Bartitsu seminar in Racine, Wisconsin (October 8 & 9)

Instructor Tony Wolf will lead a Bartitsu seminar at the DeKoven Center‘s 1875 vintage gymnasium in Racine, Wisconsin. The seminar will run from 12:30 to 5.00 pm each day on the weekend of the 8th & 9th of October, 2011. The beautiful DeKoven Center, originally a 19th century university campus, is located at 600 21st Street in Racine, Wisconsin.

What is Bartitsu?

In the year 1899, an English gentleman named Edward William Barton-Wright created the “New Art of Self Defence” that he called Bartitsu; a combination of low kicking, jiujitsu, fisticuffs and walking stick fighting, designed to beat the fearsome street gangs of Edwardian London and fin de siècle Paris at their own dastardly game.

Bartitsu was the first “mixed martial art” to combine Asian and European fighting styles. It was later incorporated as “baritsu” into the Sherlock Holmes stories, and was used by Holmes to throw his arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty, to his doom from the top of Reichenbach waterfall.

What will we learn?

This seminar provides an intensive, practical grounding in this fascinating system, first taught circa 1900 at the Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue.

Canonical Bartitsu refers to “Bartitsu as we know it was”; the self defence skills and sequences that were specifically presented as Bartitsu by Barton-Wright and his associates between 1898-1902. Neo-Bartitsu refers to the modern application of the art, continuing Barton-Wright’s martial arts experiments in the 21st century; it is “Bartitsu as it may have been and as it can be today”.

We will begin with warm-up exercises taken from the 19th century “physical culture” repertoire before exploring the underlying principles and tactics of Bartitsu, via lessons in the unique combination of fighting styles that made up Barton-Wright’s arsenal of tricks.

The seminar will include:

• a selection of the original self defence sequences represented in Barton-Wright’s classic article series, “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” and “The New Art of Self Defence”

• practical examples of both the canonical and neo-Bartitsu blends of jiujitsu, scientific boxing, low kicking and stick fighting

• discussions on the fascinating history and revival of Barton-Wright’s New Art of Self Defence, the “hold-up” tactics of 19th century street gangsters and the counters developed by self defence masters of the period, and the jiujitsu training of the Bodyguards of the radical Suffragette movement.

This introductory seminar is suitable for participants of all experience levels, though prior intermediate-level training in martial arts, boxing, fencing and/or stage combat will be an advantage.

What should I bring?

Please bring suitable exercise clothing, including shoes; a sturdy cane (crook handle preferred), or strong, smooth dowel approx. 36″ long. Fencing masks, boxing gloves and judo gi jackets are useful, but are not required.

Enrollment

$100.00 per participant until September 17th, with the possibility of the price coming down as more participants enroll before the deadline. Once the deadline of September 17th is past, the fee stays at $100.00 per person.

A bag lunch and water will be supplied for each participant free of charge.

For further information please contact the organiser, Mr. Mario Baleywah, at handmbaleywah@att.net .

Review: “100 Years of Judo in Great Britain”, Volume 1

This review is specific to Volume 1 of a two-part series of books by the late judoka and historian Richard Bowen (1926-2005), whose extensive private collection of judo/jujitsu books and ephemera now forms the Bowen Collection at Bath University.

The “Reclaiming of its true spirit” subtitle is curious, in that aside from a few scattered editorial comments, the book does not actually address reclaiming judo’s “true spirit”. Rather, Volume 1 of 100 Years of Judo in Great Britain offers a very thorough history of the early 20th century personalities and politics of jujitsu and judo in the UK, with generous asides exploring Japanese martial arts in the USA and elsewhere during the same period.

Bowen was obviously a devoted and very careful scholar, with long-term access to rare archives, diaries etc. in addition to in-depth first-hand knowledge of the subject and many of its principal figures. Specific to Bartitsu, he performed pioneering research into the lives of Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright, music hall challenge wrestlers Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi and strongman/jujitsu promoter William “Apollo” Bankier, amongst many other notables. 100 Years of Judo in Great Britain cites and offers extensive quotes from numerous c1900 newspaper articles, etc. that promise to open new doors for contemporary Bartitsu researchers. Also, students of Brazilian jujitsu/MMA history will be interested to read about Mitsuyo “Conde Koma” Maeda’s early experiences as a challenge wrestler in London.

