“The Cape” to fight crime with “British Bartitsu”

The Cape, a new superhero drama, premieres on Sunday, January 9th. According to advance publicity, the title hero’s mentor, Max Malini, trains him to use his super-powered cape as a weapon, including the use of “British Bartitsu” amongst other martial arts.

The writers were evidently inspired by Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright’s classic overcoat trick, which was also used to good effect by Dr. John Watson in 2010’s Sherlock Holmes feature film.

Bartitsu documentary DVD art contest!

Announcing an open contest to create DVD cover and label art for the forthcoming documentary “Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes”, as featured in this preview trailer:

Theme and design brief

“Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” is a feature-length documentary exploring the history, sudden downfall (circa 1902) and contemporary revival of Bartitsu, as described here. The documentary features a combination of interviews, animatics, re-enactments and archival footage/images.

We’re looking for DVD cover and label art that communicates the eclectic and unusual nature of Bartitsu as an “Edwardian mixed martial art” as well as its connection to the Sherlock Holmes mythos.

Resources and design elements

Designers and artists are invited to make use of any of the Bartitsu-related images available in the Art Contest Image Gallery, either as inspiration for original artwork or verbatim as design elements. Entirely original artwork is also welcome.

Rules

* Only digital submissions can be accepted (see also “Submission deadline” below).
* Submissions must include designs for both the DVD cover and DVD label.
* All artwork must be at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi in jpg, gif or psd format, exactly matching these dimensions:
DVD cover template
DVD label template
* Designs for the front cover must include the title

Bartitsu
The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes

and the tag-line

“I have introduced a new art of self defence …” – E.W. Barton-Wright, 1899.

The spine must include the title text and the back cover must include 100 words of “Lorem Ipsum” placeholder text.
* The submitted artwork must be exclusive to the Bartitsu documentary DVD art competition.
* Individuals may enter as many submissions as they wish and are welcome to include a short textual description of their work(s).
* The producers are not obliged to make use of any artwork submitted as part of this contest.
* The winner will be awarded a copy of the packaged documentary DVD and also a US$50.00 prize. Their artwork will be used in promoting and packaging the documentary DVDs.

Works submitted

The producers retain all rights to the photographic representation of works submitted, including the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use, reproduce, and publish said photographs for editorial, trade, advertising, or any other purpose and in any manner or medium; to alter the same without restriction; and to copyright the same.

Judges

Confirmed judges include:

Tony Wolf (Bartitsu Society)
Ran A. Braun (Bartitsu Society)
Greg Mele (Chicago Swordplay Guild and Freelance Academy Press)

Submission deadline

Submissions must be received via email to tonywolf(at)gmail.com before Thursday, September 30th, 2010.

“Always prepared” – the Boy Scouts and self defence

Although Bartitsu slightly pre-dates Sir Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting movement, both were original and novel products of their founders’ Edwardian ideals. Scouting quickly captured the international imagination and went on to become the most successful youth movement in the world, whereas Bartitsu had only a brief moment in the sun and was then all but forgotten throughout the 20th century.

One of E.W. Barton-Wright’s most historically significant achievements was his introduction of Japanese unarmed combat to the Western world. Whereas jiujitsu had occasionally been glossed in popular magazines and academic journals prior to 1898, it was Barton-Wright’s articles for Pearson’s Magazine, his public demonstrations and classes via the Bartitsu Club that began the pre-WW1 jiujitsu boom.

Circa 1906, as Baden-Powell was formulating the concepts and practices of his nascent youth movement, he was impressed by former Bartitsu Club instructor Sadakazu Uyenishi‘s jiujitsu exhibition at Windsor Castle. Along with campfire lighting and first aid, jiujitsu was among the skills demonstrated during the final day of Baden-Powell’s initial, experimental Scout camp on Brownsea Island during August of 1907.

Shortly thereafter, the first set of Boy Scout merit badges were produced, intended to reward practical skill in any of a number of areas including one for “Master-at-Arms”. To qualify for this badge, a Scout was required to participate in one, two or three of the following sports – fencing with the foil, singlestick or quarterstaff, boxing, wrestling and jiujitsu.

Curiously, the Master-at-Arms badge appeared in the US Boy Scouts Association handbook in 1910, but was dropped the following year.

