Bartitsu (from the Daily Express, June 16, 1900)


Some of my readers may have been present at the very interesting exhibition of bartitsu given last summer by the well-known athlete, Mr. Barton-Wright. Since then the apostle of this most useful form of self defence has been striving to force his pastime to the front, and so successful have his efforts proved that in several of our leading schools the “game” has already been regularly adopted.

Briefly, bartitsu is a form of self-defence in which the only weapon employed is a common walking stick, preferably a malacca-cane. The theory of bartitsu is based upon the theory of fencing and of single-stick in combination with just a suspicion of the “savate.”
The work is done almost entirely with the wrists, the hands being used alternately.

Perhaps the most fascinating stroke of all is a sort of “forward backhander,” if I may so describe it, the cane being suddenly brought down to “guard.” and then unexpectedly swung back over the shoulder.

It is not to be wondered that so practical a form of self-defence should be appealing to many of our athletes, and when it becomes more generally known it will, in all probability, secure a large following.

Self Defence with a Walking Stick (animated)

Pierre Vigny and E.W. Barton-Wright demonstrate a selection of canonical Bartitsu stick fighting sequences from Barton-Wright’s classic Pearson’s Magazine article, “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” (1900).

Animated GIFs courtesy of Facsimile Magazine.

No. 1.—The Guard by Distance—How to Avoid any Risk of being Hit on the Fingers, Arm, or Body by Retiring out of the Hitting Range of your Adversary, but at the same time Keeping Him within the Hitting Range of your Own Stick.

No. 4 — How to Defend Yourself, without Running any Risk of being Hurt, if you are Carrying only a Small Switch in your Hand, and are Threatened by a Man with a very Strong Stick.

No. 8 — One of the Safest Plans of Defence for a Tall Man to Adopt, who has not much Confidence in his own Quickness and Knowledge of Stick-play, when Opposed to a Shorter and more Competent Opponent.