Creating the Forteza Clubhouse

Click this link to see our spiffing video, info, rewards and more towards creating the Forteza Clubhouse – a steampunk/neo-Victorian lounge complete with library, art gallery and a multi-media learning center (and a secret passage entrance – shhh!)

The Clubhouse project has begun! Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts (the headquarters of the Bartitsu Club of Chicago) is creating the ultimate Bartitsu Club salon, and we’d really appreciate your help. Watch the video, check out the rather cool contributor rewards and, if you are so moved, help out. N.B. that the Indiegogo “share” tools make it very quick and easy to share the project page via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, or to embed or send the page info by email.

We’ll be offering regular updates over the next month and will also be inviting design and decor suggestions …

Announcing the Bartitsu Club of Chicago

Located in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood, the Bartitsu Club of Chicago offers regular, progressive training in the “lost martial art of Sherlock Holmes”.

History

At the end of the Victorian era, E. W. Barton-Wright combined jiujitsu, kickboxing and stick fighting into the “New Art of Self Defence” known as Bartitsu.  Promoted via exhibitions, magazine articles and challenge contests, Barton-Wright’s New Art was offered as a means by which ladies and gentlemen could beat street hooligans and ruffians at their own game.

Thus, the Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture in London became the headquarters of a radical experiment in martial arts and fitness cross-training. It was also a place to see and be seen; famous actors and actresses, soldiers, athletes and aristocrats eagerly enrolled to learn the secrets of Bartitsu.

In early 1902, for reasons that remain a historical mystery, the London Bartitsu Club closed down.  Barton-Wright’s art was almost forgotten thereafter, except for a single, cryptic reference in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Empty House, wherein it was revealed as the method by which Sherlock Holmes had defeated Professor Moriarty in their fatal battle at Reichenbach Falls.

Our premise and approach

Bartitsu was abandoned as a work-in-progress one hundred and ten years ago, but what if Barton-Wright’s School of Arms had continued to thrive?  In collaboration with other Bartitsu clubs and study groups throughout the world, the Bartitsu Club of Chicago is proud to pick up where he left off, reviving and continuing the experiment into the new millennium.

E.W. Barton-Wright recorded the basics of his “New Art” via lectures, interviews and detailed articles, which form the nucleus of “canonical Bartitsu”.  These methods are practiced as a form of living history preservation and also as a common technical and tactical “language” among modern practitioners.

“Neo-Bartitsu” complements and augments the canon towards an evolving, creative revival as a system of recreational martial arts cross-training with a 19th century “twist”.

Our venue

Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture and Martial Arts (4437 North Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60640) is the ideal venue for reviving Bartitsu.  Directly inspired by Barton-Wright’s School of Arms, Forteza features a unique late-19th century theme; brick walls and a high timber ceiling enclosing 5000 square feet of training space, including a “gymuseum” of functional antique exercise apparatus.

Our classes

Bartitsu classes at Forteza run from 6.30-8.00 pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The price for the six-week introductory course (two classes per week) is $125.00.

A typical class includes calisthenic warm-ups, specialized movement drills, study of the canonical sequences and neo-Bartitsu “combat improvisation” training.  Participants should wear comfortable exercise clothing and bring a change of shoes for the class.

Contact info@fortezafitness.com to book your place in the first ongoing Bartitsu course in Chicago.

Our instructor

New Zealand citizen and Chicago resident Tony Wolf is one of the founders of the international Bartitsu Society.  A highly experienced martial arts instructor, he has taught Bartitsu intensives in England, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Canada and throughout the USA.  Tony also edited the two volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium (2005 and 2008) and co-produced/directed the feature documentary Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes (2010).

More from Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture and Martial Arts

The new Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture & Martial Arts center in Chicago’s Ravenswood area is a unique 5000 sq. ft., c.1900 facility, with classes  in historical swordplay, 19th century antagonistics and ‘old school’ fitness training.