In 1912 Baden-Powell, who had recently returned to England after a world tour visiting Scouts in many different countries, offered these observations on the martial arts training he had witnessed in Japan:

I went and saw a lot of them at their daily practice of fencing with bamboo sticks and practicing jiu-jitsu to make themselves strong and active and good-tempered. I say good-tempered because it is very much like boxing; you have to take a good many hard knocks and take them smiling. If a fellow lost his temper at it, everybody would laugh at him and think him a fool. In jiu-jitsu they learn how to exercise and how to develop their muscles, how to catch hold of an enemy in many different ways so as to overpower him, how to throw him and, what is very important, how to fall easily if they get thrown themselves. I expect the Scouts of Japan, if they visit England later on, will be able to show us a thing or two in this line.

The Scottish physical education specialist W. Bruce Sutherland was, along with William and Edith Garrud, Percy Longhurst and W.H. Collingridge, among the second generation of European jiujitsu instructors. By circa 1915, as well as teaching classes for the Special Constables and the 17th Royal Scots Battalion, Sutherland advocated jiujitsu training for the Boy’s Brigade, the Cadet Corps, Junior Officers’ Training Corps and the 12th Company City of Edinburgh Boy Scouts:

Thus, Sutherland was probably among the first, if not literally the first instructors to teach jiujitsu to the Scouts. His contemporaries William Garrud and Percy Longhurst wrote simplified technical articles explaining jiujitsu “tricks” for young readers, and former Bartitsu Club fencing instructor Captain Alfred Hutton produced a monograph entitled Examples of Ju Jitsu, or Japanese Wrestling, for Schoolboys.

At about this time in faraway New Zealand, a home-grown alternative to the Scouts’ sister movement, known as the Peace Scouts, was also training youngsters in jiujitsu along with camping. The N.Z. Peace Scouts, who eventually amalgamated with the Girl Guides, was perhaps the first national organisation to promote martial arts training for girls.

In 1923 H.G. Lang, a British police Superintendant stationed in India, produced a book entitled The Walking Stick Method of Self Defence. Lang’s stick fighting method was closely based on that of Pierre Vigny, who had been the chief instructor at the Bartitsu Club. Lang’s method was endorsed by several leaders of the Scouting movement in India and he included exercises specifically for the “Training of Organised Bodies”, such as Scout troupes. He even went so far as to suggest that the Scout’s traditional staff might be profitably replaced with a walking stick of the length advocated in his system.

Two years later the British Scouting Association produced a manual for the master-at-arms badge, setting out simplified instructions for singlestick, quarterstaff and foil fencing and well as boxing, wrestling and jiujitsu. Kirk Lawson has recently made available a facsimile copy of the 1925 manual, based on an original found by Robert Reinberger.

In many cases it seems that the stated requirements for achieving the Master-at-Arms badge did not quite keep up with the practical options available to most Scouts. Certainly, Scouting manuals continued to refer to singlestick and quarterstaff fencing long after those sports had largely faded from popularity, although anecdotal evidence suggests that some older Scoutmasters continued to teach them even into the 1970s.

Master-at-Arms badges (or equivalents) are still available in some national Scouting associations, but the requirements have changed according to local and national policies and social trends. The Health and Safety Guide of the present Boy Scouts of America organisation, for example, states that

“Boxing, karate, and related martial arts—except judo, aikido, and Tai Chi—are not authorized activities.

… presumably due to liability concerns. The Master-at-Arms badge was never re-instated within the American Scouting movement.

The present incarnation of the Master-at-Arms badge of the (British) Scout Association recognises only fencing, shooting and archery. However, the Baden-Powell (or Traditional) Scouts still maintain the Master-at-Arms badge in close to its original form, requiring candidates to:

1. Demonstrate proficiency in 1 of the following: Single stick, Quarterstaff, Fencing, Boxing, Judo, Wrestling, Archery or any recognised martial art.

2. In all the ‘contest’ events, Scout must have taken part in an encounter under proper ring conditions and be able to demonstrate the correct methods of attack and defence.

