Bartitsu at ISMAC 2010

  • Originally published on the site on Sunday, 2nd May 2010

Tony Wolf will be teaching a six-hour Bartitsu seminar at this year’s International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention in Detroit, Michigan (September 3-6 2010).

This class will explore three essential combat principles of Bartitsu, the “gentlemanly art of self defence” founded by Edward William Barton-Wright in 1898. Barton-Wright defined these principles as:

(1) to disturb the equilibrium of your assailant; (2) to surprise him before he has time to regain his balance and use his strength; (3) if necessary to subject the joints of any part of his body … to strains which they are anatomically and mechanically unable to resist.

He also noted that:

It is quite unnecessary to try and get your opponent in any particular position, as the system embraces every possible eventuality, and your defence and counter attack must be entirely based upon the tactics of your opponent.

Drawing from a selection of classical Bartitsu unarmed and walking-stick fighting set-plays, we will take up the challenge implied by Barton-Wright’s precepts of adaptability and improvisation, thereby continuing the “mixed martial arts” experiment that he began in late Victorian London.

Pre-requisites: this class is not suitable for beginners. Intermediate to advanced level martial arts training, preferably including skill in falling techniques, is required.

Equipment: a sturdy crook-handled walking stick or 36 inch dowel with any edges smoothed away; fencing mask or similar face/head protection.

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