Perhaps unavoidably, given that the book was published posthumously, some sections are obviously better polished than others. Frustratingly at times, there are no chapter headings, contents pages nor index, though there are almost 100 pages of carefully annotated end-notes. The proof-reading also leaves quite a lot to be desired. Ultimately, though, these are minor quibbles in comparison with the absolute wealth of knowledge and detail to be found in this book. It is a unique and very valuable contribution to martial arts scholarship.

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.

A short history of weaponised umbrellas

Recent news reports from France suggest that the bodyguards of president Nicolas Sarkozy will soon be carrying a new defensive weapon – the Para Pactum umbrella. Reinforced with kevlar, the Para Pactum has apparently been tested against attack dogs and is also proof against knives, acid and thrown projectiles: video here.

While this high-tech development in defensive bumbershootery is undoubtedly impressive, it is also simply the most recent in a hundred-plus year history of attempts to weaponise the humble brolly.

As early as 1838, the Baron Charles de Berenger suggested several ingenious methods for using an umbrella in defence against highwaymen and ruffians:

In 1897, J.F. Sullivan proposed the umbrella as a misunderstood weapon in his tongue-in-cheek article for the Ludgate Monthy.

Only a few years later, Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright took the subject seriously in his two-part article series for Pearson’s Magazine, explaining the use of the umbrella and walking stick in self defence. The cane/umbrella were considered the first line of defence in the Bartitsu arsenal, which also included boxing, wrestling and jujitsu.

After the London Bartitsu Club closed under mysterious circumstances in 1902, instructors Pierre Vigny and his wife, who is known to us only as “Miss Sanderson”, continued to teach the use of umbrellas and parasols as defensive weapons. By 1908 the concept had made its way to the United States, being taught at the Philadelphia Institute of Physical Culture and featured in Popular Mechanics Magazine.

The remainder of the 20th century has seen the use of umbrellas as weapons of assassination:

… as well as numerous developments of the “umbrella sword” motif:

… and, of course, the Unbreakable Umbrella:

Finally, see this page at TVTropes.org for a comprehensive list of weaponised umbrellas in anime, comic books, film, literature and television.

“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!

“Master of Men: the Life’s Work of William Muldoon, Champion and Trainer of Champions”

“Master of Men” is an anthology of books, articles and essays about the remarkable Irish-American combat athlete and coach, William Muldoon. Muldoon learned the basics of wrestling as a soldier in the Civil War. After numerous adventures as one of “New York’s finest”, he left the police force to become one of the first American professional wrestlers, taking on all comers in rough and tumble saloon matches and working as an actor/stuntman on the Vaudeville stage.

In 1889, Muldoon’s radical training methods brought the out-of-shape, alcoholic bare-knuckle boxing champion John L. Sullivan back into form for his legendary title fight with Jake Kilrain. Muldoon later became the inaugural chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission and a personal trainer for some of the richest and most powerful men in America. Includes 29 rare illustrations and a special bonus interview with Scott Burt of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame.

The 316 page book is available in print or e-formats from the Antagonistics Emporium, which also features a free instant preview.

The Oldest Gym in America?

Among the interests of the Bartitsu Society is the study of 19th century physical culture; the panoply of diverse exercise systems that were practiced in public and private gymnasia throughout Europe, North America and Australasia.  E.W. Barton-Wright commented that Bartitsu included a “system of physical culture which is as complete and thorough as the art of self defence”.

mansion-exterior-1

The Hegeler Carus mansion in LaSalle, Illinois, features an extremely rare surviving example of a 19th century gymnasium.  The Hegeler Carus gym remained virtually unchanged throughout the 20th century, and still contains numerous, some probably unique, items of exercise apparatus, including wooden dumbbells and Indian clubs, a “teeter ladder”, parallel bars and “Roman rings” suspended from the ceiling.  The gym also features a climbing pole that D.T. Suzuki used as a “meditation pole” during his long stay at the mansion.

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teeter-ladder

For information on the project towards restoring the Hegeler Carus mansion gymnasium as a living museum of physical culture, see the Turnhall Project PDF.  You will need to rotate the PDF into portrait orientation.