3. Give evidence of being in training for the scheduled item for a period of not less than 3 months.

Bartitsu ref. in new superhero drama, “The Cape”

Bartitsu gets an unexpected shout-out in this preview for the new NBC superhero series, “The Cape”. From the official Cape website:

“The Cape” is a one-hour drama series starring David Lyons (“ER”) as Vince Faraday, an honest cop on a corrupt police force, who finds himself framed for a series of murders and presumed dead. He is forced into hiding, leaving behind his wife, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, “Life on Mars”) and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott, “Flash Forward”). Fueled by a desire to reunite with his family and to battle the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City, Faraday becomes “The Cape” his son’s favorite comic book superhero — and takes the law into his own hands.

During a training montage, the Cape’s mentor, Max Malini, says:

“British Bartitsu … the warrior dancers of the T’ang Dynasty used their robes as weapons.”

The Cape is obviously an expert martial artist armed with a super-powered cloak, but it’s unlikely that we’ll see any classical Bartitsu featured in the series. On the other hand, it’s always nice when writers do their homework. One wonders what E.W. Barton-Wright would have made of all this:


E.W. Barton-Wright’s “overcoat trick”

In the March edition of Pearson’s Magazine, 1899, Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright demonstrated a curious self defence technique making use of an overcoat as a defensive weapon. The provenance of this technique is unclear. It could be an aspect of the Shinden Fudo Ryu jiujitsu that he had studied in Kobe, Japan; an adaptation of a French Apache (gangster) street-fighting trick, or perhaps Barton-Wright’s revival/update of the classic “cloak in the face” manoeuvre recorded by historical fencing masters such as Salvator Fabris:

Fabris’ technique had been revived as part of the historical fencing curriculum developed by Captain Alfred Hutton, who taught both Elizabethan and modern forms of fencing, as well as theatrical stage combat, at Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu Club:

According to Barton-Wright:

There is, however, one simple and effective way of meeting an attack with a knife that I will explain. We will suppose that you have to pass through a locality late at night where there is a likelihood of such an attack, and you do not wish to run the risk of bringing yourself within the law by relying upon a revolver.

Carry your overcoat upon your shoulders without passing your arms through the sleeves, in the style of a military cloak, with your right hand ready upon your left shoulder to use your coat in the way explained below, should the necessity arise. Be careful always to walk in the middle of the road. Directly your assailant attacks, face him and wait until he is within a distance of two or three yards. Then envelop his head and arms by throwing your coat at him, with a sweeping, circular motion of the arm. This will obscure his view momentarily, but not your own, and will give you plenty of time to deliver your attack, which should take the form of a right-handed knock-out blow in the pit of the stomach.

Or while he is still enveloped in the folds of your coat, slip round behind him, seize him by the right ankle, and push him under the shoulder blade with your left hand. You will thus throw him very violently upon his face, and in his endeavour to break his fall and protect his face he will put out his hands, and in doing so, involuntarily drop his weapon. He will then be disarmed and in a position where you can break his leg immediately if you so like, or if you do not wish to proceed to such extremes, you can hold him down in the position shown in No. 6 until the police arrive.

This is only one of the many ways I have of meeting such a contingency.

A tongue-in-cheek reference to the overcoat technique then appeared in the April 8th, 1899 issue of Guy’s Hospital Gazette:

Mr. Higgins has been taking lessons in the new art of self-defence. At his first meeting with Mr. Barton-Wright he attempted to floor him with the usual knock-out blow, but soon found himself presenting an inverted image moving against the shadow. This led him to think that there was more in the method than met the eye.

It appears that there is a good deal to learn in this new art. There are several hundreds of different manoeuvres for as many different forms of attack, and the trouble begins, I imagine, when you work off the wrong defence for the particular variety of attack.

There is one trick with an overcoat which strikes us as particularly “fresh.” All you have to do is to walk in the middle of the road with your arms removed from the sleeves of your overcoat. (The only drawback to this is that it rather spoils the set of the overcoat and necessitates wearing one all the summer). Then you meet your assailant—this is the hardest part of the business, but it can generally be managed by a judicious use of opprobrious epithet. Having met him, all you have to do is to seize your coat by the shoulder and plug it round his head.

If you are successful you can jump on his chest while he is getting untangled; if not, he will probably move off with the overcoat down a side-street. You lose the overcoat, but win the game. I must try it on a policeman.

And finally, here is the same trick, executed by Jude Law as Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes (2010) as a prelude to belabouring his antagonist with a frying pan:

“Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” preview trailer

A special preview of our upcoming feature-length documentary exploring the cultural history, rediscovery and modern revival of E.W. Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence”.

