“The League” Doffs its Bowler to Bartitsu

Back in 2015, the popular comedy series The League skewered/paid tribute to Bartitsu in its episode titled “Draft of Innocence”.

Better seven years late than never, here are the two short Bartitsu scenes featured in the show.

For context, the first scene introduces Bartitsu via dinner party conversation with the insufferable “sapiosexual” couple Andre and Meegan (inspiring instant and deep scorn among their friends). In the second scene, however, Andre – “kung fool” and “Tae Kwon Douche” though he may well be – saves everyone from a group of (justifiably) angry Chinese restaurant workers via his surprisingly effective mastery of the New Art of Self Defence.

Note that the second scene features some mildly risqué humour.

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Self-Defence Shoes (1955)

As reported in some American newspapers during September of 1955, an Italian shoemaker was producing “self-defence shoes” for women tired of being harrassed in the streets of Rome.

Although probably created more as a promotional stunt than as a serious self-defence aid, the shoes came equipped with sharp steel prongs or spurs at the toe, heel and at the bottom of the high heel. They would certainly have been better than nothing had the wearer occasion to kick in her own defence (though straight rather than fashionably curved prongs might have been even more effective).

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“Bartitsu: the Gentleman’s Martial Art”

Martial artist Niimi Satoshi offers an idiosyncratic interpretation of both armed and unarmed (neo-)Bartitsu in the first section of this video by Budo Channel Japan.

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“Vigny’s la Canne, Boxing and the Olympics”

Pierre Vigny, role-playing as “the Hooligan” and bearing his signature ball-handled cane, receives a thrust from his wife and fellow self-defence instructor, Marguerite.

Our old colleague Maxime Chouinard has published some original research – a rarity, at present – on Pierre Vigny and his arts of self-defence. The article Vigny’s la Canne, Boxing and the Olympics does sterling service by offering an alternative translation for the 1912 Revue Olympique report on the Vigny style (which, as is noted correctly, was originally translated and published in the Bartitsu Compendium, and which received a revised and annotated translation here in 2018), also identifying the author as none other than modern Olympics founder Pierre de Coubertin!

The article also includes a translation of Vigny’s obituary, as it appeared in Le Journal de Genève of September 23rd, 1943. Here’s an excerpt:

Pierre Vigny, a sportsman of conviction from the start, passed away in Nyon at the age of 77. With him disappears a master who had set a goal of developing ever more defense sports, a branch which is currently abandoned. Maybe we are wrong to forsake self-defence. He himself declared that it is much easier to defend oneself with a stick than a knife or a revolver. He made a point of putting in their place ten adversaries with his method. Pierre (unreadable) as he had very much studied sports such as la canne, fencing, French and English boxing, and jiu-jitsu. But he really excelled in the art of la canne and had perfectioned the French method as to make it much more effective.

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Another Update re. The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume III

The third volume of the Compendium is currently being compiled, following the publications of Volume I in 2005 and Volume II in 2008.

Vol. III opens with a 166-page retrospective on the life and times of Edward Barton-Wright and the rise and fall of his Bartitsu School of Arms in Soho at the turn of the 20th century. This section represents the first truly comprehensive telling of the “Bartitsu story” in a long-form narrative format, drawing from twenty years of intensive research.

A curated Anthology section compiles the best and most interesting articles published on Bartitsu.org (now BartitsuSociety.com) between 2008-2019, plus a selection of new articles on subjects of diverse interest to Bartitsu aficionados.

Section 3, “Techniques and Tactics” reveals exactly how Bartitsu combined and distinguished itself from the other antagonistics of its era, via a combination of hard-won historical data and the practical experience of the modern revival movement.

The final section offers a look back at the first twenty years of the Bartitsu revival, including the art’s influence on pop-culture and the activities of the Bartitsu Society as a grassroots, open-source martial arts association.

Stay tuned for further details as the Bartitsu Compendium, Volume III nears publication!

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Bartitsu vs. Wing Chun in “Ip Man: The Awakening”

Set during the turbulent 1930s, this new feature film pits a young Ip Man (Tse Miu) against a British human trafficking ring, including one villain who employs Bartitsu.

Edward Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence” has influenced fight choreography in feature films before – notably in the Sherlock Holmes duology starring Robert Downey, Jr. and in the Kingsman series – and was both displayed and name-checked in an episode of The League TV series. This scene is, however, the first time the art has been simultaneously shown and described in a feature film, and it’s not a bad representation from a stylistic point of view. The villain demonstrates a blend of each of the source arts of boxing, savate, jujutsu and stick fighting before meeting his just desserts at the Wing Chun-trained hands (and pole) of the unbeatable Ip Man.

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Umbrella-Fu in “In from the Cold”

In this scene from the action series In from the Cold, undercover spy/assassin Anya Petrova (a.k.a. Jenny Franklin/The Whisper, played by actress Margarita Levieva) breaks character to deliver an umbrella beatdown on an array of enemy agents. Alert viewers will note that she employs a couple of classic Bartitsu techniques …

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Physical Culture Historians

This YouTube channel offers a wide range of well-produced short documentaries, lectures, instructional videos and equipment demonstrations in connection with the grand tradition of 19th and early 20th century physical culture.

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Bartitsu Instructional Videos via the Redgate Bartitsu Club

The Redgate Bartitsu Club has produced a useful series of instructional videos on the basics of Bartitsu as a holistic fighting style, progressing through the ranges of stick fighting, (kick)boxing and fundamental jujutsu/standing grappling.

Some samples from each of the ranges follow:

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More Unarmed Bartitsu Sparring

Another set of light, technical sparring bouts courtesy of the Cateran Society.

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