The game is afoot … and the DVD is on sale!

At the end of the Victorian era, E. W. Barton-Wright combined jiujitsu, kickboxing, and stick fighting into a new martial art he termed Bartitsu. This elegant discipline would have been forgotten save for a famous, cryptic reference in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Empty House, in which Sherlock Holmes used its mysteries to defeat the villainous Professor Moriarty.

Several years ago, director Guy Ritchie and actor Robert Downey, Jr. re-conceptualized the Great Detective as a Steampunk sleuth and man of action. Doyle fans have been divided on the interpretation, but one thing is certain, as martial artists themselves, Ritchie and Downey have given Holmes his fighting chops! Bartitsu, or “baritsu”, as Doyle penned it, gets plenty of screen time in the new Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, as can be seen in this teaser clip.

In conjunction with the film’s release this week, the Freelance Academy Press is featuring Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes at 30% off of its regular price. A unique documentary relating the fascinating history, rediscovery and revival of Barton-Wright’s pioneering mixed martial art, this is a great present for martial artists, Holmes enthusiasts, or lovers of Victorian and Edwardian England.

More information on the Game of Shadows/documentary DVD tie-in is available at the Freelancer blog.

“Lost Martial Art” documentary available from Amazon

The documentary Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes is now available via Amazon.com. You can read an interview about the documentary and its production here and watch the trailer right here:

Early reviews for “Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes”

Reviews are coming in for the new documentary (available here) and they are good …

Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes reveals an exciting world of Victorian ruffians, garroting panics, militant suffragettes, and physical culture, as well as the colorful life of Bartitsu’s founder Edward Barton-Wright … music by the steampunk band Abney Park creates a moody atmosphere of Victorian danger, excitement, and heroics. Through interviews, re-enactment, archival images, and contemporary footage of neo-Bartitsu students, the “lost” martial art is brought to life.

Rachel Klingberg: read the full review here.

Here’s the problem – what to do when you love a good punch up, but public brawling is incompatible with your image as an amenable, if damp-stained, man of letters? The answer is “Bartitsu,” a nineteenth-century martial art developed specifically to transform the upright classes into killing machines, and whose unusual history has been revealed in an excellent new documentary …

Andrew McConnell Stott: read the full review here.

Sleek and engaging … fascinating … a superbly watchable piece of martial arts history …

Bullshido.net martial arts movie reviews: read the full review here.

“Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes”

Announcing the long-awaited DVD release of the first feature documentary on Bartitsu, the “gentlemanly art of self defence”!

At the end of the Victorian era, E.W. Barton-Wright founded Bartitsu as a pioneering “mixed martial art” combining jiujitsu, kickboxing and self defence with a walking stick. It was also the means by which Sherlock Holmes was said to have defeated his arch-nemesis, the evil Professor Moriarty, in their famous battle at Reichenbach Waterfall.

This groundbreaking documentary was shot on location in Italy, Switzerland, England and the USA. Through numerous interviews, animations, re-enactment sequences, rare archival film footage and historical images, it explores the history, rediscovery and modern revival of Bartitsu.

Please visit the Freelance Academy Press website to view a new preview trailer and photo gallery, read an article about Bartitsu and the documentary production, and to place your DVD order!

Congratulations to Daniel Pope …

… who has won the Bartitsu documentary DVD artwork contest. Mr. Pope’s entry clearly demonstrates the unusual and eclectic nature of Bartitsu as an “Edwardian mixed martial art” and links to the Sherlock Holmes mythos, also communicating a sense of historical mystery within a pleasing overall design.

Thanks again to all our entrants; your creative talents are much appreciated.

We look forward to unveiling Mr. Pope’s design as the release date for the documentary DVD draws near.

Bartitsu documentary DVD art contest!

Announcing an open contest to create DVD cover and label art for the forthcoming documentary “Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes”, as featured in this preview trailer:

Theme and design brief

“Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” is a feature-length documentary exploring the history, sudden downfall (circa 1902) and contemporary revival of Bartitsu, as described here. The documentary features a combination of interviews, animatics, re-enactments and archival footage/images.

We’re looking for DVD cover and label art that communicates the eclectic and unusual nature of Bartitsu as an “Edwardian mixed martial art” as well as its connection to the Sherlock Holmes mythos.

Resources and design elements

Designers and artists are invited to make use of any of the Bartitsu-related images available in the Art Contest Image Gallery, either as inspiration for original artwork or verbatim as design elements. Entirely original artwork is also welcome.

Rules

* Only digital submissions can be accepted (see also “Submission deadline” below).
* Submissions must include designs for both the DVD cover and DVD label.
* All artwork must be at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi in jpg, gif or psd format, exactly matching these dimensions:
DVD cover template
DVD label template
* Designs for the front cover must include the title

Bartitsu
The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes

and the tag-line

“I have introduced a new art of self defence …” – E.W. Barton-Wright, 1899.

The spine must include the title text and the back cover must include 100 words of “Lorem Ipsum” placeholder text.
* The submitted artwork must be exclusive to the Bartitsu documentary DVD art competition.
* Individuals may enter as many submissions as they wish and are welcome to include a short textual description of their work(s).
* The producers are not obliged to make use of any artwork submitted as part of this contest.
* The winner will be awarded a copy of the packaged documentary DVD and also a US$50.00 prize. Their artwork will be used in promoting and packaging the documentary DVDs.

Works submitted

The producers retain all rights to the photographic representation of works submitted, including the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use, reproduce, and publish said photographs for editorial, trade, advertising, or any other purpose and in any manner or medium; to alter the same without restriction; and to copyright the same.

Judges

Confirmed judges include:

Tony Wolf (Bartitsu Society)
Ran A. Braun (Bartitsu Society)
Greg Mele (Chicago Swordplay Guild and Freelance Academy Press)

Submission deadline

Submissions must be received via email to tonywolf(at)gmail.com before Thursday, September 30th, 2010.

“Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” update

After experiencing some delays in January due to technical difficulties and the vagaries of the international mail system, we are now back on track with post-production of the upcoming Bartitsu documentary. 99% of the necessary footage is now in the hands of our editors, the Digital Room in Rome.

Also in the Italian connection, our colleagues in the Nova Scrimia organisation will be collaborating with documentary co-producer/director Ran Braun to shoot some additional footage of full-contact neo-Bartitsu stick fighting. The shoot is scheduled to take place in the town of Brescia on February 27th and will co-incide with another Bartitsu-themed collaboration between stick fighting and boxing instructors.