Beginning in late January 2012, Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture & Martial Arts will offer:

* a fitness studio combining functional fitness training with modern nutritional counseling

* 19th century “physical culture” – workouts using calisthenics, Indian clubs, medicine balls, therapeutic gymnastics, body-weight exercises and games designed to create natural strength and grace with athletic performance

* the Midwest’s only full-time school for the study of traditional Western martial arts including historical swordplay – the art of the longsword, rapier, arming sword, as well as Bartitsu – the martial art made famous by  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved character, Sherlock Holmes

* classes with Chicagoland’s only licensed instructor in Martial Blade Concepts (MBC) self-defense – a nationally renowned system of hand, stick and knife defense designed for modern people with limited training time

* a “Gymuseum” of antique exercise equipment and 19th century prints portraying combat sport athletes in training

* an international center for education on the rich, sophisticated martial traditions of Western Civilization

* an innovative, eclectic series of workshops, lectures and unique social events.

New to historical swordfighting? Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture & Martial Arts will offer the Chicago Swordplay Guild’s ever-popular introductory classes in the medieval longsword and the Renaissance rapier! The C.S.G. will also continue to provide Introductory Classes at the Chicago Park District-Pulaski Park location as part of the CPD Arts Partners Program.

The website is coming soon; in the meantime you can contact the organizers for updates on classes, seminars and special events!

Bartitsu at Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture and Martial Arts (Chicago, IL)

Tony Wolf will be teaching an intensive introductory Bartitsu seminar, with the option of an ongoing six-week training course, among the many attractions of the new Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture & Martial Arts school in Ravenswood, Chicago (website forthcoming).

What is Bartitsu?

In the year 1899, Edward William Barton-Wright devised a system of cross-training between jujitsu, British boxing, kicking, wrestling and self defense with an umbrella or walking stick.  Bartitsu was created so that the ladies and gentlemen of London could beat street gangsters and hooligans at their own dastardly game.

Promoted via magazine and newspaper articles, exhibitions, lectures and challenge matches, Barton-Wright’s School of Arms and Physical Culture quickly became a place to see and be seen.  Famous actors, athletes and soldiers enrolled to learn the mysteries of Bartitsu.

After Barton-Wright’s school closed down under unknown circumstances in early 1902, Bartitsu was abandoned as a work in progress and almost forgotten throughout the 20th century … apart from a famous, cryptic reference in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Empty House”.

One hundred years later, the International Bartitsu Society was formed to research and then revive the “New Art of Self Defence”.  The modern revival is an open-source, community-based effort to continue Barton-Wright’s radical cross-training experiments.

What will we learn?

The introductory seminar will begin with a discussion of the origins, loss and revival of Bartitsu.  A series of warm-up exercises will then segue into drills and games exploring several of Barton-Wright’s fundamental principles of combat, especially the skills of manipulating an opponent’s balance and of tactical spontaneity.

We will then study a representative series of jujitsu and stick fighting sequences taken directly from Barton-Wright’s original system.  Next, we’ll work on transitioning from set-play sequences into a more realistic freestyle format, referring to the principles explored earlier in the day, before a warm-down and Q&A session.

Participants who wish to follow through into the six-week, twelve lesson basic training course will find this seminar an excellent grounding in the art of Bartitsu.

Where?

Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture and Martial Arts

4437 N. Ravenswood
Chicago, IL

Patterned after a Victorian-era physical culture studio, Forteza features a 5000 square foot training area with brick walls and high timber ceiling.  The training area is equipped with mats, weapons and a “gymuseum” of functional antique physical culture apparatus including Indian clubs, iron dumbbells and medicine balls, as well as rowing and weightlifting machines dating to the late 1800s.

When?

Sunday, January 22nd; 11.00 – 5.30 pm, with a half-hour lunch break.

How much?

$60.00 pays for your place in the introductory seminar and automatically deducts $25.00 from the cost of the optional 6-week basic training course.

What should I bring?

Comfortable workout clothing, packed lunch if you wish, and a drink bottle.  We will have a limited number of training canes available for the stick fighting portion of the seminar, but participants are encouraged to bring their own sturdy hook-handled umbrella, walking stick and/or roughly 36″ hardwood dowel, with any edges smoothed away.

I’m in! How do I register?

Email us to pre-register – we will confirm your registration and send you a PayPal link.  Alternatively, you can pay by cash or check on the day.