal at the Sherlock Holmes pub and restaurant. A second dinner at the Sherlock Holmes will be held on Sunday night, for those participants whose schedules allow it.

For all details and to book your place at this historic event, please see the 2011 Bartitsu School of Arms page.

We hope to see you in London!

Bartitsu training at WMAW 2011

Instructor Tony Wolf will be teaching two intermediate/advanced level Bartitsu sessions at the Western Martial Arts Weekend conference in Racine, Wisconsin, USA. The conference runs between September 15-18.

The WMAW is the premiere event of its type in the USA, attracting hundreds of participants for an intensive four day series of Western martial arts classes, lectures and seminars. It is held at the beautiful DeKoven Center, a 19th century university campus that has been converted into a conference and retreat center.

The Bartitsu sessions include:

Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes

Instructor: Tony Wolf
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: A sturdy crook-handled walking stick or 36 inch dowel with any edges smoothed away; fencing mask or similar face/head protection.

In the year 1899, Edward William Barton-Wright founded Bartitsu as a process of cross-training between walking stick fighting, boxing, savate and jiujitsu. It was the first example of an eclectic self-defence system blending Asian and European combat styles, intended to beat hooligans and street gangsters at their own game.

Barton-Wright defined the principles of Bartitsu as:

(1) to disturb the equilibrium of your assailant; (2) to surprise him before he has time to regain his balance and use his strength; (3) if necessary to subject the joints of any part of his body … to strains which they are anatomically and mechanically unable to resist.

He also noted that:

“It is quite unnecessary to try and get your opponent in any particular position, as the system embraces every possible eventuality, and your defence and counter attack must be entirely based upon the tactics of your opponent.”

Drawing from a selection of classical Bartitsu unarmed and walking-stick fighting set-plays, we will take up the challenge implied by Barton-Wright’s precepts of adaptability and improvisation, thereby continuing the “mixed martial arts” experiment that he began in late Victorian London.

“Belabour him as you see fit”: Bartitsu combat improvisation

Instructor: Tony Wolf
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Class Length: 1 hr 30 min
Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Intensity Level: Moderate to High
Pre-Requisites: Familiarity with the cane and unarmed sub-systems of Bartitsu.
Required Equipment: A sturdy crook-handled walking stick or 36 inch dowel with any edges smoothed away; fencing mask or similar face/head protection.

This class is a development of the material introduced in the “Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” intensive, dealing more specifically with the process of combining the various sub-systems of Bartitsu. We will practice spontaneity drills designed to “twist” the canonical self defense sequences as a bridge between pre-arranged set-plays and free bouting.

19th century/Steampunk martial arts at CombatCon

A partial class list is now on-line for Combat Con Las Vegas.

There are four ways to look at the classes based on how you study Western Martial Arts. You can view the classes along with their short descriptions or you can look at the list via System/Style or via Weapon. Lastly, each instructor’s bio page lists their classes at the bottom.

The 19th century/Steampunk classes listed so far include Manly Arts of Self Defence (singlestick, pugilism and wrestling), Bartitsu: The Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes, Radellian Sabre, Victorian Cane, Singlestick and Repelling boarders against Sky Pirates.

From the organisers:

Nearly half of the classes are online right now and the organisers will be adding more soon, so be sure to check back often. Attendees will be able to choose between more intensive 2 hr classes or a variety of one hour classes. There’s a lot to do at Combat Con so choosing between the classes and the exciting Panels, Activities and Demonstrations will be difficult! Please go to the CombatCon website to register and to see a draft schedule layout under the WMA tab.

There are still many more classes coming, along with the list of Demonstrations, Panels and Activities. More details will appear on the CombatCon website soon.

Of course, there is also much to do in the evenings. After dinner there will be tournaments, free fencing, movies, games and that’s all without leaving the hotel After all, you’re in Las Vegas!

To celebrate the class list online there is a 10% discount until April 5th, so use WMA2011 in the Promo Box and get your registration in now!