Bartitsu Lecture for the Criterion Bar Association

  • Originally published on the site on Tuesday, 5th November 2013
M. Mauch and T. Wolf

On the evening of Saturday, Nov. 2nd, Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf (right, above) delivered an after-dinner lecture on the history and revival of Bartitsu for the Criterion Bar Association, a coeducational scion of the Baker Street Irregulars that was founded in 1973.

The lecture covered Barton-Wright’s life and travels, the establishment of the Bartitsu Club in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, the heyday and downfall of Bartitsu as a martial art and its current revival, which has been due in a large part to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s cryptic reference to “baritsu” in The Adventure of the Empty House. This latter, as was explained, is considered most likely to have been due to Conan Doyle having referred to a London Times report on a Bartitsu demonstration, which likewise misspelled the name of the art.

Wolf also addressed the pioneering work of researcher Ralph Judson, who discovered something of Bartitsu history and wrote about it in the Baker Street Journal Christmas annual of 1958, anticipating the modern revival by over four decades.

Several of E.W. Barton-Wright’s “canonical” Bartitsu techniques were also demonstrated, including the famous armlock for removing an unwanted guest from a room and the “guard by distance” with a walking stick.

After a spirited round of questions from the audience, this most pleasant evening’s edification came to a close.

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