Bartitsu at TeslaCon 2011

A report from instructor Allen Reed on his recent introductory Bartitsu seminar at the TeslaCon steampunk convention in Madison, Wisconsin. Allen will also be teaching a Bartitsu workshop in early 2012.

I drove up to Madison, WI Saturday morning (about a 90 minute drive) to teach my Bartitsu class. The class was scheduled for 10 AM and the room filled rapidly with steampunk fans who wanted to learn about Bartitsu. I was very lucky that Bruce and Bonnie Aller, two good friends and fellow WMA students, were there so I could use them as teaching assistants.

I gave a short introduction to Bartitsu and Barton-Wright and then started working on pugilism. We worked on the left lead and right rear punches and then got into blocking a right rear and then countering with a right rear punch. I then had the group work on blocking a right rear with a right elbow and then use a chopper as a counter. I finished the pugilism section by working on blocking a left lead punch as you go out side and punching to the kidney with what Allanson-Winn would call a “contracted arm” hit.

I demonstrated some of the similarities between throws in pugilism and jujutsu and talked about how throws were used for boxing matches vs. for self defense.

We then moved on to working on Vigny cane techniques. I did have some loaner canes but about half the participants still did not have canes so we had to work on these techniques slowly so everyone could share. I first had them work on “Guard by Distance” and then since we had so few canes I had them all finish with “The Best Way to Disable a Man who Tries to Rush You.”

Everyone seemed enthused and interested throughout the class. I gave out quite a number of flyers for the seminar in January and all of the business cards I had brought with me. I also sold three copies of the Bartitsu Compendia and one of my Bartitsu DVDs.

Introductory Bartitsu at the Gallowglass Academy (Leaf River, IL)

Introductory Bartitsu
(the martial art of Sherlock Holmes)
with “Professor” Allen Reed

$50 until July 1; $75 thereafter and at the door
(Kindly bring a sack lunch)

River Valley Complex, 605 S. Main St., Leaf River IL

In 1898, the New Art of Self Defence called Bartitsu was introduced to England by Edward William Barton-Wright. Bartitsu was a combination of savate, jiujitsu, pugilism, and walking stick fighting. Barton-Wright developed Bartitsu to defeat the fearsome street gangs of Edwardian London.

By combining Asian and European fighting styles, Bartitsu may well have been the first Mixed Martial Art. Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes use Bartitsu against Professor Moriarty, his mortal enemy, to throw him from the top of Reichenbach waterfall.

This class will provide a practical beginning in this historical system, as well as how to use it for modern self defense.

REQUIREMENTS: Participants should wear comfortable workout clothes, and should bring a sturdy walking stick, cane or 3/4″-1″ diameter dowel rod about 36″ long. If available, bring a fencing mask or closed-face martial arts headgear and heavily padded gloves (hockey style) or equivalent. Gallowglass Academy requires groin protection for men.

Bartitsu seminar at the Gallowglass Academy

Here is Allen Reed’s report on a Bartitsu seminar he gave recently at the Gallowglass Academy in Leaf River, Illinois:

The seminar at Gallowglass Academy on Saturday went well. I had seven students turn out for the class, four gentlemen, two members of the constabulary and a lady.

I started with a short discussion of the history of Bartitsu then we did Farmer Burns’ warm up set and went right into the pugilism section of the seminar. Most of the pugilism techniques I took from Allanson-Winn but I also included other strikes and some techniques from Owen Swift’s book on pugilism.

After lunch we started on the canonical jujutsu. portion of the day. I did show how to use the two techniques for removing someone from your room for self defense.

When we finished with the jujutsu we segued into Vigny’s cane. Again, we covered canonical cane techniques and did some modifications to make them a little more street applicable.

The last part of the day, with help from my fellow law enforcement officers, I discussed modern self defense law and then had all of the students work through their own use of Bartitsu techniques for modern self defense.

Everyone left expressing their satisfaction at attending the seminar.

… and here is a review from attendee Dan Maloy:

Saturday I drove to Leaf River, IL, to attend the Bartitsu seminar at the Gallowglass Academy. For those not familiar, Bartitsu is a martial art developed in late 19th century England. It combines Jujitsu, savate, pugilism, and modifications of the cane-fighting techniques already in use in Edwardian England.

At the seminar, Bartitsu was presented within its cultural context. By this I mean that by and large the instructor, Allen Reed, taught the techniques as they would have been taught by Barton-Wright. I’m quite glad that he did this as it allowed some new perspectives on skills that I’ve already gained, and gave some much-needed context to some of the contemporary fighting manuals I have.

The seminar started with an examination of 19th/early-20th century pugilism, concentrating largely on the basic techniques. While the dodge, slip, and cross-punches were largely familiar to me from previous training with boxing, the jab used in Bartitsu was entirely new. Anyone who has seen some of the older boxing manuals, back when bare-knuckle boxing was the norm, has probably noted the odd stance taken by the boxers: the leading arm extended far out and holding a very upright and stiff posture. Indeed, this image has been much caricatured, used to make anyone adopting it look like a rank amateur or someone with terrible training. Finding out the actual use of that stance, where the leading jab landed more like a sword lunge than a modern punch, gave me some interesting ideas I fully intend to test on my students in the weeks and months to come. The technique has a surprising amount of power, though I am not sure of its recovery time. I’m sure I’ll have more to say as I try it out within the context of my own art.

After the pugilism we moved on to Barton-Wright’s jujitsu techniques. These were largely throws, with very little joint manipulation used. Throughout this part of the seminar, Allen took great pains to point out that inserts (“discommodes” he called them, using the vernacular of the historical period) were essential whenever entering into a throw or lock. Though the techniques were familiar to me there were again some small points that were different, mostly having to do with hand/arm placement during throws, that I look forward to trying out.

After lunch we moved on to the walking-stick defense portion of the class. Bartitsu uses a very high guard, almost comically high by today’s standards. According to Allen this was intended to keep the combatant’s hand out of the window of combat, while still leaving the stick in a strong position to both attack and defend. He said that many of the other cane arts of the time were largely exported from saber techniques, but that they failed to account for the lack of a guard/basket-hilt to protect the hand. Barton-Wright tried to address this in Bartitsu by having the hand wielding the cane held over the head.

I cannot say that I would use any of the cane techniques in my own teaching, at least not without some heavy modification to account for both the shorter sticks used in arnis and for the century of refinement that stick techniques have undergone since Bartitsu’s heyday. Still, the instruction was excellent and I had a great time learning and practicing the techniques.