Lecture: “The History of Bartitsu, the Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” (London)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Friday, 29th November 2013 

Sip on a G&T while you hear the fascinating story of this almost forgotten martial art.

Bartitsu is called many things: the lost martial art of Sherlock Holmes, the West’s first mixed martial art, the Victorian science of self-defence. It was devised by Edward William Barton-Wright, a globe-trotting child of the empire, in the late 1890s, who promised that a confident exponent could make light work of any ruffian, armed or otherwise.

This is the story of how it came about, what it is, how it was nearly lost, and the worldwide bartitsu revival currently underway. Taking in fighting French dock workers, Japanese wrestlers, garroting gangs, Victorian hooligans, jiu jitsu suffragettes, masters of cane fighting, all-in wrestling tournaments, self defence with a parasol, and a typo made by Arthur Conan Doyle, the story of bartitsu is sometimes surprising, but always most edifying. The talk will include a demonstration of bartitsu, where you will learn how to remove a troublesome man from a room, defend yourself with an umbrella, an use an attacker’s momentum against him.

The talk and demonstration will be given by James Garvey, who has been studying and teaching jiu jitsu for nearly 20 years. He is Secretary of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, an educational charity supporting philosophy inside and outside the academy and is editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine. See below for a video of James Garvey in action on Channel 4′s Sunday Brunch.


Date 2014-02-27
Time Drinks at 6.30pm; talk at 7pm.
Place The Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 5QH
Cost £15 (includes VAT and booking fee)
Benefits Warming cup of Idler gin punch
Event ends 8.30pm

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