“Chinese Fighting: Part of a Gentleman’s Education” (1845)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Saturday, 19th November 2011

For some time prior to the introduction of Bartitsu in London, Western travellers offered reports on the curious fighting skills they had encountered in Asia. Published in the year 1845, this cartoon from the French magazine Le Charivari may be among the earliest graphical depictions of Chinese martial arts in Western media, though it’s very likely adapted from a cartoon of two savateurs in training.

The caption reads:

Young Chinese in Beijing’s high society do not cultivate only the art of the hunting horn, they learn also to give … punches and booted kicks to the pit of the stomach. This talent is called savate and it is cultivated with the greatest success by all those who wish to gain a good footing in society.

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