Bartitsu at Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture and Martial Arts (Chicago, IL)

Tony Wolf will be teaching an intensive introductory Bartitsu seminar, with the option of an ongoing six-week training course, among the many attractions of the new Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture & Martial Arts school in Ravenswood, Chicago (website forthcoming).

What is Bartitsu?

In the year 1899, Edward William Barton-Wright devised a system of cross-training between jujitsu, British boxing, kicking, wrestling and self defense with an umbrella or walking stick.  Bartitsu was created so that the ladies and gentlemen of London could beat street gangsters and hooligans at their own dastardly game.

Promoted via magazine and newspaper articles, exhibitions, lectures and challenge matches, Barton-Wright’s School of Arms and Physical Culture quickly became a place to see and be seen.  Famous actors, athletes and soldiers enrolled to learn the mysteries of Bartitsu.

After Barton-Wright’s school closed down under unknown circumstances in early 1902, Bartitsu was abandoned as a work in progress and almost forgotten throughout the 20th century … apart from a famous, cryptic reference in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Empty House”.

One hundred years later, the International Bartitsu Society was formed to research and then revive the “New Art of Self Defence”.  The modern revival is an open-source, community-based effort to continue Barton-Wright’s radical cross-training experiments.

What will we learn?

The introductory seminar will begin with a discussion of the origins, loss and revival of Bartitsu.  A series of warm-up exercises will then segue into drills and games exploring several of Barton-Wright’s fundamental principles of combat, especially the skills of manipulating an opponent’s balance and of tactical spontaneity.

We will then study a representative series of jujitsu and stick fighting sequences taken directly from Barton-Wright’s original system.  Next, we’ll work on transitioning from set-play sequences into a more realistic freestyle format, referring to the principles explored earlier in the day, before a warm-down and Q&A session.

Participants who wish to follow through into the six-week, twelve lesson basic training course will find this seminar an excellent grounding in the art of Bartitsu.

Where?

Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture and Martial Arts

4437 N. Ravenswood
Chicago, IL

Patterned after a Victorian-era physical culture studio, Forteza features a 5000 square foot training area with brick walls and high timber ceiling.  The training area is equipped with mats, weapons and a “gymuseum” of functional antique physical culture apparatus including Indian clubs, iron dumbbells and medicine balls, as well as rowing and weightlifting machines dating to the late 1800s.

When?

Sunday, January 22nd; 11.00 – 5.30 pm, with a half-hour lunch break.

How much?

$60.00 pays for your place in the introductory seminar and automatically deducts $25.00 from the cost of the optional 6-week basic training course.

What should I bring?

Comfortable workout clothing, packed lunch if you wish, and a drink bottle.  We will have a limited number of training canes available for the stick fighting portion of the seminar, but participants are encouraged to bring their own sturdy hook-handled umbrella, walking stick and/or roughly 36″ hardwood dowel, with any edges smoothed away.

I’m in! How do I register?

Email us to pre-register – we will confirm your registration and send you a PayPal link.  Alternatively, you can pay by cash or check on the day.

Bartitsu Club of New York City

The Bartitsu Club of New York City is a newly-formed training group dedicated to the study and revival of this Victorian art of self-defense. The Club meets once a month in Central Park for approximately 1 1/2 hours of Bartitsu training consisting of Vigny cane, savate, ‘scientific’ pugilism, and Ju Jutsu. For more information, contact violetvernet@gmail.com.

June 2011 meeting
Sunday, June 19, 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Daniel Webster Monument, Central Park
West 72nd Street
New York, NY
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Upcoming Seminar in Surrey, UK

Take that!

On the 7th of February, the English Martial Arts Academy will be holding a one day event in Haslemere, Surrey. On offer will be English backsword, Italian longsword and Bartitsu. The bartitsu class will focus on the key principles of empty hand and possibly stick, and is designed for beginners and those trained in the martial arts.

The Holmes fans amongst you will know that Conan Doyle settled for a time in this area, and that he is buried just down the road in Minstead, whilst his wife and son are buried in nearby Hindhead Greyshott (Thanks Ian!).

If you would like to know more then leave a comment below, and please mention bartitsu.org when booking.

Houston Meet-Up

Scott Brown, a swordsmanship instructor in Houston recently met up with the Bartitsu Society’s Chris Amendola, and provided this report

Through recommendations from James Marwood and Alex Kiermeyer I recently made contact with a local Gentleman here in the Houston area named Chris Amendola, a Bartitsu specialist with a mentionable Eastern martial arts background.

