Inside the Bartitsu Institute (1914)

Though E.W. Barton-Wright appears to have largely abandoned the self-defence field when his original Bartitsu Academy of Arms and Physical Culture closed during 1902, he retained the name “Bartitsu” with reference to his new endeavour. The Bartitsu Academy had featured, in addition to its combat gymnasium, a well-appointed therapeutic salon, and Barton-Wright expanded that aspect of his enterprise when he moved to Oxford Street and established the Bartitsu Institute.

These two newly-discovered images portray two of eight therapeutic salons within the Institute, which advertised cures for “gout, rheumatism, neuritis, neuralgia, sciatica” and a range of other ailments, mostly via application of heat, electricity and mechanical vibration. Some of Barton-Wright’s devices were among the early ancestors of modern therapeutic equipment such as diathermy machines, and may well have provided some pain relief; others; especially the “electric ray machines”, were sheer quackery.

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