Slightly pre-Bartitsu, but the alert and imaginative viewer may perceive echoes of Sherlock Holmes-style fight choreography in this excellent video trailer for Terry Pratchett’s new novel, Dodger.
Some of our readers may fondly recall the short-lived 1982 TV series Q.E.D., starring Sam Waterston as Professor Quentin Everhart (or Everett) Deverill, an eccentric American scientist/detective who solved mysteries in Edwardian London.
During the first episode, Professor Deverill infiltrates and exposes a hoax spiritualist seance, much in the manner of Harry Houdini, and also in the spirit of Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright’s article which exposed the secrets behind various feats of apparently superhuman strength.
Fittingly enough, when the exposed hoaxer calls in some bully-boys to deal with Professor Deverill, the latter responds with a very Bartitsu-like combination of fisticuffs and jiujitsu …
The seance begins at 5.53 in the following clip.
Baritsu is, of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s rendering of Bartitsu, as famously featured in The Adventure of the Empty House and (indirectly) in The Adventure of the Final Problem. It was the means by which Sherlock Holmes threw his arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty, to his death from the brink of Reichenbach Falls, and has subsequently been incorporated into numerous Holmes-themed pastiche novels, comic books, cartoons and games. Doyle probably copied the term “baritsu” verbatim from a London Times report on a Bartitsu demonstration, which contained the same misspelling.
Although Holmes’ baritsu is not identical to E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu, the new trailer showcases Holmes’ martial arts skills, which were also highlighted in Sherlock Holmes (2009) (you can read our exclusive interview with fight choreographer Richard Ryan here).
Holmes is shown deftly defeating an assassin via crook-handled umbrella as well as executing a variety of boxing punches, elbow strikes, kicks, shuto (knife-hand) strikes and a clean jujitsu throw. Tantalisingly, he appears briefly to be pulling off some kind of protective mask while wearing a padded fencing jacket and wielding a stout cane. And, although it isn’t shown in this preview trailer, we can confidently anticipate a climactic baritsu showdown between Holmes and Moriarty at Reichenbach …
According to USA Today:
“It’s a kind of Japanese street fighting,” explains director Guy Ritchie. “It uses walking sticks, bowler hats, choke holds to put people to sleep – any means possible.” The form of martial arts was invented in England in the late 1800s and was mentioned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (he used the term “baritsu”) in one of his stories.