Founded in London in 1899, Bartitsu was an early example of a mixed martial art, combining boxing, jiujitsu, savate and self defence with a walking stick. After a brief heyday, it was all but forgotten throughout the 20th century except for a single cryptic reference in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story, “the Adventure of the Empty House”.

Shot on location in Italy, Switzerland, England and the USA, “Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” is presented by Tony Wolf and features interviews with Dr. Emelyne Godfrey, Harry Cook, Graham Noble, Will Thomas, Mark Donnelly and Neal Stephenson.

Watch this site for updates!

Preview trailer credits

Producers:

Ran Arthur Braun

Tony Wolf

Bartitsu Club Italia – Broken Art: Paolo Paparella & Angelica A. Pedatella

Cletarte – Gaetano Guglietta & Filomena Longo

Associate Producers:

Digital Room Srl

Music:

Adi Bar (piano)
Roni Cohen (cello)
Abney Park (“Airship Pirate” and “Sleep Isabella”)

“It’s brilliant, perfect … let’s change it!”: an interview with “Sherlock Holmes” fight choreographer Richard Ryan

Bartitsu.org is pleased to present an exclusive interview with Richard Ryan, fight choreographer for the new Sherlock Holmes movie, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey, Jr.

Previous screen incarnations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective have often downplayed Sherlock Holmes’ talents as an athlete and combatant. However, according to the canon, the Great Detective was a skilled boxer, fencer and singlestick player, whose “knowledge of baritsu” famously saved his life in mortal combat with Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. “Baritsu”, of course, is understood to have referred to the real martial art of Bartitsu.

“In the novels, the fights are often referred to off-stage; we will bring them on-stage,” explains co-screenwriter, Lionel Wigram.

For that reason, the producers hired Richard Ryan to choreograph the movie’s exciting fight scenes. Richard’s award-winning combat sequences have been featured in movies such as Troy, The Dark Knight, Stardust and The Golden Compass. His theatre experience includes fight choreography for The Royal National Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Abbey & Peacock Theatres (The National Theatre of Ireland) as well as various West End and Regional shows.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Tony Wolf – Richard, tell us about how you came to be working on “Sherlock Holmes”.

Richard Ryan – That would be a combination of my previous film credits and “Six degrees of Kevin Bacon”.

Sixteen years ago I spent time in LA and whilst there swapped training with Eric Oram who I met through the Society of American Fight Directors. Eric practiced Wing Chun Kung Fu, which he studied with William Cheung, and I had the eclectic background that many fight directors have; I have studied a variety of eastern and western martial arts (in particular Aiki-jitsu and Classical Fencing) as well as stage combat.

Eric and I got on really well and had always spoken about working on a project together but despite a couple of near misses had yet to do so.

In the intervening years I’d established myself as a fight coordinator in the UK. Over time I managed to build a resume that included some big budget studio films.

Eric had continued to train and study Wing Chun becoming a Sifu (instructor) as well as one of that art’s pre-eminent practitioners. His Kwoon (school) was now well established and one of his students was Robert Downey Jr. Downey spoke to Eric about the possibility of using Wing Chun as the base of Sherlock’s fighting style. Eric didn’t know the film world in the UK and wasn’t sure he had the film experience for Holmes’ and the other fights. Also Warner Brothers would require someone with proven credits for such a gig, so Eric suggested bringing someone else on board and Downey, who I had met shortly after the release of Troy, said “well, what about your friend Richard?”

A couple of phone calls later I was on board … “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”.

T.W. – Were you a Sherlock Holmes fan before you started work on the movie?

R.R. – Yes, I was. I have read the complete works on a couple of occasions as well as individual stories. Of course I was familiar with the Rathbone and Brett interpretations as well as those paying homage, such as Gene Wilder’s in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother, which includes a brilliant fight by William Hobbs.

T.W. – That was a great scene; it was one of the few prior movies to show Holmes as a skilled fighter as well as a master detective. So, what was your process of researching Victorian fighting styles in preparation for the movie?

R.R. – I went to my library and took both Captain Alfred Hutton’s and Egerton Castle’s books off the shelf (1). I dug out videotape of French Cane, which was in my archive along with notes on fighting with an umbrella (I had been given an impromptu class years ago after fencing in a competition with the Metropolitan Police).

