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.
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 …