Visit this link to hear WFUV radio journalist George Bodarky’s interview with Bartitsu Club of New York City founder Rachel Klingberg, shown above modelling her 19th century-style physical culture outfit. The item also includes interviews with Sarah Lohman, a revivalist of 19th century gastronomy; Zoh Rothberg, a co-founder of the New York City Victorian Parlor Craft Circle; and Mike Zohn and Evan Michaelson, co-owners of Obscura Antiques and Oddities.
Although Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright once announced plans to introduce his “New Art of Self Defence” to the United States, that was never to be. However, some of his articles for London magazines and newspaper reports on his activities were re-published in the USA, possibly inspiring something of the American self defence boom that took place during the first decade of the 20th century.
The modern Bartitsu revival is very much an international effort, with clubs and study groups about evenly spread between Europe and North America. One of the newest groups is the Bartitsu Club of New York City (you can “like” them on Facebook here), recently instrumental in hosting the very successful Antagonistics Weekend event with Bartitsu instructor Mark Donnelly (reviewed here).
Organised by the indefatigable Rachel Klingberg, the New York club meets monthly in Central Park. Lessons may include:
* Intros, warm-up with Victorian/Edwardian calisthetics, pugilism shadow boxing with attention to proper form and structure
* Savate kicks, coup de pied bas
* Vigny cane – footwork and posture, proper form and stances with solo movements, drills
* Safe falling, Ju Jutsu locks and defense against grabs, “How to Put a Troublesome Man Out of the Room”, grabs to wrists, coat lapels, etc.
* Parasol defense, bayonetting with parasol, locking with cane or parasol, drills from “Self Defence with a Parasol” 1901 article
* Basic fencing
* Cool-down and debriefing