In addition, I was already familiar with your work in the area of Bartitsu and had a copy of the Bartitsu Compendium, which I re-read.

T.W. – That leads us to the next question; can you talk us through your original concepts for the fight scenes as they were described in the script?

R.R. – This film wasn’t one where all the fights were laid out in advance and remained fixed. Indeed, like something from Holmes’ casebook, there was a lot of investigation to find the martial methodology and style for Holmes, Watson and the other characters that fought. This was due to trying to get in step with the contemporary aesthetic of the film, Guy’s way of working, how Downey and Law saw their characters, the evolving nature of the relationship between Holmes and Watson, script revisions, etc, etc.

As the overall narrative of the film relies upon there being a close bond between Watson and Holmes, it seemed to me essential that, in addition to it being in the text, we realize that partnership in a physical, unspoken way that the audience would recognize.

I knew we wanted to use the fights involving Holmes & Watson to establish them as a team. It was important that they be pro-active in doing the right thing, taking the fighting to the bad guys but enjoying the physical (culture) and relishing the adrenaline rush.

The principal places for this were in the opening sequence in the Crypt, the fight at Reardon’s digs and the fight in the “Sewer”. In all of these we wanted to utilize them as a team either fighting side by side or combining to overcome the obstacles before them.

T.W. – What about that big showdown between Holmes and Blackwood at the end?

R.R. – The final fight, on Tower Bridge, remained fairly fixed in concept all the way through. Having seen Holmes best everyone he fought he now comes face to face with the main antagonist of the piece and they go at it. I had to show elements of Holmes reacting to the danger, working out what he would do to counter the threat whilst getting the device that all were after at that point in the narrative. All whilst on a partially built Tower Bridge that is 200 feet up. In actuality it was 30 feet, in front of a green screen.

T.W.– The fact that Doyle’s “baritsu” is not Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu must have offered considerable artistic license. Was there any particular relationship between the movie’s fictional baritsu and the historical Bartitsu?

R.R. – Bartitsu, as you are acutely aware, is a mixed martial art involving boxing, ju-jitsu, savate, stickfighting and swordplay that was popular at the turn of the 20th century. In developing our Holmes combat style we wanted to use a neo-Bartitsu that was in keeping with the film’s contemporary aesthetic. To do this we chose to utilize the Chinese boxing that Downey practices as the foundation and also incorporate swordplay and elements of Brazilian ju-jitsu, which Ritchie practices. (2)

In this film Holmes only meets Moriarty fleetingly so if we were to introduce a form of Bartitsu it needed to be without the aid of Moriarty and within the structure of this ‘introductory’ episode of Sherlock Holmes.

Bartitsu for him was a starting point, and like any good martial artist, he continued to explore crossover points and philosophies between various martial arts. Whilst there is nothing in the script to indicate it, we followed the premise that in addition to Bartitsu, Holmes had a book or manual of Chinese Boxing and that he chose to test that system in a very pragmatic and practical manner by participating in bare-knuckle fights.

T.W. – Shades of E.W. Barton-Wright encouraging his students to cross-train between all the different styles taught at the Bartitsu Club.

So I’m gathering that the movie “baritsu” was a combination of various influences, choreographed with a contemporary edge?

R.R. – The film is competing with modern action films, such as Bourne and Bond, for an audience and I knew that with the creative and fight teams we had, our movie Bartitsu would be a modern interpretation. However, I wanted to capture the flavour of Victorian Bartitsu so I focused on the fighting ranges. I believed that if we could use the cane, foot, fist and grappling ranges then we would be able to create something that worked for both the contemporary and Victorian aesthetics.

This premise enabled us to construct fights, particularly the “Punch Bowl” fight, that demonstrate Holmes utilising various martial aspects and how, when under pressure, he was able to focus his mind, body and spirit to overcome a problem.

During the “Punch Bowl” fight Holmes sees Irene Adler and tries to concede the fight in order to pursue her. McMurdo (his opponent) rejects Holmes’ offered handshake and spits at him. This moment gave us the trigger to show Holmes’ intellectual clarity of purpose reflected in a physical way that would establish a key character element how Holmes lives.

On occasion we hear Holmes’ inner thoughts as he determines how he will defeat his opponent, what the physical repercussions of each blow will be and how long they will be out of action as a result of them.