Chris was kind enough to come by the training hall yesterday and offer an introductory workshop and lecture on E.W. Barton Wrights ‘mixed martial arts’ self defence system. I am extremely happy to report that he did a very fine job of not only giving a fairly thorough, if concise, overview of the system but also accommodating to the significantly wide variety of skill levels of the attending participants. While he did discuss some of the jujitsu elements of Bartitsu he was kind enough to focus the workshop on the Vigny cane aspects, covering a classification of techniques he termed “Guard by Distance”, making special emphasis on the very interesting Bartitsu ‘hanging guard’ (my term). Chris did a great job of keeping the class interesting and moving along as he demonstrated what I would consider to be a graspable number of defensive and offensive techniques, variations, and a number of counters to these. Personally, I was exceptionally pleased that he was able to take a number of our more experienced fencers out of their comfort zone by emphasizing Bartitsu’s rather unique ‘inverted overhand strike’ (my term) which is executed with some very interesting voiding footwork (nearly a demi-volta of sorts).

I am also happy to report that not only does Chris have a good ability to identify context and circumstance but also how they very importantly relate to fencing/fighting. He very capably demonstrated a number of tactical based decision making scenarios and almost nonchalantly discussed how they interplay with his interpretations of the plays in the Bartitsu system. I confess this was a pleasant surprise and excited me to know that such an informed and talented fellow is very nearly here in my own back yard. Additionally, he did a great job of being honest when he wasn’t sure about something when subjected to the customary grueling questions put forth by some of our gang and very admirably put serious thought into his responses, producing viable and coherent arguments only moments later. Very respectable in my book.

On the practical side, Chris was not only willing to fence but eager as anyone I’ve met and he further impressed me by not only wishing to fence using his Vigny, Cunningham and, I think, Lang cane understandings but also asked to fence against both the longsword and sword and buckler. Obviously, these are fencing systems that were never meant or designed to face each other and that only speaks to Chris’ good HEMA attitude. We also indulged him by playing at baton vs. baton with he and I going extra rounds we were having so much fun! The best part is Chris clearly is a man of mentionable skill, tactical understanding, and the ability to adapt. His unfamiliar, to us, methods definitely presented our gang with some new challenges and I suspect that he in turn found a few (but hopefully exciting) hurdles from our crowd. Bruises were shared all round, as it should be! Chris has a unique over/under/over strike combination that is faster than anyone I’ve yet to meet in a one handed weapon and he has a very dynamic and mobile style of fencing. He also put his money where his mouth is by capably demonstrating the unique ‘inverted overhand’ strike when fencing which was particularly fun to observe in addition to presenting some interesting challenges.

In short, it is my opinion that Chris Amendola is an excellent representative for Bartitsu as a functioning martial art. I think he poses great potential for growing this art, has a great attitude towards sharing, exchanging, training, and HEMA in general. And on top of it all, he’s a heck of a nice guy. If you get the chance, don’t miss an opportunity to train with Chris! I’m certainly looking forward to working with him in the future.

“Is Bartitsu practiced today?”

This is probably the #1 question asked of the Bartitsu Society.  Fortunately, the short answer is “yes”, but this may require some explanation.

Between 2002-2005 the Bartitsu Society was largely devoted to learning as much as possible about Bartitsu from the historical point of view.  We tracked down long-forgotten books and magazine articles in obscure library archives and most of our efforts were towards collating, preserving and sharing this information.

After the publication of Volume 1 of the Bartitsu Compendium in 2005, members of the Society began offering seminar classes in various aspects of Bartitsu.  These classes were held at martial arts and stage combat conferences in Canada, the USA, Italy, Germany and the UK.

Today, your options for learning Bartitsu include attending seminars or joining any of several informal study groups or  regular Bartitsu classes.  These include:

The Academie Duello historical fencing and stage combat school in Vancouver, Canada offers occasional Bartitsu seminars with instructor David McCormick.

The Alabama Bartitsu Society, which is planned as a Bartitsu study group.

The  International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention (Detroit, Michigan) regularly features Bartitsu intensives taught by Tony Wolf.

The Gallowglass Academy (Rockford, Illinois) offers occasional Bartitsu seminars.

The Cumann Bhata Dayton (Ohio) Western martial arts club offers Bartitsu classes on the first Monday of each month.

The 2009 Western Martial Arts Weekend conference (Racine, WI) will feature a Bartitsu seminar intensive taught by Tony Wolf.

The Gemeiner Academy of European Combat Arts (Gold Coast, Australia) offers regular training in Vigny/Lang stick fighting and associated skills.

The Houston School of Defense offers regular classes in walking stick defense and plans to extend into training in other aspects of the Bartitsu and Neo-Bartitsu curricula.

The Zwaardkring historical fencing club offers one two-hour Bartitsu practice session per month and the Judoclub Shizen Hontai plans to offer a weekly Bartitsu study group.  Both clubs are in Veldhoven, Netherlands.