T.W. – It’s an interesting device, making the audience privy to Holmes’ battle plan as it’s formulated a split-second before he goes into action. We don’t often get that sort of clinical detail in a movie fight scene. It’s also illuminating as to Holmes’ character.

R.R. – In his defeat of McMurdo, at the “Punch Bowl”, we wanted to have Holmes do enough to win but also to harness his anger at McMurdo’s behavior and teach him an important lesson about life without crossing over into being vindictive.

The practicalities of this meant we needed to make this ‘pre-visualized’ part of the fight extremely visceral. The way in which Ritchie planned to film the scene (with a high speed Phantom camera) meant we would see each impact as the strikes landed, so we had to plan for robust physical contact.

We constructed a fight that had Holmes block the blows coming at him and deliver a number of precise, hard, blows that would have the viewer wince in recognized pain.

The challenge then was ensuring we had the right performer as McMurdo. A British stunt performer, Dave Garrick, was cast in the role and he did a terrific job, throwing punches at Downey only to have them blocked and a sharp crisp counter-strike hit him. It was a very tough physical day for both he and Downey as although not full out, the blocks and strikes were real.

T.W. – I hope viewers will spare a thought for Mr. Garrick, then!

R.R. – While this visceral, dynamic fight, which gives us our first proper look at this action aspect of Holmes, involved only two people in performance, it was the product of collaboration from a fight team that included myself, Eric Oram (fight consultant), Franklin Henson (stunt coordinator), Dave Garrick and the erudite input of Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie.

T.W. -That’s good to hear. People sometimes don’t appreciate the degree to which movie action scenes are collaborations between specialists.

How were the actors and stunt performers trained for their roles?

R.R. – We had “Fight Club”, where in addition to rehearsals for specific scenes there were Wing Chun sessions, swordplay and, on occasion, ju-jitsu with Guy.

Robert trains most days either in the gym and/or practicing Wing Chun. In addition he had fight rehearsals on a regular basis. Jude Law and Mark Strong also work out on a regular basis.

They had fight rehearsals with me and these were structured around what was coming up next, so they peaked in their fight training just as we were scheduled to film each scene.

T.W. – Finally, I have to ask – what was it like working on an action film in which both the director and lead actor are martial arts enthusiasts?

R.R. – A team full of martial artists and creative artists! It was a wonderful, brilliant and occasionally frustrating time. We all had something positive to contribute and all were able to demonstrate what we meant.

The obvious hazard with such a situation is that you have “too many chefs and not enough Indians”.

In this instance, though, I believe it worked as we were all working to the same end. As with any new work situation, there is a period of adjustment at the beginning as you figure out the particular work dynamic, but fairly quickly we got to a place where we could and would be able to amend and change choreography according to any changing circumstance or script change that came up at the 11th hour.

We played and explored from the first day of rehearsals to the last day of shooting. Always allowing for improvement or suggestion. One of my favourite memories is Downey saying after I demonstrated the final fight on Tower Bridge “It’s brilliant, perfect” … and then adding with a wry smile, “let’s change it!”

Notes:

(1) – Captain Hutton was an instructor at E.W. Barton-Wright’s martial arts school in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, where he taught foil, epee and sabre fencing. Hutton’s students included actors and soldiers, who he trained in the skills of Elizabethan-era fencing. In 1901 he described the Bartitsu Club as being “the headquarters of ancient swordplay in England”.

(2) – Although the resemblance is probably co-incidental, many of the techniques of Wing Chun kung fu are notably similar to those of late 19th century “gentlemanly fisticuffs”. Both styles feature erect fighting stances, vertical fist punches and an emphasis upon protecting the central line of the body. The newaza (ground grappling) of Brazilian ju-jitsu closely resembles that of the eclectic “British ju-jitsu” that arose before the First World War.

Not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes …

Sherlock Holmes movie trailer

The first official trailer for the upcoming Holmes movie, evidently calculated to outrage purists and attract the attention of a younger audience.

Holmes’ “baritsu” is not identical to E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu, but still, the trailer shows us bare-knuckle boxing, stick fighting, a jiujitsu-like throw and a savate-like kick.  By establishing the equation of “Victorian London” and “martial arts”, the new movie risks making Bartitsu cool ..